It seems to me that the matter ought not to end with a "mere" apology.
Where there is evidence suggesting that a criminal offence may have been committed it seems to me that the matter ought to be reported to the Police.
Further, it seems to me that the Police have a duty fully to investigate such reports of suspected criminal behaviour.
Below is the text of a letter sent today to Chief Constable David Jones of North Yorkshire Police with respect to failures by David Michael Hope, former Archbishop of York. In the Report of an Inquiry by Judge Sally Cahill QC serious failures by Mr. Hope were identified.
As indicated below Mr. Hope disputes at least some of those criticisms.
Given the seriousness of the potential effect of Mr. Hope's alleged failures it seems to me that the matter must be fully investigated by the Police.
26th October 2014To:David Jones, Chief Constable, North Yorkshire PolicePossible misconduct in public office: David Michael Hope, Baron Hope of Thornes
I write to report to you in your role as a constable my suspicion that David Michael Hope, Baron Hope of Thornes, may have committed the common law offence of misconduct in public office with respect to his failures relating to child abuse perpetrated by the late Robert Waddington.
I ask that you record this matter as a suspected offence of misconduct in public office and that you notify me in writing accordingly.
It seems to me that you have a duty formally to investigate this matter to establish whether evidence exists that supports my suspicion that Lord Hope may have committed the offence of misconduct in public office.
Crown Prosecution Service Guidance
I understand that any possible prosecution of Lord Hope would be guided by the Guidance produced by the Crown Prosecution Service located online here: http://www.cps.gov.uk/legal/l_to_o/misconduct_in_public_office/
I am unaware of any statutory offence that Lord Hope may have committed therefore I understand the Guidance to open the possibility of prosecution for misconduct in public office.
The CPS Guidance provides four criteria which must be considered in relation to any possible offence of Misconduct in Public Office:
- A public officer
- Acting as such
- Wilful neglect or misconduct
- Without reasonable excuse or justification
Was Lord Hope a “public officer”?
If a Court were to decide that Lord Hope was not a “public officer” then any possibility of a successful prosecution for misconduct in public office would evaporate.
Given that misconduct in public office is a common law offence there is no statutory definition. Case Law indicates that the interpretation of who might be a public officer is widely drawn.
It seems to me that an Archbishop of York is a public officer, not least with respect to the involvement of the Prime Minister of the day in the process of appointment of an Archbishop of York.
Did Lord Hope act as Archbishop of York?
I do not have access to the evidence underlying the recent Report by Judge Sally Cahill QC.
However, media reports indicate that reports of child abuse by Robert Waddington were made to Lord Hope in his role as Archbishop of York.
Was there wilful neglect?
In the final analysis this is a matter for a jury to decide based on more detailed evidence than is currently in the public domain.
On the face of it there is at least an arguable case that Lord Hope’s failures, including making a report to the Police, with respect to the child abuse by Robert Waddington were wilful.
It is clear that there was at least the potential for damage to other members of the public should the late Mr. Waddington continue his child abuse activities.
Was there reasonable excuse or justification?
Lord Hope has argued that Judge Cahill’s Report is “flawed”. The full range of Lord Hope’s concerns are not in the public domain, so far as I am aware.
I cannot, with certainty, comment on whether or not Lord Hope had reasonable excuse or justification for two reasons:
- I do not have access to the full facts
- It is, in any case, a matter for a jury to decideIn conclusion
In my view there is credible prima facie evidence suggesting that Lord Hope may have committed the criminal offence of misconduct in public office.
I ask that you record this matter as a suspected offence of misconduct in public office and investigate the matter fully.
I ask that you acknowledge this letter in writing and provide me with the appropriate Crime Reference Number and your formal assessment of this reported suspected crime.
In the interests of transparency I will place a copy of this letter on my UK Child Abuse Inquiry blog:
Yours sincerely(Dr) Andrew Watt
There is one typo in the letter that I'm aware of.
The full range of Lord Hope’s concerns are not in the public domain, so far as I am aware.
The word "concerns" should be replaced with "(alleged) failures".