Bishop of Carlisle receives ‘informal rebuke’ over ‘serious errors of judgement’


The Bishop of Carlisle, James Newcome

The Bishop of Carlisle, James Newcome, has received an informal rebuke from the Archbishop of York after writing a character reference for a priest jailed for molesting children.

Bishop Newcome wrote the character reference for Rev Robert Bailey, who was last year sentenced to eight years and four months for abusing two girls over several years. 

The bishop later requested that his character reference be withdrawn but his actions were investigated by the Church of England’s National Safeguarding Team. 

The investigation concluded that there had been “significant errors of judgement in his handling of this matter”. 

The informal rebuke will remain on file and the bishop will undergo further safeguarding training before he can resume safeguarding responsibilities as diocesan bishop.

He has also issued an apology for his actions. 

“May I begin by reiterating how sorry I am to those people who were hurt by the submission of a reference for Robert Bailey,” he said. 

“This was something I did at his request and which I later recognised to have been an error of judgement on my part, leading to my request that it be withdrawn.

“I understand the anguish this will have caused those who suffered as a result of his crimes. I am deeply sorry for that and the survivors and their families will continue to be in my prayers.

“I committed to full co-operation with a subsequent National Safeguarding Team investigation. I have done so and accept the outcome completely.

“As I have previously said, I understand the need to learn from this situation and so I welcome the opportunity to engage wholeheartedly in further safeguarding training opportunities. Until that training is completed, I shall continue to step back from all diocesan safeguarding matters.”

The NST said: “The Church takes all safeguarding issues very seriously and is continuing to learn lessons from the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse which criticised the Church’s response to survivors both at its public hearings and in its final report last October.”


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