SEXUAL abuse victims of the late former Bishop of Chester Hubert Victor Whitsey have reacted to the report detailing his "appalling" abuse and missed opportunities by church officials to investigate it.

'A Betrayal of Trust', the independent report into the handling of allegations that have come to the attention of the Church of England concerning the late former Bishop of Chester, who died in 1987 aged 71, has been published today (Thursday, October 22).

Richard Scorer, specialist abuse lawyer at Slater & Gordon representing 12 of Whitsey’s victims, said: “This is a very powerful, forensic report. It’s clear that the church failed victims catastrophically both when Whitsey was alive, and again after his death.

“As the report concludes, bishops urgently need to be removed from any operational role in safeguarding in order for the church to be properly, safely and fairly monitored. This is of the upmost importance.

“In addition it is clear that we need mandatory reporting. Mandatory reporting could have prevented at least some of the abuse committed by Whitsey.

“It is now up to the church to tell us how and when it will implement the recommendations in this report – the church needs to do this without delay.

“Now is the time for action.”

One survivor, who was abused in the late 1970s and is represented by Slater and Gordon, said: “I would like the church to have more accountability. We want them to go towards mandatory reporting and a regulation that is independent of the church.

"At the moment it is like the church are marking their own homework – and in doing so will always give individuals within the church the benefit of the doubt. But that isn’t good enough. The church is then seen to be protecting themselves and then just tend to report the ‘good’ they are doing.

“Clearly the system was inadequate then and it is now. The church needs to say sorry – and mean it. That means changing their behaviour rather than saying sorry and continuing to act in the same way. We need to see a real change.

“My brother died in his late 40s, having been abused by Whitsey and he died sad that justice still hadn’t been done. I think that’s a real shame.”

Another survivor, who was abused by Whitsey in 1980 and is represented by Slater and Gordon, said: “The Pearl review on Whitsey is a classic example of what was portrayed in the recent report from the Independent Inquiry into Child Sex Abuse upon the Church of England as a whole – that the Church failed to protect children and young people from sexual predators within their ranks.

“They failed to take abuse seriously and created a culture where abusers like Whitsey were able to hide. The Church protected Whitsey with no care or thought at all for his victims or the suffering we have endured.

“I was sexually abused by Victor Whitsey when I was a teenager. I was hoping to become a vicar in the Church of England and he was supposed to be supporting and mentoring me.

"Instead he destroyed me. He destroyed my innocence, he destroyed my self-respect, he destroyed my trust in humanity, he destroyed my future, he destroyed my belief in the Church of England and he destroyed my faith.

“Today’s report shows Whitsey for what he truly was – an opportunistic paedophile who preyed on the young and the vulnerable to satisfy his depraved sexual urges.

“And whilst he played with his victims like his own personal sex toys, this review shows that the Church of England missed numerous opportunities to appropriately deal with Whitsey, both whilst he was still alive and after his death.

“The simple fact is if the Church had acted appropriately when they first became aware of Whitsey’s abusing, he may never have got his hands on me – he could have been stopped before I became his next play thing. And if that had happened, my life would have been totally different.”

Responding to the report, Church of England’s lead safeguarding bishop, Jonathan Gibbs, said: "We apologise to all victims and survivors of Victor Whitsey, including those who may not be known to us and where he also failed to prevent abuse by others.

"Our focus must lie today with the survivors and victims of Whitsey, recognising the impact that this horrendous abuse has had on their lives, and with deep gratitude for their courage in engaging with the independent review.

“We are taking action to ensure that the Church is a safer place for all and we will be using these recommendations to help us drive change – and some of these already link up with existing work."

  • If you or anyone you are in contact with are affected by the publication of this report and want to talk to someone independently, call the Safe Spaces helpline on 0300 303 1056 or email Other support services are also available.