THERE are many stories about the former Archbishop of York John Sentamu who, it was revealed at the weekend, was recently snubbed by Cabinet Office officials who didn’t put him forward for a life peer.

One story occurred after Sentamu’s installation as Bishop of Birmingham in October 2002. Barely three months later, Charlene Ellis and Letisha Shakespeare were gunned down at a New Year party in Aston. In the months that followed Sentamu moved into the Aston area, going door to door delivering leaflets appealing for witnesses.

At Easter 2003, one of the gangs implicated in the shooting got word to him and asked if he was prepared to meet in secret. He agreed, was blindfolded and driven to the meeting where gang members asked him to guarantee that if they gave evidence they would not be identified and would be kept safe.

Sentamu did his best to reassure them, and after a trial at Leicester Crown Court, where some witnesses gave evidence in secret, four men were jailed for life for the murder of the girls.

Sentamu was born in Uganda on June 10, 1949, weighing little over 4lbs, his parents feared that he would not survive the night, so he was baptised immediately.

Educated by English missionaries, he flourished in school and at the age of 24 he was called to the bar as an advocate before becoming a magistrate. Defying an order to deliver a not guilty verdict for one of Idi Amin’s family, Sentamu was arrested and beaten in a prison cell, subsequently describing the experience as “being kicked around like human football.”

He suffered severe internal injuries and received the last rites from Keith Sutton, an English priest and later Bishop of Lichfield, who arranged to smuggle Sentamu and his wife, Margaret, out of Uganda upon his release.

In the years that followed Sentamu trained for the priesthood, obtaining a PhD in theology from Cambridge along the way, became a priest in South London and subsequently served as Bishop of Stepney and Birmingham before becoming Archbishop of York in 2006.

His contribution to public life has been considerable. A non-exhaustive list would include Chairing the Living Wage Commission, adviser to the Stephen Lawrence Judicial Inquiry, Chair of the Damilola Taylor Murder Review, establishing a youth trust that has served over 700 schools in the north of England, jumping out of an airplane to raise money for paratroopers inured in Afghanistan and speaking out on issues of injustice and poverty both here and abroad.

Over the past three days there have been three reasons provided by Government sources as to why Sentamu was not offered the customary peerage, with each lacking any sense of credibility.

On Sunday, it was said there were already too many peers in the House of Lords. On Monday, it was the fault of the House of Lords Appointments Commission, and then on Tuesday, a further clarification that the Commission actually never received the name and the fault was that of unnamed officials in the cabinet office.

At a time when the nation needs peerless excellence from its administration, the past days have highlighted a peer-less episode of shabby treatment of Sentamu which can only reflect badly on a Government whose organisational incompetence has been underscored by list of ever-changing excuses.

Arun Arora is the vicar of St Nicholas’ Church in Durham