A report by a judge in the UK has found “systemic failures” by the Church of England in how it dealt with abuse allegations at a school in Queensland.

The head of the Anglican Church in Australia says he is profoundly disappointed after a report in the UK found allegations of sexual abuse of children at a north Queensland school during the 1970s were covered up.

A report into allegations of child abuse in the UK and Australia at the hands of former principal dean Robert Waddington has found systemic failures by the Church of England in its handling of the cases.

Waddington, who died from cancer in 2007, was principal of an Anglican school in north Queensland for almost a decade in the 1970s.

Judge Sally Cahill said in her report that former Archbishop of York David Hope had failed to follow policy and take advice after he was informed of complaints against Waddington relating to boys in Manchester and Queensland.

Hope’s actions meant opportunities were missed to start an investigation, which may have led to a prosecution before Waddington’s death seven years ago, the judge found.

It wasn’t possible to say what the consequences would have been if the former archbishop had acted differently, she said.

Hope has always denied suggestions that he covered up allegations against Waddington.

But the Primate of Australia and Anglican Archbishop of Melbourne, Philip Freier, on Thursday said the report would provide vindication for Waddington’s victims.

He said that Ms Cahill, who investigated the allegations at the request of the Church of England, found that Hope kept claims of abuse from police and put more children at risk.

“The report by an English judge that the former Archbishop of York Lord David Hope covered up sexual abuse of children in Australia and Britain is profoundly disappointing for the Anglican Church of Australia,” he said.

“Nevertheless, we warmly welcome the report and are happy that the facts have emerged, providing vindication for the victims of Robert Waddington, who was principal of an Anglican school in north Queensland for nearly a decade to 1970.”

While allegations against Waddington date as far back as the 1950s, they did not come to the attention of the church until 1999.

Waddington has been accused of abusing children in Manchester, York, London, Carlisle and in Queensland.

Dr Freier said the Church had responded to the recommendations of the Victorian Parliamentary Inquiry into child sexual abuse and the royal commission, and was moving ahead with plans to introduce an effective pathway for victims of sexual abuse.