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From Anne A. Dawson

Dear Editor

I am writing in support of the ‘Rebuilding Bridges’ Morning Conference next month – at Church House Westminster on Thursday February 1 – which I am sadly unable to attend. This is important to me because it restores my faith in humanity there are other people sharing views compatible to mine.
I felt devastated by the bleakness of the statement of our spiritual leader, the Archbishop of Canterbury, in response to the Independent Review by Lord Carlile 15.12.2017, because I feel it expresses cynicism and self-interest, especially the Archbishop’s words about Bishop Bell:
“We realise that a significant cloud is left over his name. No human being is entirely good or bad. Bishop Bell was in many ways a hero. He is also accused of great wickedness. Good acts do not diminish evil ones, nor do evil ones make it right to forget the good”
My trust in the hierarchy of the Church of England has been shattered. I won’t leave the Church because of this, but basically the statement is tragic because of its implications.
Why is there a cloud over Bishop Bell’s name?
My response is because the Archbishop intends perpetuating ambiguity.
I would challenge the relevance in the context of this statement: “Good acts do not diminish evil ones, nor do evil ones make it right to forget the good”.
 
Why is the Archbishop saying this, if not to convey insidious undertones of an implied guilty verdict? The Archbishop had an opportunity to clearly refer to the UDHR, Articles 10 and 11. I feel he has let down the Church of England, as its leading spokesperson.
I am not an expert in law or theology. My interest in this issue is because my work in a pastoral role at primary school includes safeguarding procedures. In my opinion, Lord Carlile’s report was balanced and rational. It avoided preference or prejudice, unlike the Archbishop’s statement which conveyed both.
To me ethics are of utmost importance, because we are educating the next generation to be morally responsible as individuals and as world citizens.
Every child has a sense of natural justice. ‘It’s not fair’ is one of the first and most repeated phrases from Reception Year upwards. In playground disputes we always follow procedures based on conflict resolution. First one child speaks, while the other listens, then vice-versa. With an adult monitoring, most often the outcome is reconciliation.
However, how can I encourage children to respect a man of great responsibility like the Archbishop, when he dismisses the need for a fair hearing of the other?
The school where I work is predominantly non-Christian, with a very diverse spread of backgrounds and nationalities. My sadness is that the Christian faith is being destroyed within by its own leaders, when they recklessly demolish the reputation of one of its greatest representatives.
I am really distressed by this, as children have more choices than ever about what they choose to believe and the inspiration for their internal value system, but the consequences of weak moral leadership from the Anglican Church will not inspire any young person.
The Archbishop has weakened the Church of England by the defamation of Bishop Bell. The long term result is a church broken from within, which does not attract new faith in young people.
A strong church for the younger generation is needed, which has the humility to concede it is sometimes wrong and mismanages its procedures. The Archbishop has lacked the courage to do this, by continuing to deflect guilt onto Bishop Bell. That is why I feel his Statement was self-serving and cynical by the statement “Good acts do not diminish evil ones , nor do evil ones make it right to forget the good”. This comment is made in the context of Bishop Bell’s life, marked throughout with adherence to Christ-centred behaviour in war-divided Europe and beyond. This reference to “evil acts” are totally without evidence, and neither necessary or appropriate to the statement.
To misquote Martin Luther King Jr, 28.8.1963 “I look to a day when people will not be judged by the allegations, but by the content of their character”.
I want to live out my Christian values towards others, based on informed and thoughtful reflection rather than prejudice. I own my anger towards the Archbishop, prompted by shock that he was so intentionally ambivalent towards Bishop Bell in his statement.
I continue to learn through this situation about the theory of personality and what integrity really is. I will continue to invest time and consideration into challenging the Archbishop’s statement “Good acts do not diminish evil ones, nor do evil ones make it right to forget the good”, especially in the context of Bishop Bell.
This letter is underpinned by my sincere desire to look towards the well-being of children. My work requires robust safeguarding in school and in all spheres of life.
In an attempt to over-compensate for past indifference to allegations of child abuse within the church, the leadership projected blame onto a dead man to absorb the ill will. By implying the guilt of Bishop Bell in the above comments in his statement, the Archbishop increases mistrust in safeguarding procedure rather than respecting Lord Carlile’s conclusions.
This does not offer any assurance that future allegations will be properly addressed. I feel compassion for those who have been deeply hurt by words of injustice towards Bishop Bell, who has no opportunity for a fair public hearing.
I hope for a positive outcome at the Rebuilding Bridges event on Ist February, and pray that it brings reconciliation and the restoration of Bishop Bell’s good name.
Yours sincerely
ANNE A. DAWSON
Northolt
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January 9 2018 – Letter from Anne A. Dawson of Northolt

Dear Editor
I am writing in support of the ‘Rebuilding Bridges’ Morning Conference next month – at Church House Westminster on Thursday February 1 – which I am sadly unable to attend. This is important to me because it restores my faith in humanity there are other people sharing views compatible to mine.
I felt devastated by the bleakness of the statement of our spiritual leader, the Archbishop of Canterbury, in response to the Independent Review by Lord Carlile 15.12.2017, because I feel it expresses cynicism and self-interest, especially the Archbishop’s words about Bishop Bell:
“We realise that a significant cloud is left over his name. No human being is entirely good or bad. Bishop Bell was in many ways a hero. He is also accused of great wickedness. Good acts do not diminish evil ones, nor do evil ones make it right to forget the good”
My trust in the hierarchy of the Church of England has been shattered. I won’t leave the Church because of this, but basically the statement is tragic because of its implications.
Why is there a cloud over Bishop Bell’s name?
My response is because the Archbishop intends perpetuating ambiguity.
I would challenge the relevance in the context of this statement: “Good acts do not diminish evil ones, nor do evil ones make it right to forget the good”.
 
Why is the Archbishop saying this, if not to convey insidious undertones of an implied guilty verdict? The Archbishop had an opportunity to clearly refer to the UDHR, Articles 10 and 11. I feel he has let down the Church of England, as its leading spokesperson.
I am not an expert in law or theology. My interest in this issue is because my work in a pastoral role at primary school includes safeguarding procedures. In my opinion, Lord Carlile’s report was balanced and rational. It avoided preference or prejudice, unlike the Archbishop’s statement which conveyed both.
To me ethics are of utmost importance, because we are educating the next generation to be morally responsible as individuals and as world citizens.
Every child has a sense of natural justice. ‘It’s not fair’ is one of the first and most repeated phrases from Reception Year upwards. In playground disputes we always follow procedures based on conflict resolution. First one child speaks, while the other listens, then vice-versa. With an adult monitoring, most often the outcome is reconciliation.
However, how can I encourage children to respect a man of great responsibility like the Archbishop, when he dismisses the need for a fair hearing of the other?
The school where I work is predominantly non-Christian, with a very diverse spread of backgrounds and nationalities. My sadness is that the Christian faith is being destroyed within by its own leaders, when they recklessly demolish the reputation of one of its greatest representatives.
I am really distressed by this, as children have more choices than ever about what they choose to believe and the inspiration for their internal value system, but the consequences of weak moral leadership from the Anglican Church will not inspire any young person.
The Archbishop has weakened the Church of England by the defamation of Bishop Bell. The long term result is a church broken from within, which does not attract new faith in young people.
A strong church for the younger generation is needed, which has the humility to concede it is sometimes wrong and mismanages its procedures. The Archbishop has lacked the courage to do this, by continuing to deflect guilt onto Bishop Bell. That is why I feel his Statement was self-serving and cynical by the statement “Good acts do not diminish evil ones , nor do evil ones make it right to forget the good”. This comment is made in the context of Bishop Bell’s life, marked throughout with adherence to Christ-centred behaviour in war-divided Europe and beyond. This reference to “evil acts” are totally without evidence, and neither necessary or appropriate to the statement.
To misquote Martin Luther King Jr, 28.8.1963 “I look to a day when people will not be judged by the allegations, but by the content of their character”.
I want to live out my Christian values towards others, based on informed and thoughtful reflection rather than prejudice. I own my anger towards the Archbishop, prompted by shock that he was so intentionally ambivalent towards Bishop Bell in his statement.
I continue to learn through this situation about the theory of personality and what integrity really is. I will continue to invest time and consideration into challenging the Archbishop’s statement “Good acts do not diminish evil ones, nor do evil ones make it right to forget the good”, especially in the context of Bishop Bell.
This letter is underpinned by my sincere desire to look towards the well-being of children. My work requires robust safeguarding in school and in all spheres of life.
In an attempt to over-compensate for past indifference to allegations of child abuse within the church, the leadership projected blame onto a dead man to absorb the ill will. By implying the guilt of Bishop Bell in the above comments in his statement, the Archbishop increases mistrust in safeguarding procedure rather than respecting Lord Carlile’s conclusions.
This does not offer any assurance that future allegations will be properly addressed. I feel compassion for those who have been deeply hurt by words of injustice towards Bishop Bell, who has no opportunity for a fair public hearing.
I hope for a positive outcome at the Rebuilding Bridges event on Ist February, and pray that it brings reconciliation and the restoration of Bishop Bell’s good name.
Yours sincerely
Anne A. Dawson
Northolt
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January 7 2018 – “The Seven Resolutions” – ‘Rebuilding Bridges’ Morning Conference – Church House Westminster – February 1 2018

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Thursday February 1 2018 – Church House Westminster

http://rebuildingbridges.org.uk/

The Seven Resolutions for the ‘Rebuilding Bridges’ Morning Conference at Church House Westminster on Thursday February 1

To call for:
1. Archbishop Justin Welby to apologise for his “significant cloud” comment concerning Bishop Bell. Any effective ‘rebuilding of bridges’ is almost impossible without this Apology.  
2. Bishop of Chichester Martin Warner to invite Barbara Whitley, Bishop Bell’s niece, for a “face-to-face” meeting [she has already requested such a meeting]. The Bishop of Chichester has already met ‘Carol’.
3. Chichester Cathedral’s Dean and Chapter to restore 4 Canon Lane back to George Bell House – and to invite Lord Rowan Williams to re-dedicate the new plaque at George Bell House.
4. Chichester Cathedral’s Chancellor and Canon Librarian, Revd Dr Anthony Cane, to permit the display of Bishop Bell’s Portrait (in storage within the Cathedral Library) at Church House on Feb 1.
5. Chichester Cathedral’s Dean, The Very Reverend Stephen Waine, to correct Page 37 of the Cathedral Guide “Society and Faith”:
6. General Synod to undertake a Full Debate at the earliest opportunity, regarding the serious implications arising from Lord Carlile’s report.
7. Prayer
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January 7 2018 – From The Archives [October 22 2015] – Church of England ‘Statement on the Rt. Revd George Bell, 1883-1958’

https://www.churchofengland.org/more/media-centre/news/statement-rt-revd-george-bell-1883-1958

Statement on the Rt. Revd George Bell, 1883 -1958

22/10/2015

 

The Bishop of Chichester has issued a formal apology following the settlement of a legal civil claim regarding sexual abuse against the Right Reverend George Bell, who was Bishop of Chichester from 1929 until his death on 3rd October 1958.

The allegations against Bell date from the late 1940s and early 1950s and concern allegations of sexual offences against an individual who was at the time a young child.

Following settlement of the claim the serving Bishop of Chichester, the Right Reverend Dr. Martin Warner, wrote to the survivor formally apologising and expressing his “deep sorrow” acknowledging that “the abuse of children is a criminal act and a devastating betrayal of trust that should never occur in any situation, particularly the church.”

Bishop Warner paid tribute to the survivor’s courage in coming forward to report the abuse and notes that “along with my colleagues throughout the church, I am committed to ensuring that the past is handled with honesty and transparency.”

Tracey Emmott, the solicitor for the survivor, today issued the following statement on behalf of her client:

“The new culture of openness in the Church of England is genuinely refreshing and seems to represent a proper recognition of the dark secrets of its past, many of which may still not have come to light.  While my client is glad this case is over, they remain bitter that their 1995 complaint was not properly listened to or dealt with until my client made contact with Archbishop Justin Welby’s office in 2013.  That failure to respond properly was very damaging, and combined with the abuse that was suffered has had a profound effect on my client’s life.  For my client, the compensation finally received does not change anything.  How could any amount of money possibly compensate for childhood abuse?  However, my client recognises that it represents a token of apology.  What mattered to my client most and has brought more closure than anything was the personal letter my client has recently received from the Bishop of Chichester.”

The survivor first reported the abuse to the then Bishop of Chichester, Eric Kemp, in August 1995. Bishop Kemp responded to the correspondence offering pastoral support but did not refer the matter to the police or, so far as is known, investigate the matter further. It was not until contact with Lambeth Palace in 2013 that the survivor was put in touch with the safeguarding team at the Diocese of Chichester who referred the matter to the police and offered personal support and counselling to the survivor.

In his letter to the survivor Bishop Warner acknowledges that the response from the Diocese of Chichester in 1995, when the survivor first came forward, “fell a long way short, not just of what is expected now, but of what we now appreciate you should have had a right to expect then.”

In accordance with the recommendations of the Church Commissaries’ report into the Diocese of Chichester in 2012 the settlement does not impose any form of “confidentiality agreement” restriction regarding public disclosure upon the individual. In this case the survivor has expressed the desire to remain anonymous.

Following a meeting between the survivor and Sussex police in 2013, it was confirmed by the police that the information obtained from their enquiries would have justified, had he still been alive, Bishop Bell’s arrest and interview, on suspicion of serious sexual offences, followed by release on bail, further enquiries and the subsequent submission of a police report to the CPS.

A formal claim for compensation was submitted in April 2014 and was settled in late September of this year. The settlement followed a thorough pre-litigation process during which further investigations into the claim took place including the commissioning of expert independent reports. None of those reports found any reason to doubt the veracity of the claim.

The Church of England takes any allegations of abuse very seriously and is committed to being a safe place for all. Any survivors or those with information about church-related abuse must always feel free to come forward knowing that they will be listened to in confidence.

Should anyone have further information or need to discuss the personal impact of this news the Church has worked with the NSPCC to set up a confidential helpline no. 0800 389 5344.

ENDS

Notes to Editors

A copy of this statement can be found on the Church of England website and the Diocese of Chichester website.

For further information contact Lisa Williamson at the Diocese of Chichester Communications office on 01273 425791 or The Revd Dr Rob Marshall +44 (0) 7766 952113

The Rt. Revd. Mark Sowerby, Bishop of Horsham in the Diocese of Chichester is available for interview today. Please use the above numbers or contact his office on 01403 211139

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January 5 2018 – “What ought to happen after the Carlile report” – Church Times – Letters – David Lamming and Alan F. Jesson

 

 

 

 

What ought to happen after the Carlile report

https://www.churchtimes.co.uk/articles/2018/5-january/comment/letters-to-the-editor/letters-to-the-editor

From Mr David Lamming

Sir, — Lord Carlile’s report of his review of the handling by the Church of England of the claim by “Carol” that she was sexually abused by the late Bishop George Bell (News, 15 December) is devastating in its criticisms of the Core Group that agreed the settlement with the claimant (involving the payment of £16,800 damages plus £15,000 costs). Utterly demolishing the claim (made in the statement announcing the settlement on 22 October 2015) that “the settlement followed a thorough pre-litigation process,” he shows that it was anything but “thorough”. Moreover, the statement disingenuously claimed that this included the commissioning of expert independent reports “none of [which] found any reason to doubt the veracity of the claim”.

Although, as he is careful to point out, Lord Carlile’s terms of reference did not include making a finding as to the truth or otherwise of Carol’s claim, the extracts that he publishes from the report of Professor Maden (commissioned by the Core Group), far from showing no reason to doubt Carol’s claim, give every reason to doubt it.

The obvious conclusion (or it should have been obvious to the bishops who commented publicly on the Carlile report) ought to be that if the investigative process was so fundamentally flawed, any finding, explicit or implicit, that Bell committed the alleged abuse cannot stand, with the consequence that the important presumption of innocence (for some reason, pejoratively described as “emotive” by the Bishop of Chichester in his public statement) applies, in the same way as it would apply to a defendant whose criminal conviction was quashed by the Court of Appeal on the basis of a finding that he had not had a fair trial.

According to the General Synod timetable issued on 14 December (the day before publication of the Carlile report), “Safeguarding” is to be the subject of a “Presentation under SO 107 — with Q&A” on the morning of Saturday 10 February. In the light of Lord Carlile’s report, that is not good enough. Time must be found for a proper debate when the issues arising from the report, and its implications for the Church and the National Safeguarding Team, can be properly discussed.

DAVID LAMMING
(Lay member of General Synod)
20 Holbrook Barn Road, Boxford
Suffolk CO10 5HU

 

From the Revd Alan F. Jesson

Sir, — Shakespeare had Mark Antony say of Caesar, “The evil that men do lives after them, The good is oft interrèd with their bones.” Comments from the Archbishop of Canterbury and the current Bishop of Chichester ensure that this is also shamefully applied to Bishop Bell.

It also raises another important point, which seems to have been overlooked.

I have read Lord Carlile’s report, and the Annexes thereto, and, in the light of the botched inquiries of the Core Group (I cannot call them incomplete), it seems that, if Bishop Bell is innocent, as circumstances suggest, and if “Carol” is truthful, as the Core Group assume them to be, then clearly there must be somebody who has escaped any consequence of his actions.

The comments from the Archbishop of Canterbury and the current Bishop of Chichester render it imperative that a full independent investigation is urgently but thoroughly undertaken.

That tired cliché “Lessons learned” is too often an excuse for little further action. In justice to Bishop Bell, this must not happen.

ALAN F. JESSON
9 Lawn Lane, Sutton-in-the-Isle
Ely, Cambridgeshire CB6 2RE

 

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This Portrait is in storage within the Cathedral Library [September 9 2017] – No Public Access [except on Heritage Open Days eg September 9 2017]

The Plaque reads:

“Bishop Bell has a worldwide reputation for his tireless work for international reconciliation, the arts, education, and church unity. The House that bears his name provides a place where work in these areas can continue and prosper. The generosity of an Anglican Order, the Community of the Servants of the Cross (CSC) has enabled the purchase of the House. Canon Peter Kefford (Treasurer of Chichester Cathedral 2003-2009) was the prime initiator in establishing George Bell House as a centre for Education, Vocation and Reconciliation” 

Photograph: Howard Coster, 1953. It is the last portrait photograph of Bishop Bell.

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January 1 2018 – “Justin Welby’s astonishing refusal to accept the outcome of a report he commissioned” – Peter Hitchens – MailOnline

http://hitchensblog.mailonsunday.co.uk/2018/01/justin-welbys-astonishing-refusal-to-accept-the-outcome-of-a-report-he-commissioned.html

01 January 2018 11:38 AM

Justin Welby’s astonishing refusal to accept the outcome of a report he commissioned

I’m posting this item from my Sunday column as a stand-alone article, because it seems to me that the Archbishop of Canterbury’s refusal to accept the outcome of the independent inquiry by Lord Carlile QC – which he himself commissioned – into the George Bell case has become a scandal in its own right.

Not only is it shocking for a man in such a position to reject a report he asked for, and whose author he presumably helped to choose. It is , er, highly disingenuous for the Archbishop to have said (as he did ): ‘Lord Carlile does not seek to say whether George Bell was in fact responsible for for the acts about which the complaint was made’. This is not because Lord Carlile reached no conclusions on that issue. It is because Lord Carlile was narrowly limited in his terms of reference to examining the process by which the Church condemned George Bell. In fact it is plain from the Carlile report that George Bell was condemned on inadequate evidence, sloppily and unfairly gathered and sloppily and unfairly considered. Lord Carlile told me on the day of publication that he, a distinguished QC, would have lost the case had he attempted to prosecute George Bell on such evidence. Given that a man is innocent until proven guilty, and it is plain that the Church has not proved George Bell guilty by any standard, he is therefore innocent.

The Archbishop’s unlovely behaviour is licensing all kinds of people to shuffle and delay over important actions which are necessary to restore Bishop Bell’s good name.

These include the return of his name name to schools and buildings from which it was Stalinistically stripped, the re-hanging of various portraits and pictures of him which have been taken down or moved to less honoured positions, the revision of his Wikipedia entry which currently gives absurd credence to the allegations against him, the rewriting of the Chichester Cathedral guidebook, the renewed observance of the day which commemorates George Bell’s memory in the Church calendar, the return to widespread use of the hymn ‘Christ is the King, written by Bishop Bell, which some churches have abandoned since the allegations surfaced,  and the re-starting of work on a sculpture of him commissioned by Canterbury cathedral, which was abandoned when the claims against him were first published:

 

‘I see the Archbishop of Canterbury. Justin Welby, has been complaining about ‘fake news’. As well he might, since ‘fake news’ is a good description of the statement which Archbishop Welby’s church put out to the media, insinuating incorrectly that the late George Bell was a child molester.

 

Lord Carlile has now produced a devastating report which shows that statement was full of false claims. It said Bishop Bell would have been arrested if he’d still been alive, when he wouldn’t have been. It said there had been a thorough investigation – when there hadn’t been. It said experts had found no reason to doubt the charges, when one expert most definitely had found such a reason and clearly said so.

 

Yet despite this total demolition of a case that any court would have thrown out, Archbishop Welby continues to claim (more fake news?) that there is a ‘cloud’ over George Bell’s name, like some dim wiseacre in a pub, utterly defeated in an argument by facts and logic,  intoning doggedly that ‘there’s no smoke without fire’. The only cloud over Bishop Bell’s name hangs there because Justin Welby’s pride prevents him from admitting he got it wrong.  He knows what he needs to do.’

 

Perhaps, because of its severe and careful ,legal language, some people may not have realised just how devastating Lord Carlile’s report was to the case against George Bell.

 

It may be read here

https://www.churchofengland.org/sites/default/files/2017-12/Bishop%20George%20Bell%20-%20The%20Independent%20Review.pdf

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Dec 31 2017 – “Bishop George Bell: the saga continues (4)” – ‘Bats in the Belfry’ – Christopher Hill

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Christopher Hill

https://rothercottage.wordpress.com/2017/12/31/bishop-george-bell-the-churchs-failure-4/

Bishop George Bell: the Church’s failure (4)

The publication by the Church of England of Lord Carlile’s review was accompanied by three episcopal statements. I look today at those by the Bishop of Chichester, Martin Warner, and the Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby.

Dr Warner contends that “Lord Carlile’s Independent Review is a demonstration of the Church of England’s commitment to equality of justice and transparency in our safeguarding practice.”

This opening remark is ambiguous. Does Dr Warner mean that the report itself demonstrates …? If so, he is clearly mistaken, since the report does nothing to strengthen the Church’s reputation for seeking justice.

Or does he mean that the fact that the he asked for a report to be compiled demonstrates…etc? In that case his account is partial, for without public pressure the Church would not have perceived any need for a review.

Dr Warner goes on to apologise for the Core Group’s deficiencies, and seems to think that improving Its protocols will help in future. But the Core Group’s failure was nothing to do with protocols. It stemmed from lack of direction, (which the Bishop could have remedied) and from muddled thinking, which he could have prevented.

Warner refers to the complexity of the case, before making the statement that “The emotive principle of innocent until proven guilty is a standard by which our actions are judged…”Did he really mean ‘emotive’? Was the case really so complex?

Warner’s next remark is even more striking: “Irrespective of whether she is technically a complainant, survivor, or victim, ‘Carol’ emerges from this report as a person of dignity and integrity. It is essential that her right to privacy continues to be fully respected.”

Can he possibly have meant to write ‘technically’? The distinction between a complainant on the one hand, and a survivor or victim on the other is very far from technical, if by ‘technical’ is meant ‘unimportant’.

It is mysterious that Warner emphasises the need for the complainant’s privacy to be respected. The law is well known to all concerned, and none of the critics of the Church’s procedures has sought to break it.

Dr Warner concludes: “The good deeds that Bishop George Bell did were recognised internationally. They will stand the test of time. In every other respect, we have all been diminished by the case that Lord Carlile has reviewed.”

As I have remarked before, he is surely wrong to allege that we are ALL diminished. What is clear is that the reputations of those who lent themselves to the Church’s handling of the case have been diminished.

We come, finally, to a statement by the Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, which also accompanied Lord Carlile’s report. He begins that “Bishop George Bell is one of the great Anglican heroes of the 20th century. The decision to publish his name was taken with immense reluctance, and all involved recognised the deep tragedy involved. “

Lord Carlile’s account of the proceedings of the Core Group, the body that took the decision, does not indicate any great reluctance in its members, nor any deep sense of tragedy.

Welby correctly says that Carlile does not pronounce on whether or not Bell was guilty, but fails to point out that the question of guilt was not in his terms of reference.

He does apologise for the failures of the Church’s procedures, but spoils the effect by adding “We realise that a significant cloud is left over his name…No human being is entirely good or bad. Bishop Bell was in many ways a hero. He is also accused of great wickedness. Good acts do not diminish evil ones, nor do evil ones make it right to forget the good. Whatever is thought about the accusations, the whole person and whole life should be kept in mind.”

Welby here gives the impression that, if he has read Carlile’s review, it has not dented his determination to leave open the question of Bell’s guilt. It seems not to have occurred to him that, if there is a cloud over Bell’s name, it is there because the hierarchy allowed it to gather and has done nothing to remove it.

There are two more questions. Why are these prelates so obstinately wedded to their non-committal approach to the question of Bell’s guilt or innocence, and what can they do to salvage their reputations?

One possible answer to the first question is that the bishops know some real facts which remained unknown to Lord Carlile, and which they believe allow them to leave the door open to Bell’s guilt. That explanation seems too far-fetched for an otherwise prosaic group of men.

Yet they are not stupid men, and cannot be ignorant of the acrimony and disappointment that they have caused. Perhaps they are simply the victims (survivors?) of habit, in other words they are used to thinking of Bell as guilty; of collegiality, meaning that a self-reinforcing consensus has grown up among them and of pride, which speaks for itself.

As for their reputations, we must hope that the Archbishop will take note of the Bell fiasco in the book that he is writing on values, and that the whole subject will be fully aired at the Synod in February.

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December 28 2017 – “Bishop George Bell: the saga continues (2)” – ‘Bats in the Belfry’ – Christopher Hill

7OfkyObN_200x200

Christopher Hill

https://rothercottage.wordpress.com/2017/12/28/bishop-george-bell-the-saga-continues-2/

Bishop George Bell: the saga continues (2)

I wrote to The #Bishop of Chichester, @DrMartinWarner, on 14th November 2015, asking some basic questions about the Church’s handling of the allegations against @BishopGeorgeBell. Dr Warner sent a prompt and courteous reply, dated 19th November.

At that time it was not even known that the complainant, later known as ‘Carol’, was a woman, and no detail had been published of where the alleged molestation had taken place. Nor was anyone allowed to know who had seen the evidence in the case, though there is no legal requirement for such secrecy. Even the #DeanofChichester had no direct knowledge of the facts, but relied on an assurance that he had been given that the evidence was incontrovertible.

Dr Warner’s letter to me contained some difficult passages. To start with, having said that the allegation against Bell was indeed disturbing, he asserted “We are all diminished by this.”

I do not know what this flourish means. It is plainly false to say that we are ALL diminished, but perhaps the Bishop meant that he and other church people were diminished in the public estimation by the way in which they had handled the case.

Dr Warner went on: “All facts that were capable of independent corroboration were corroborated.” Again, I do not know what this means. @LordCarlile’s review of the Church’s procedures yields little evidence of anyone trying to corroborate any facts.

Dr Warner went on to say that “evidence was exchanged.” This is uninformative, without any details being given of the parties to the exchange.

With regard to the conduct of the investigation he said “independent advice from all the professional disciplines which are usually involved in such claims was obtained, including of course independent legal advice, and the survivor ( this is what Church insists on calling her) was questioned in person about their (sic) evidence.”

I do not know what professional disciplines Dr Warner had in mind. Lord Carlile does record that two psychiatrists were instructed, with different terms of reference. @ProfessorAnthonyMaden, the one who was asked to comment on Carol’s credibility, said that the truth of her allegations could not be established without corroborative evidence, and that false memory could not be excluded.

An illustration of the unusual procedures of the Core Group, the investigative and decision-making body set up by the Church, is that Professor Maden’s report was circulated to some members in full, and to others only in summary.

Apart from the psychiatrists, there was contact with the police. Are these the “usual disciplines”?

As for legal advice, It was indeed available from a solicitor who advised the Group,but Carlile comments several times on its failure to instruct any criminal lawyer to advise it on the strength of the evidence.

Finally, in response to my question about the removal of Bell’s name from #GeorgeBellHouse, the Bishop answered that this was a matter for the Dean and Chapter. Yet they seem to have been almost as much in the dark as everyone else.

From these remarks by Dr Warner it does seem that he was not well informed about the proceedings of the Core Group, which appears to have been unable to investigate systematically, or to make decisions based on rational assessments. His relative ignorance is in a way understandable, as his attendance at the Group had been sporadic,and he was apparently not even invited to its fifth and final meeting.

But surely he must have been aware of the consensus to which the Group found its way, first that Bell was probably guilty, then that he probably had abused other children, and in the end that his name must be published, a public apology made and compensation paid? After all,in the end it was he who had to accept responsibility and sign thx letter.

One cannot tell what was going through Dr Warner’s mind, but he does seem to have been the victim of lax procedures and muddled thinking, which somehow affected his own assessment of the case.

In a day or two I shall continue the exegesis of pronouncements on the Bell matter by Dr Warner, @DrJustinWelby (the #ArchbishopofCanterbury) and perhaps other prelates.

Follow me on Twitter: @ChristoHill3

Bishop George Bell: the saga continues (2)

I wrote to The #Bishop of Chichester, @DrMartinWarner, on 14th November 2015, asking some basic questions about the Church’s handling of the allegations against @BishopGeorgeBell. Dr Warner sent a prompt and courteous reply, dated 19th November.

At that time it was not even known that the complainant, later known as ‘Carol’, was a woman, and no detail had been published of where the alleged molestation had taken place. Nor was anyone allowed to know who had seen the evidence in the case, though there is no legal requirement for such secrecy. Even the #DeanofChichester had no direct knowledge of the facts, but relied on an assurance that he had been given that the evidence was incontrovertible.

Dr Warner’s letter to me contained some difficult passages. To start with, having said that the allegation against Bell was indeed disturbing, he asserted “We are all diminished by this.”

I do not know what this flourish means. It is plainly false to say that we are ALL diminished, but perhaps the Bishop meant that he and other church people were diminished in the public estimation by the way in which they had handled the case.

Dr Warner went on: “All facts that were capable of independent corroboration were corroborated.” Again, I do not know what this means. @LordCarlile’s review of the Church’s procedures yields little evidence of anyone trying to corroborate any facts.

Dr Warner went on to say that “evidence was exchanged.” This is uninformative, without any details being given of the parties to the exchange.

With regard to the conduct of the investigation he said “independent advice from all the professional disciplines which are usually involved in such claims was obtained, including of course independent legal advice, and the survivor ( this is what Church insists on calling her) was questioned in person about their (sic) evidence.”

I do not know what professional disciplines Dr Warner had in mind. Lord Carlile does record that two psychiatrists were instructed, with different terms of reference. @ProfessorAnthonyMaden, the one who was asked to comment on Carol’s credibility, said that the truth of her allegations could not be established without corroborative evidence, and that false memory could not be excluded.

An illustration of the unusual procedures of the Core Group, the investigative and decision-making body set up by the Church, is that Professor Maden’s report was circulated to some members in full, and to others only in summary.

Apart from the psychiatrists, there was contact with the police. Are these the “usual disciplines”?

As for legal advice, It was indeed available from a solicitor who advised the Group, but Carlile comments several times on its failure to instruct any criminal lawyer to advise it on the strength of the evidence.

Finally, in response to my question about the removal of Bell’s name from #GeorgeBellHouse, the Bishop answered that this was a matter for the Dean and Chapter. Yet they seem to have been almost as much in the dark as everyone else.

From these remarks by Dr Warner it does seem that he was not well informed about the proceedings of the Core Group, which appears to have been unable to investigate systematically, or to make decisions based on rational assessments. His relative ignorance is in a way understandable, as his attendance at the Group had been sporadic,and he was apparently not even invited to its fifth and final meeting.

But surely he must have been aware of the consensus to which the Group found its way, first that Bell was probably guilty, then that he probably had abused other children, and in the end that his name must be published, a public apology made and compensation paid? After all,in the end it was he who had to accept responsibility and sign thx letter.

One cannot tell what was going through Dr Warner’s mind, but he does seem to have been the victim of lax procedures and muddled thinking, which somehow affected his own assessment of the case.

In a day or two I shall continue the exegesis of pronouncements on the Bell matter by Dr Warner, @DrJustinWelby (the #ArchbishopofCanterbury) and perhaps other prelates.

Follow me on Twitter: @ChristoHill3

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December 26 2017 – “Bishop George Bell: the saga continues (1)” – ‘Bats in the Belfry’ – Christopher Hill

https://rothercottage.wordpress.com/2017/12/26/bishop-george-bell-the-saga-continues-1/

Bishop George Bell: the saga continues (1)

At this hopeful time of year it is a pleasure to congratulate @LordCarlile QC on his review of the procedures followed by the @ChurchofEngland in dealing with sexual allegations against @BishopGeorgeBell of Chichester, who died in 1958. The allegations were first made in 1995 by a woman known only as ‘Carol’, and renewed in 2012 and 2013.

Carlile had not been asked to pronounce on Bell’s guilt or innocence, and he did not do so. What he did was to expose the startling deficiencies in the conduct and administration of the “ Core Group” set up by the Chichester diocese and the national church to look into the whole question. The Group was chaired by members of the diocesan Safeguarding Team, with the current @BishopofChichester , @DrMartinWarner, as a member, though he only attended three (or perhaps fewer) of its five meetings. It came to the conclusion that Bell was probably guilty, whereupon Warner publicly apologised and paid off the complainant.

The Core Group’s deficiencies, identified by Carlile, provide a lesson in how not to run an enquiry which might well be included in university courses. There was unacceptable discontinuity of attendance and chairmanship, papers were not always distributed in the same format to all members, no Advocatus Diaboli was appointed to watch Bell’s interests, the complainant was regarded as a ‘survivor’ or ‘victim’ rather than as a complainant, no attempt was made to find any relations of Bell, nor his chaplain, who was still alive and well, though very old, and it seems that no serious attempt was made to test Carol’s allegations, nor to find any corroborative evidence. Carlile tartly says that he had to accept what he was told, that several Group members had extensive experience of the criminal justice system, but that unfortunately there was no evidence that they had shared it.

One of the.most shocking details is that the Group seems to have been determined to believe that Bell must have abused more than one child. Having discovered that he had been in close touch with the German Kindertransport, and had put up young British evacuees at the Palace, it apparently convinced itself that these opportunities for wrongdoing strengthened the case for believing in Bell’s guilt. In fact they strengthen the opposite case, for no whiff of complaint from anyone except Carol had ever been detected. The opportunities were there, but there is no evidence that Bell took them.

Carlile’s devastating review does not explicitly assign responsibility, but it is hard to avoid the conclusion that it rests with Dr Warner, and with the @ArchbishopofCanterbury himself, who was kept intermittently informed.

Tomorrow I hope to compare with Lord Carlile’s findings some statements made by Dr Warner in November 2015.

Follow me on Twitter: @ChristoHill3

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December 30 2017 – “Bishop George Bell (3)” – ‘Bats in the Belfry’ – Christopher Hill

7OfkyObN_200x200

Christopher Hill

https://rothercottage.wordpress.com/2017/12/30/bishop-george-bell-3/

Bishop George Bell (3)

When the Church published @LordCarlile’s review on 15 December it was accompanied by statements by three prelates, Hancock, the “#LeadSafeguardingBishop”, @Warner (#Chichester) and @Welby, (#Canterbury). All three managed to play down Carlile’s adverse findings and adopted a tone of half-hearted contrition, whilst evading or weakening Carlile’s main points.

Carlile’s findings were often biting, terse and trenchantly expressed. He can hardly be pleased with the gloss that has been put on them.

Carlile found that the Church’s procedures in arriving at its guilty verdict on @BishopBell, and in deciding to publish his name,had been very far from best practice. To the careful reader of his review the Core Group sounds amateurish and verging on the shambolic.

It is clear that a consensus, confirmed by majority vote, grew up within the Group, but the arguments that led its members to commit themselves are not stated. There seems to have been little effort to find facts, beyond the allegations made by the complainant, ‘Carol’, whom the Church’s spokesmen insist on describing as “the survivor”.

Against this background the prelates’ task was not easy. The first apologist, Hancock, did his best:

“At the heart of this case was a judgement, on the balance of probabilities, as to whether, in the event that her claim for compensation reached trial, a court would have concluded that Carol was abused by Bishop Bell. The Church decided to compensate Carol, to apologise and to be open about the case.”

Hancock says nothing about how or why the Church reached these decisions, but went on to admit “It is clear from the report, however, that our processes were deficient in a number of respects, in particular the process for seeking to establish what may have happened. For that we apologise”

Since the whole point of the Core Group was “to establish what may have have happened” this admission is crucial, though Hancock seems not to realise how fundamental it is.

He went on: “The Bishop Bell case is a complex one and it is clear from the report and minutes of Core Group meetings that much professional care and discussion were taken over both agreeing the settlement with Carol and the decision to make this public. As Lord Carlile’s report makes clear, we acted in good faith throughout with no calculated intention to damage George Bell’s reputation.”

The reader of Carlile’s review will not have gained an impression of “much professional care and discussion”. Nor does the case see particularly complex, resting, as it does, on uncorroborated allegations. As for the damage to Bell’s reputation, could the Group have done more damage if it had acted in BAD faith?

Hancock concludes with proper genuflection to Bell’s wartime record, but adds: “ At the same time, we have a duty and commitment to listen to those reporting abuse, to guard their confidentiality, and to protect their interests.

“We recognise that Carol has suffered pain, as have surviving relatives of Bishop Bell. We are sorry that the Church has added to that pain through its handling of this case.”

It is fair to comment that the Church did not ADD TO Bell’s relations’ pain: it created it.

Hancock’s statement is well drafted, but is unlikely it to satisfy anyone, for the overall impression that it leaves is of studied reluctance to say anything that would tend to exonerate Bishop Bell, whatever the evidence, or lack of it.

Follow me on Twitter: @ChristoHill3

 

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December 31 2017 – “Who’s really preaching fake news, Archbishop?” – Peter Hitchens – Mail on Sunday

peter-hitchens_877_1871668c

Peter Hitchens

http://hitchensblog.mailonsunday.co.uk/2017/12/peter-hitchens-brexit-can-work-all-it-needs-is-a-proper-british-compromise.html

Who’s really preaching fake news, Archbishop?

I see the Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, has been complaining about ‘fake news’. As well he might, since ‘fake news’ is a good description of the statement which Archbishop Welby’s church put out to the media, insinuating incorrectly that the late George Bell was a child molester.
Lord Carlile has now produced a devastating report which shows that statement was full of false claims. It said Bishop Bell would have been arrested if he’d still been alive, when he wouldn’t have been. It said there had been a thorough investigation, when there hadn’t been.
It said experts had found no reason to doubt the charges, when one expert most definitely had found such a reason and clearly said so.
Yet despite this total demolition of a case that any court would have thrown out, Archbishop Welby continues to claim (more fake news?) that there is a ‘cloud’ over George Bell’s name, like some dim wiseacre in a pub, utterly defeated in an argument by facts and logic, intoning doggedly that ‘there’s no smoke without fire’.
The only cloud over Bishop Bell’s name hangs there because Justin Welby’s pride prevents him from admitting he got it wrong. He knows what he needs to do.

 

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February 1 2018 – ‘Rebuilding Bridges’ Morning Conference – Church House Westminster + Letter of Invitation

LETTER OF INVITATION

Dear All

I do hope you have had a good Christmas.
 
I am writing to you, following the Carlile Review on George Bell, Bishop of Chichester –http://www.chichester.anglican.org/media/documents/document/2017/12/Bishop_George_Bell_-_The_Independent_Review.pdf .
 
In the light of this, a Morning Conference ‘Rebuilding Bridges’ will take place at Church House Westminster on Thursday February 1 2018
  
100 written Invitations will be posted out by January 1 2018.
 
You are warmly invited to attend on Feb 1. 
 
Please provide a full address and post code, and I will send out an Invitation to you.  
 
If there is anyone else you might think would be interested in attending, I will be more than happy to also send them an Invitation. 
 
Many thanks – and a very Happy New Year to you!
 
 
Richard W. Symonds
Event Coordinator
 
2 Lychgate Cottages
Ifield Street, Ifield Village
Crawley, West Sussex RH11 0NN
 
Tel: 07540 309592 (Text only)
 
NB May I draw your particular attention to “Help!” on the left-hand side of http://rebuildingbridges.org.uk/ Any contribution towards costs would be appreciated!
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December 15 2017 – “C of E says sorry for its response to child abuse allegations against Bishop George Bell” – Anglican Communion News Service [ACNS]

http://www.anglicannews.org/news/2017/12/c-of-e-says-sorry-for-its-response-to-child-abuse-allegations-against-bishop-george-bell.aspx

C of E says sorry for its response to child abuse allegations against Bishop George Bell

Posted on: December 15, 2017 1:50 PM

Bishop George Bell, photographed in the 1910s
Photo Credit: Dorothy Hickling / Public Domain

An independent review has been carried out into the way the Church of England handled allegations that the former Bishop of Chichester, George Bell, sexually abused a young girl in the late 1940s and early 1950s. In October 2015, the Church of England issued a statement in which it announced that the complainant had received compensation and an apology. The statement also said that Sussex Police had confirmed “that the information obtained from their enquiries would have justified, had he still been alive, Bishop Bell’s arrest and interview, on suspicion of serious sexual offences.” The Church asked senior human rights lawyer Lord Carlile to undertake a review of their handling of the case, after supporters of Bishop Bell accused it of unfairly deciding Bell’s guilt.

In 1914, while in his early 30s, George Bell was appointed Chaplain to the then-Archbishop of Canterbury; becoming Dean of Canterbury around 10 years later. He was an acknowledged theologian with important international Christian connections. Within five years he was appointed Bishop of Chichester, a post he held for almost 30 years. He died on 3 October 1958, shortly after his retirement.

The complainant, known by the pseudonym Carol because her identity is legally protected, first contacted the Church of England to complain about Bishop Bell in 1995. The C of E acknowledges that her complaint was not handled appropriately at that time. She made a fresh complaint in 2013, leading to the settlement and statement which was the subject of Lord Carlile’s review. Carol alleges that she was abused by Bishop Bell over a period of time when she lived near the cathedral in the late 1940s or early 1950s. The abuse stopped when her family moved away from the area around 1951, when she was aged eight or nine.

Lord Carlile said that her allegations, “if true, amount to serious and horrifying criminal offences committed against a defenceless child. They would be the most serious breach of trust imaginable. However, the fact that they are serious does not ipso facto mean that they are also true.”

In his review, Lord Carlile does not attempt to determine “the truthfulness of Carol, nor the guilt or innocence of Bishop Bell” as that did not form part of his terms of reference. Instead, his task had been “to examine the procedures followed by the Church of England in its various parts, the way in which it obtained and assessed evidence in this case, and whether it was right to make a public statement of apology and pay damages.”

He found that, the Church of England had “acted throughout in good faith” and “was motivated by a desire to do what it perceived to be the right thing by the complainant.”

He said: “Its actions were informed by history in which the Church has been, at best, slow to acknowledge abuse by its clergy and, at worst, believed to have turned a blind eye. I have concluded that the process followed by the Church in this case was deficient in a number of respects. The most significant was that the Core Group which it established failed to follow a process that was fair and equitable to both sides.

“It is axiomatic that, in appropriate cases, the Church should be ready to acknowledge sexual abuse committed by the clergy. However, that does not mean that the reputations of the dead are without value.”

Lord Carlile made a number of recommendations, including that Core Groups set up to deal with cases should have within its membership “someone assigned to . . . represent the interests of the accused person and his or her descendants.”

He said that “alleged perpetrators, living or dead, should not be identified publicly unless or until the Core Group has (a) made adverse findings of fact, and (b) it has also been decided that making the identity public is required in the public interest.”

He said that in cases which are settled with admission of liability, “there should be a presumption that the perpetrator’s name will be published together with a description of the conduct concerned (unless the complainant objects on reasonable grounds).” But added that “where as in this case the settlement is without admission of liability, the settlement generally should be with a confidentiality provision: there should be a presumption that the name of the alleged perpetrator should not be published, unless the alleged perpetrator agrees that it should be, or the circumstances are held to be wholly exceptional.”

The C of E has welcomed the report, but rejected the recommendation that settlements should be subject to confidentiality agreements.

“We have to differ from Lord Carlile’s point that ‘where as in this case the settlement is without admission of liability, the settlement generally should be with a confidentiality provision”, the Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, said. “The C of E is committed to transparency and therefore we would take a different approach.

“Lord Carlile . . . does make significant comments on our processes, and we accept that improvement is necessary, in all cases including those where the person complained about is dead. We are utterly committed to seeking to ensure just outcomes for all. We apologise for the failures of the process.”

The current Bishop of Chichester, Martin Warner, described Lord Carlile’s Review as “a demonstration of the Church of England’s commitment to equality of justice and transparency in our safeguarding practice.”

He said: “We welcome Lord Carlile’s assessment of our processes, and apologise for failures in the work of the Core Group of national and diocesan officers and its inadequate attention to the rights of those who are dead. We also accept the Report’s recognition that we acted in good faith, and improvements to Core Group protocols are already in place. Further work on them is in hand.

“The Report demands further consideration of the complexities of this case, such as what boundaries can be set to the principle of transparency. Lord Carlile rightly draws our attention to public perception. The emotive principle of innocent until proven guilty is a standard by which our actions are judged and we have to ensure as best we can that justice is seen to be done. Irrespective of whether she is technically a complainant, survivor, or victim, ‘Carol’ emerges from this report as a person of dignity and integrity. It is essential that her right to privacy continues to be fully respected.”

And the Bishop of Bath and Wells, Peter Hancock, the C of E’s lead bishop for safeguarding, said that the church accepts “the main thrust” of Lord Carlile’s recommendations.

“In responding to the report, we first want to acknowledge and publicly apologise again for the Church’s lamentable failure, as noted by Lord Carlile, to handle the case properly in 1995.

“At the heart of this case was a judgement, on the balance of probabilities, as to whether, in the event that her claim for compensation reached trial, a court would have concluded that Carol was abused by Bishop Bell. The Church decided to compensate Carol, to apologise and to be open about the case.

“Lord Carlile states that ‘where as in this case the settlement is without admission of liability, the settlement generally should be with a confidentiality provision” but respectfully, we differ from that judgement. The Church is committed to transparency. We would look at each case on its merits but generally would seek to avoid confidentiality clauses.

“It is clear from the report, however, that our processes were deficient in a number of respects, in particular the process for seeking to establish what may have happened. For that we apologise. Lessons can and have been learnt about how we could have managed the process better.”

NPG-Howard -Coster -CC3_Bp -George -Bell

Bishop George Bell, photographed in 1936.
Photo: Howard Coster
© National Portrait Gallery. Used with permission.

Bishop Bell gave strong support to Christians and Jews in Germany in the 1930s, and contributed to the work and survival of noted priests. He helped to expose Nazi atrocities and played a key part in the Kindertransport – the process of evacuating some 10,000 Jewish children to safety in the UK in the months before the Second World War. Some of the children were housed and educated in the Bishop’s Palace.

He described the Allied bombing of German cities as “barbarian”, disproportionate and a crime against humanity. It is said that those strongly-held views blocked his translation to the See of Canterbury during vacancies in 1942 and 1945. His reputation continued to soar after his death. A number of institutions and bodies were named after him; and he was given a “Name Day” by the Church – an annual commemoration.

The report says that no allegations of sexual or other impropriety were made against him during his lifetime. Carol’s first allegation, in 1995, came 37 years after his death. And, “despite the considerable publicity Carol’s case has received, no one else has come forward to make allegations against Bishop Bell,” Lord Carlile said.

“The Church has always affirmed and treasured Bishop Bell’s principled stand in the Second World War and his contribution to peace remains extraordinary,” Bishop Peter Hancock said. “At same time, we have a duty and commitment to listen to those reporting abuse, to guard their confidentiality, and to protect their interests.

“We recognise that Carol has suffered pain, as have surviving relatives of Bishop Bell. We are sorry that the Church has added to that pain through its handling of this case.”

Archbishop Justin Welby said that the complaint about Bishop Bell “does not diminish the importance of his great achievement.”

He said: “We realise that a significant cloud is left over his name. Let us therefore remember his defence of Jewish victims of persecution, his moral stand against indiscriminate bombing, his personal risks in the cause of supporting the anti Hitler resistance, and his long service in the Diocese of Chichester.

“No human being is entirely good or bad. Bishop Bell was in many ways a hero. He is also accused of great wickedness. Good acts do not diminish evil ones, nor do evil ones make it right to forget the good. Whatever is thought about the accusations, the whole person and whole life should be kept in mind.”

  • Click here to read the full report by Lord Carlile.

This article was corrected on 15 December to correct an erroneous name it its headline.

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December 15 2017 – “The Church has lost its sense of truth and morality in the Bishop Bell case” – Charles Moore – Daily Telegraph

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2017/12/15/church-has-lost-sense-truth-morality-bishop-bell-case/

n October 2015, the Church of England announced that George Bell, Bishop of Chichester from 1928-58, had committed serious sexual abuse of a child roughly 65 years ago. It paid money to the “victim”. This was sad news to me because, like thousands, I admired Bell for his support for German Christians resisting Hitler and for Jewish refugees from the Nazis. I respected his courage in criticising the “blanket” Allied bombing of Germany.

I assumed, however, that the Church would not lightly condemn one of its most revered figures. Past revelations about other clergy had inoculated me against the idea that seemingly holy bishops are incapable of evil. I inclined to believe what I heard.

But although Bell had been dead since 1958, his memory burnt bright enough for people to question the means by which he had been condemned. Though talking of “transparency”, the Church was most reluctant to give…

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December 23 2017 – “Acquitted and Vindicated – but his Reputation is Still in Prison. The Church’s Duty to George Bell” – Peter Hitchens’s Blog – MailOnline

http://hitchensblog.mailonsunday.co.uk/2017/12/acquitted-and-vindicated-but-his-reputation-is-still-in-prison-the-churchs-duty-to-george-bell.html

20 December 2017 11:15 AM

Acquitted and Vindicated – but his Reputation is Still in Prison. The Church’s Duty to George Bell

Firstly may I thank contributors for their kind words about the George Bell issue, and the outcome (so far) of the campaign to clear this great man’s name of the unproven accusations so vigorously spread about him, as if they were proven facts,  by the Church of England.  I hope readers will forgive me for this further posting on the subject. As I said at the press conference at which George Bell’s name was cleared, matters are by no means finished. It is as if Captain Dreyfus’s wife had been summoned to a press conference given by the French Army, which had there admitted that it had condemned her husband on paltry evidence after an incompetent and prejudiced court martial, and that the case against him could not stand – but that he would have to remain indefinitely imprisoned on Devil’s Island because the Commander in Chief still felt there was a ‘cloud’ over his name.

George Bell’s reputation is still on Devil’s Island. No formal action has been taken to reverse the Stalinoid process by which his name was removed from buildings, institutions and guide books. These are: George Bell House, a guest house in Chichester cathedral close donated to the Cathedral in his memory by Anglican nuns who loved Bell greatly, and opened by Rowan Williams, then Archbishop of Canterbury; a hall of residence at the University of Chichester;  the house named after Bishop Bell at Bishop Luffa School, Chichester; the school formerly named after him at Eastbourne, now renamed St Catherine’s College, to which he travelled shortly before his death to bless, though extremely frail, dying very soon afterwards; the Chichester cathedral souvenir guide book, from which many references to the Bishop have been removed in the latest edition. I still possess the former guide, is anyone should need to check it for purposes of comparison.  A statue of George Bell also sits unfinished in the stoneyard of Canterbury Cathedral, where he was a very distinguished Dean. The statue was abandoned when the claims against George Bell were first publicised.

These are in a way small matters – in themselves. But their restoration now become hugely important as a sign that the presumption of innocence once more prevails.  Yet no plaques or names have been restored. Work has not resumed on the statue. All the bodies involved mumble that they are ‘considering ‘ the matter, with the exception of the Eastbourne School which, for unconnected  reasons, has a strong desire to change its name which predated the accusations against George Bell, and says firmly it will not reverse the decision. If this is really so, perhaps Bishop Luffa school in Chichester could expiate its former action, in expunging George Bell’s name from one of its houses,  by naming itself after Bishop Bell, who one might think has more relevance to modern Christian education than the mediaeval Luffa.

But in any case, what is there to discuss. An injustice has been done, one of the most distinguished public lawyers in the country has said it is an injustice after a thorough investigation, and so it must be corrected. Imagine if, after the Appeal Court had ruled that (say) the convictions of the Birmingham Six could not stand, the governors of the prisons involved said they would be ‘considering’ the matter, and might or might not release them at some stage depending on what they felt about it. What would be the response to that? If those involved have yet to read the Carlile Report (it takes about 90 minutes), the link to it and the (fascinating) annexe are displayed below. Once they have done so, they will find there is nothing left to discuss.

I might add that, the last time I checked with her, no formal apology form the Bishop of Chichester or the Archbishop of Canterbury had been received by Mrs Barbara Whitley, George Bell’s surviving niece, who woke one morning to find, without any warning, that her beloved uncle’s name had been smeared all over the media by the ‘strident voices’ of the Church of England. These prelates unceasingly proclaim their concern for the complainant, similarly an elderly woman deserving courtesy and consideration. But the complainant has always been (and will always remain) anonymous. Mrs Whitley has had to endure this in the blazing light of total publicity.

The Church’s statements, the review and the fascinating annexe can all be found here :   

 

https://www.churchofengland.org/more/media-centre/news/publication-bishop-george-bell-independent-review

As my contribution to the continuing campaign for justice to be done in full, I sent the letter below to the Bishop of Chichester, the Right Reverend Dr Martin Warner, on Monday, saying I intended to publish it here as an open letter. Now that he has had time to read, mark, learn and inwardly digest its contents, I commend it to you to:

Dear Bishop,

I wonder if I could resume our correspondence (terminated by you on 19th January 2017), now that the Carlile Report has been published and considered by you. In this case, however, I propose to publish this letter on my Mail on Sunday blog, so that my readers are aware of the questions I have long raised with you, and the new ones I must now raise with you following the Carlile review.

I am still mainly concerned with your attack on supposedly ‘strident voices’ raised in defence of Bishop Bell, which you suggested had distressed the anonymous complainant. May I draw your attention to my article on the subject in the Spectator of 17th November 2015? It can be read with ease here: https://www.spectator.co.uk/2015/11/the-church-of-englands-shameful-betrayal-of-bishop-george-bell/ .

In it I was extremely careful to accept the possibility of Bishop Bell’s guilt, and to say specifically ‘By all means comfort and assuage the accuser, and compensate him or her’. This was a conscious act of charity towards the accuser, whom I have never blamed for the mistreatment of George Bell’s memory. I understood from the start that any examination of this case should not become an attack upon the accuser, nor (except in the minds of the Church) has it ever been such an attack. Please contrast the Church’s treatment of Bishop Bell’s surviving niece, Mrs Barbara Whitley (see p.33 of the Carlile review, para 142). She had to endure the ‘strident voices’ of the Church of England publicly parading deeply painful allegations against her beloved uncle, presented as fact, and quite without the shield of anonymity rightly given to Carol. You had not even bothered to find out if Mrs Whitley existed. Matthew VII, 3-5 comes to mind.

I suspect that the Bishop of Chelmsford’s false accusation that George Bell’s supporters had made ‘hurtful remarks’ about Carol, made in the House of Lords when the poor man was expected to respond to the long-planned debate there after an inadequate briefing, resulted from this original accusation by you. The false accusation has still not been formally retracted in the Lords, though the Bishop of Chelmsford did after some hesitation eventually apologise to me personally, allowing me to forgive him as Our Lord urges us to do in Luke XVII, 3-4.

I’d add to this attempt to use the complainant as a shield against accusations of wrongdoing in the Church’s part your needless call for all to respect the ‘right to privacy’ of Carol made at the Church House press conference on Friday. What was the purpose of this call? When was any attempt ever made to invade her privacy? I still think you need to regret this accusation.

You have also asserted that the original statement issued on 22nd October 2015 did not state George Bell’s guilt, and you blame the media involved for presuming this.  In response to this I raise several points. The first is that all media given the statement concluded that you were asserting Bishop Bell’s guilt. How did this happen? Partly to blame must be the unwarranted use of the prejudicial word ‘survivor’ and a generally incautious use of language which (had Bishop Bell been alive and a court case pending or in progress) would have put those involved at risk of action for contempt of court. We must also wonder what confidential briefings may have been given to the media by persons speaking for the Church, to the journalists involved, who those persons were, what instructions and advice they had been given by the Church and what they said. I cannot know this, though as a journalist of many years’ experience I find it hard to believe that no such briefings took place. Did they? What was said by whom and to whom?

Also at fault is the claim in the statement that the Bishop, had he been alive, would have been arrested (Annex to the Carlile report, Page 36, paragraph 23; see also the main report, paras 132 and 133 on page 31, and para 167 on page 44). There was in fact no real police inquiry (see para 139 on p.32).We now know from the Sussex police that this statement was solicited by the Diocese from them, and not made on their own initiative. Please see the words of Det Supt J.D. Graves, in his response to my complaint to them on behalf of Mrs Whitley ‘My understanding….’, wrote Detective Superintendent Graves:

‘….is that the Diocese of Chichester notified Sussex Police that they planned to release a statement to the media. It was never our intention to be proactive (my emphasis); in other words, there was no intention to release a police statement about the alleged criminality of Bishop Bell (my emphasis). However, we were asked by the Diocese to make a statement (my emphasis) as they had decided to make this information public and so we provided them with a statement for inclusion in their press release on the basis that once the Diocese published their statement a natural consequence would be a media request to the police for comment’.

Did you not expect this misleading detail in the statement, which had been actively sought by you, to impute guilt to George Bell? In dozens of conversations with fellow-journalists and others about this matter, every single one of them has pointed (unprompted by me)  to the claim that George Bell would have been arrested as being the thing which persuaded him or her that the case against him was serious. If it was not intended to insinuate this, what is it doing there at all?

You said on Friday, and yet again in your Radio 4 interview on Sunday that you had never proclaimed George Bell’s guilt. On Radio 4, you said ‘What we did not do and have not ever done is to make a clear statement which says “We have found George Bell guilty”. We have never done that’.

I must ask, in that case, why you did not write to The Times, the Guardian, the Daily Telegraph, the BBC, the Argus of Brighton or the Chichester Observer, correcting their reports of your statement, reports which proclaimed that George Bell was guilty?  Is it possible that you did so and they ignored your letters?  Or did you choose to leave the impression of guilt which your statement had created, which you now insist you had not intended to create? Had you written to complain, it would have been very helpful to my own unending efforts to get these media to change their tune. Only one, the BBC, which had inaccurately used the specific term ‘proven abuse’ in a TV report and so gone further than the others, ever admitted that it had wrongly stated Bishop Bell’s guilt. All the others used your statement, and above all the claim that Bishop Bell would have been arrested, to argue that they were right to treat the statement as a declaration of guilt.  The Independent Press Standards Organisation (IPSO) took the same view when I and others took the matter to them. I should also remind you of what happened when I drew attention to the Bishop of Durham’s statement in the House of Lords on 28thJanuary 2016, in which he said ‘that there has been no declaration that we are convinced that this [alleged abuse by Bishop Bell] took place’. As the Bishop was then in charge of ‘safeguarding’, this seemed to me to be a highly significant development and perhaps a retreat from the original claim of 22nd October. I thought it might be the basis of a revision of the Church’s original position.

However, after Charles Moore and I had both drawn attention to it in early February 2016, Church House issued this statement on behalf of the Bishop of Durham http://cofecomms.tumblr.com/post/138915810902/statement-from-bishop-of-durham-on-george-bell . It contained these unequivocal words. ‘The church therefore, having evaluated the evidence before them, accepted the veracity of the claims before them.’  In case there was any doubt, it added:

‘But in this case, as in others, the overriding goal was to search out the truth and issues of reputation cannot take priority over that.’ (both emphases are mine).

I am unable to square the words ‘The church therefore, having evaluated the evidence before them, accepted the veracity of the claims before them.’ with your statements exemplified by the one you made on Sunday 17th December ‘What we did not do and have not ever done is to make a clear statement which says “We have found George Bell guilty”. We have never done that’.

Since it is clear that the Church *has* stated that it ‘accepted the veracity’ of the claims made against George Bell’; since it publicised inaccurate claims that he would have been arrested, now shown to be wrong; since (para 17, p.5) Lord Carlile states that the CPS evidential charging standard would not have been met and stated at the press conference that, on this evidence, he would have lost the case had he prosecuted it;  since the claim made in the October 2015 statement that there had been a ‘thorough pre-litigation process’ has been shown in detail to be a nonsense; likewise the Bishop of Chelmsford’s assertion in the House of Lords (30th June 2106) that this had been a ‘prayerful, careful, sensitive and serious investigation’ now looks embarrassing, though it should be said there is at least no reason to dispute his characterisation of it as ‘prayerful’

And peerhsa most shocking of all, since the publication of Professor Maden’s report shows that the October 2015 statement’s assertion that ‘none of these reports found any reason to doubt the veracity of the claim’ is simply, straightforwardly untrue….

…In the light of all these matters, it seems to me that the issue is very far from closed. A great deal of restitution still needs to be done, and it was not even attempted on Friday. It would help if the Church admitted in detail just how wrong it had in fact been, instead of trying to change the subject or to pretend that it has not done things that it has done.

By the way, you also stated in your Sunday BBC interview that ‘no plaques that I am aware of have been blanked out’. This is most odd. During a visit to Chichester in November 2015, my wife and I walked down Canon Lane and there saw that the plaque saying ‘George Bell House’ was covered by some sort of industrial plastic material, similar to that used in bin bags. I am pleased to learn that this Stalinist action was done without your knowledge or consent. But I must assure you that it was done. The plaque itself, as you must know, was later entirely removed, as was the one inside George Bell House commemorating the fact that Archbishop Rowan Williams had opened George Bell House. The interior plaque has now been replaced by one which pretends that the Archbishop opened ‘4 Canon Lane’, which is not true. Likewise (as you were not asked about in the interview) many mentions of George Bell have been excised from the Cathedral guide book, his name has been removed from the House which used to bear it at Bishop Luffa school where I should think you might have some influence, and also from a hall of residence at the University of Chichester. I pointed out to you last Friday that even the Soviet Union had eventually rehabilitated those whom it had unjustly condemned in unfair show trials (whose memories, names and pictures were likewise removed from buildings, streets, photographs, encyclopaedias and so forth).  The Church of England is surely judged by (and should regulate itself by) a higher standard than an atheist secret police state.

Sincerely,

Peter Hitchens

 

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December 17 2017 – “If a saintly man can be branded a sex abuser, none of us is safe” – Peter Hitchens’s Blog – Mail on Sunday Column

http://hitchensblog.mailonsunday.co.uk/2017/12/if-a-saintly-man-can-be-branded-a-sex-abuser-none-of-us-is-safe.html

17 December 2017 1:20 AM

If a saintly man can be branded a sex abuser, none of us is safe

This is Peter Hitchens’s Mail On Sunday column

Lord bishop of Chichester

If we won’t fight injustice wherever we see it, then we are not safe from suffering injustice ourselves. If a man’s reputation can be destroyed in an afternoon by a secret kangaroo court, then we too can one day be propelled into a pit of everlasting shame by the same process.
If it can happen to anyone, it can happen to you. And it does happen. Accusations of long-ago sexual crime have become a sort of industry in this country. People are so horrified by them that they almost always believe them.
Because the crime is so foul, we stop thinking. To their shame, police and prosecutors use our horror to get easy convictions, when they must know that their cases are weak. The less actual evidence they have, the more they stress the disgusting nature of the alleged crime. And they forget to remind us that it is alleged, not proved.
Equally shamefully, judges do not stop these trials and juries leave their brains at the door. They convict not because they are sure the case has been proved beyond reasonable doubt, but because they are angry and revolted.
I am miserably sure there are disturbing numbers of people in British prisons now, prosecuted on such charges, who are innocent of the accusations against them. It is our fault, because we have forgotten what justice is supposed to be like, and that, if we do not guard it in our hearts, it will perish in the country.
This is why I have spent a shockingly large part of my life in the past two years trying to rescue the reputation of a dead bishop, George Bell of Chichester. I had known of him for many years and thought him a man of saintly courage. I had also spent a very sunny part of an extraordinarily happy childhood in and around Chichester. I learned to be an Englishman, in many ways, in that beautiful, ancient city. Even so, when the Church of England publicly denounced him as a child abuser, I was astonished by the instinctive, molten fury that I then experienced. This was not just an opinion. It kept me awake at night.
Fortunately, I found allies who felt the same. At first slowly and then with gathering strength and confidence, we assembled the evidence which showed that grave wrong had been done. The Church of England, whose senior figures are astonishingly unimpressive and tricky, tried to smear us with false claims that we had attacked the complainant. But they failed, and at last grudgingly agreed to review the case.
When the review told them that they had run an incompetent, miserable kangaroo court and that they had condemned a great man on evidence too weak to hang a hamster, they sat sulkily on that report for nearly ten weeks, until they were jeered into releasing it.
Even then, when it came out on Friday, a Church which supposedly believes in penitence was still wriggling like a basket of embarrassed eels. The distinguished and impartial lawyer who conducted the review, Lord Carlile QC, made it quite plain that no court would have found George Bell guilty on the evidence (indeed, the Crown Prosecution Service would not even have brought it to court).
He concluded the Church had hung one of its greatest figures ‘out to dry’. He even said ‘if I had been prosecuting this case, I would have lost it’, which is as near as such a person could come to saying George Bell is innocent.
And what of the Church, supposedly the guardian of moral good? The Archbishop of Canterbury petulantly persisted in claiming, despite all the evidence, that there was still a ‘cloud’ over George Bell’s name. Lord Carlile remarked that this statement was ‘less than fully adroit’, which is QC-speak for something much ruder. 
I will go further. Archbishop Welby had a chance to stand for moral courage against the easy, popular thing. And he did the easy, popular thing. George Bell, facing much sterner tests in much tougher times, repeatedly chose moral courage over popularity. And that is why Justin Welby is not fit to lace up George Bell’s shoes, and why his pretensions to be a moral leader of this country are taken less and less seriously by thinking people.

 

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December 14 2017 – “An apology and explanation for my recent absence from here” – Peter Hitchens’s Blog – MailOnline

http://hitchensblog.mailonsunday.co.uk/2017/12/an-apology-and-explanation-for-my-recent-absence-from-here-.html

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December 23 2017 – “Whatever has happened to British justice?” – Frederick Forsyth – Daily Express

https://www.express.co.uk/comment/columnists/frederick-forsyth/895486/theresa-may-commons-defeat-conservative-party-deselections-mps

Chichester CathedralGETTY

Bishop George Bell of Chichester never got a chance to defend himself

Whatever has happened to British justice?

The impressive Lord Carlile has eventually brought some justice to the trashed reputation of long dead Bishop George Bell of Chichester who was accused of molestation by one single female accuser years after the alleged event.

He never got a chance to defend himself but the Anglican Church crucified him without a single shred of supportive evidence, as Lord Carlile tartly pointed out.

The injustice was made even worse by the endorsement of people such as Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby and others in high clerical office.

So what is happening to our famous British justice? A brave fighting marine is sentenced for murder on a battlefield.

It took three-and-a-half years and five law lords to quash and reverse that fiasco… but of course no one was to blame, but then no one ever is provided they are highly placed enough.

An innocent student spends two years in hell charged with the rape of a woman whose 40,000 suppressed emails seem to indicate she is a lying nymphomaniac.

Sex attacks are disgusting but so is lynch-mob pseudo-justice. In this case it was the senior prosecuting counsel who was outraged by the incompetence of both police and Crown Prosecution Service. In more honourable days a chief of police and of the CPS would fall on their swords but nowadays?

What, lose those fat salaries and bloated pension pots? In 1963 John Profumo fell on his sword and worked in the slums of the East End for the rest of his days.

Memory lane, my dears. We live in the age of the over-promoted spiv.

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December 20 2017 – “What the Bishop Bell Case reveals about Our #MeToo Moment – National Review – Douglas Murray

http://www.nationalreview.com/article/454794/bishop-bell-case-what-it-reveals-about-metoo-moment

What the Bishop Bell Case Reveals about Our #MeToo Moment

by DOUGLAS MURRAY December 20, 2017 12:25 PM

An uncomfortable truth is that false accusations can and do happen.

In a tense exchange earlier this month between Dustin Hoffman and John Oliver, the HBO talk-show host said something remarkable. Responding to Oliver’s set of questions about claims of harassment against the actor, Hoffman pointed out that Oliver seemed not to be keeping “an open mind” but instead appeared to believe whatever he read in the press. To which Oliver replied about one claimant in particular, “I believe what she wrote, yes. Because there’s no point in her lying.”

It was a fascinating exchange which unwittingly illustrated a problem that is roiling through every aspect of our societies, with no signs of abatement. Any reasonable person not engaged in mob justice should be able to imagine a number of reasons that someone might falsely make an accusation against someone else. These range from the accidental (false or mistaken identification) to the deliberate (avarice, revenge). It is no more the case that everybody who makes an allegation against somebody else must be telling the truth than it is that they must be lying.

A small but important case from the United Kingdom seems capable of shedding some caution on the furor occurring everywhere. It relates to the former Bishop of Chichester, George Bell, a much-admired clergyman who died in 1958. Two years ago — in 2015 — an allegation of child abuse by the bishop was made public. The accuser (who remains anonymous) alleged that Bell repeatedly abused her more than six decades ago. No other similar charges have been made.

What was remarkable was not just the allegation, but the way in which it was reported. In Britain, the story was splashed across many of the national and local newspapers and prominently relayed on the BBC. It was given fuel by the Sussex Police, who (ever-keen on pursuing people who died decades ago) issued a statement stating the charges and editorializing that “the information obtained from our enquiries would have justified, had he still been alive, Bishop Bell’s arrest and interview under caution, on suspicion of sexual offences.”

Even more surprising was that the institution to which Bishop Bell had dedicated his life — the Church of England — also appeared to accept that the bishop had been guilty of the terrible crime of which he had been anonymously, posthumously accused. Despite a number of Bell’s living associates protesting that the claims could not be true, and a number of inconsistencies in the accuser’s own account, the Church said that it had “found no reason to doubt” the claims and made a financial offer to the accuser. No defense of the accused was heard. None of the evidence contradicting her testimony appears to have been sought out. While the accuser remained anonymous, the reputation of the man she had accused looked like it would be posthumously destroyed for all time.

And there the whole thing might have lain had a couple of journalists not reared up in horror at this one-sided trial of the dead. Peter Hitchens of the Mail on Sunday led the charge, along with Charles Moore (of the Telegraph and Spectator) as well as a few others.

Thanks to their efforts, the tables slowly began to turn. Last year the police grudgingly apologized to the bishop’s one surviving niece. Gradually other aspects of the story came to light. Hitchens and Moore continued to use the platforms they had to shame the Church into rethinking its verdict.

Soon there were so many questions about the Church’s behavior in the wake of the accusations that the Church commissioned an independent report from Lord Carlile of Berriew, one of the country’s leading legal minds. The inquiry concluded some months ago, and the fact that the Church sat on the report for such a long while gave some hint of the damning contents which were finally published last week. The independent report into the church’s handling of the affair found that the church had “rushed to judgement . . . without sufficient investigations’ and concluded that: The church, understandably concerned not to repeat the mistakes of the past, when it had been too slow to recognise that abuse had been perpetrated by clergy and to recognise the pain and damage caused to victims, has in effect oversteered in this case. In other words, there was a rush to judgment: the church, feeling it should be both supportive of the complainant and transparent in its dealings, failed to engage in a process which would also give proper consideration to the rights of the bishop. Such rights should not be treated as having been extinguished on death.

The Church, as led by Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby, has been shamefully grudging about accepting the deep institutional and procedural criticisms listed in the report.  Last Sunday, Peter Hitchens — whose campaign in defense of Bell has been completely vindicated by the Carlile report — restated why he thought this battle so important. Either the truth matters, or it does not. And if it matters, then unsubstantiated allegations should not be accepted for simple short-term personal or institutional convenience. As Hitchens’s headline put it, “If a saintly man can be branded a sex abuser, none of us is safe.” Which brings me back to the undoubtedly less saintly figures currently being accused of a variety of crimes in Hollywood and beyond.

When people and institutions are riding strong, they benefit from a presumption of innocence. When they are riding weak, or on the way down, almost any allegation can be accepted as true. The Church of England, understandably feeling itself in a position of weakness, neglected to follow the normal procedures that should be in place to ascertain the truth.

Instead, it carried out what was little more than a show trial of a dead man.

The effects on the amount of reciprocal loyalty some of its followers feel towards it will take a small but sizeable hit.

The most surprising aspect of 2017 has been the fact that Hollywood this year joined the Church of England in the ranks of institutions for which nobody now feels inclined to believe professions of innocence. Like most corrections to an earlier unquestioning attitude, the Church’s response to the Bell accusations was an overcorrection, one which can happen in other institutions, too. Avoiding that happening starts with recognizing that there are reasons why some people tell untruths, just as there are reasons why some people are brave enough to find out — and tell — the truth.

 

COMMENT

 

Iain Gibb · 

In the UK, we have been subjected to an avalanche of false claims of sexual abuse – from fantasists, gold-diggers and revenge-seekers. Meanwhile, systematic grooming of vulnerable girls by organised gangs has gone under-reported. We have lost one of our fundamental human rights – that is the right of being presumed innocent until proven guilty in a court of law. When an innocent man must stand down from his job, suffer public humiliation, and witness his family undergo years of mental torture, because of malicious accusations for which there is zero corroborative evidence, we are no longer living in a civilised society. We have reverted to the era of witch trials, but we are guiltier than them, because we should have known better.

I believe future generations will look upon us as one of the most wicked of all because we have abandoned every form of natural justice in an effort to prove our liberal credentials

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December 22 2017 – “Bishop Bell’s niece: Welby should resign” – Daily Telegraph – Olivia Rudgard

Bishop Bell’s niece: Welby should resign

“I’m absolutely determined to get this clear before I die. You know, he’s a blood relation. And I know he’s a good man. And I know this sort of thing didn’t ever happen,” she said.    CREDIT: PA

The only surviving relative of Bishop George Bell has called for the Archbishop of Canterbury to resign as she says she is “determined” to clear his name before her death.

Bishop Bell’s niece Barbara Whitley, 93, said she was left feeling “very shaky” when the Carlile review into the Church’s handling of abuse allegations against Bell came out last week.

Lord Carlile found that the Church was wrong to publicly name Belland the former Bishop of Chichester had been “hung out to dry” by leaders who were too focused on protecting the Church’s reputation.

The Archbishop, Justin Welby, was in post when the Church apologised for Bell’s alleged abuse in 2015.

 

I’m absolutely determined to get this clear before I die.Barbara Whitley

Responding to the report he apologised only “for the failures of the process” and pointed out that Bell, while regarded by many as a hero for his work against Nazism, was “accused of great wickedness”.

Mrs Whitley, who lives in a care home, told the BBC that the report, and the Archbishop’s response, made her “really very down”.

“I’m absolutely determined to get this clear before I die. You know, he’s a blood relation. And I know he’s a good man. And I know this sort of thing didn’t ever happen,” she said.

Asked if the Archbishop should resign, she said he should.

Last week Bell’s friends and supporters criticised the Archbishop for his response.

Dr Ruth Hildebrandt Grayson, the daughter of Bishop Bell’s friend Franz Hildebrandt, said Bishop Bell’s family deserved a personal apology from the Archbishop and the Bishop of Chichester.

“The Church can’t have its cake and eat it. Either he is innocent, in which case they must apologise, or he is guilty, which they can’t prove, and the report makes clear that they have not proved,” she told this newspaper.

The Church wrote to Mrs Whitley last week to apologise for the pain caused to her and her family.

Lord Carlile also said the Archbishop’s comments were “very disappointing”.

Bishop Bell, who died in 1958, was accused by a woman known as “Carol” of sexually abusing her when she was between five and eight years old.

She first came forward in 1995 and wrote to the Church again in 2012 and 2013 to reiterate her complaint.

Lord Carlile did not make a finding on whether the allegations were true or false but said a case against Bell would have been unlikely to succeed in court.

The Church also refused to accept one of Lord Carlile’s recommendations, that alleged abusers should not be publicly named where the allegations are disputed, unless facts are found to substantiate them, and naming them is deemed to be in the public interest.

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December 21 2017 – “Chichester under fire over George Bell claims” – Christian Today – James Macintyre

https://www.christiantoday.com/article/chichester-under-fire-over-george-bell-claims/121998.htm

Chichester under fire over George Bell claims

The Bishop of Chichester is under fire over his claim, made after the Carlile report into the Church of England’s handling of an allegation of sexual abuse against Bishop George Bell, that the Church did not proclaim the late Bishop Bell’s guilt.

The Mail on Sunday journalist Peter Hitchens, who has vigorously campaigned on behalf of the late bishop since the Church made public the claims against Bell in 2015, penned a hard-hitting letter to Martin Warner this week.

Bishop George Bell
Jimmy JamesBishop George Bell

In his letter, Hitchens focused on the impression that was left in the press after the Church issued a formal public apology and announced that it had paid £16,800 to the woman in question, known as ‘Carol’.

Hitchens wrote: ‘You said on Friday [the day the Carlile report was published], and yet again in your Radio 4 interview on Sunday that you had never proclaimed George Bell’s guilt. On Radio 4, you said ‘What we did not do and have not ever done is to make a clear statement which says “We have found George Bell guilty”. We have never done that’.

‘I must ask, in that case, why you did not write to The Times, the Guardian, the Daily Telegraph, the BBC, the Argus of Brighton or the Chichester Observer, correcting their reports of your statement, reports which proclaimed that George Bell was guilty? Is it possible that you did so and they ignored your letters? Or did you choose to leave the impression of guilt which your statement had created, which you now insist you had not intended to create? Had you written to complain, it would have been very helpful to my own unending efforts to get these media to change their tune.’

The Church of England was criticised in the Carlile report for a ‘rush to judgment’ in its handling of the allegations against Bishop Bell, who died in 1958.

The report by Lord Carlile said that although the Church acted in good faith, its processes were deficient and it failed to give proper consideration to the rights of the accused.

Hitchens dramatically clashed with Bishop Warner and Peter Hancock, the Church of England’s lead safeguarding bishop, at the press conference for the release of the report on Friday, accusing the Church of behaving in a ‘Stalinoid’ fashion towards the memory of the late Bishop Bell.

The new Bishop of Chichester Dr Martin Warner
The Bishop of Chichester Dr Martin Warner

The columnist also raised the removal of Bishop Bell’s name from buildings, institutions and guide books in Chichester including from the former George Bell House. He said that ‘many mentions of George Bell have been excised from the Cathedral guide book, his name has been removed from the House which used to bear it at Bishop Luffa school where I should think you might have some influence, and also from a hall of residence at the University of Chichester.

‘I pointed out to you last Friday that even the Soviet Union had eventually rehabilitated those whom it had unjustly condemned in unfair show trials (whose memories, names and pictures were likewise removed from buildings, streets, photographs, encyclopaedias and so forth).’

Hitchens concluded: ‘The Church of England is surely judged by (and should regulate itself by) a higher standard than an atheist secret police state.’

A spokesperson for the Bishop of Chichester said: ‘We have received a copy of the letter and as it is a long, detailed document Bishop Martin will be responding in the New Year. There is no actual time to do it properly between now and Christmas as this is obviously a hugely busy week.’

Bishop Warner said on Friday: ‘Lord Carlile’s Independent Review is a demonstration of the Church of England’s commitment to equality of justice and transparency in our safeguarding practice. The diocese of Chichester requested this “lessons learned” Review.

‘We welcome Lord Carlile’s assessment of our processes, and apologise for failures in the work of the Core Group of national and diocesan officers and its inadequate attention to the rights of those who are dead. We also accept the Report’s recognition that we acted in good faith, and improvements to Core Group protocols are already in place. Further work on them is in hand.

‘The Report demands further consideration of the complexities of this case, such as what boundaries can be set to the principle of transparency. Lord Carlile rightly draws our attention to public perception. The emotive principle of innocent until proven guilty is a standard by which our actions are judged and we have to ensure as best we can that justice is seen to be done. Irrespective of whether she is technically a complainant, survivor, or victim, ‘Carol’ emerges from this report as a person of dignity and integrity. It is essential that her right to privacy continues to be fully respected.

‘The good deeds that Bishop George Bell did were recognised internationally. They will stand the test of time. In every other respect, we have all been diminished by the case that Lord Carlile has reviewed.’

Bell’s niece Barbara Whitley, 93, has said she wants the reputation of her uncle restored and has asked for a face-to-face apology from the Church of England.

‘I’m determined to clear his name before I die,’ she told the BBC.

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December 21 2017 – “Welby ‘should resign’ over Bishop George Bell abuse claims” – BBC

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-42415659

Welby ‘should resign’ over Bishop George Bell abuse claims

  • 20 December 2017
Bishop George BellImage copyright GETTY IMAGES
Image caption George Bell was Bishop of Chichester from 1929 until his death in 1958

The only surviving relative of a former senior Bishop accused of abusing a young girl has called on the Archbishop of Canterbury to resign.

Last week an independent inquiry criticised the Church over its handling of child abuse allegations made against George Bell after his death.

It said the Church was too quick to accept the claims “without serious investigation or inquiry”.

Barbara Whitley, 93, said she wanted the reputation of her uncle restored.

She told the BBC that she wanted Justin Welby to stand down, and a face-to-face apology from the Church of England.

“I’m determined to clear his name before I die,” she said.

George Bell was the Bishop of Chichester from 1929 until his death in October 1958. He was alleged to have repeatedly abused a young girl.

The victim, known as “Carol”, made a formal complaint in 1995 and, 10 years later, won an apology and compensation from the Church.

She said he began abusing her when she was five and molested her in Chichester Cathedral as she sat listening to stories, with the abuse continuing for about four years.

Barbara Whitley
Image caption Barbara Whitley, 93, said she wanted the reputation of her uncle restored

In his report, Lord Carlile of Berriew criticised the Church’s response to the claims as “deficient” in a number of respects, and said the most significant was that “it failed to follow a process that was fair and equitable to both sides”.

“For Bishop Bell’s reputation to be catastrophically affected in the way that occurred was just wrong,” he concluded.

In a statement following its publication, the Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby said the bishop was “one of the great Anglican heroes of the 20th Century”, but he had been “accused of great wickedness”.

He said the decision to publish his name was taken “with immense reluctance” and the Church apologised for the failures of its processes.

Ms Whitley has always maintained that the allegations against her uncle were untrue.

“He just wasn’t that sort. He wasn’t a touchy-feely man,” she said.

She said she had not received an apology from the Church over its handling of the case, but would like to have one face-to-face.

In a statement, the Diocese of Chichester said its National Safeguarding Advisor had emailed her on Friday, reiterating the Church’s apology for the pain caused.

Related Topics

More on this story

  • Church apology over Bishop George Bell abuse inquiry
    15 December 2017
  • Bishop George Bell case: Lord Carlile to lead review
    23 November 2016
  • Petition seeks ‘justice’ for ‘abuse’ Bishop George Bell
    19 October 2016
  • Sussex Police apology over Bishop George Bell affair
    5 August 2016
  • Bishop George Bell: Review to look at ‘abuse’ case
    28 June 2016
  • George Bell: The battle for a bishop’s reputation
    5 May 2016
  • Bishop George Bell: Archbishop defends abuse claim payout
    25 March 2016
  • Challenge to Bishop George Bell abuse claim
    20 March 2016
  • Carey’s support for abuse accused Bishop George Bell ‘distressing’
    7 March 2016

Around the BBC

Related Internet links

  • Church of England
  • Diocese of Chichester
  • George Bell Group
  • The Archbishop of Canterbury
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December 20 2017 – A Call for the Archbishop of Canterbury to “carefully consider his position” – Letter Submission – The Guardian – Richard W. Symonds [The Bell Society] – Dec 18 2017

Dear Editor

So, a representative of the current Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby says: “the independent review of the (Bishop) Ball case spoke for itself” (‘Carey lambasts Welby over church sexual abuse case’, Guardian. Dec 18).

As a result, a former Archbishop George Carey was forced to resign after the current Archbishop requested he should “carefully consider his position”.

An independent review of the Bishop Bell case also spoke for itself last week, through Lord Alex Carlile QC, severely criticising the Church for destroying the reputation of the respected wartime Bishop of Chichester.

Perhaps the current Archbishop himself should now “carefully consider his position”, after failing to apologise for the Church’s unjust trashing of Bishop Bell’s reputation.

Yours sincerely

Richard W. Symonds
The Bell Society

2 Lychgate Cottages
Ifield Street, Ifield Village
Crawley, West Sussex RH11 0NN

Tel: 07540 309592 (Text only – Very deaf)
Email: richardsy5@aol.com

URGENT NEWS UPDATE – TODAY – DECEMBER 20 2017

https://richardwsymonds.wordpress.com/2017/12/20/december-20-2017-why-the-churchs-response-to-the-george-bell-inquiry-is-so-shocking-the-very-revd-professor-martyn-percy-dean-of-christ-church-oxford/

http://archbishopcranmer.com/long-dead-archbishop-justin-welby-accused-child-abuse/

 

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December 20 2017 – “Why the Church’s response to the George Bell inquiry is so shocking” – The Very Revd. Professor Martyn Percy – Dean of Christ Church, Oxford [Christian Today]

https://www.christiantoday.com/article/martyn-percy-why-the-churchs-response-to-the-george-bell-inquiry-is-so-shocking/121818.htm

Martyn Percy: Why the Church’s response to the George Bell inquiry is so shocking

‘If one imagines for a moment that Bishop Bell were one’s own father, the point is clearly made. If a system is not good enough for our own fathers, then it is not good enough for anyone.’ (paragraph 46, p. 12, Bishop George Bell Independent Review).

The long-awaited Independent Review of the Bishop George Bell Case, conducted by Lord Carlile of Berriew CBE, QC was published on December 15. As one of the campaigners for transparency in this case – namely for the Church of England to disclose exactly how it reached its decisions in relation to a single complaint of sexual abuse made against Bell, decades after his death – Alex Carlile’s Review is a fulsome vindication of the need for a complete overhaul of the practice of the Church. The report shows that justice was not served – either to Bishop Bell, or to the woman known as ‘Carol’. The report shows – damningly, alas – that the entire process by the Church of England was conducted through the lens of reputational management. Appropriate legal expertise was not used. Assumptions were made: guilty unless proven innocent. Dreadful and egregious errors of procedure were made, revealing a culture of shoddy amateurism. When challenged on this, the evolving debacle was further compounded by assertions that a ‘proper’ process and ‘robust’ investigation had been undertaken. They hadn’t. Not remotely.

Bishop George Bell
Courtesy of Jimmy James Bishop George Bell was the former Bishop of Chichester and considered a hero for his opposition to indiscriminate Allied bombing of Germany

It is crystal clear from reading the report that the accusations were badly handled from the beginning, and that once the accusations were in the hands of the ‘Core Group’, members not only lacked commitment to prioritise their participation but lamentably failed in their duty to determine the facts. The whole process administered by the Church of England then descended into a tragic, incompetent farce. In all this, some are continuing to insist that Bishop Bell was, in all probability, guilty – when in the end, there is still only the testimony of one person, with no corroboration.

Yet it is clear, reading between the lines of Lord Carlile’s report, that in investigating how the Church handled the allegations they discovered enough to challenge their veracity. In what follows, therefore, I highlight ten key findings from Lord Carlile’s Independent Review, and suggest that the Church of England resolves to address these as a matter of urgency. [Martin Sewell also analyses the Independent Review here – Ed]

Martyn Percy
Martyn Percy is the Dean of Christ Church Oxford and a respected theologian in the Church of England.

‘It follows that, even when the alleged perpetrators have died, there should be methodical and sufficient investigations into accusations levelled against them….I have concluded that the Church of England failed to institute or follow a procedure which respected the rights of both sides. The Church…has in effect oversteered in this case. In other words, there was a rush to judgement…’ (para. 17-18, p.5). The Church of England acted rashly and hastily, and it needs to correct this knee-jerk reaction in future, if justice is to be served. In the case of Bell, injustice has been manifestly perpetrated.

  1. ‘…in this case the Church adopted a procedure more akin to the second extreme: that is to say, when faced with a serious and apparently credible allegation, the truth of what Carol was saying was implicitly accepted without serious investigation or enquiry. I have concluded that this was an inappropriate and impermissible approach and one which should not be followed in the future…in my view, the Church concluded that the needs of a living complainant who, if truthful, was a victim of very serious criminal offences were of considerably more importance than the damage done by a possibly false allegation to a person who was no longer alive…’ (para. 43-44, p. 12). The Church of England essentially assumed Bishop George Bell was ‘guilty until proven innocent’. The Church of England needs to ask how it protects those who are the victims of false allegations.
  2. ‘Importantly, the Church should not put its own reputation before that of the dead…the complainant is not a “survivor”…’ (para. 52, p. 13/14). The ‘Core Group’ made dreadful assumptions. Namely, that no-one who had worked with Bell was still alive. They did not contact Bell’s relatives (even though George and Henrietta had no children of their own). The ‘Core Group’ put the reputational risk to the Church as a higher priority than serving justice, and getting to the truth of the matter. The complainant is repeatedly referred to by the Church as a ‘victim’ or ‘survivor’ – but no facts or testimony have come to light, other than the claims made by the complainant – that would corroborate the appropriate use of such pejorative labels.
  3. In paragraph 138, p. 32 we are told there was no real police enquiry into the case. Yet the Church of England had tried to ‘spin’ this, to suggest that any enquiry would have found Bell guilty.
  4. ‘…despite mention of the importance of ensuring that the deceased accused person received a fair hearing, absolutely nothing was done to ensure that his living relatives were informed of the allegations, let alone asked for or offered guidance. Nor were any steps taken to ensure that Bishop Bell’s interests were considered actively by an individual nominated for the purpose. I regret that Bishop Bell’s reputation, and the need for a rigorous factual analysis of the case against him, were swept up by a tide focused on settling Carol’s claim[s] and the perceived imperative of public [reputation]…’ (para. 142, p.33). The Church of England, in other words, only listened to the complainant, and took those accusations at face value. No system of justice in the entire world could ever regard this as fair, decent or true. The process run by the Church of England has more in common with a trial scene from Alice in Wonderland. No system of defence or justice for Bell was designed or enacted (para. 155).
  5. Paragraph 178, pages 46-48. Professor Maden, an expert on ‘false memory syndrome’, comments extensively on the case. He closes his remarks by stating that ‘I have no doubt that [the complainant] is sincere in her beliefs. Nevertheless it remains my view that the possibility of false memories in this case cannot be excluded. The facts are for the Court to determine. I do not believe that psychiatric or other expert evidence is likely to be of further assistance in establishing whether or not these allegations are true…’. Some members of the ‘Core Group’ did not read the whole of Professor Maden’s report, so ‘a fuller evidential investigation’ that might have been called for to test the complainant’s claim never occurred. The ‘Core Group’ even failed to contact the complainant’s wider family (whom ‘Carol’ said she was close to), and who could have perhaps provided corroborating or dissenting testimony.
  6. Two completely credible witnesses came forward. A woman identified as ‘Pauline’ and Canon Adrian Carey (paras. 214-228, pages 54-56). Neither corroborates Carol’s testimony. Neither can recall such a young girl being present with the regularity and frequency ‘Carol’ claims. Carey, Bell’s Chaplain, lived in the Bishop’s Palace with Henrietta and George Bell. Pauline, a child who lived in the palace and played in the gardens during the same years that ‘Carol’ claims that her abuse took place, does not recall any child like ‘Carol’: ‘Pauline and her mother lived in the palace itself. They shared a bedroom on an upper floor, and they had a sitting room of their own. Pauline went to school locally, to an Infants’ School then a Primary School. She passed the 11 Plus. At that point her mother obtained a job in another household and they left the palace. She remembers and named correctly other staff working in the palace and living there or in the grounds. She remembered the name of [the person Carol visited]. However, she did not recall Carol. This does not mean that Carol was not there from time to time: however, if Pauline is correct it would suggest that [Carol’s] visits were not so frequent as to have made her a significant presence…’.
  7. Despite the lack of evidence against Bell – remember, still just one complainant, and the ‘Core Team’ having failed to take account of relevant expertise (i.e., legal, psychiatric, historians, Bell’s biographer, etc.), or contacted living witnesses to test the claims made by ‘Carol’ see paras. 248-252, p. 64) – nonetheless, ‘Carol, and the wider public, were left in no doubt whatsoever that it was accepted that Bishop Bell was guilty of what was alleged against him. The statement provided the following conclusions: (i) The allegations had been investigated, and a proper process followed. (ii) The allegations had been proved; therefore (iii) There was no doubt that Bishop Bell had abused Carol…’. (para. 237, page 61). Lord Carlile later adds: ‘I regret that the Core Group failed to carry out sufficient investigation into the facts’ (para. 244, p.63).
  8. The ‘Core Group’ that investigated the case against Bishop Bell was found to have been ‘set up in an unmethodical and unplanned way, with neither terms of reference nor any clear direction as to how it would operate. As a result, it became a confused and unstructured process, as several members confirmed. Some members explicitly made it clear to me that they had no coherent notion of their roles or what was expected of them. There was no consideration of the need for consistency of attendance or membership. The members did not all see the same documents, nor all the documents relevant to their task. There was no organised or valuable inquiry or investigation into the merits of the allegations, and the standpoint of Bishop Bell was never given parity or proportionality. Indeed, the clear impression left is that the process was predicated on his guilt of what Carol alleged…’. (para. 254, p. 65). You can only read this as a vote of total ‘non-confidence’ in the Core Group. It is not so much a case of what few things they got wrong, as discovering that they got almost nothing right. This was a complete failure of process.
  9. So Lord Carlile concludes: ‘in my judgement the decision to settle the case in the form and manner followed was indefensibly wrong’ (para. 258, p. 66).
    Bishop George Bell
    Pic courtesy of Jimmy James Bishop George Bell

    Since the publication of the Carlile Report, the Archbishop, Church of England National Safeguarding Team and the Bishop of Chichester have all been defensive. They recognise that there are criticisms. But they continue to speak and behave as though they got the right result – merely via a flawed methodology. I am reminded of the quote from Alan Partridge: ‘You know, a lot of people forget that for the first three days, the cruise on The Titanic was a really enjoyable experience.’

On the October 21, 2015, I had been rung by the then Secretary-General of the Archbishops’ Council and of the General Synod of the Church of England, Sir William Fittall. It was Fittall who told me, over the phone, that a ‘thorough investigation’ had implicated Bishop George Bell in an historic sex-abuse case, and that the Church had ‘paid compensation to the victim’. Fittall added that he was tipping me off, as he knew we had an altar in the Cathedral dedicated to Bell, and that Bell was a distinguished former member of Christ Church.

Fittall asked what we would do, in the light of the forthcoming media announcements. I explained that Christ Church is an academic institution, and we tend to make decisions based on evidence, having first weighed and considered its quality. Fittall replied that the evidence was ‘compelling and convincing’, and that the investigation into George Bell has been ‘lengthy, professional and robust’. I asked for details, as I said I could not possibly make a judgement without sight of such evidence. I was told that such evidence could not be released. So, Christ Church kept faith with Bell, and the altar, named after him, remains in exactly the same spot it has occupied for over fifteen years, when it was first carved.

What we now learn from Independent Review of the Bishop George Bell Case is that evidence against Bell is, at best, flimsy. Charles Moore, writing in the Daily Telegraph, (December 16, 2017) notes that the Church of England:

…would only be reverting to the principle upon which justice is based – that a person is innocent unless proved guilty. It says it accepts the report’s finding that its procedures were wrong. In morality and logic, it must concede that its decision to destroy Bell was wrong too. This, I had expected, was what Archbishop Welby would now do. He is a brave man and I know, from conversations with him, that he is deeply anguished both by child abuse and by false accusations of child abuse. He tries harder than most princes of the Church to get alongside those who suffer.

Yet this is what he said on Friday. After acknowledging the failure of Church procedures, the Archbishop spoke of Bell’s ‘great achievement’ as a defender of the persecuted and added: ‘We realise that a significant cloud is left over his name … He is also accused of great wickedness. Good acts do not diminish evil ones, nor do evil ones make it right to forget the good. Whatever is thought about the accusations, the whole person and the whole life should be kept in mind.’

I’m afraid this is a shocking answer. The Archbishop must know that what people now think about the accusations depends very much on him. His own report tells him they were believed on grossly inadequate grounds. Does he cling to that belief or not? He invites us to balance the good and evil deeds of men; but there is no balance here. The good Bell did is proved. The evil is an uncorroborated accusation believed by the religious authorities because it makes their life easier. We have been here before – in the life of Jesus, and in the reason for his unjust death.

Bishop George Bell was one of the towering figures of twentieth century Anglicanism. He was a saintly man, of prodigious theological calibre. He befriended the Dietrich Bonhoeffer and Martin Niemöller other leaders of the German Confessing Church. Bonhoeffer’s last letter, before he was executed by the Nazis in 1945, was to Bell. Niemöller sought out Bell as soon as the Second World War ended. And it was Niemöller, you may recall, who is remembered for this quotation:

First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out— because I was not a Socialist. Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out— because I was not a Trade Unionist. Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out— because I was not a Jew. Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me.

But many of us did speak out for Bell – because of the pitiable processes and procedures he has been subjected to. This must now be fully overturned by the Church of England, and Bell’s name and reputation fully restored. No member of the ‘Core Team’ investigating Bell would ever allow their own deceased father to be treated like this. For a Father in God such as Bishop George Bell to be subjected to such reputational traducing, long after his death, requires an unambiguous capitulation on the part those who bear responsibility for this.

The Very Revd. Professor Martyn Percy, is Dean of Christ Church, Oxford.

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December 18 2017 – “The Archbishop of Canterbury has come under fire; but there are things to celebrate too” – Heathcliff O’Malley – The Daily Telegraph

The Archbishop of Canterbury has come under fire; but there are things to celebrate too

Justin Welby has come under criticism from several sources CREDIT: HEATHCLIFF O’MALLEY FOR THE DAILY TELEGRAPH/HEATHCLIFF O’MALLEY

 

It has been a difficult time for the Archbishop of Canterbury. Justin Welby has been criticised by one of his predecessors, Lord Carey, for sacking him over the way sexual assault allegations against a bishop were investigated.

This came just days after an independent report from Lord Carlile QC found the Church had besmirched the reputation of George Bell, the late bishop of Chichester, by failing “to engage in a process which would give proper consideration to his rights” when he was accused of sexual abuse.

Archbishop Welby apologised for the procedure but declined to exonerate Bishop Bell, as many of the latter’s supporters wanted.

Some will see both this and the treatment of Lord Carey as unjust; but the Archbishop will doubtless have had in mind the likelihood that he will have to represent the Church at some point next year before the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse, which is unlikely to be a comfortable experience.

So it must have come as a great relief to the Church hierarchy to be able to focus again on its pastoral preoccupations with the appointment of Sarah Mullally as Bishop of London in succession to Lord Chartres. A former chief nursing officer, she is the 133rd occupant of the London post and just the third woman bishop in the Anglican communion.

In truth, it was not a choice designed to be uncontroversial given the opposition to the ordination of women prelates on the Church’s conservative and evangelical wings.  But it is an inspired appointment and the inevitable corollary of the procedure to which the Church is now fully committed.

Indeed, how long will it be before a woman is ordained Archbishop of Canterbury or of York?

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December 19 2017 – “Welby was wrong to leave a stain on Bishop Bell’s memory” – Andrew Chandler – The Times

https://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/welby-was-wrong-to-leave-a-stain-on-bishop-bells-memory-lq3kgm05v

 

 the times

Welby was wrong to leave a stain on Bishop Bell’s memory

On Friday the Church of England released an independent review into how it handled an allegation of child sex abuse made against a bishop who died in 1958. This was no ordinary bishop. In the eyes of the historian Ian Kershaw, George Bell, the “impressive and extraordinary” bishop of Chichester between 1929 and 1958, was “possibly the most distinctive English clergyman of the 20th century”.

The review, though intricate, was also damning. Its author, Lord Carlile of Berriew, found that the investigation of the allegation made against Bell had been “inappropriate and impermissable” and resulted in a financial settlement which was “indefensibly wrong”.

The Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, acknowledged the catalogue of great deeds that defined Bell’s public career but insisted that “a significant cloud” still hung over him. This he reinforced blandly but purposefully by adding: “No human being is entirely good or bad. Bishop Bell was in many ways a hero. He is also accused of great wickedness.”

Everyone has the right to think for themselves and one should not deny such a right to the archbishop. But it is clear that on this occasion he has entered dubious, if not discreditable, territory. Welby and the other bishops who commented on this case have not spoken as individuals but have invested the authority of their office in a shocking opinion. For them an allegation is something that takes on a life of its own and which can even be commended and perpetuated, regardless of due process and the presumption of innocence on which society depends.

In this matter at least, the church is an institution in the grip of a rigid “safeguarding” agenda which has acquired an almost ideological force. Into this context the figure of Bishop Bell has tumbled. How many others, living and dead, might be added?

Should the archbishop now possess the right and the moral authority to judge, let alone exonerate, when his eyes are more firmly fixed on the corporate constructions of the organisation over which he presides?

Justin Welby faces a crucial test in this matter. It is a test of his integrity as Archbishop of Canterbury. The cloud that hangs in the air today is not to be found over Bishop Bell, but over Lambeth Palace.

Andrew Chandler is the biographer of George Bell and is professor of modern history at the University of Chichester

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December 18 2017 – “Archbishop of Canterbury criticised by Lord Carey” – BBC

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-42401825

Archbishop of Canterbury criticised by Lord Carey

  • 18 December 2017
Former Archbishop of Canterbury George Carey and incumbent Justin WelbyImage copyrightAFP/PA
Image caption George Carey criticised the current archbishop Justin Welby in a Christmas letter

Former Archbishop of Canterbury Lord Carey, who was made to stand down from an honorary post by the incumbent Justin Welby, has criticised the move.

Lord Carey said the archbishop’s insistence he resign over his handling of claims against Bishop Peter Ball – jailed for sex offences – was unjust.

The 82-year-old made the remarks in a letter. Lambeth Palace said it did not comment on private correspondence.

A review this year found senior Church figures “colluded” with Ball.

A Lambeth Palace spokeswoman said: “We do not comment on private correspondence but the independent inquiry into the handling of the Peter Ball case speaks for itself.”

‘Unjust decision’

In a letter to update friends about developments during 2017, Lord Carey wrote: “Less desirable has been the shocking insistence by the archbishop that I should stand down from ministry ‘for a season’ for mistakes he believes were made 24 years ago when Bishop Peter Ball abused young potential priests.

“His decision is quite unjust and eventually will be judged as such.”

Lord Carey had been given a role as an honorary assistant bishop in the diocese of Oxford but was asked to resign after the Bishop Ball review.

Ball, former bishop of Lewes and Gloucester, was jailed for two years and eight months in 2015, after admitting sex offences against 18 teenagers and young men between the 1970s and 1990s.

Lord Carey’s letter was sent out at the weekend, shortly after an independent inquiry criticised the Church over its handling of the Bishop George Bell case in Sussex.

A report on Friday found the Church “rushed to judgement” on the former Bishop of Chichester, who died in 1958 and was alleged to have repeatedly abused a young girl. The report also said Church processes were deficient.

  • Ex-Archbishop Lord Carey resigns after child abuse review
    26 June 2017
  • Church ‘colluded’ with sex abuse bishop Peter Ball
    22 June 2017
  • Retired bishop Peter Ball jailed for sex assaults
    7 October 2015
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December 19 2017 – “How can Archbishop Welby leave Bishop Bell’s name ‘under a cloud’?” – Daily Telegraph – Letters – William Jupe

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/opinion/2017/12/19/lettershow-can-archbishop-welby-leave-bishop-bells-name-cloud/

Letters: How can Archbishop Welby leave Bishop Bell’s name under a cloud?

Bishop Bell in Chichester CREDIT: HULTON ARCHIVE/TOPICAL PRESS AGENCY

SIR – Thank God for Charles Moore, and for all who refused to accept the traducing of the late George Bell, Bishop of Chichester, by the Church authorities.

How can the Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, condemn a man with such assurance for something alleged to have happened 63 years ago that cannot be corroborated?

Would he embrace being condemned himself on the basis of the unchallenged testimony of one person at such a distance?

William Jupe
Worcester

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December 18 2017 – “Archbishops at war. George Carey attacks Justin Welby over ‘unjust’ resignation demand” – Christian Today – James Macintyre

https://www.christiantoday.com/article/archbishops-at-war-george-carey-attacks-justin-welby-over-unjust-resignation-demand/121677.htm

 

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December 18 2017 – “Carey attacks Welby for ‘unjust’ sacking / Archbishop will be judged for decision, says Lord Carey” – The Daily Telegraph – Olivia Rudgard & Hayley Dixon

https://www.pressreader.com/uk/the-daily-telegraph/20171218/281496456639383

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December 18 2017 – “Former Archbishop of Canterbury lashes out at Justin Welby in letter / Carey lambasts Welby over church sexual abuse case – [Welby’s] decision is unjust and eventually will be judged as such” – The Guardian – Harriet Sherwood

https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2017/dec/17/former-archbishop-of-canterbury-george-carey-justin-welby-letter

Former archbishop of Canterbury lashes out at Justin Welby in letter

George Carey says it is ‘shocking’ that his successor asked him to quit honorary post over role in sexual abuse case

George Carey
 George Carey said the decision was ‘quite unjust and eventually will be judged as such’. Photograph: Murdo Macleod for the Guardian

The former archbishop of Canterbury George Carey has launched an extraordinary broadside against his successor, Justin Welby, in a Christmas letter to friends.

In a letter headed “Greetings from the Careys 2017”, Lord Carey, 82, lashes out at the “shocking” and “quite unjust” demand by Welby that he resign an honorary post because of his involvement in a high-profile sexual abuse case.

In recounting key events of his year, Carey tells friends of the “shocking insistence by the archbishop that I should stand down from ministry ‘for a season’ for mistakes he believes were made 24 years ago when bishop Peter Ball abused young potential priests. His decision is quite unjust and eventually will be judged as such.”

He adds: “Just as well, then, that we are surrounded by a large and wonderful family who give us great support and pleasure.”

The former archbishop, who retired from the post in 2002, resigned as honorary assistant bishop in the diocese of Oxford in June after a damning independent inquiry criticised the Church of England’s handling of the Ball case.

He quit after Welby made an unprecedented request for him to “carefully consider his position”. The inquiry found the church had “colluded” with Ball, the former bishop of Lewes and Gloucester, “rather than seeking to help those he had harmed”.

Ball was released from prison in February after serving 16 months for the grooming, sexual exploitation and abuse of 18 vulnerable young men who had sought spiritual guidance from him between 1977 and 1992.

The inquiry found that Ball’s case was dealt with at the highest level of the C of E. “The church appears to have been most interested in protecting itself,” its report said.

Carey “set the tone for the church’s response to Ball’s crimes and gave the steer which allowed Ball’s assertions that he was innocent to gain credence”. Carey had failed to pass six letters raising concerns about Ball to police and in 1993 wrote to Ball’s identical twin brother, Bishop Michael Ball, saying: “I believe him to be basically innocent.”

After the inquiry made its findings public, Carey apologised to Ball’s victims, saying: “I believed Peter Ball’s protestations and gave too little credence to the vulnerable young men and boys behind those allegations.”

Carey, who sits in the House of Lords as a crossbencher, has now hit back against Welby in a Christmas missive from him and his wife, Eileen, to “our dear friends”.

The letter, seen by the Guardian, says “two things have happened to us of consequence” over the past year. One was a move to a new home in a retirement community and the “less desirable” one was Welby’s intervention in June.

Last year, the former archbishop waded into another sexual abuse case, criticising the C of E’s handling of an allegation against the late George Bell, who was bishop of Chichester until his death in 1958. The church was heavily criticised in an independent report on Friday for traducing Bell without rigorous investigation of the claim.

In a letter to Bell’s niece, Carey said he was “frankly appalled by the way the church authorities have treated his memory”.

He added: “The church has effectively delivered a ‘guilty’ verdict without anything resembling a fair and open trial.” His reputation had been left “in tatters”.

A spokesperson said Carey did not comment on private correspondence intended for friends.

A spokesperson for Welby also declined to comment on private correspondence but said the independent review on the Ball case spoke for itself.

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December 14 2017 – “An apology and explanation for my recent absence from here” – Peter Hitchens’s Blog

http://hitchensblog.mailonsunday.co.uk/2017/12/an-apology-and-explanation-for-my-recent-absence-from-here-.html

14 December 2017 4:32 PM

An apology and explanation for my recent absence from here

I must apologise for having been so inactive here for the past few days, but the long struggle for justice for the late Bishop George Bell is now approaching its endgame.

This morning (Thursday 14th December) the following appeared on the website ‘Christian Today’.

https://www.christiantoday.com/article/cofe.set.to.publish.report.into.handling.of.george.bell.abuse.case.but.will.it.satisfy.critics/121436.htm

….and I believe it releases me from any embargo on revealing (as I have known for some days) that the Church of England will at last be revealing the details of Lord Carlile’s review of the case tomorrow morning, Friday 15th December 2017, 69 days after it received the report, and more than two years after it first published unproven allegations that George Bell was a paedophile, as if they were the proven truth.

The ‘Christian Today’ report certainly did not come from me, and I would not wish to anticipate either its contents or the interpretation of it, until I have seen them myself.

I am most grateful for the support and encouragement (and tolerance, and patience) I have had from many readers here in what must have seemed, to many of you, like a Quixotic and indeed esoteric expedition into a strange and unknown region of public life.

It was an expedition I never intended to embark on. It has been my Dreyfus case. In fact I was taken wholly by surprise by the molten fury that came unbidden to my hands and tongue, when the allegations against Bishop Bell were first displayed as if they were proven fact. I had not known I had such wrath within me. It has not left me since.

My anger was only increased by the impossibility, to begin with, of getting major media even to publish letters criticising their treatment of the matter.

Eventually, my activities put me into contact with an astonishing group of men and women, some church people, some academics,  some citizens of the lovely old city of Chichester (in which I long ago spent some formative and influential years more than half a century ago, and first faintly heard the name ‘George Bell’, not knowing what it would in the end mean to me), some lawyers, retired policemen and judges, some who had known George Bell in person, and regarded him as the living embodiment of John Bunyan’s Mr Valiant-for-Truth, the character in The Pilgrim’s Progress we would surely all most long to be, if we could.

Is there anyone who is not moved by Mr Valiant-for-Truth’s words before dying, some of which are incised into the stones of the lovely, supremely English war memorial gardens at Christ Church in Oxford, Bell’s old college (where he has never ceased to be honoured).

‘Then, said he, I am going to my Father’s; and though with great difficulty I have got hither, yet now I do not repent me of all the trouble I have been at to arrive where I am. My sword I give to him that shall succeed me in my pilgrimage, and my courage and skill to him that can get it. My marks and scars I carry with me, to be a witness for me that I have fought His battles who will now be my rewarder.’

So tonight I sit here on the edge of success or failure, and hope it has been worth it, and that justice will tomorrow flow down like waters, and righteousness like a mighty stream.  But if they do, it will only be so because men and women have fought to make it so.

Comments

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“You are therefore personally doing an injustice to either Bell or to his accuser by presuming their guilt”.

No, the only injustice committed here was against Bishop Bell because it was him – and only him, not ‘Carol’ – who was presumed guilty as accused, when guilt should never be presumed against any one who is under accusation, and ‘Carol’ is not under accusation. Dead or alive, Bell should’ve been presumed innocent right from the beginning, but in turn this does not cast any presumption – innocence or guilt – upon the accuser as you incorrectly claim it does, because the accuser isn’t the one being placed under any scrutiny or investigation (whether in a court of law or not), unless as I’ve said previously, enough evidence subsequently became available to suspect the accuser of any criminal wrongdoing – so for example, had ‘Carol’ fabricated the entire story, wasted police time, and perverted the course of justice – and was subsequently accused and/or charged and placed under arrest, ‘Carol’ would then (or should) be presumed innocent of said hypothetical charges until proven guilty or acquited of them. Until such a time, which for obvious reasons is highly unlikely to happen, any presumption of ‘Carol’ does currently not factor into the equation. You appear to be mixing up and conflating two separate charges/accusations of two different people where there was only one charge/accusation against one person, simply because they shared a connection in this case. That is best I can currently do with the short time I have to explain the error in Mr Bunker’s thinking, without trying to go around in circles.

 

John Vernau

As it happens I was born in Battersea and Baptised in St Paul’s, and had never thought it, on balance, particularly important or even desirable to attend church regularly in order to lead a Christian life. Funnily enough I quite recently decided, for many reasons, to start attending church again, despite my feelings towards the Church of England having become progressively more negative over the years. The statements and lack of repentance by Welby and Warner of course mark a new low.

To be honest, I’m not sure how long I’ll be able to keep it up – this morning there was no mention of George Bell in the lady Deacon’s sermon, but a reference to “Archbishop Justin” in another context, the earlier lesson having included much from Isaiah about the Lord being a God of justice, and his followers oaks of righteousness. I felt very angry and a little sick, and don’t really want such feelings to be a regular feature of Sunday mornings.

Anyway, I totally understand your viewpoint, best wishes.

 

Congratulations to Peter Hitchens on all that he has achieved so far. But the craven failure of the authorities to apologise, confronted by the clear judgement of Lord Carlile, means that the campaign must continue until Bishop Bell’s reputation is restored. Meanwhile those responsible for this monstrous injustice should consider their position.

 

Francis Hodson and Peter Preston and Mike B – no, my logic is correct. The presumption of innocence is a legal term. I am not questioning that, nor am I speaking of “proving guilt” in a court of law. That has nothing to do with my argument. On the contrary, as I stressed, I am speaking only of a personal, not a legal, view of the matter. – Let’s look at the facts:

An anonymous person accuses Bell of wrongdoing. Either Bell was innocent and the accuser is lying (and therefore not innocent). Or Bell was guilty and the accuser is not lying (and is therefore innocent). I see no other possible permutation. Do you?

Consequently, if you presume Bell’s innocence, you are necessarily presuming that the accuser is not innocent – and vice versa. You are therefore personally doing an injustice to either Bell or to his accuser by presuming their guilt. THAT is my logical argument and I’d like to see anyone refute it. Please try.

It is therefore, in my opinion, better in this case not to presume (i.e. to take as true without proof – Chamber’ss) dicttonary) anything at all. – You can of course still have an opinion.

What I hope no one will misunderstand is that my argument has nothing to do with Mr Hitchens’ “campaign” against the shameful reaction by the Church and some of the media who stated Bell’s guilt as a fact. – disgraceful journalism. In that I support Mr Hitchens wholeheartedly as I’ve already made clear.

PS -a final word to Mike B: What if Carol is telling the truth? That’s something you’ve apparently not considered.

 

Contributor James Byron, replying to another contributor, wrote:

“Regarding the presumption of innocence, Mr Bunker, I’m not making any factual claims about Bell — for all I know, hard as it is to accept, he may have been guilty — but giving him a general, rebuttable presumption to which we’re all entitled.”

I mean you no disrespect, sir, but of what importance are your or my or anyone else’s “factual claims” (other than those of any actual accuser) about the guilt or innocence of anyone. It is the judiciary’s judgement surely that has any value and not yours or mine.
In any judicial system for which an accusation is not per se proof of guilt, surely the same rule holds also for multiple accusations against the same defendant. If I have not misunderstood the rights of us Britons, any person at all now deceased against whom no charges have been brought before a court of law during his or her lifetime is presumed innocent in British law – which is where it counts.
I know of no exceptions to that rule, sir, even for those ‘mistrusted’ by revered bishops.
Or have I got this “presumption of innocence” thing all wrong?. As I asked earlier, how many extra-judicial accusations are officially held to ‘add up’ to a conviction?

 

Mr Rob
Thanks for the reply. I fully expected the Church to react to the Carlile Report with more pious and evasive babbling about lessons learned and the rest of it. But when I read that they were immediately repudiating the idea that the settlement could and should have required confidentiality—citing a requirement for “transparency”—my blood boiled. This was the egregious error in the whole sorry business, and without it Bishop Bell’s reputation would have remained untarnished. They have learned nothing. They are so “transparent” that I see right through them and want nothing to do with them. I was born and Christened in Lambeth, as it happens, but I’m not a practising member of the Church, which is more or less defunct in Australia anyway.

I now prefer not to be even nominally associated with what seems to essentially be a sanctimonious and mediocre PR operation.

 

Contributor Mr Bunker wrote:

” If you “presume” Bell’s innocence, you automatically presume the guilt of the person making the charges against him. What about his/her “presumed innocence”?”

Not so, sir. The presumption of innocence, to which, I believe, under British law any person is entitled who has not been found guilty as charged by a court of law, does not presume guilt of anyone. Guilt has to be proved; innocence doesn’t.
Your logic here seems to me to be of the “my enemy’s enemy is my friend” type and open to similar logical refutation – a surprising error for someone of your wisdom and experience.

 

I congratulate Mr Hitchens on this important achievement in the cause of natural justice.

 

James Byron – just to make it clear, I was not criticizing you at all. You just supplied the “buzz words” (poi) that allowed me to make my points. Thanks.

 

@ John Vernau

***f I can find my Certificate of Baptism I’ll be mailing it, in pieces, to Lambeth Palace***

@ Mr Rob

*** I must admit, I think I would find it very difficult to persuade someone to *join* the church now, were I to be in such a situation. ***

I was given to understand it was the church of Christ, not of any of its fallible bishops. And as it happens, I had for some time considered seeking confirmation.

But the Church’s behaviour in the Bell case is something so revolting that it poses major obstacles. It’s a real test. How am I to take its bishops seriously ? One of them at least is required for confirmations. At least I’m not in the dioceses of Chichester or Canterbury. But what I’m really waiting for is a robust defence of the principles of justice and morality, from a bishop. I’d go with one, just one. Any offers ?

 

Mr Bunker writes:

“3. Because there is another angle to this: If you “presume” Bell’s innocence, you automatically presume the guilt of the person making the charges against him. What about his/her “presumed innocence”? Are you (illogically) presuming everyone is innocent – or are you being selective?”

Err, no you don’t. To presume innocence on the accused is not to presume guilt on the accuser. Guilt is never presumed, because it must be first established. Innocence is presumed because it can’t always be established, and doesn’t need to be, because the burden of proof is on those accusing, not on those accused. It is the accused whose name, reputation, and future (if they’re still living in the latter case) that are on the line, not the accuser’s, especially in these cases where the accuser is protected by anonymity. The accuser isn’t being put on trial, and therefore the presumption of innocence doesn’t factor in, unless there is a subsequent turn of events that places them in an acussory light, which may result in a separate trial entirely in which they become the accused. As Mike B has correctly stated, if you had used ‘know’ instead of ‘presumed’, there would be no issue here. It would appear you’re having trouble understanding what ‘presumed’ means, especially in the context of this issue.

 

@Mr Bunker16th December at 03:08PM

Yet more empty-headed self-righteousness from the hubristic Mr Bunker, who assumes that “any reasonable person would have to agree” with him, as he invariably does. At least he has refrained, this time, from describing his vacuous arguments as ‘elegant’, so I suppose we should be grateful for small mercies.

Of course, we are not a court of law, but if a man is accused of a criminal abomination, then even outside a law court, he is entitled to a presumption of innocence, particularly if he is dead and unable to speak for himself. Not that I would expect such niceties to bother Mr Bunker. In any argument, debate or court, the “onus probandi” is on the person making an allegation to produce evidence to substantiate it. Clearly, no such evidence has been produced here. Had it been, then doubtless it would have found its way into the public domain, so that the Church could defend its lily-livered, pusillanimous actions.

As for you “point” number 3, what drivel. If a person makes such a devastating allegation as “Carol” has done, then she must be asked to substantiate it. To suggest otherwise, on the spurious grounds that non-acceptance of her story casts doubt on her veracity and implies that her integrity (or perhaps just her memory) is not all that it might be, is a ludicrous notion. Taking your obtuse argument at face value, that would imply that anyone who makes an allegation of any sort against another person must not be held to proof of it for fear of hurting her feelings

Poor snowflake..

Anyway, if you wish to continue your charade, you may do so, but it will have to be with someone else. I have no interest in continuing to debate with someone who holds himself in such high regard that he always maintains that anyone whose opinion differs from his own is, axiomatically, lacking in reason.

 

Mike B – I reject your baseless charge of weasel-wordiness. I am stating what I think any reasonable person would have to agree with if he gave the matter a moment’s thought:

1: I personally presume nothing – neither Bell’s guilt nor his innocence because I see no credible evidence one way or the other, It would be “presumptuous” in the true sense of the word to opine otherwise.

2. Before a court of law, of course Bell must be presumed innocent until guilty. But neither you nor I are a court of law. The only rational and sensible *personal* position left to us is to admit our ignorance and … refrain from presuming.

3. Because there is another angle to this: If you “presume” Bell’s innocence, you automatically presume the guilt of the person making the charges against him. What about his/her “presumed innocence”? Are you (illogically) presuming everyone is innocent – or are you being selective?

4. If you nevertheless still presume Bell’s innocence in the absence of hard evidence either way, exactly what do you base that presumption on? A mere wish that he was innocent, perhaps? – “Wishful presuming”? – that’s what it sounds like to me.

 

Good work by Mr Hitchens and the George Bell Group. The review, although unsurprisingly understated, made some pretty cutting remarks I thought. There were many acid comments like:

‘I have been told, and have to accept, that several members of the Core Group ‘had considerable experience of the criminal justice system’. Unfortunately, there is no evidence that they shared, let alone harnessed that experience – which is surprising and disappointing.’

Section 265 on the Archbishop of Canterbury was bordering on funny.

The evidence from Pauline and Professor Maden was circumstantial but enlightening.

Lord Carlile’s noting the Core Group’s lack of concern for the truth and for the reputation of Bishop Bell (apart from the legal fiasco) was pretty damning.

I just wish that Lord Carlile could have his remit broadened to include all church committee meetings.

 

I don’t know whether this was my interpretation, but I didn’t see much of a ‘change of mind’ in the BBC’s article on it’s web site yesterday. I think there is probably someway to go on this yet to get any redress I’m afraid. Maybe this will be in the column tomorrow?

 

John Vernau, I too feel angry, essentially in two main ways. One, for the way in which Bishop Bell has been besmirched in such a sordid fashion. And two because the institutions involved, that is the news media and the church, along with high placed individuals, have trampled all over our ancient privilege of the presumption of innocence.
I also feel sad because I see Bishop Bell as one of those clergy from an earlier era where on the whole, we still had values and certain ways of behaving, recognised in general by those of that time. My grandmother’s time I suppose, when people still called each other ‘Mr’ or ‘Mrs’, where they took care with their appearance, were polite and well mannered and adhered to well known social values and behaviours. And also where there was respect for those like Bishop Bell and doctors and head masters and so on. This was because these people had earned this respect.

In the easy for all, badly dressed, swearing and vulgar, porn watching society in which we now live, with fake idols and consumer led constant tv, we barely recognise the likes of the Bishop and all he stood for and I’m sure it is partly because of this sea change in society, that people were so ready to find the Bishop guilty and believe ‘Carol’.

You could say that there are bigger issues in our country that need attention and that these social ways of the past are just small things; but as we know, it is in part the small things, politeness, kindness, respect, dignity, unselfishness (what you can do for others) and so on that make a society.

It is possible that ‘Carol’ has been treated badly in her life, and that she truly believes what she is saying, but the way in which the matter was dealt with puts us all to shame. But largely thanks to PH, we have redeemed ourselves to some extent by standing up, (for once), for truth and justice and the privileges that we so carelessly cast aside in this case.

 

Regarding the presumption of innocence, Mr Bunker, I’m not making any factual claims about Bell — for all I know, hard as it is to accept, he may have been guilty — but giving him a general, rebuttable presumption to which we’re all entitled. In the absence of evidence, I’m assuming innocence, not making a positive factual claim. It’s a small but crucial difference.

 

@ Mr Bunker 15 December at 10:44PM

“I personally do not presume that Bell was innocent.”

Had Mr Bunker stated that he did not *know* whether or not the Bishop was innocent, then nobody could have had any concern with the statement. That state of ignorance is shared by all except, perhaps (and I use that word advisedly) his accuser.

However, the Bishop has been accused of a criminal abomination and, as such, should be entitled to a *presumption* of innocence. He may not be able to be tried in a criminal court, but, unless and until evidence of an overwhelming standard is produced to demonstrate his guilt, he should be presumed innocent.

The uncorroborated, unsubstantiated testimony of his accuser, who remained silent on the subject for decades, made against a dead man, unable to respond to these horrific allegations, falls so far short of such a standard that anyone who fails to appreciate the necessity to presume this man’s innocence has not the slightest conception or understanding of the meaning and vital importance of that presumption. Mr Bunker’s assertion that neither does he presume the Bishop’s guilt amounts to a weasel worded cop out and further demonstrates his incomprehension of the concept of, and reasons for, the presumption of innocence.

 

Very well achieved, Peter, for the time, effort, frustration, contempt, and hostility that you have experienced on this issue. I think it is an appalling indictment of our society that you felt the need to get involved in the first place, and a shameful disgrace that the C of E behaved so contemptibly. It was a heroic effort on your part. Very well done.

 

Good show PH. Another campaign victory to add to the Arctic convoys recognition. Well done.

***PH replies, that is very kind of you but I must courteously reject the compliment about the convoys. I played no part in that recognition. I wish I had, but I didn’t.***

 

And Bishop Hancock says: ‘… we acted in good faith throughout with no calculated intention to damage George Bell’s reputation.’ Whatever this self-justification says about ‘intention’, we are judged on our acts of commission or omission. The ‘Core Group’s’ glaring acts of omission directly resulted in a grave and unnecessary calumny. An apology is not enough.

 

Mr Bunker (again)

I say cold and logical because while logical, in the absence of the legal expression ‘innocent until proven guilty’, your cold, Spock-like approach to the matter is essentially correct. The absence of proof either way means agnosticism is the only option. However, we humans all quite often tend to think and act very differently than the Spock character, adding a bit human emotion here or taking a bit away from the odd assumption there, don’t we?

 

How ridiculous of Justin Welby to write ‘No human being is entirely good or bad. Bishop Bell was in many ways a hero. He is also accused of great wickedness…’, ‘[l]et us therefore remember his defence of Jewish victims of persecution, his moral stand against indiscriminate bombing…’ (statement, Chichester Observer 15.12.17)

The crime in question is of a distinct class, far from normal ‘luxuria’. A person committing this crime performs at least two ‘intrinsically evil’ acts, both evidence of unusual moral deformation. It is impossible for such a person to have a virtuous character. Isn’t that obvious? And this Archbishop was supposed to be an expert in ethics.

 

Mr Bunker

You might be (un)surprised to learn that your comment about Bishop Bell’s supposed innocent or guilt doesn’t cause me the least bit consternation. You say you do not presume either innocence or guilt, and remain open minded on the matter. In other words, in the absence of proof either way, your position is one of an agnostic. Sounds perfectly cold and logical to me.

 

As contributor Colin quoted from Jeremiah, there are many verses in the Scripture that urge us not to be indifferent to injustice especially done upon those who cannot defend by themselves.

”Open thy mouth for the dumb in the cause of all such as are appointed to destruction.

Open thy mouth, judge *righteously*, and plead the cause of the poor and needy.”

(Proverbs 31:8-9)

It is interesting that this was what a mother to a king taught him.

However, to *judge righteously* has very much to do with *transparency* that Ms Vikkib mentions, I think. I also think it is a odd use of the word by the Archbishop Welby:

“The Church of England is committed to transparency and therefore we would take a different approach.”

I think I will come back later on this subject. Now we have to go to a *forest* to find a Christmas tree (of course we pay for it…)

Featured post

December 17 2017 – BBC Radio 4 – Sunday – Edward Stourton [Chichester’s Marilyn Billingham on Bishop Bell]

radio4

http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b09jbrvn

France’s crumbling cathedrals, Bishop George Bell, the Religion of Mike Pence

Sunday morning religious news and current affairs programme presented by Edward Stourton.

 

Podcast

Featured post

December 17 2017 – “If a saintly man can be branded a sex abuser, none of us is safe” – Peter Hitchens – Mail on Sunday

http://hitchensblog.mailonsunday.co.uk/2017/12/if-a-saintly-man-can-be-branded-a-sex-abuser-none-of-us-is-safe.html

17 December 2017 1:20 AM

If a saintly man can be branded a sex abuser, none of us is safe

This is Peter Hitchens’s Mail On Sunday column

Lord bishop of Chichester

If we won’t fight injustice wherever we see it, then we are not safe from suffering injustice ourselves. If a man’s reputation can be destroyed in an afternoon by a secret kangaroo court, then we too can one day be propelled into a pit of everlasting shame by the same process.
If it can happen to anyone, it can happen to you. And it does happen. Accusations of long-ago sexual crime have become a sort of industry in this country. People are so horrified by them that they almost always believe them.
Because the crime is so foul, we stop thinking. To their shame, police and prosecutors use our horror to get easy convictions, when they must know that their cases are weak. The less actual evidence they have, the more they stress the disgusting nature of the alleged crime. And they forget to remind us that it is alleged, not proved.
Equally shamefully, judges do not stop these trials and juries leave their brains at the door. They convict not because they are sure the case has been proved beyond reasonable doubt, but because they are angry and revolted.
I am miserably sure there are disturbing numbers of people in British prisons now, prosecuted on such charges, who are innocent of the accusations against them. It is our fault, because we have forgotten what justice is supposed to be like, and that, if we do not guard it in our hearts, it will perish in the country.
This is why I have spent a shockingly large part of my life in the past two years trying to rescue the reputation of a dead bishop, George Bell of Chichester. I had known of him for many years and thought him a man of saintly courage. I had also spent a very sunny part of an extraordinarily happy childhood in and around Chichester. I learned to be an Englishman, in many ways, in that beautiful, ancient city. Even so, when the Church of England publicly denounced him as a child abuser, I was astonished by the instinctive, molten fury that I then experienced. This was not just an opinion. It kept me awake at night.
Fortunately, I found allies who felt the same. At first slowly and then with gathering strength and confidence, we assembled the evidence which showed that grave wrong had been done. The Church of England, whose senior figures are astonishingly unimpressive and tricky, tried to smear us with false claims that we had attacked the complainant. But they failed, and at last grudgingly agreed to review the case.
When the review told them that they had run an incompetent, miserable kangaroo court and that they had condemned a great man on evidence too weak to hang a hamster, they sat sulkily on that report for nearly ten weeks, until they were jeered into releasing it.
Even then, when it came out on Friday, a Church which supposedly believes in penitence was still wriggling like a basket of embarrassed eels. The distinguished and impartial lawyer who conducted the review, Lord Carlile QC, made it quite plain that no court would have found George Bell guilty on the evidence (indeed, the Crown Prosecution Service would not even have brought it to court).
He concluded the Church had hung one of its greatest figures ‘out to dry’. He even said ‘if I had been prosecuting this case, I would have lost it’, which is as near as such a person could come to saying George Bell is innocent.
And what of the Church, supposedly the guardian of moral good? The Archbishop of Canterbury petulantly persisted in claiming, despite all the evidence, that there was still a ‘cloud’ over George Bell’s name. Lord Carlile remarked that this statement was ‘less than fully adroit’, which is QC-speak for something much ruder.
I will go further. Archbishop Welby had a chance to stand for moral courage against the easy, popular thing. And he did the easy, popular thing. George Bell, facing much sterner tests in much tougher times, repeatedly chose moral courage over popularity. And that is why Justin Welby is not fit to lace up George Bell’s shoes, and why his pretensions to be a moral leader of this country are taken less and less seriously by thinking people.

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Mr Rob comments, simply but brilliantly: “… the Archbishop of Canterbury will weigh a single uncorroborated, untested historical allegation against the proven, documented deeds of a man, and decide that the scales balance?”

I read these words about ten times. Each time I felt the weight of them press ever more upon me, until I truly understood the disturbing position taken by the Archbishop of Canterbury.

Such clarity and brevity is not always easy to come by, so thank you.

What can one say?

That the Archbishop of Canterbury does not repent of the gross unfairness of the Church of England’s handling of the claim made against George Bell as detailed by an independent QC?

That the Archbishop of Canterbury will weigh a single uncorroborated, untested historical allegation against the right of a man (who is unable even to defend himself) to be afforded the presumption of innocence – and find that the allegation overrides that right?

That the Archbishop of Canterbury will weigh a single uncorroborated, untested historical allegation against the proven, documented deeds of a man, and decide that the scales balance?

That the name of this Archbishop, Justin Welby, will be mentioned in the same service as his clergy tell us that the Lord is a God of justice, and the congregation will be expected not to have any misgivings?

Each day Justin Welby remains in office, the Church of England is brought further into disrepute.

I wonder if a turning point in the treatment of those making allegations of sexual assault was the BBC documentary Police from 1982, the most famous episode of which featured a woman alleging rape by three men. Her questioning was considered dismissive and harsh to the point of cruelty. I only dimly remember it, but recall that it was considered shocking at the time, and seems to remember that it did lead to real changes in police handling of such cases. Perhaps the understandable indignation the episode generated set the pendulum swinging and has led us to a position where all complainants are automatically believed, not out of sympathy, but for fear of the consequences of doing otherwise. The clerics who behaved so cravenly with the bishop Bell allegation were no doubt terrified of the possibility of appearing uncaring or unsympathetic, especially if more complainants appeared, though there seems no reason to suspect any would. It looks like they chose to sacrifice one man’s reputation to protect themselves from any potential future consequences, however unlikely. Powerful institutions will do whatever it takes, and sacrifice whoever necessary, to protect themselves. Religious organisations are no different. It all puts me in mind of that wonderful film The Verdict which deals with similar themes.

Jails will be abolished in the age to come apart from those who support them who will be locked up.

Having spent over 20 years in the probation service, I can attest to the futile nature of the duties its staff are expected to carry out, which have virtually no effect on offending behaviour. I keep in touch with people who still work in the service and heard recently of an experienced officer leaving as she couldn’t cope. Her caseload was 130 offenders. Yet, she was only contracted to work 30 hours a week. I honestly believe that they could scrap the private community rehabilitation companies and no one would notice. They’ve ripped the heart out of the service.

Is it any wonder we have such mealy-mouthed, political, temporising shepherds in the C of E? Quite apart from the commitment to celibacy, a Catholic priest has to train for five to six years before being ordained. At the C of E you can do it in two or three. Our current Archbishop worked in the oil industry for 11 years before switching to the church, by which time, presumably, he could afford faith.

The whole sorry crew are an embarrassment.

A victory for truth and justice against more dark actors playing dark games – from an institution that ought to know and behave better – and who, even in light of the facts set out in the Carlile report, are still trying to peddle their dark message and protect their own reputation no matter how painfully deluded and pathetic they appear now more than ever before. If they were any sort of men, let alone Christian men and leaders, they would show honour and decency and make an official public apology and retraction of their previous handling of this whole sordid affair. If there is any sort of “cloud” above George Bell’s name, reputation, and legacy, it is one Welby and his acolytes have placed there – and in the case of the Archbishop at least – are still trying to keep there through their total lack of honesty and personal contrition. I have felt so disgusted by Welby’s untenable obstinance since the report that I have sent a brief correspondence to tell him such.

I’m glad your tireless campaigning on the innocence of Bishop Bell has got this far Peter and I think Archbishop Welby should be seriously considering his position over this, though I suspect he is not given his behaviour thus far. We can only hope the CofE now works as hard as yourself and other campaigners to undo the reputational damage it has done to the late Bishop.

I agrre wholeheartedly with Mr Hichens on all but one point in his articles. That is: why the “National Probation Service is so overwhelmed…”. It is overwhelmed due to its privatisation and the axing of so many jobs. See Private Eye.

Mr Hitchens has argued he critical issue here concerns what is right, what is just — not the balancing of benefits.

The COE have decided to proceed from the benefits angle , in the process reducing the reputation of a former senior COE churchmen , who as far as I can see has had no other allegation of wrongdoing levelled against Him .

They are a poor lot , what will they stand up for and against ?

Justice is itself the great standing policy of civil society; and any eminent departure from it, under any circumstances, lies under the suspicion of being no policy at all.

My daughter is a police officer , she was seconded to a sexual offences team for two years , dealing with such accusations , based on what I told her about the Bishop Bell allegation , when it was allegedly done , She thinks it would have gone no further than confidential questioning , she stressed that part , of the accuser and any people who are still alive from that period , to find any FACTS , she stressed that part as well . to pass onto the CPS , It is up to the CPS , not the Police to proceed to Prosecution , in her experience , this would not have been prosecuted .

I find it hard to believe that article about prisons, as I know of someone who was given a seven-month sentence for a first offence. His crime – registering fictitious candidates for a local election. Guess that’s a very serious crime.

On the matter of swearing, I wonder if the BBC understand that swearing is purposefully abrasive (raising the temperature and putting people on edge – its point being a verbal snarl or hiss) and so an enemy of peaceful, harmonious, society (which is why the prudent guard against it).

Then again, perhaps they know that all too well…

A few weeks ago, Peter Hitchens was the subject of a protest at which a young lady brandished a placard bearing the legend “History will forget you”.

I am confident, that for his writing and campaigning on behalf of Bishop Bell, and therefore on behalf of natural justice, so ultimately on behalf of us all, that history will remember and honour Peter Hitchens.

@ David Brown: “Archbishop Welby . . . would have been better suited to a political career”.
Welby is a left-wing globalist plant into the CofE, and being Archbishop of Canterbury *is* his political career.

A brave and worthwhile crusade to honour the memory of Bishop George Bell.
And when you are confident of right and justice on your side, it makes the journey easier. But where it does it leave the Church of England and the Archbishop of Canterbury in particular this Sunday morning only a week before Christmas?

I’m pleased Mr Hitchens pulled no punches in his comments about The Archbishop of Canterbury. His comments are highly commendable for their honesty. They tell the truth. I’m also pleased Mr Hitchens and others have achieved some sort of victory, if one can put it like that.

And, in my view, the statements by Justin Welby, Martin Warner and Peter Hancock, about Carlile’s report, show each as having a desire to hide behind the excuse of deficient ‘processes’. They seek sanctuary in too much corporate-speak. When I read their statements, parts of them could have been from an ‘apology’ from Unilever, Facebook or Uber about some poor service or product. You must know the type I mean: the safety of our customers is our priority, etc., etc. – often ignoring the core issue while pretending to address it and hoping you’ll now forget the whole thing.

Finally, I would particularly like to know, from Justin Welby himself, what relevance he thinks his following words have: “No human being is entirely good or bad. Bishop Bell was in many ways a hero. He is also accused of great wickedness. **Good acts do not diminish evil ones, nor do evil ones make it right to forget the good.** Whatever is thought about the accusations, the whole person and whole life should be kept in mind.” (my emphases)

On BBC cultural bias: the Today programme had a feature yesterday (just after 7.30 am I think) talking about nationalism and asking such questions as how easy is it for such beliefs to lead to violence and murder. The whole tone was that they very easily could and that anyone holding such views is automatically a great danger to the progressive transformation of society into something completely perfect. The presenters and editors in general see the world through a left-wing prism. Anything centrist ten years ago is now viewed as nasty and intolerant.

Mr Hitchens,

I want to thank you for your outstanding work combatting the George Bell smear campaign. I would never have heard of this man and his achievements if not for your blog, nor would I have had the sense to question his alleged crime, reported by the media and CoE as if he was proven guilty. Although justice has prevailed, I am dismayed (though not surprised) at the non-apology from the Church of England.

Best regards,
Philip B

I have often in these strange times thought of the scene from a Man for all Seasons I which Thomas More angrily retorts to William Roper about the Devil and the law ( I am not saying Bishop Bell is the Devil) But without The Law and Due Process we are all in deep trouble.
I have fully supported you and others in the Bell case and the Church should hang it’s head in shame in this matter !
From Christian to Agnostic to Athiest back to Agnostic many thanks for making me think being Agnostic is a sustainable position doubting Thomas I guess for me bring back a proper Christmas not the shallow consumer driven mess it is now.
As a serving Prison Officer I am made to feel like the Criminal it’s no wonder no one stays let alone wants to join, time to join my many friends and leave !

The disorder of 2011 is the only time I can think of when those caught were dealt with severely by the courts. They were probably expecting to be let off with a caution or some community service. This only happened, I think, because the Olympics were due next year, but it has ensured that no such behaviour has happened since.

Teachers are at risk of malicious allegations of impropriety being made by maladjusted adolescents. Even if these allegations are not believed, they can be may be recorded on the police intelligence database as schools cover their backsides against possible later criticism. The teacher need never know that a libel has been recorded against them. When that teacher then applies for a job elsewhere, the recruiting school will get access to an enhanced disclosure, which will display this libel. What are the odds of that teacher being shortlisted?

PH;

*** “The so-called ‘riots’ of August 2011 – in fact, a general breakdown of order – may be the last warning we get.” ***

7billion (and rising) human beings, increasingly traveling at ever higher speeds, over longer and longer distances (many globally), in their masses, across borders, in a mediasphere of billions of babbling voices constantly streaming a deluge of data at us that increasingly has to shout to win attention, and all coming to be taught to believe in the individualism/relativism that puts subjective feelings before objective facts.

Society decayed into deafening white noise.

Chaos is our imminent future Mr H, and no number of prisons is going to change that, because the human race is driving itself mad with the noise made by its own power.

We don’t need a prison for the rioters, there are just too many to contain. We are beyond that point now. What we need are arks for the decent or a species-wide epiphany.

Mr Hitchens puts the boot in: “…Justin Welby is not fit to lace up George Bell’s shoes…”

Little Welby has clearly forsook
And deleted great George from the book
I suppose he just might
Pull the saint’s laces tight
By deploying his arch-bishop’s crook

I’m sorry to say this, but I sometimes wonder if they are not jailing killers in order to control the rampant population.

The fact that I have had that idea should in itself by worrying.

Yet in this liberal utopia (utopia is Greek for no-where), what I say or think means absolutely nothing.

Bishop Bell has long been as they say promoted to glory. ArchBishop Welby seems lacking in moral conviction and would have been better suited to a political career.
I actually know a women who was subject to very bad abuse as a child by a close family member. She forgave that person since deceased and got compensation after getting her medical records under the freedom of information act.
The problem mostly is these cases real or false stir up very strong emotion and their is the incentive for some of compensation money . As with witchcraft allegations in the 16th century the accusation alone is enough to stir an irrational mob.
The Crown Prosecution Service knows this and is run by people obsessed with prosecuting sex crimes even when it is only the word of one person against another with no collaborating evidence. In the celebrity cases when due to the publicity others come forward over claims about events decades ago one can never be sure if its driven by the chance of winning compensation money.
No one is ever prosecuted when its been proven that they bore false witness they just have sometimes to return their winnings

“evidence too weak to hang a hamster” Quite. Though this aspect of the affair doesn’t seem to have been reported that much.

If I were Mr Hitchens I’d go out an buy a bottle of my favourite wine and treat myself – and maybe some of my supportive friends – to a glass or two of it.

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December 17 2017 – “Sorry’s not enough for Church’s betrayal of a hero falsely accused” – Rev Jules Gomes

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Rev Jules Gomes

https://www.julesgomes.com/single-post/Sorry-not-enough-for-Church-betrayal-of-a-hero-falsely-accused

Sorry’s not enough for Church’s betrayal of a hero falsely accused

December 17, 2017

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Jules Gomes

 

Thou shalt not bear false witness against your neighbour. The Church of England defiled the ninth commandment by shamefully bearing false witness against one of its most saintly and heroic bishops. Over a decade later, it has been forced to swallow its pride and cough up a feeble apology for the way it handled accusations of sexual abuse against Bishop George Bell.

The CofE slandered, smeared and destroyed the impeccable reputation of a cleric who had the courage of his convictions to stand up to Adolf Hitler. This is the conclusion of the Lord Carlile review published this week. It points a damning finger at the CofE for failing ‘to follow a process that was fair and equitable to both sides’.

The CofE condemned Bishop George Bell exclusively on the basis of a single entirely uncorroborated witness decades after the alleged sexual abuse was said to have occurred.

It violated the sanctity of one of the most hallowed tenets of jurisprudence dating back to the sixth century Digest of Justinian and held sacred in Canon law, Islamic law and English common law. This is the presumption of innocence – that a defendant is innocent until proven guilty.

It refused to recognise the fact that the defendant had been dead for decades and could not defend himself.

It infringed Bishop Bell’s human rights as set out in Article 10 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Article 6 of the European Convention of Human Rights and the Sixth Amendment to the United States Constitution by denying the defendant the right to a fair trial.

It debased the humanity of the alleged victim ‘Carol’ by letting her accuse Bishop Bell under the cloak of anonymity and paying her compensation in an out-of-court settlement.

It made a mockery of centuries of legal precedence by allowing the accuser to remain anonymous. The right of an accused to confront his or her accusers is enshrined in the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, the European Convention of Human Rights, the American Convention on Human Rights, the Statute for the International Criminal Court and Statutes of the International Criminal Tribunals for the Former Yugoslavia and Rwanda.

The right to face your accuser has been described as ‘basic to any civilised notion of a fair trial’ and ‘one of the fundamental guarantees of life and liberty’. It dates back to ancient Rome. The Emperor Trajan declared in AD 112: ‘Anonymous accusations must not be admitted in evidence as against any one, as it is introducing a dangerous precedent.’ Geoffrey Robertson QC condemned the use of anonymous witnesses as ‘a fundamental breach of the right to a fair trial’, stating that ‘no trial can be fair if the defendant is not allowed to know his accuser’.

The Church of England played fast and loose with the due process of the criminal justice system by failing to let the accusations and evidence be rigorously tested through cross-examination, a system regarded by the jurist J H Wigmore as ‘the greatest legal engine ever invented for the discovery of truth’.

It prioritised political expediency and public relations spin-doctoring over a quest for truth and justice. Like the Gadarene swine rushing down the hillside, its Child Protection Gestapo went on a cleansing spree and adopted a scorched earth policy on buildings, schools and other institutions named after Bell.

It turned a deaf ear for quite some time to columns written in the media by honourable journalists such as Peter Hitchens and to the voices of respected historians such as Andrew Chandler and faithful laity such as Richard Symonds, who persevered while working tirelessly to see justice done and the good name of Bishop Bell restored.

It was totally blind to the cognitive dissonance between the towering ministry and godliness of Bishop George Bell and the credibility of those who had borne witness to his sterling character on the one hand, clashing with the cacophonous note of a lone voice making an accusation completely out of sync with the moral fibre exhibited by Bishop Bell throughout his life and ministry.

Last year, I wrote a column on how the Church of England smears saints and shields scoundrels. I followed up with another column on howthe Church of England had mastered the art of the non-apology, after the embarrassing revelation that bishops were instructed only to give partial apologies – if at all – to victims of sexual abuse to avoid being sued. Earlier this year, I pointed out how the Safeguarding industry in the Church of England has become a witch-hunt.

There is one factor that sticks out like a sore gangrenous thumb in all these incidents. It is the unconcealed contempt the CofE has displayed for the fundamental principles of justice and fairness laid down in the canonical texts of the Bible that have been at the heart of much of Western jurisprudence.

If only the CofE had stuck its nose into the yellowed pages of this consecrated collection of jurisprudence [from the Latin iuris (of law, of right) + prudentia (knowledge, wisdom, foresight, discretion)] it would not have egg on its face and ignominy in its chronicles. The Bible is bursting with legal principles that were staring the bishops in the eyeballs.

‘You shall not spread a false report. You shall not join hands with a wicked man to be a malicious witness. You shall not fall in with the many to do evil, nor shall you bear witness in a lawsuit, siding with the many, so as to pervert justice,’ says the Book of Exodus. The CofE sided with the ‘many’ by siding with the dominant orthodoxy of the day that rushes to the rescue of every boy who cries ‘Wolf!’ and every girl who cries ‘Abuser!’

‘If a malicious witness arises to accuse a person of wrongdoing, then both parties to the dispute shall appear before the Lord, before the priests and the judges who are in office in those days,’ says the Book of Deuteronomy. Even if Bell’s accuser was not a malicious witness, there was no way both parties could appear in court.

‘A single witness shall not suffice against a person for any crime or for any wrong in connection with any offence that he has committed. Only on the evidence of two witnesses or of three witnesses shall a charge be established,’ states Deuteronomy. ‘Do not admit a charge against a presbyter except on the evidence of two or three witnesses,’ writes the apostle Paul to Timothy. The CofE did not bother to corroborate accusations against Bell.

The right to face your accuser is best illustrated in the Acts of the Apostles. Paul is awaiting trial and is brought before King Agrippa II and Porcius Festus, Procurator of Judea. The chief priests and the elders petition the Roman rulers for a sentence of condemnation against Paul. Festus reports to Agrippa his response to the Jewish leaders: ‘I answered them that it was not the custom of the Romans to give up anyone before the accused met the accusers face to face and had opportunity to make his defence concerning the charge laid against him.’

It is a devastating indictment of the CofE that the judicial process conducted by the pagan administration of ancient Rome against the apostle Paul proved to be more just and fair than the judicial farce and charade conducted by the CofE against Bishop George Bell. An apology will not suffice. The CofE needs to repent.

(Originally published in The Conservative Woman)

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December 15 2017 – Church of England Statement on the Rt. Revd George Bell (1883-1958)

https://www.churchofengland.org/more/media-centre/news/publication-bishop-george-bell-independent-review

Publication of Bishop George Bell independent review

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15/12/2017

 

The Church of England’s National Safeguarding Team (NST,) has today published the key findings and recommendations, along with the full report, from the independent review into the processes used in the Bishop George Bell case.

The review, commissioned by the NST on the recommendation of the Bishop of Chichester, was carried out by Lord Carlile of Berriew. As he writes in the introduction, his purpose was not to determine the truthfulness of the woman referred to as Carol in the report, nor the guilt or innocence of Bishop Bell, but to examine the procedures followed by the Church of England. The objectives of the review included “ensuring that survivors are listened to and taken seriously”, and that recommendations are made to help the Church embed best practice in safeguarding in the future.

The report made 15 recommendations and concluded that the Church acted throughout in good faith while highlighting that the process was deficient in a number of respects.

Bishop Peter Hancock, the Church of England’s lead safeguarding bishop, has responded on behalf of the Church:

“We are enormously grateful to Lord Carlile for this ‘lessons learned’ review which examines how the Church handled the allegations made by Carol in the 1990s, and more recently. Lord Carlile makes a number of considered points as to how to handle such cases in future and we accept the main thrust of his recommendations.

“In responding to the report, we first want to acknowledge and publicly apologise again for the Church’s lamentable failure, as noted by Lord Carlile, to handle the case properly in 1995.

“At the heart of this case was a judgement, on the balance of probabilities, as to whether, in the event that her claim for compensation reached trial, a court would have concluded that Carol was abused by Bishop Bell. The Church decided to compensate Carol, to apologise and to be open about the case.

“Lord Carlile states that ‘where as in this case the settlement is without admission of liability, the settlement generally should be with a confidentiality provision” but respectfully, we differ from that judgement. The Church is committed to transparency. We would look at each case on its merits but generally would seek to avoid confidentiality clauses.

“It is clear from the report, however, that our processes were deficient in a number of respects, in particular the process for seeking to establish what may have happened. For that we apologise. Lessons can and have been learnt about how we could have managed the process better.

“The Bishop Bell case is a complex one and it is clear from the report and minutes of Core Group meetings that much professional care and discussion were taken over both agreeing the settlement with Carol and the decision to make this public. As Lord Carlile’s report makes clear, we acted in good faith throughout with no calculated intention to damage George Bell’s reputation.

“The Church has always affirmed and treasured Bishop Bell’s principled stand in the Second World War and his contribution to peace remains extraordinary. At same time, we have a duty and commitment to listen to those reporting abuse, to guard their confidentiality, and to protect their interests.

“We recognise that Carol has suffered pain, as have surviving relatives of Bishop Bell. We are sorry that the Church has added to that pain through its handling of this case.”

Statement from Bishop of Chichester, Martin Warner

“Lord Carlile’s Independent Review is a demonstration of the Church of England’s commitment to equality of justice and transparency in our safeguarding practice. The diocese of Chichester requested this “lessons learned” Review.

“We welcome Lord Carlile’s assessment of our processes, and apologise for failures in the work of the Core Group of national and diocesan officers and its inadequate attention to the rights of those who are dead. We also accept the Report’s recognition that we acted in good faith, and improvements to Core Group protocols are already in place. Further work on them is in hand.

“The Report demands further consideration of the complexities of this case, such as what boundaries can be set to the principle of transparency. Lord Carlile rightly draws our attention to public perception. The emotive principle of innocent until proven guilty is a standard by which our actions are judged and we have to ensure as best we can that justice is seen to be done. Irrespective of whether she is technically a complainant, survivor, or victim, ‘Carol’ emerges from this report as a person of dignity and integrity. It is essential that her right to privacy continues to be fully respected.

“The good deeds that Bishop George Bell did were recognised internationally. They will stand the test of time. In every other respect, we have all been diminished by the case that Lord Carlile has reviewed.”

Statement from Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby

“Bishop George Bell is one of the great Anglican heroes of the 20th century. The decision to publish his name was taken with immense reluctance, and all involved recognised the deep tragedy involved. However we have to differ from Lord Carlile’s point that ‘where as in this case the settlement is without admission of liability, the settlement generally should be with a confidentiality provision”. The C of E is committed to transparency and therefore we would take a different approach.

“Lord Carlile does not seek to say whether George Bell was in fact responsible for the acts about which the complaint was made. He does make significant comments on our processes, and we accept that improvement is necessary, in all cases including those where the person complained about is dead. We are utterly committed to seeking to ensure just outcomes for all. We apologise for the failures of the process.

“The complaint about Bishop Bell does not diminish the importance of his great achievement. We realise that a significant cloud is left over his name. Let us therefore remember his defence of Jewish victims of persecution, his moral stand against indiscriminate bombing, his personal risks in the cause of supporting the anti Hitler resistance, and his long service in the Diocese of Chichester. No human being is entirely good or bad. Bishop Bell was in many ways a hero. He is also accused of great wickedness. Good acts do not diminish evil ones, nor do evil ones make it right to forget the good. Whatever is thought about the accusations, the whole person and whole life should be kept in mind.”

 

 

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December 15 2017 – “Traducing George Bell’s name was ‘just wrong’ says Carlile review” – Church Times – Tim Wyatt

https://www.churchtimes.co.uk/articles/2017/22-december/news/uk/traducing-george-bell-s-name-was-just-wrong-says-carlile-review

Traducing George Bell’s name was ‘just wrong’ says Carlile review

15 DECEMBER 2017

Portrait: George Bell, painted in 1955

 

CHURCH of England officials “rushed to judgement” when they concluded that a former Bishop of Chichester, George Bell, had sexually abused a young girl in the 1950s, an independent review has concluded.

The committee that investigated the allegations, made by a woman known only as “Carol”, “failed to follow a process that was fair and equitable to both sides”, Lord Carlile, the independent reviewer, found.

“As a result, it concluded all too easily that Carol was telling the truth and Bishop Bell was responsible for serious abuse,” he said.

Although the Church “acted throughout in good faith”, it was overly fearful of once again failing to listen to survivors of abuse. As a result, it over-corrected by rushing to judgement against the long-dead Bishop.

Lord Carlile also notes in his review that, besides unsubstantiated references in a local-newspaper article, “no one other than Carol has come forward to make allegations against Bishop Bell. This is despite the widespread publicity which the case has received.”

Although Lord Carlile’s brief did not included determining whether Bishop Bell was innocent of the charges, he concludes in his review: “For Bishop Bell’s reputation to be catastrophically affected in the way that occurred was just wrong.”

Responding to Lord Carlile’s criticism of the Church’s handling of the case, the Bishop of Bath & Wells, the Rt Revd Peter Hancock, who leads the Church’s safeguarding work, acknowledged that the surviving relatives of Bishop Bell had suffered as a result of the child-abuse accusation. But so had Carol, he said. He apologised to both: “We are sorry that the Church has added to that pain through its handling of this case.”

There was no apology, however, from the Archbishop of Canterbury, who said in a statement that the decision to publish Bishop Bell’s name in the context of Carol’s allegations had been “taken with immense reluctance”.

He continued: “We realise that a significant cloud is left over his name. Bishop Bell was in many ways a hero. He is also accused of great wickedness. No human being is entirely good or bad.”

Questioned about Archbishop Welby’s statement, Lord Carlile described it as “less than fully adroit”.

THE news about Bishop Bell broke in a C of E press release in October 2015, which announced without warning that the diocese of Chichester had apologised and reached a settlement with Carol after her allegations against Bishop Bell (News, 22 October 2015).

Bell has been regarded as one of the Church’s outstanding clerics of the 20th century, for, among other things, his public stand against the saturation bombing of Germany cities during the Second World War and his active support for the Kindertransport movement.

The review, commissioned last year after a fierce campaign by defenders of Bell (News, 25 November 2016), was published on Friday morning. Its terms of reference did not include determining Bishop Bell’s guilt or innocence: its purpose was to examine the procedures used by the C of E’s safeguarding team to reach their conclusion.

While the Church’s fears of repeating past mistakes and ignoring the victims of clerical abuse were valid, Bell’s right to a fair process was not “extinguished on death”, Lord Carlile concluded.

The C of E should never have publicised Carol’s allegations, and thereby “wrongly and unnecessarily damaged” Bishop Bell’s reputation.

The advice given to the Church was that, if Carol’s case had come to court, it would have been proved on the balance of probabilities. But Lord Carlile writes that, if the “core group” brought together to devise the Church’s response to the allegations had seen the evidence that his review had managed to uncover without great difficulty, the case would not have been thought strong enough even to be tested in court.

Lord Carlile’s report makes a series of recommendations about how future safeguarding inquiries should be conducted. The most significant is that alleged abusers, whether alive or dead, must not be named publicly unless an investigating core group finds a “proper basis of evidence” for the claims.

When a case results in a financial settlement without an admission of liability, as in the Bishop Bell case, there should be a confidentiality clause in the settlement to stop the accused’s name ever being published.

Speaking at a press conference on Friday after the publication of the report, Bishiop Hancock said that, while the national safeguarding team had accepted that its processes were “deficient”, it none the less rejected this recommendation, because of its commitment to transparency.

OTHER STORIES

Review of George Bell child abuse case will be rigorous, Lord Carlile insists

LORD CARLILE, who is to review the Church of England’s handling of the George Bell child-abuse allegations, insists that his inquiry will deliver a robust and independent verdict

“We would look at each case on its merits, but generally would seek to avoid confidentiality clauses,” he said. “The Church has always affirmed and treasured Bishop Bell’s principled stand in the Second World War, and his contribution to peace remains extraordinary.

“At the same time, we have a duty and commitment to listen to those reporting abuse and to protect their interests.”

The Bishop of Chichester, Dr Martin Warner, said that Bishop Bell’s good deeds would “stand the test of time”. “In every other respect, we have all been diminished by the case that Lord Carlile has reviewed.”

In a press conference after the review was published, Lord Carlile criticised the original 2015 statement for “hanging [Bishop Bell] out to dry”. Although this was not their intention, the statement left a clear impression that the C of E had found Bishop Bell guilty, he said.

Despite being pressed by reporters, Lord Carlile, a former Liberal Democrat MP and experienced barrister, declined to say whether he believed Bishop Bell to have been innocent. He did admit, however, that, had he been asked to prosecute Bell over Carol’s allegations, he would have lost the case.

The core group’s inquiries were “very weak”, he said, and failed even to speak to witnesses or find material that his own review had come across quickly and easily. It was “premature” for the C of E to come to a conclusion about Bishop Bell “before actively seeking the widest available evidence about what had happened at the time”.

The Church’s safeguarding team had believed Carol’s accusations to be true, and, therefore, “obvious lines of investigation were not followed,” Lord Carlile said. This led to “over-steering”: where the Church allowed its preconceptions to drive the outcome.

Bishop Hancock said that Lord Carlile rightly condemned the Church for this “over-steering”. But he insisted that changes had been made, with new guidelines and funding for the national safeguarding team, which was now better equipped to tackle similar cases.

Dr Warner conceded, none the less, that there was no guarantee that this would be the last review of safeguarding failures. There was more work to be done, but “the climate and character of the [safeguarding] work has changed for the better.”

The full review can be read here.

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December 16 2017 – “Welby refuses to apologise for shaming of Bishop Bell” – Telegraph – [Reporters: Olivia Rudgard & Robert Mendick] – “Archbishop Welby’s response to the George Bell inquiry is shocking” – Telegraph [Charles Moore] – “Bishop Bell not guilty” – Telegraph Letters [Ruth Hildebrandt Grayson]

 

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December 16 2017 – “‘He can say Bishop Bell wouldn’t be found guilty, it doesn’t change the facts'” – “A person of dignity and integrity” – “Legal expert pointed to overlooked evidence” – The Argus – Spotlight – Joel Adams

 

http://www.theargus.co.uk/News/15776905.Victim_____He_can_say_Bishop_Bell_wouldn___t_be_found_guilty__it_doesn___t_change_the_facts___/

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December 15 2017 – George Bell review: Justin Welby refuses to apologise as row over ‘innocent until proven guilty’ rages” – Christian Today – Harry Farley

https://www.christiantoday.com/article/george.bell.review.justin.welby.refuses.to.apologise.as.row.over.innocent.until.proven.guilty.rages/121532.htm

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December 15 2017 – “George Bell verdict: Church’s botched handling unfairly destroyed reputation of bishop” – Christian Today – Harry Farley

https://www.christiantoday.com/article/george-bell-review-churchs-botched-handling-unfairly-destroyed-reputation-of-bishopexecute1/121515.htm

 

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December 15 2017 – “Archbishop criticised for refusing to clear bishop besmirched by the Church” – Daily Telegraph – Olivia Rudgard and Robert Mendick

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2017/12/15/archbishop-criticised-refusing-clear-bishop-besmirched-church/

Archbishop criticised for refusing to clear bishop besmirched by the Church

Bishop George Bell should not have been named by the Church, a report has found CREDIT: JOHN DOMINIS /THE LIFE PICTURE COLLECTION 

The Archbishop of Canterbury has been criticised for refusing to clear the bishop besmirched by the Church of England and saying instead that a “significant cloud” hangs over him.

A damning report published today by Lord Carlile of Berriew found that the reputation of Bishop George Bell, who was posthumously accused of sexually abusing a child, was “wrongfully and unnecessarily damaged” by the Church, who publicly named him in an apology made in 2015.

But in a statement following the report, Justin Welby said Bell was “accused of great wickedness” and apologises only “for the failures of the process”. 

“We have to differ from Lord Carlile’s point that ‘where as in this case the settlement is without admission of liability, the settlement generally should be with a confidentiality provision’.

“The C of E is committed to transparency and therefore we would take a different approach,” he adds.

Lord Carlile said the Archbishop’s comments were “very disappointing”. 

“The implication of what he said is everybody accused should have their name made public, and that is just not acceptable,” he told the Daily Telegraph.

Lord Carlile earlier said that he judged the prospect of a successful criminal prosecution, had the bishop been alive, as “low”.

Bell’s supporters also criticised the Archbishop’s response. 

Dr Ruth Hildebrandt Grayson, the daughter of Bishop Bell’s friend Franz Hildebrandt, said Bishop Bell’s family deserved a personal apology from the Archbishop and the Bishop of Chichester. 

“The Church can’t have its cake and eat it. Either he is innocent, in which case they must apologise, or he is guilty, which they can’t prove, and the report makes clear that they have not proved,” she told this newspaper. 

Professor Andrew Chandler, Bell’s biographer, said the Archbishop’s statement was “wrong” and “illogical”. 

“It fails a basic test of rational justice,”he said. “It lacks an understanding of all kinds of dimensions which require compassion, not least in Chichester, where people feel deeply upset by this.”

The review found that the Church was wrong to publicly name Bell, who was accused by a woman known as Carol of sexually abusing her when she was a young child.

It also failed to thoroughly investigate the allegations, failed to find and inform Bell’s surviving family members of the investigation, and did not properly consider the impact on the bishop’s reputation when deciding what to do, Lord Carlile said.

The alleged abuse took place more than 60 years ago but the allegations were first made to the Church in 1995.

It paid compensation of £16,800 and £15,000 legal costs to “Carol” in 2015.

Lord Carlile of Berriew
Lord Carlile of Berriew: ‘The implication of what he said is everybody accused should have their name made public, and that is just not acceptable’. CREDIT: PACO ANSELMI /PA

Before the allegations were made public Bishop Bell was a highly respected theologian who was widely regarded as a hero for his work helping victims of Nazi persecution.

The report includes the findings of psychiatrist Professor Anthony Maden, which were given to Church officials in 2015, several months before the public apology was made.

He found that there were “enormous problems” because of the time elapsed, and said the “possibility of false memories in this case cannot be excluded”.

The alleged victim had been abused by her first husband, and Maden added that her unhappy early life meant there was “an obvious temptation to seek to (consciously or unconsciously) allocate the blame for that unhappiness to the actions of others in the distant past”.

In a statement Peter Hancock, the Church’s lead safeguarding bishop, said: “We recognise that Carol has suffered pain, as have surviving relatives of Bishop Bell. We are sorry that the Church has added to that pain through its handling of this case.”

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December 16 2017 – “Welby criticised over handling of historic child abuse case” – Newburgh Gazette

http://newburghgazette.com/2017/12/15/welby-criticised-over-handling-of-historic-child-abuse-case/

WORLDWIDE

Welby criticised over handling of historic child abuse case Dwayne Harmon 16 December 2017

The church commissioned Carlile a year ago to review its processes in the case. George Bell was accused of abusing a woman over a four year period, starting when she was five-years-old in the 1940s and 50s. I have concluded that the process followed by the Church in this case was deficient in a number of respects. As a result, it over-corrected by rushing to judgement against the long-dead Bishop.

“Lord Carlile does not seek to say whether George Bell was in fact responsible for the acts about which the complaint was made. This is despite the widespread publicity which the case has received”. Lord Carlile, who was asked by the Church to review the case, concluded that it had been wrong to make Bell’s name public at the end of a “very weak” investigation and in a “rush to judgment”. The Church of England has apologised to the relatives of a bishop for the way it investigated child abuse claims made against him decades after his death, the BBC News reported on Friday. But so had Carol, he said.

“In responding to the report, we first want to acknowledge and publicly apologise again for the Church’s lamentable failure, as noted by Lord Carlile, to handle the case properly in 1995”. He said that the allegations against Bell, who died in 1958, were… “We realise that a significant cloud is left over his name”. He is also accused of great wickedness. “No human being is entirely good or bad”, Mr. Welby said.

Questioned about Archbishop Welby’s statement, Lord Carlile described it as “less than fully adroit”.

In 2015, the church issued a formal public apology and paid £16,800 to the woman, known as Carol. The review, commissioned past year after a fierce campaign by defenders of Bell (News, 25 November 2016), was published on Friday morning. Church of England figures rejected one part of Lord Carlile’s report, which urged that the names of those accused of abuse should in some circumstances be kept secret unless there are “adverse findings of fact” and “it has also been decided that making the identity public is required in the public interest”. He said: “The good deeds that Bishop George Bell did were recognised internationally”. The Church made a decision to compensate Carol, to apologise and to be open about the case. Lord Carlile’s report makes a series of recommendations about how future safeguarding inquiries should be conducted. “In every other respect, we have all been diminished by the case that Lord Carlile has reviewed”. The current Bishop of Chichester, Martin Warner, has described it as a “lessons learned” review. “Lord Carlile states that ‘where as in this case the settlement is without admission of liability, the settlement generally should be with a confidentiality provision” but respectfully, we differ from that judgement. In a press conference after the review was published, Lord Carlile criticised the original 2015 statement for “hanging [Bishop Bell] out to dry”. Lord Carlile writes that Bishop Bell was treated as having been guilty. Lord Carlile said that her allegations, “if true, amount to serious and horrifying criminal offences committed against a defenceless child”. Campaigners have since said the inquiry committed a grave miscarriage of justice after failing to interview key witnesses or examine documents which could have cleared him. It was “premature” for the C of E to come to a conclusion about Bishop Bell “before actively seeking the widest available evidence about what had happened at the time”. This led to “over-steering”: where the Church allowed its preconceptions to drive the outcome. “The Church has always affirmed and treasured Bishop Bell’s principled stand in the Second World War and his contribution to peace remains extraordinary”, Bishop Peter Hancock said. Dr Warner conceded, none the less, that there was no guarantee that this would be the last review of safeguarding failures. Newburgh Gazette http://newburghgazette.com/2017/12/15/welby-criticised-over-handling-of-historic-child-abuse-case/