THE Church of England has issued profound apologies to the two victims of jailed sex abuser Granville Gibson.

The Bishop of Durham, the Right Reverend Paul Butler, also stated that there are “no excuses” for what took place to them at the hands of the man who rose to become Archdeacon of Auckland, one of the most senior posts within the Durham diocese.

As the 80-year-old former General Synod member, from Darlington, was given a 12-month prison sentence at Durham Crown Court, it emerged that both victims have received written apologies from the Bishop of Jarrow, on behalf of the diocese.

One of the pair has also received a personal apology in a meeting with the Right Reverend Mark Bryant, the Bishop of Jarrow who is deputising for The Right Rev Paul Butler, Bishop of Durham, while he is on study leave.

Following Gibson’s conviction on two counts of indecent assault, after a nine-day trial at the court in late July and early August, the bishop instigated an independent review of all the circumstances surrounding the case.

It came in the light of evidence that emerged during the trial, in which it was said that the Church failed to act on complaints about Gibson’s actions, at the time, in the 1980s, when he was minister of St Clare’s Parish, in Newton Aycliffe, several years before his elevation to become archdeacon.

Following Monday's sentencing hearing, Bishop Butler said: “There are no excuses whatsoever for what took place.

“Abuse is a terrible crime and a grievous breach of trust, which has lifelong effects.

“This is a matter of deep shame and regret.

“The Diocese of Durham is committed to making the church a safer place for all and has clear procedures in place but we are aware we can never be complacent.

“As I announced after Mr Gibson’s trial, I have asked the Chair of the Diocesan Safeguarding Management Group to commission a full and independent review of all the circumstances surrounding this case, so that we can learn from what has happened.

“That work has already started and we expect it to conclude next year.”

Imposing sentence, Judge Christopher Prince said Gibson’s first victim, a teenager offender performing community service at St Clare’s, was, “particularly vulnerable” and under the “control” of the defendant, who abused his position of trust.

He said the second offence, committed some years later on a young churchman, was, “a wholly inept and inappropriate attempt to engage him in homosexual activity.”

Dismissing defence counsel Andrew Stubbs’ claim that both incidents were just, “creepy hugs” on Gibson’s behalf, Judge Prince added: “To use a colloquial term, it was a wholly inept ‘pass’ on him, which was wholeheartedly rejected.”

The jailing of Gibson completed the downfall of the once highly-respected churchman.