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Cardinal Nichols to give evidence to abuse inquiry

Cardinal Vincent Nichols (CNS)

Cardinal Vincent Nichols of Westminster is to give live evidence to Britain’s Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse.

The hearing in November will examine the cardinal’s former Archdiocese of Birmingham, where he served as archbishop from 2000 to 2009. Bernard Longley, the current archbishop, will also give evidence at a later date.

The inquiry, which is investigating how various institutions in Britain handled sex abuse claims, will turn its attention to the Archdiocese of Birmingham next week.

It will likely investigate the cases of Fr Samuel Penney and Fr James Robinson, both of whom were convicted and jailed.

It will also look into the handling of allegations against Fr John Tolkien, son of the Lord of the Rings author, who was questioned by police in 2002 over an abuse allegation but was never charged.

Mr Jacobs, who represents some of the complainants, told a preliminary hearing on Tuesday that the archdiocese had been selected due to “the disparate nature of the Catholic Church and its lack of structure, line management or ability to oversee child protection within its ranks”.

The inquiry will examine “the failure of those at the top of the church either to be able or willing to exercise any form of control or even refer allegations made to them directly to the relevant body,” he added.

He said that those who instruct him “take the view that the evidence so far presents a picture of the church as a clear and present danger to children as it is structurally organised.

“It is an organisation that is fundamentally structurally incapable of implementing minimum standards of child protection consistently and there is no evidence, in my submission, from the church that that is not the case.”

Cardinal Nichols will likely give live evidence on Tuesday, November 13.