A delay in handing Dr John Sentamu a life peerage was due to the inquiry into child sexual abuse in the Church of England, it has been claimed, as Downing Street insisted the announcement was now “imminent.”
Last night Parliamentary sources claimed that the absence of the former Archbishop of York in last summer’s honours list was due to a “standard” pause when the institution of a nominee was being investigated.
However, they made clear there was absolutely no suggestion that Dr Sentamu had been involved in any wrongdoing, adding that the hold up had been due to the processes of the House of Lords Appointments Commission.
Separately, Government sources confirmed that Dr Sentamu’s life peerage was “imminent” and that “the process is now complete.”
The Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse (IICSA) has been investigating allegations related to the Church in recent years, with a report released this month finding that it failed to protect children.
The Church has described the failings detailed by IICSA as “shocking” and has apologised to victims, adding that it will support anyone who comes forward with allegations of wrongdoing.
Disturbed to find out today that whether it be through negligence or intent my predecessor + Sentamu has not been given the peerage that has been the custom for many years. I trust this will soon be rectified. @UKHouseofLords will benefit from his voice.— Stephen Cottrell (@CottrellStephen) October 18, 2020
Dr Sentamu, 71, should have been handed the honour on his retirement to enable him to continue sitting in the House of Lords in line with the precedent set for his predecessor Lord Hope and the former Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams.
However, Number 10 failed to announce his peerage in a list of 36 life peers released in July, which included former Brexit MEP Claire Fox and the Prime Minister’ brother, Jo Johnson.
When approached by Sunday Times over the omission, the Government initially suggested it was due to the need to reduce the size of the Upper House.
The news provoked a widespread backlash among MPs yesterday, with David Davis, the former Brexit secretary, warning that Number 10 had made a “mistake”.
“He was a great Archbishop,” Mr Davis continued. “It cannot claim it needs to limit the size of the Lords whilst elevating Boris' brother. It should be put right immediately.”
David Lammy, Labour’s shadow justice secretary alleged that the omission constituted a snub of “Britain’s first black archbishop” and pointing out that Number 10 had handed a peerage to England cricketer Lord Botham and a knighthood to Theresa May’s husband, Philip.
Only 12 of the 794 peers sitting in the Lords are black, including Doreen Lawrence, Floella Benjamin and Paul Boateng
Stephen Cottrell, who formally took his seat as the 98th Archbishop of York yesterday, said: “Disturbed to find out today that whether it be through negligence or intent my predecessor Sentamu has not been given the peerage that has been the custom for many years.
“I trust this will soon be rectified. The House of Lords will benefit from his voice.”
Seen as a prominent role model in Britain’s black community, Dr Sentamu advised on the Stephen Lawrence inquiry and chaired the 2002 review into the murder of Damilola Taylor, a 10-year-old schoolboy.
He arrived in Britain in the 1970s after fleeing persecution under Idi Amin in his native Uganda, where he practised law.
He studied theology at Cambridge and is famed for cutting up his dog collar live on air in protest of the abuses carried out by Robert Mugabe’s regime in Zimbabwe.