Church Of England bishop faces disciplinary proceedings over safeguarding failures

Phoebe Southworth
Christopher Lowson, the Bishop of Lincoln - REX/Shutterstock/REX/Shutterstock

The first bishop to be suspended for centuries is facing Church Of England disciplinary proceedings over safeguarding failures at a scandal-hit cathedral.

Christopher Lowson, the Bishop of Lincoln, was suspended in May last year over allegations he "failed to respond appropriately to safeguarding disclosures".

A Church of England spokesperson has now said: "Formal proceedings under the Clergy Discipline Measure have been instituted by the national director of safeguarding. We cannot comment further while the process runs its course."

Bishop Lowson is the first clergyman to be suspended since 1577, when Queen Elizabeth I suspended Edmund Grindal, the former Archbishop of Canterbury, following a disagreement on clergy policies.

He said he was "bewildered" but would fully cooperate to see the matter brought to a "swift conclusion".  

His suspension came shortly after it was revealed that two former Bishops of Lincoln failed to act when informed of alleged abuse. 

Lincolnshire Police have been investigating historic sex abuse cases in the diocese as part of Operation Redstone since 2015. A list of 53 names of clergy and staff were passed to officers and three people were convicted.

The Bishop of Grimsby, David Court, has taken on the leadership of the diocese in his Bishop Lowson's absence. If he is found culpable, he could be permanently barred from working in the Church of England clergy.

The Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, said he wanted to make it "absolutely clear" that no allegations of child abuse have been made against Bishop Lowson.