The Archbishop of Canterbury has been criticised by the head of the national child abuse inquiry for breaching confidentiality over his involvement in the probe.

The Most Rev Justin Welby confirmed to a journalist that he intended to give evidence at the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse’s investigation into the Anglican Church and the date of his appearance. The church later apologised.

Public evidence hearings are being held this week examining how the church tackled allegations of widespread abuse, focusing first on the diocese of Chichester.

All core participants to the inquiry have signed confidentiality agreements.

At the start of yesterday’s hearing, inquiry chairwoman Professor Alexis Jay, a visiting professor at Strathclyde University, said: “The inquiry takes very seriously any breaches of those undertakings or unauthorised sharing of information regarding hearings and investigations. It is most disappointing confidential matters were shared by the Archbishop.”