Here you will find a record of official statements made by the Diocese of Chester in relation to safeguarding matters.
Where the diocesan bishop has imposed a penalty against any individual in the diocese in relation to safeguarding, this will also be published here in accordance with national church guidance.
If you are a victim or survivor of church-related abuse, please know that support is available to you. Find out more on this dedicated support page.
Revd Stephen Clapham
Upon receiving information in October 2021 relating to a number of safeguarding allegations, the Bishop of Chester suspended the Revd Steve Clapham from all ministerial positions, including as Vicar of All Saints’ Church, Church Lawton; Rural Dean of Congleton; and Diocesan Ecumenical Officer in the Diocese of Chester. He later resigned from these roles.
Following the sentencing of the Revd Steve Clapham at Chester Crown Court, the Bishop of Chester, Mark Tanner said the following in a statement to the press:
“My thoughts and prayers are with all who have been traumatised by these events, especially the victim of Steve Clapham’s actions. Their bravery and strength of character have helped to convict a perpetrator of child sexual abuse.
“I cannot begin to express my shame and anger for the betrayal and pain that this young person has endured. I am sincerely sorry for what they have experienced and continue to live through.
“I would like to express my gratitude to the police and all who have worked to bring justice in this case, including our own safeguarding team. It is essential that those suffering harm know that they can ask for help and that they will be taken seriously. Contact details are available below for those who would like such support and more information can be found on the Chester Diocese website and the Church of England’s website.
“Everyone has the right to expect the highest levels of integrity and character from clergy in the Diocese of Chester. The Diocese of Chester is committed to fostering a safeguarding culture where all forms of church-related abuse are identified, reported, and addressed promptly and decisively.”
Past Cases Review 2
In the Diocese of Chester's Summary Report, which details the findings from the review of files in the diocese that formed part of the national PCR2 Report, the bishops wrote in the Foreword: "We are appalled and angry regarding some of the past safeguarding practice in Chester Diocese. We also recognise that despite our shared commitment to changing the culture and practice in our Diocese, we may still make mistakes or fall short of the expected standards. None of this is good enough and we are committed to learning from survivors and victims, from past cases and from independent reviews. We are intent upon establishing a healthier culture and a safer church and most of all, upon being more Christ-like in how we respond to victims and survivors and to those who are vulnerable.
"This report touches upon much that is evil, sinful or inadequate. We rightly feel a deep sense of shame, but above all, we are determined to lead the change that is needed and that has already begun. Safeguarding really is at the heart of what it means to be church and at the heart of our mission."
Following the sentencing of Richard Owen, also known as Franklyn Stanowski, the Bishop of Birkenhead and Lead Bishop for Safeguarding, Julie Conalty, said: "I want to thank those who raised concerns about Richard Owen, especially the victims for assisting the police with their investigation. Their courage, strength of character and determination to see justice done has resulted in the conviction of a serial sex offender.
"Despite the passage of time, I am aware that for many the abuse they have suffered will have a life-long impact and I continue to pray for all those affected by this case.
"It is appalling that Richard Owen used his position as a trusted choirmaster to facilitate his abuse of young boys over many years and I feel a deep sense of shame that this happened in our diocese and that some of the abuse was perpetrated in our church buildings.
"It is much harder for abusers to hide in plain sight in our churches and projects nowadays, but Safeguarding is a never-ending task, and we remain committed to vigilance and to ensuring that the correct safeguarding practices and processes are followed.
"I hope that the awareness that this case brings might be an encouragement to others to come forward to report safeguarding concerns or abuse. You will be listened to, taken seriously and cared for."