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Alleged computer misuse: St Mary’s Baldock 2010

The Diocese of St Albans Safeguarding Adviser, Mr Jeremy Hirst, has conducted an investigation into alleged computer misuse at St Mary’s Baldock, in 2010. The Diocese has co-operated fully with the Police over this investigation.

The findings of this investigation are published below. The Bishop of Hertford, the Rt Revd Dr Michael Beasley, who received the report has made a response which is also published below.

The report’s conclusion is that all of the church’s officers involved in the actions in 2010 fell short of best safeguarding practice.

Speaking at the time of the report’s publication, the Bishop said:

“The safety of people must be our priority when we welcome people into our churches and our schools. The way this matter was handled may leave the name of St Mary’s tarnished.

“I apologise for the failures that have raised doubt over our capacity to offer a safe welcome in church to the people of Baldock. The measures we have recommended and are putting in place as a result of this report will, I hope, help to restore people’s trust in the church and assure them that safeguarding is our top priority.”

The Revd Andrew Holford said: “I am grateful to the Diocese for the thoroughness of their investigation. I accept and will implement its findings as far as that falls to me. I note that it finds no question of my involvement in criminal wrongdoing, but I now accept that destroying the hard disk was unwise and made a difficult situation worse. I am sorry for that and pledge that safeguarding policies will be given proper priority in St Mary’s.”

The Bishop of Hertford added a final word concerning a letter that has gone to parents of local schools:

“We were very concerned that some schools have issued their own statement about the investigation ahead of our report and statements and without having seen the full report or its conclusions. This has caused us and indeed some parents great concern and some difficulty. Their letter went much further than the conclusions of our carefully worded report would justify and was released several days ahead of the publication of these conclusions. I invite those schools to make the correct summary and response available to parents.”

Findings and Bishop’s Response (pdf)

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