A retired clergyman has lost his permission to officiate after complaints made against him were upheld by a church panel.
Reverend Brian Hibberd was permitted to occasionally preach and lead services in the Diocese of St Albans, and he exercised this ministry at St Lawrence’s Church in Abbots Langley.
When Reverend Peter Waddell, vicar of St Lawrence’s, received complaints of unacceptable behaviour towards adults by Revd Hibberd, he referred this to the Diocese’s Safeguarding Team.
Revd Hibberd’s permission to officiate was withdrawn while the investigation was carried out.
During the course of the investigation, one of the complainants referred the matter to the police. Hertfordshire Police confirmed that they received a report of an incident alleged to have occurred at Leavesden Country Park on December 20, 2022.
A police spokesperson said: “After a review of the evidence available, no further action was taken. Any new evidence that comes to light will be acted on accordingly.”
After the police decided not to pursue the case, the church resumed their own internal investigation.
A spokesperson for the Diocese of St Albans said: “The complaints of unacceptable behaviour towards adults have been found to be upheld, and as a result, Brian will not be permitted to resume any duties that require a Bishop’s Licence.
“Our safeguarding investigations are conducted according to the House of Bishops’ guidance, and the process is about managing risk rather than establishing guilt or innocence.”
The Bishop of Hertford the Rt Revd Jane Mainwaring said: “I offer, on behalf of the Church as a whole, an apology to the people who came forward to complain, for the abuse of trust shown by Brian; I acknowledge their courage in making their complaint, and their resilience during what has been a lengthy investigation.”
Photo credit: St Lawrence’s Church Facebook