Britain’s first black archbishop was held back from being given a life peerage because officials wanted to make sure he was not criticised in an abuse inquiry.
Former Archbishop of York Dr John Sentamu was originally snubbed in a list of 36 new members this summer.
A Government source said the honour for the respected clergyman was delayed by the House of Lords Appointments Commission (Holac), which vets nominations.
Archbishop of York, John Sentamu, 71, was expected to receive a life peerage so he would be able to continue sitting in the House of Lords after he retired on June 7
His successor Stephen Cottrell said he was ‘disturbed’ by news that John Sentamu would not be given a seat in the House of Lords
It held back approval while the Church of England was being examined by the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse.
But yesterday it was reported Dr Sentamu, 71, would be granted a peerage imminently.
The source said: ‘There was never any suggestion that the archbishop was involved in the scandal or in covering it up. But he was a senior figure in the Church which was subject to an ongoing process. That is why there has been a delay.’
‘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,’ said Archbishop Cottrell said in a tweet before his enthronement at York Minster
While there is no automatic right for archbishops to be given a life peerage, Sentamu’s snubbing broke a tradition which saw his predecessor, Lord Hope, and the last Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams (pictured), made into life peers
Labour MP David Lammy accused the Government of displaying ‘blatant institutional prejudice’ in its snubbing of Sentamu (pictured giving Eddie Izzard his honorary degree from York St John University
Downing Street had apparently always intended to ennoble the former archbishop.
A source added: ‘Everyone recognises his great contribution, and the peerage was never in doubt.’ It will allow Dr Sentamu to continue sitting in the House of Lords following his retirement in June.
The peerage list announced in July included ex-Brexit Party MEP Claire Fox, a former communist, the Prime Minister’s brother Jo Johnson and Sir Ian Botham.
Politicians had criticised the initial snub to Dr Sentamu.
Labour MP Alex Sobel tweeted: ‘Probably the greatest CoE Bishop in my lifetime. This is racism pure and simple.’ Stephen Lowe, the former Bishop of Hulme, told Times Radio Dr Sentamu was a ‘remarkable man’.
He added: ‘He has never been afraid to speak out against racism, against poverty, against injustice.’
Lord Newby, the Liberal Democrat leader in the House of Lords, said No 10 was ‘stuffing the Lords with people who don’t deserve to stand in Sentamu’s shadow’. Only 12 of the 794 peers in the Lords are of black heritage, according to Operation Black Vote.
Lord Woolley, founder of the lobby group, said: ‘John Sentamu is a hero and role model.’
The new Archbishop of York, Stephen Cottrell, 62, was formally enthroned at a service that was streamed on social media from York Minister yesterday.
He becomes the 98th person to hold the title – the second most senior Church of England post.
During the service, the father of three spoke of his desire to change the institution in light of the recent abuse inquiry.
It is unclear exactly why Sentamu, who voted Remain in the EU referendum but later voted for Theresa May’s Leave deal, wasn’t awarded a life peerage although the Government claims it needs to cut down on numbers in the House of Lords
Last year Sentamu publicly rebuked politicians and accused the Government of ‘stifling’ social reconciliations.
He and Justin Welby, the archbishop of Canterbury, said ‘social divisions feel more entrenched and intractable than for many years’.
They expressed concern over ‘divisions within the major political parties which are stifling the emergence of a hopeful and viable vision for the common good in our communities.’
Sentamu then spoke out to explain why he supported Brexit even though he voted Remain.
He wrote that a second referendum would result in a ‘further draining away of trust from an already discredited political class [that] would be of very great danger to the future government of Britain.’
He added: ‘Permanent loss of confidence in governmental institutions always results in civil unrest and violence.’
Social media users have taken to Twitter to accuse the Government of racism in its not awarding Sentamu a life peerage.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced a list of 36 life peers in July which included his brother, former MP Jo Johnson, and MP Claire Fox, who publicly defended an IRA attack.
At the time SNP MP Pete Wishart said the move was ‘the worst kind of cronyism’, as he accused the Prime Minister of giving jobs for life to ‘friends and those who have done him favours’.
Social media users have taken to Twitter to accuse the Government of racism in its not awarding Sentamu a life peerage
According to figures from Operation Black Vote, just 12 of the 794 peers in the Lords are black, including campaigner Doreen Lawrence (the mother of Stephen Lawrence), actress and politician Floella Benjamin and Labour MP Paul Boateng.
Sentamu, who declined to comment on the situation, was told he was being considered for a peerage on June 26 but on July 31 he was told that he had missed out and would have to wait until the next round.
Source: Daily Mail | BBC News & Gossip