Why did a former Dean of Chichester Cathedral return two years after he retired to burn some files?
This was a key question asked at the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse on Tuesday.
The inquiry, which is looking into child abuse in the Diocese of Chichester, asked questions about abuse in the cathedral community and how it was dealt with.
Peter Atkinson, current Worcester dean, said he saw retired Chichester Dean John Treadgold burn files in 2003.
He said: “He had retired in the autumn of 2001 and moved a short distance away.
“He returned to the deanery, removed a number of files from the basement and had a fire in the garden.
A kind of mystical power is held by senior clergy that seems to get a kind of unquestioning respectEdina Carmi
“I don’t know what the files were. I think there is some indication they might have been old chapterfiles, but they may have been his own.
“It’s a bit odd that he’d moved away and then came back to do this, and it was sufficiently troubling for us to mention this to the police, which happened.”
Police interviewed Dean Treadgold under caution but no action was taken.
Dean Atkinson said there was no internal investigation.
A report into abuse at Chichester Cathredal was commissioned following the conviction of Terence Banks for sex offences in 2001.
Banks had been head steward at the cathedral and lived on cathedral grounds.
Edina Carmi, who wrote the report, was asked at the inquiry what challenges remain in the Church.
She said: “We have a culture where it feels like it’s all about a kind of mystical power which is held by senior clergy that seems to get a kind of unquestioning respect.
“It is God given. How do you challenge that? It is up to each individual senior member of clergy how they exercise that power and authority, and it is open to abuse like that.
“There has been a lot of talk about the need to change culture, and there is a need to change culture, but I don’t know how you change it and I haven’t heard anybody say how you change that.”
Asked if a national safeguarding service for the Church should be set up for child protection, Ms Carmi agreed.
She said: “I think that would be preferable, but I think there are also points where you need some independence in it.”
The inquiry continues for the rest of this week.
If you have been affected by what you have read about the inquiry, or are a survivor and wish to receive support, please contact the Truth Project.
For details visit www.truthproject.org.uk or call 0800 917 1000.