A BISHOP who continues to evade the question of whether he was aware of sexual abuse in his diocese has announced his retirement.

Bishop of Chester Dr Peter Forster said will leave the post in September but the inquiry into the cover up of a Latchford vicar’s sexual abuse of a child has not yet concluded.

The church has vowed to investigate its failings and apologised to Dickenson’s victim, who was in court to see his abuser sentenced.

Dickenson, 89, a former vicar at Christ Church in Latchford was jailed after he admitted eight counts of sexual assault against a boy in the 1970s.

During their investigation, detectives at Cheshire Police discovered the Church of England had failed to report Dickenson 10 years ago.

Dr Forster continues to evade the question of whether he was personally aware of a confession letter written by Revd Charles Gordon Dickenson in 2009.

The Standard asked the Diocese of Chester for a ‘yes’ or ‘no’ answer on whether Bishop Forster was aware of the 2009 letter.

In response, a spokesman said: “The 2009 letter was received by the Diocese and not acted on. We’ve apologised for that failing and acknowledged that had we done so the police may have brought a conviction sooner.

“The independent review, run by the National Safeguarding Team, will properly investigate how the Diocese, including Bishop Peter, handled this particular case, the terms of which are for them to agree and for the Diocese and Bishop Peter to respond to and cooperate with.”

In a statement, Bishop Forster said he 'welcomed' the opportunity to take part in the review but gave no indication of whether he directly knew about the cover-up a decade ago.

He said: “An independent review, led by the National Safeguarding Team, will be conducted in due course. I expect the review will seek to identify where any failures in procedures arose, and what lessons can be learned. I will cooperate with the review fully and welcome the opportunity to do so.”

In a letter to clergy yesterday, Wednesday, the Bishop said: “I will be retiring as Bishop on September 30. It has been a huge privilege to serve in this Diocese, and I am looking forward to my final months in post.

“At 69, I was beginning to feel ready to retire – with Elisabeth in strong agreement.

"We will move to our house in Scotland, which we have lovingly built over the past decade or so, and which is ready and waiting for us.”