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JANUARY 27 2022 – “NO SMOKE, NO FIRE, NO CLOUD”

“No doubt there will be people who are going to think there is no smoke without fire. I can do nothing about that except to say such an attitude would be wrong”

Judge David Clarke [in the case of David Jones – ‘No Smoke, No Fire’]

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JANUARY 1 2022 – “A REFLECTION ON BISHOP GEORGE BELL” BY THE REVEREND CANON PROFESSOR DAVID JASPER [FOR ‘REBUILDING BRIDGES’ – CHICHESTER, FEBRUARY 1 2022]

Photo: Daily Record

A REFLECTION ON BISHOP GEORGE BELL” BY THE REVEREND CANON PROFESSOR DAVID JASPER

[FOR ‘REBUILDING BRIDGES‘ – CHICHESTER, FEBRUARY 1 2022]

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JANUARY 1 2022 – TUTU-MANDELA BRIDGE-BUILDERS WANTED

Allan Sheath

COMMENTS – ALLAN SHEATH + RICHARD W. SYMONDS – THINKING ANGLICANS – CALLING FOR “A BRAVE TUTUFICATION” OF THE CHURCH OF ENGLAND

AS – Interestingly, in a letter to today’s Times of London, Mark Oakley calls for “a brave Tutufication of the Church” with reference to the Church of England. As I understand it, his is a plea for our bishops to have the courage to be more authentically themselves, rather than refusing to break ranks from whatever the official line might be.

RWS – Thank you to TA for your excellent New Year’s Day tribute to Anglican Bishop Desmond Tutu, and to Allan Sheath for drawing attention to Mark Oakley’s Times letter. In 2022AD and beyond, we desperately need ‘Tutu-Mandela Bridge-Builders’ – as a critical pre-condition not only for the survival and well-being of the Church, but also for the survival and well-being of Humanity.

https://morningstaronline.co.uk/article/f/desmond-tutu-visionary-activist-who-cut-through-all

REBUILDING BRIDGES

TRUTH & RECONCILIATION COMMISSIONS

‘Funds in will are dependent’ – Chichester Observer – Letters – December 23 2021

I take my hat off to The Archbishop for stating there is no cloud over the memory of Bishop Bell.

It takes a big man to recant in this way, especially when so many of Bishop Bell’s supporters felt that the unfair demolition of his name and memory had become too entrenched for reprieve.

What puzzles me, however, is why Dean and Chapter are dragging their feet over restoration of as much as possible of Bishop Bell’s memory [that] can be salvaged, particularly George Bell House.

As far as the latter is concerned I have a vested interest, as the £50,000 that I have left to the cathedral in my will is subject to a clause preventing it happening, unless the name George Bell House is restored in my lifetime which, as I am in my 90s, might not be long lasting!

CHRISTOPHER HOARE

Tollhouse Close, Chichester

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DECEMBER 8 2021 – GEORGE BELL HOUSE: “CANNOT WAIT UNTIL NEW YEAR” – WEST SUSSEX GAZETTE + CHICHESTER OBSERVER [DECEMBER 9] + “LOCAL REPARATION FOR BELL” – CHURCH TIMES [DECEMBER 10] – LETTERS

West Sussex Gazette – 8/12/2021

Chichester Observer – 9/12/2021

CHURCH TIMES – 10/12/2021

Local reparation for Bell

From Mr Richard W. Symonds

Sir, — According to the Dean of Chichester, the Very Revd Stephen Waine, the cathedral Chapter “is not scheduled to meet until late January” regarding the Archbishop of Canterbury’s statement (News, 17 November) “I was wrong about Bishop Bell.”

This is beyond regrettable, and only perpetuates the injustice done to the wartime Bishop of Chichester for the past six years. Wounds need to start healing before Christmas. A meeting should be scheduled now — not just for God’s sake.

RICHARD W. SYMONDS
The Bell Society
2 Lychgate Cottages
Ifield Street, Ifield Village
Crawley, West Sussex RH11 0NN

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DECEMBER 2 2021 – “MAKE VOICES HEARD ON BELL” / “A SERVICE OF REPARATION?” / “REOPEN CAFE IN BELL’S NAME” – CHICHESTER OBSERVER- LETTERS + NOVEMBER 25 2021 – LORD LEXDEN LETTER – DAILY TELEGRAPH

George Bell Bishop of Chichester

Portrait by William Coldstream [in storage at Pallant House Gallery Chichester]

“MAKE VOICES HEARD ON BELL” – CHICHESTER OBSERVER – LETTERS DECEMBER 2 2021

Dear Editor

As Marilyn Billingham, widow of Professor Peter Billingham, says [Opinion, November 25]:

“George Bell was the Bishop of Chichester from 1929-1958; a matter of great pride to the people of the city”

These people – and others – must now make their powerful voices fully heard, if the good name of this wartime bishop is to be fully restored within the Cathedral city.

RICHARD W. SYMONDS
The Bell Society

“A SERVICE OF REPARATION” – CHICHESTER OBSERVER – LETTERS – DECEMBER 2 2021

It’s joyful news that the Archbishop of Canterbury has rescinded his claim that a ‘significant cloud’ hangs over the former Bishop of Chichester George Bell, who died in 1958.

Six years’ injustice (since the accusation against Bell was first made public in 2015) has thus been overturned.

According to your report (November 25) the present Bishop of Chichester Martin Warner welcomes the Archbishop’s statement as ‘both humble and courageous, reminding us that these virtues … do still surface in the Church of England of our own time’.

Maybe so.  But isn’t the obverse of that comment that those same virtues manifestly did not surface in the Church of England during the last six years?  To be blunt, Bishop Bell’s reputation was thrown to the dogs.

More can be said.  The attack on Bell’s reputation was in the first instance due to the Archbishop.  But Martin Warner by not challenging it was himself complicit.  The same goes for the Dean of Chichester and the rest of our Cathedral Chapter.

Astonishingly, not one serving bishop or senior cleric of the Church made any attempt to defend Bishop Bell during that time.  Though Bell, as they well knew, was a towering figure in his day, of unassailable moral grandeur, against whom the accusation of 2015 seemed to outsiders simply inconceivable.

Further, as far as I know no serving member of the clergy in the entire Chichester diocese felt moved to take Bell’s side.

It is time we heard from the Dean and Chapter on the matter.  To date, no statement on their behalf has appeared on the Cathedral website.

Does Dean Stephen Waine maintain his previous view of Bell’s guilt?  Or is he ready (like Martin Warner, it seems) to follow the Archbishop in his unexpected volte face?

Bishop Bell deserves a more obvious and sincere apology from both Cathedral and Diocese. 

Could the Dean perhaps announce a grand service of reparation, maybe in the form of a special Evensong?  It could very suitably be held on George Bell’s birthday (February 4th, a Friday next year).

DR TIM HUDSON                                                               

Hawthorn Close,                                                               

Chichester

“REOPEN CAFE IN BELL’S NAME” – CHICHESTER OBSERVER – LETTERS – DECEMBER 2 2021

Justin Welby, Archbishop of Canterbury, has now unreservedly apologised for mistakes made in failing to manage the process of abuse allegations against Bishop Bell ‘with the consistency, clarity or accountability to meet the high standards rightly demanded of us’ [Observer November 25].

Welby retracts his previous claim saying a ‘significant cloud’ should no longer tarnish Bell’s distinguished reputation.

In regretful atonement, Welby has announced a statue to be erected on the west front of Canterbury Cathedral celebrating ‘the huge debt owed him which extends far beyond the Church he served’.

I ask Stephen Waine, Dean of Chichester Cathedral, to follow Justin Welby’s fine example by restoring Bishop Bell’s good name, not with a statue, but with reopening The Bishop Bell Tea Rooms and Shop to the benefit of the community and local economy.

PETER LANSLEY

Cedar Drive, Chichester

LORD LEXDEN LETTER – DAILY TELEGRAPH – NOVEMBER 25 2021

SIR — Bishop Bell’s name must be put back on the buildings in Chichester, as the Rev Dr Barry Orford insists (Letters, November 23). There is no sign, however, that the current Bishop of Chichester, Martin Warner, with whom I have clashed in the House of Lords, intends to lift a finger.

Last week he praised the statement by the Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, as “both humble and courageous, reminding us that these virtues, evident in George Bell himself, do still surface in the Church of England”.

It is an outrage to put Archbishop Welby on the same plane as the great man whose reputation he traduced. Bishop Warner added that he had “no plans to make any further comments”. Anglicans must give him no peace until he either does his duty or resigns.

LORD LEXDEN OBE
London SW1

Oct 22 2015 – “I would be grateful…if you could refrain from including George Bell in your guided tours and external presentations” – Dean of Chichester Cathedral, The Very Reverend Stephen Waine [to Cathedral Guides]

IMG_1572

Page 37 of Cathedral Guide ‘Society and Faith’ [later, the Guide was pulped]https://richardwsymonds.wordpress.com/2021/11/17/november-17-2021-i-was-wrong-says-archbishop-welby/embed/#?secret=cn0NvKdEHG

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NOVEMBER 29 2021 – LORD LEXDEN LETTER – DAILY TELEGRAPH [NOVEMBER 25 2021] + FROM THE ARCHIVES [OCTOBER 22 2015] – “CHURCH OF ENGLAND STATEMENT BY THE BISHOP OF CHICHESTER DR. MARTIN WARNER ON THE RT. REVD. GEORGE BELL [1883-1958]”

Lord Lexden OBE

Restore the memorials to Bishop Bell – Lord Lexden

Thursday, 25 November, 2021

bell

When Bishop George Bell was wrongly condemned by the Church of England as a child abuser in 2015, his name was removed from a number of buildings in his Chichester diocese that had been dedicated to his memory.  Now that the Archbishop of Canterbury has belatedly accepted the Church’s error (see below), the Bishop’s name must be restored to all the places from which it was shamefully expunged. In a letter published in The Daily Telegraph on 25 November, Alistair Lexden urged Anglicans to demand action by the current Bishop of Chichester.

SIR — Bishop Bell’s name must be put back on the buildings in Chichester, as the Rev Dr Barry Orford insists (Letters, November 23). There is no sign, however, that the current Bishop of Chichester, Martin Warner, with whom I have clashed in the House of Lords, intends to lift a finger.

Last week he praised the statement by the Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, as “both humble and courageous, reminding us that these virtues, evident in George Bell himself, do still surface in the Church of England”.

It is an outrage to put Archbishop Welby on the same plane as the great man whose reputation he traduced. Bishop Warner added that he had “no plans to make any further comments”. Anglicans must give him no peace until he either does his duty or resigns.

Lord Lexden
London SW1

You may also be interested in

bell

Bishop Bell: a triumphant end to the campaign

Friday, 19 November, 2021

In 2016, Alistair Lexden joined a number of academics, politicians, lawyers, clerics and writers in a group which was established to refute the Church of England’s condemnation of Bishop George Bell, one of greatest of all Anglican bishops who died in 1958, as a child sex abuser.

Oct 22 2015 – “I would be grateful…if you could refrain from including George Bell in your guided tours and external presentations” – Dean of Chichester Cathedral, The Very Reverend Stephen Waine [to Cathedral Guides]

IMG_1572

Page 37 of Cathedral Guide ‘Society and Faith’ [later, the Guide was pulped]

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NOVEMBER 26 2021 – “HEALING CAN NOW TAKE PLACE IN A SPIRIT OF FORGIVENESS, RECONCILIATION AND BRIDGE-BUILDING” – THE BELL SOCIETY

“HEALING CAN NOW TAKE PLACE IN A SPIRIT OF FORGIVENESS, RECONCILIATION AND BRIDGE-BUILDING

‘4 Canon Lane was called George Bell House but then was renamed’ – Chichester Observer – November 25 2021

“ARCHBISHOP’S STATEMENT SAYS THERE IS NO ‘SIGNIFICANT CLOUD’ OVER BISHOP” – CHICHESTER OBSERVER – NOVEMBER 25 2021

“Supporters express delight and hopes for further changes”

Supporters of Bishop Bell have expressed delight at the Archbishop’s statement about Bishop Bell.

Marilyn Billingham said that his remaining family, and many who still hold his memory in the highest regard, were please and hoped that he will now be fondly remembered.

She said: “It is with great thankfulness that we hear that The Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby publicly withdraw his claim that there is ‘a cloud over Bishop Bell’s name’, following the isolated and unsubstantiated claim of child sexual abuse and affirm that ‘Bishop George Bell was and remains one of the most courageous, distinguished Anglican bishops of the last century’. George Bell was the Bishop of Chichester from 1929-1958; a matter of great pride to the people of the city”.

She said she hoped a previous decision to remove his name from a city building [4 Canon Lane – Ed] would now be reversed.

“As Archbishop Welby looks forward to the placing of a statue to Bishop Bell by the famous west door of Canterbury Cathedral, perhaps the Dean and Chapter and the current Bishop of Chichester [Dr Martin Warner – Ed] could also publicly celebrate.

“First steps could be to replace the dedication plaque commemorating the naming of 4 Canon Lane as George Bell House by Archbishop Rowan Williams in 2008, seeking to reverse all other decisions made to airbrush Bishop Bell from the memory of the diocese and to commission a fitting memorial in Chichester for the revered bishop”.

Richard W. Symonds from The Bell Society added: “The process of healing can now take place in a spirit of forgiveness, reconciliation and bridge-building – starting with the re-naming of 4 Canon Lane Chichester back to George Bell House”.

[RWS Note – 26/11/2021 – Updated 29/11/2021 – An event is planned for Tuesday February 1 2022 at George Bell House, 4 Canon Lane, Chichester. Other related planned events include one at Westminster on February 3 2022 and another in Chichester on February 4 2022. More details to follow…]

FURTHER INFORMATION

Virtue Online“ARCHBISHOP WELBY’S STATEMENT SAYS THERE IS NO ‘SIGNIFICANT CLOUD’ OVER BISHOP BELL”

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NOVEMBER 24 2021 – “REPAIRING THE DAMAGE TO BISHOP BELL’S MEMORY” – DAILY TELEGRAPH – LETTERS [REV DR BARRY ORFORD AND DR RUTH HILDEBRANDT GRAYSON]

Daily Telegraph – Letters

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NOVEMBER 21 2021 – PETER HITCHENS ON ARCHBISHOP JUSTIN WELBY, BISHOP GEORGE BELL – AND MARTIN WARNER, BISHOP OF CHICHESTER

Peter Hitchens

PETER HITCHENS ON MARTIN WARNER, BISHOP OF CHICHESTER – MAIL ON SUNDAY [NOVEMBER 21 2021]

Let us now praise Archbishop Justin Welby. These are words I never thought I’d write, but I must, because three weeks after I gave him what for on this page, Mr Welby has finally admitted he was wrong about the late, great Bishop George Bell (not to be mistaken for the horrible Peter Ball).

He has withdrawn his silly claim that a ‘significant cloud’ still hangs over Bishop Bell, who was presumed guilty by the CofE, when someone accused him of incredibly long-ago child abuse. In fact a series of detailed investigations have demolished the cases against him.

Now that Mr Welby has given way, we must hope for a similar climbdown from the current far-from-great Bishop of Chichester, whose name I forget, who badly needs to right the wrongs done to his genuinely distinguished forerunner.

Dr Martin Warner – Bishop of Chichester

Photo source: Wiki Commons

FURTHER INFORMATION

‘Thinking Anglicans’

‘Surviving Church’

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NOVEMBER 18 2021 – “BELL’S NAME WAS REMOVED FROM A KEY BUILDING IN CHICHESTER, AND THE ARCHBISHOP’S STATEMENT COULD SPARK REQUESTS FOR ITS REINSTATEMENT” – KELLY BROWN – CHICHESTER OBSERVER

June 6 2019 – ‘Welcome to George Bell House’ – Pictured left – Chichester’s Professor Peter Billingham [1953-2020]. Pictured right – Sheffield’s Reverend James Grayson

George Bell House, Chichester [before 2015]

4 Canon Lane, Chichester [after 2015]

“BELL’S NAME WAS REMOVED FROM A KEY BUILDING IN CHICHESTER, AND THE ARCHBISHOP’S STATEMENT COULD SPARK REQUESTS FOR ITS REINSTATEMENT” – KELLY BROWN – CHICHESTER OBSERVER ET AL

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NOVEMBER 18 2021 – “NO NATION, NO CHURCH, NO INDIVIDUAL IS GUILTLESS WITHOUT REPENTANCE, AND WITHOUT FORGIVENESS THERE CAN BE NO REGENERATION” – BISHOP GEORGE BELL [1883-1958]

George Bell House [before 2015]

PERSONAL STATEMENT FROM ARCHBISHOP JUSTIN WELBY ON BISHOP GEORGE BELL

REVEREND NICK FLINT – FACEBOOK

THINKING ANGLICANS

CHARLES MOORE – TELEGRAPH – NOVEMBER 18 2021 – “IT WILL TAKE MORE THAN A STATUE FOR CHURCH TO REPENT TERRIBLE SLUR AGAINST BISHOP ACCUSED OF SEXUAL ABUSE”

“It is also brave. Justin Welby is taking personal responsibility for the injustice done to the man he himself describes as “one of the most courageous, distinguished Anglican bishops of the last century”. It is a big admission”

Charles Moore

YOUTUBE – PN

CHRISTIAN TODAY

WEST SUSSEX GAZETTE / CHICHESTER OBSERVER / RYE OBSERVER / LITTLEHAMPTON GAZETTE / WEST SUSSEX COUNTY TIMES

Bell’s name was removed from a key building in Chichester and the Archbishop’s statement could spark requests for its reinstatement….

In response, the current Bishop of Chichester Dr Martin Warner said: “I greatly welcome Archbishop Justin Welby’s statement on Bishop George Bell. It is both humble and courageous, reminding us that these virtues, evident in George Bell himself, do still surface in the Church of England of our own time

Kelly Brown

THE ARGUS

“IS IT SOMETIMES GOOD TO CHANGE ONE’S MIND? A QUESTION AT GENERAL SYNOD” – ‘SURVIVING CHURCH’

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NOVEMBER 17 2021 – “I WAS WRONG…WE ALSO OWE A DUTY OF CARE TO THOSE WHO ARE ACCUSED” – ARCHBISHOP JUSTIN WELBY ON BISHOP GEORGE BELL

Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby

Source: Wiki Commons

No significant cloud over Bishop George Bell: ‘I was wrong’ says Archbishop Welby – Church Times – 17 November 2021

PERSONAL STATEMENT FROM ARCHBISHOP JUSTIN WELBY ON BISHOP GEORGE BELL

BBC – “ARCHBISHOP JUSTIN WELBY SORRY FOR ABUSE-ACCUSED BISHOP COMMENT” [HARRY FARLEY]

GUARDIAN “JUSTIN WELBY ADMITS HE WAS WRONG TO SAY THERE WAS A CLOUD OVER GEORGE BELL” [HARRIET SHERWOOD]

DAILY TELEGRAPH“ARCHBISHOP OF CANTERBURY SORRY FOR SLUR AGAINST BISHOP ACCUSED OF SEXUAL ABUSE” [GABRIELLA SWERLING]

ANGLICAN INK – “JUSTIN WELBY APOLOGIZES FOR HIS PART IN THE GEORGE BELL AFFAIR”

THE TIMES *

GLASGOW TIMES/PENARTH TIMES – “ARCHBISHOP OF CANTERBURY APOLOGISES FOR COMMENTS ABOUT LATE BISHOP”

PETER HITCHENS – “ARCHBISHOP JUSTIN WELBY FINALLY CLIMBS DOWN OVER HIS CLAIM OF A SIGNIFICANT CLOUD OVER GEORGE BELL

YAHOO NEWS – “ARCHBISHOP OF CANTERBURY APOLOGISES FOR COMMENTS ABOUT THE LATE BISHOP BELL”

THINKING ANGLICANS

CHARLES MOORE – TELEGRAPH – NOVEMBER 18 2021 – “IT WILL TAKE MORE THAN A STATUE FOR CHURCH TO REPENT TERRIBLE SLUR AGAINST BISHOP ACCUSED OF SEXUAL ABUSE”

It is also brave. Justin Welby is taking personal responsibility for the injustice done to the man he himself describes as “one of the most courageous, distinguished Anglican bishops of the last century”. It is a big admission

Charles Moore

I welcome the Archbishop of Canterbury’s gracious apology.
It will not only restore the reputation of one of our greatest churchmen, but do much to heal unnecessary division in the Church of England.
It sets a much needed example at a time when the presumption of innocence at the heart of English law continues to be undermined.

Dr Gerald Morgan

YOUTUBE – PN

CHRISTIAN TODAY

WEST SUSSEX GAZETTE / CHICHESTER OBSERVER / RYE OBSERVER / LITTLEHAMPTON GAZETTE / WEST SUSSEX COUNTY TIMES

Bell’s name was removed from a key building in Chichester and the Archbishop’s statement could spark requests for its reinstatement…

In response, the current Bishop of Chichester Dr Martin Warner said: “I greatly welcome Archbishop Justin Welby’s statement on Bishop George Bell. It is both humble and courageous, reminding us that these virtues, evident in George Bell himself, do still surface in the Church of England of our own time

Kelly Brown

THE ARGUS

“IS IT SOMETIMES GOOD TO CHANGE ONE’S MIND? A QUESTION AT GENERAL SYNOD” – ‘SURVIVING CHURCH’

LORD LEXDEN

Virtue Online“ARCHBISHOP WELBY’S STATEMENT SAYS THERE IS NO ‘SIGNIFICANT CLOUD’ OVER BISHOP BELL”

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NOVEMBER 11 2021 – “EXPERIENCE OF THE LAST THREE YEARS HAS GIVEN ME A TINY TASTE OF WHAT IT MAY HAVE BEEN LIKE” – REVD DR MARTYN PERCY, DEAN OF CHRIST CHURCH OXFORD [ON PERSECUTION AND NAZI CONCENTRATION CAMPS]

https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-10192243/Dean-Christ-Church-College-Oxford-sparks-outrage-likening-plight-Holocaust-victims.html

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OCTOBER 31 2021 – PETER BILLINGHAM [1953-2020]

Peter Billingham [1953-2020] will not be forgotten, especially in his massive contribution to restoring Bishop Bell’s place in history– and George Bell House in Chichester.

This Poem was written after ‘A Celebration of the Life of Peter George Billingham [1953-2020]’ at St John’s Chapel in Chichester on Saturday, October 23 2021 [Published in the Chichester Observer – October 28 2021]:


‘It’ 

by Richard W. Symonds 



Pass it on

Just pass it on


But what is ‘it’?


It is beauty

It is freedom

It is happiness

It is life

It is love

It is peace

It is truth

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OCTOBER 31 2021 – ARCHBISHOP WELBY’S “SIGNIFICANT CLOUD” FALSE ACCUSATION AGAINST BISHOP BELL IS BEYOND HYPOCRISY

Archbishop Welby

Daily Telegraph

“THE KREMLIN HAD MORE OF A CONSCIENCE THAN WELBY THE HYPOCRITE” – PETER HITCHENS – MAIL ON SUNDAY – OCTOBER 31 2021

The Kremlin had more of a conscience than Welby the hypocrite

This is Peter Hitchens’ Mail on Sunday column

EVEN the Evil Empire of the Soviet Union eventually admitted that it had wrongly smeared and ruined those it had once accused of terrible crimes.

The victims of screaming one-sided show trials, later murdered or starved to death, and in one terrible case, hanged, cremated and their ashes used to grit the freezing roads, all of them were in the end exonerated.

So why does Justin Welby, Archbishop of Canterbury, struggle so to admit he made a terrible mistake about the late Bishop George Bell of Chichester, one of the greatest Englishmen of the 20th Century? He did not, as many do, mix him up with his near-namesake, the revolting molester Peter Ball. Nor should you (I have had some very rude letters accusing me of defending Ball. I would not dream of doing any such thing).

But, to put it at its mildest, Mr Welby was involved in what has since been shown to be a shocking kangaroo trial, in which the long-dead Bell, a courageous opponent of the Nazis and ally of the German resistance to Hitler, was presumed guilty of a terrible charge of child abuse. My own view has long been that the complainant was abused, but by somebody else. Her evidence against Bell, when it was finally made public, did not stand up to serious examination by a leading QC, Lord Carlile.

But would Mr Welby back down? Not a bit of it. First he took seriously a collection of new allegations against George Bell, so ludicrous and feeble that even Dame Cressida Dick and her Olympically gullible Met Police Celebrity Squad would not have believed them. And when these duly collapsed, he continued to insist that a ‘significant cloud’ hung over the reputation of George Bell. Apparently, in his world, if you are accused of a crime you will always remain suspect.

But Mr Welby, so censorious about others, now has troubles of his own. When he was a senior church official in Liverpool, he banned a worshipper from the Cathedral there, for being ‘abusive and threatening’. But the worshipper had his reasons. He was rightly trying to get Mr Welby to act against a priest who, he said, had abused him. In this case (unlike George Bell’s) there was good reason to take the claim seriously. The priest involved, John Roberts, already had a criminal conviction for indecent assault. Later Roberts was jailed for offences against three people – one of them the man Mr Welby had sternly banned from the Cathedral. This fascinating story about England’s premier clergyman has received amazingly little media coverage outside our sister paper, the Daily Mail.

Actually, I can see Mr Welby’s problem here. He made a bad judgment, as many have done in such cases. But lawyers for the victims of Roberts point out that Mr Welby’s failure to act could have delayed police action for many years. So he really is not in a position to set himself up as the Righteous Judge of George Bell.

THAT is why I wrote to the Church of England and asked if, under the circumstances, Mr Welby would withdraw the words ‘significant cloud’ and act to rehabilitate George Bell. For Bishop Bell’s name, like that of a Soviet show-trial victim , has been stripped from a building named after him, from a school named after him and from a house in another school, which was also named after him. A planned statue of him, which should long ago have been completed and unveiled on the front of Canterbury Cathedral, is in some sort of limbo.

I got nothing back except flannel. So here we are. As long as he will not withdraw the claim that there is a ‘significant cloud’ over George Bell, then I say that Justin Welby is a hypocrite, and a significant cloud hangs over him. Even the Kremlin had more of a conscience.

Sir,

Peter Hitchens has written yet another powerful article on the defamation of the character of Bishop George Bell. The Church of England cannot survive when there is such divisiveness at the very top. And little or no respect for the presumption of innocence.
I urge the Archbishop of Canterbury to protect the reputation of the Church of England in this spiritual crisis for us all…We must not allow the Church…to be undermined in England in this way. The Queen deserves better than this.


Kind regards,

Gerald Morgan OM FTCD

(Leader: English Parliamentary Party, founded Lydbrook, Gloucestershire, 2001)
Dr Gerald Morgan, FTCD (1993)
Lydbrook School (1946-1953),Monmouth School (1953-1961),Meyricke Exhibitioner, Jesus College, Oxford (1961-1964),D.Phil. (Oxon.), 1973 Director:The Chaucer Hub.

Tel.: 086 456 56 60

Thank you for forwarding this article to me. As it happens, a worshipper at my church this morning arrived clutching a copy of it, so it is certainly being read. My only regret is that while it quite properly blames Welby, it does not censure the unspeakable and continuing behaviour of Martin Warner and the Dean and Chapter of Chichester. Warner’s adamant refusal to acknowledge wrongdoing is one of the most disgraceful episodes in recent Church of England history. A man of integrity would have apologized and offered his resignation.

The Revd Dr Barry A. Orford

I would happily attack the frightful Chichester prelates, but in this case Welby’s behaviour in Liverpool, newly exposed and too little known, was the trigger for the article and applies only to him.

Peter Hitchens

Seems to me there is the same pattern of behaviour amongst church leaders. Rather than admit they were wrong and ask for forgiveness (ok to ask for forgiveness for what ancestors did long ago), they continue to try and make themselves look good by slandering others, preferably dead others because they can’t speak in their defence.

FW Atkins

“The Church, like the Crown, has to be protected at all costs – even if it means throwing one of its own under a bus”

Richard W. Symonds – The Bell Society

NATION.lK

IN ENTERTAINMENT

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OCTOBER 29 2021 – FROM THE ARCHIVES [OCTOBER 15 2008: “NUNS FUND MEMORIAL TO GEORGE BELL” – CHURCH TIMES LETTERS – REV NICHOLAS FRAYLING] + PROFESSOR PETER BILLINGHAM MEMORIAL SERVICE [23/10/2021] + BISHOP GEORGE BELL MEMORIAL FUND [TO BE LAUNCHED IN APRIL 2022]

Nuns fund memorial to George Bell

15 OCTOBER 2008

Last of their order: Sister Jane (left) and Mother Angela CSC with Dr Williams at the opening of George Bell House. They made a generous grant TIM ASHLEY

From the Dean of Chichester

Sir, — The splendid articles you carried to celebrate Bishop George Bell’s 50th anniversary (Features, 3 October) drew attention to his tireless work in the fields of international reconciliation, the arts, education, and church unity. A central part of last weekend’s celebrations was the opening and dedication by the Archbishop of Canterbury of George Bell House in the Cathedral Close here.

It is a centre for vocation, education, and reconciliation — some of Bell’s passions — and we intend it to be a space where work in these areas can prosper.

The House has two conference rooms (named Bonhoeffer and Dresden); a dining room named after another ally of Bell, Hermann Maas; a garden room, a small oratory, and eight en-suite bedrooms with a residential maximum of 15 people, or day facilities for 40.

Working with the George Bell Institute at the University of Chichester, we are developing a programme of events and educational opportunities with many of our European and world-wide links. The House is also available for away days, meetings, quiet days, and conferences, and especially for parish and deanery groups, those engaged in scholarly and cultural pursuits, and those working for justice, peace, and reconciliation.

Further details may be obtained from bookings@chichestercathedral.org.uk; or phone 01243 813586. Future programmes and events will be publicised on the cathedral website (www.chichestercathedral.org.uk).

The Dean and Chapter are grateful to the many people who have already contributed to the development of the House, but especially to the Community of the Servants of the Cross, without whose generosity George Bell

House could not have come into being.

NICHOLAS FRAYLING
The Royal Chantry
Cathedral Cloisters
Chichester
West Sussex PO19 1PX

The Very Reverend Nicholas Frayling

The Very Reverend Nicholas Frayling led the Memorial Service to Professor Peter Billingham at St John’s Chapel in Chichester – Saturday, October 23 2021

Peter Billingham [1953-2020] will not be forgotten, especially in his massive contribution to restoring Bishop Bell’s place in history – and George Bell House in Chichester.

BISHOP GEORGE BELL MEMORIAL FUND [TO BE LAUNCHED IN FEBRUARY 2022]

Patron: Former Archbishop of Canterbury George Carey

Barnabas Fund

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OCTOBER 15 2021 – THE UNEDITED VERSION OF REVD DR BARRY ORFORD’S LETTER TO THE CHURCH TIMES [AND THE UNPUBLISHED LETTER FROM RICHARD W. SYMONDS]

LETTER [PUBLISHED] – BUT HEAVILY EDITED

From the Revd Dr Barry A. Orford

Sir, — Clearly, something is rotten in the diocese of London and in the wider Church of England. What has happened among us to the notion of personal accountability?

You report that an official diocesan investigation into that tragedy will not seek to apportion blame. What can that achieve? None of us enjoys facing the truth that we have made serious errors, but how are forgiveness and healing possible if we do not acknowledge individually our responsibility for them?

In past years, a report like Lord Carlile’s could have led to resignations.

The emerging stories of cover-up and slandering of the innocent present us with the opportunity to repent and accept the chastening that will enable us, under God, to become the Church that we are called to be. Will we take it?

BARRY A. ORFORD

Hampstead

THE UNEDITED VERSION OF THE ABOVE

September 3rd, 2021

Sir,

The letters from the Revd Roderick Leece and the Revd Nick Pigott referring to the death of Fr Alan Griffin, plus the article by Bishop Selby (October 8), tell us clearly that something is rotten in the Diocese of London and in the wider Church of England. They prompt a disturbing question – what has happened among us to the notion of personal accountability?

The London Diocese has intoned the regulation chant that ‘lessons will be learned’ from the Griffin case, yet you report that an official diocesan investigation into that tragedy will not seek to apportion blame. What can that achieve? None of us enjoys facing the truth that we have made serious errors, but how are forgiveness and healing possible if we do not acknowledge individually our responsibility for them?

In past years a report like Lord Carlile’s on the conduct of those in the Chichester Diocese who rushed to blacken the blameless name of Bishop George Bell could have led to resignations. Today, those responsible have not even felt shamed into an apology. (I am told that they have recently compounded their offence by removing Bell’s name from the house dedicated to his memory.) What does this say about unwillingness to confess shortcomings?

The emerging stories of cover up and slandering of the innocent present us with the opportunity to repent and accept the chastening which will enable us, under God, to become the Church we are called to be. Will we take it?

The Revd Dr Barry A. Orford

LETTER [UNPUBLISHED]

Dear Editor
Those libelled by false accusation can exercise their right to justice through the courts [‘The accused have their rights, too’, CT, Oct 8].
Sir Cliff Richard exercised this right, but at a cost – not just financial. 
For most of us living, if falsely accused and libelled, this is not an option – there is simply nothing we can do about it. For those no longer living, such as Bishop George Bell, the same applies – you cannot libel the dead. 
Former Archbishop George Carey has done something about this miscarriage of justice by writing about it in his memoirs – ‘The Truth Will Set You Free‘.
Genuine repentance is key to right these wrongs, but there is little sign of that from those who should know better.
The truth of former Bishop Peter Selby’s concluding four words continues to resonate ‘as clear as a bell’:
“It could be you”

Yours sincerely


Richard W. Symonds

The Bell Society

“The Truth Will Set You Free” – Barnabas Fund – Isaac – 2021

Lord Carey speaks of deep regret over Peter Ball case at memoir launch

Staff writer  15 October 2021 | 9:38 AM

Lord Carey speaking at the launch of his book “The Truth Will Set You Free” at the Christian Resources Exhibition on 15 October 2021.(Photo: Christian Resources Exhibition)

Lord George Carey launched the second instalment of his memoirs, The Truth Will Set You Free, at the Christian Resources Exhibition on Thursday.

Speaking at the launch of the book, published by Barnabas Fund, the former Archbishop of Canterbury said it contained two “very, very painful” chapters on abuse looking at the Peter Ball case and accusations against his son Mark Carey.

He said the claims against Mark were “total nonsense” and that although the police later cleared him, the experience had been one of “humiliation”.

Concerning Peter Ball, who was jailed for abuse in 2015 before dying in 2019, Lord Carey said he had made “profound mistakes”.

“I regret those very deeply. That was 25 years ago and we have learnt so much since,” he said.

His comments at the launch touched on a wide range of subjects, among them his “change of heart” on assisted suicide.

He said a “key moment” in his thinking on the subject came with the case of Tony Nicklinson, a man with locked-in syndrome who lost his right to die case at the High Court in 2012. He died a week later after refusing food.

Lord Carey said, “I came to the conclusion I had to give my support on compassionate grounds: what would Jesus do if he was alive today? I’m pretty sure he would support any effort to allow people to die without pain.” 

But he admitted his views were in “total opposition” to the Church of England on the subject.

He also commented on George Bell, who he said had been “vilified” by the Church of England despite being “one of the great heroes of the War years”.

“The accusations against him, the cloud that still hangs over him, is completely wrong. His record is straight, he did nothing wrong,” he said.

https://richardwsymonds.wordpress.com/2021/09/25/september-25-2021-the-truth-will-set-you-free-by-the-rt-hon-george-carey-book-launch-october-14-2021/

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OCTOBER 14 2021 – “THE ACCUSED HAVE THEIR RIGHTS, TOO” – CHURCH TIMES – FORMER BISHOP PETER SELBY [LETTER SUBMISSIONS IN RESPONSE – NOT PUBLISHED AND PUBLISHED]

LETTER [UNPUBLISHED]

Dear Editor
Those libelled by false accusation can exercise their right to justice through the courts [‘The accused have their rights, too’, CT, Oct 8].
Sir Cliff Richard exercised this right, but at a cost – not just financial. 
For most of us living, if falsely accused and libelled, this is not an option – there is simply nothing we can do about it. For those no longer living, such as Bishop George Bell, the same applies – you cannot libel the dead. 
Former Archbishop George Carey has done something about this miscarriage of justice by writing about it in his memoirs – ‘The Truth Will Set You Free‘.
Genuine repentance is key to right these wrongs, but there is little sign of that from those who should know better.
The truth of former Bishop Peter Selby’s concluding four words continues to resonate ‘as clear as a bell’:
“It could be you”

Yours sincerely


Richard W. Symonds

The Bell Society

LETTER [PUBLISHED] – BUT HEAVILY EDITED

From the Revd Dr Barry A. Orford

Sir, — Clearly, something is rotten in the diocese of London and in the wider Church of England. What has happened among us to the notion of personal accountability?

You report that an official diocesan investigation into that tragedy will not seek to apportion blame. What can that achieve? None of us enjoys facing the truth that we have made serious errors, but how are forgiveness and healing possible if we do not acknowledge individually our responsibility for them?

In past years, a report like Lord Carlile’s could have led to resignations.

The emerging stories of cover-up and slandering of the innocent present us with the opportunity to repent and accept the chastening that will enable us, under God, to become the Church that we are called to be. Will we take it?

BARRY A. ORFORD

Hampstead

THE UNEDITED VERSION OF THE ABOVE

September 3rd, 2021

Sir,

The letters from the Revd Roderick Leece and the Revd Nick Pigott referring to the death of Fr Alan Griffin, plus the article by Bishop Selby (October 8), tell us clearly that something is rotten in the Diocese of London and in the wider Church of England. They prompt a disturbing question – what has happened among us to the notion of personal accountability?

The London Diocese has intoned the regulation chant that ‘lessons will be learned’ from the Griffin case, yet you report that an official diocesan investigation into that tragedy will not seek to apportion blame. What can that achieve? None of us enjoys facing the truth that we have made serious errors, but how are forgiveness and healing possible if we do not acknowledge individually our responsibility for them?

In past years a report like Lord Carlile’s on the conduct of those in the Chichester Diocese who rushed to blacken the blameless name of Bishop George Bell could have led to resignations. Today, those responsible have not even felt shamed into an apology. (I am told that they have recently compounded their offence by removing Bell’s name from the house dedicated to his memory.) What does this say about unwillingness to confess shortcomings?

The emerging stories of cover up and slandering of the innocent present us with the opportunity to repent and accept the chastening which will enable us, under God, to become the Church we are called to be. Will we take it?

The Revd Dr Barry A. Orford


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OCTOBER 12 2021 – “LORD CAREY CALLS FOR CHURCH OF ENGLAND TO OUTSOURCE ABUSE INVESTIGATIONS” – ANGLICAN INK

Lord Carey calls for Church of England to outsource abuse investigations

[W]e are too close to the clergy concerned and very likely to defend instinctively the institution, rather than actively promote an unbiased and independent approach By George Carey -October 12, 2021

The following words were addressed to those attending the Keep Rebuilding Bridges conference on October 5 [2018 – Ed]. Baron Carey of Clifton was the Archbishop of Canterbury from 1991 to 2002.

The Truth will set you free

I am delighted to offer a contribution to this Conference on Rebuilding Bridges and thank Richard Symonds for his invitation and for all he has done and continues to do, to clear George Bell’s name. It is good to see in our audience Dr. Ruth Hildebrandt Grayson, the daughter of Bishop Bell’s close friend, Franz Hildebrandt. We look forward to hearing her later.

Now, I am uncomfortably aware that my presence here raises two unrelated questions.

I have been accused many times over the past few years of presiding over a ‘cover-up’ of Bishop Peter Ball’s crimes. Peter Ball misused his office as a bishop to abuse, and indecently assault young people who were exploring vocations into Christian ministry. There was, of course, no cover-up. We now know that the police at the time examined many allegations against Ball and together with prosecutors only charged him with a caution. This decision was very much of its time. But later even after I had left office other people, including police, had an opportunity to look at all the evidence that was in our hands at Lambeth to bring Peter Ball to justice, yet they did not do so until Chichester Diocese passed on its files and Peter Ball was finally brought to justice in 2015. I and my colleagues at the time did make mistakes and rightly my actions are being subjected to public scrutiny – a review by Dame Moira Gibb and the IICSA Inquiry. I have cooperated willingly, openly and honestly with this scrutiny at every stage. I will take every opportunity I can to publicly apologise to the victims of Peter Ball for the mistakes I made in the 1990s which have caused them such pain to this day. I will say no more about this matter because IICSA is still to report on this next year.

The other question is about the role of retired bishops and archbishops. ‘Don’t spit on the deck as you leave’ is usually good advice.

But I am not retired from ministry. I am still active in ministry, still a member of the church and by Her Majesty’s invitation a member of the House of Lords. If it is permissible to speak out on public affairs, as I do from time to time, then it is permissible for me to speak out on matters of justice when so few others will.

Over the last 12 months or so I have had a recurring disturbing worry. It is the ‘nightmare’ that in spite of a very happy and faithful marriage to the same woman for nearly 60 years some 50 or so years from the point of my death, rumours will circulate that I was an abuser of others. The rumours will reach such a pitch that the Church to which I had given my life will capitulate, pay out money and believe the falsehoods. Who would defend me?

This could happen to anyone of us – male or female. It became a reality for one of the great giants of Anglicans, namely George Bell who died 70 years ago and whom we honour today. I remember the time when I was Archbishop visiting Morton’s Tower in Lambeth Palace where Bell’s works were stored. I was amazed by the scale of his correspondence and work. It expressed his energy, output and commitment to public affairs. He was never afraid to be unpopular because his commitment was to the gospel of Jesus Christ and its truth. Before ecumenism became a fashionable word he had already embraced a deep commitment to other Christians and Churches. Whilst anti-Jewish hatred continued to change the face of Germany and western Europe, Bell instinctively turned his face against the ugliness of anti-Semitism. I read his correspondence with Dietrich Bonhoeffer and marvelled at their deep friendship and common faith. At a time of understandable patriotism and jingoism on the part of the British people, Bell courageously argued against unacceptable retribution against Germany. Winston Churchill turned against him and, we understand, put paid to any prospect of Bell becoming Archbishop because of his opposition to carpet bombing.

But Bell was more than an energetic, courageous and knowledgeable public figure. He was a man rooted in prayer and worship; a high churchman who loved the order and beauty of liturgy. In his exceptionally busy life he was supported loyally, deeply and lovingly by his wife, Henrietta. She was always alongside him, as were his chaplains who were there to take some of the burden of his high public office.

And then, fifty-seven years after his death, his own diocese which he served faithfully and greatly loved – supported by the Archbishop of Canterbury and the House of Bishops – made an announcement which was likely to affect Bell’s reputation forever more. The announcement was widely interpreted by press and public alike as an accusation that Bell had sexually abused a child between 1949 and 1953. Strangely, church leaders deny that they have ever said that Bell was guilty of the abuse, but this is surely disingenuous. In the Archbishop of Canterbury’s words, a ‘cloud’ hangs over his name.

In that initial announcement, very few details were given but it was clear that an unspecified sum of money had been given to the complainant. The Church said it had decided to give this compensation on the basis of the ‘balance of probabilities’. But even on this evidential basis, arguments for the defence should have been heard. Previously, no other accusations – or even rumours – had ever been heard against Bell. And on the basis of this one unproven, and probably unprovable allegation, his name was removed from buildings and institutions named after him.

A recent detailed review of the case by Lord Carlile showed that no significant effort had been made by the Church to consider any evidence that might have supported Bell’s innocence. In particular, those investigating did not consult Bell’s biographer, Andrew Chandler, nor the living people who worked with him at that time.

George Bell’s cause was given no legal advocate. Instead, in a process, which I referred to in the House of Lords in 2016 as ‘having the character of a kangaroo court’ it seems as though the ‘victim’ was automatically believed. The normal burden of proof was reversed and it was considered ‘wicked’ to doubt the veracity of the allegations.

Dr Andrew Chandler in his excellent biography of George Bell states: ‘We are asked to invest an entire authority in one testimony and to dismiss all the materials by which we have come to know the historical George Bell as mere figments of reputation.’ Of course, if Bell was guilty, his high reputation should not protect him. But we have not been given the chance to establish fairly whether he was.

In an appendix devoted to the controversy, Chandler notes that Bell’s 368 volume archive contains his personal notebooks and pocket diaries from 1919 to 1957, in which he kept track of all his appointments and engagements. He notes Bell’s “conspicuously high view of the standards required by his office,” and adds that Bell was almost constantly observed, that he participated in many disciplinary processes for clergy, that he maintained what seemed like a happy marriage, and that he worked almost continually in the presence of his wife, secretary, domestic chaplain, or driver.

Chandler interviewed the only member of Bell’s circle who was then still alive, Adrian Carey, his domestic chaplain from the early 1950s. This man “is firm, indeed emphatic, that ‘no child or young teenager ever entered during my two years as Chaplain, except on the day in January chosen for the parish Christmas party which he and Mrs Bell laid on every year for the children of the clergy’”.

Thankfully an outcry came against such a miscarriage of justice and I was delighted in 2016 to be invited to join the George Bell group, led by Andrew Chandler, to fight to clear George Bell’s name.

It was a relief to us all when the Bishop of Chichester asked Lord Carlile of Berriew QC, a well-known independently-minded human rights lawyer, to conduct an independent review which he did thoroughly and authoritatively. His report concluded that the “core group” established by the church to consider the claims “failed to follow a process that was fair and equitable to both sides”.

“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 over-steered 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.”

He added: “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.”

Carlile said the purpose of his review was not to determine the truthfulness of the allegations nor to rule on Bell’s guilt or innocence.

He went on, “even when the alleged perpetrators have died, there should be methodical and sufficient investigations into accusations leveled against them”.

In this case, “the truth of what Carol was saying was implicitly accepted without serious investigation or inquiry. I have concluded this was an inappropriate and impermissible approach.”

What then followed was to my mind more damaging to the Church than to George Bell. Instead of this logically leading to the rehabilitation of George Bell’s reputation, the Church compounded the problem further by apologizing for the procedures that had been found wanting by the Carlile review, but nevertheless refused to retract its conclusion that George Bell was in all probability guilty of the abuse.

In the words of the Archbishop of Canterbury a ‘significant cloud’ hangs over his name. The Archbishop bluntly added: ‘he is accused of great wickedness’.

What is deeply unsatisfactory is that no explanation is given and no evidence for these conclusions. If the Carlile report revealed how biased and unjust were the conclusions of the Core Group, how can the Archbishop, the Bishop of Chichester and Bishop of Bath and Wells continue to unblushingly assert that George Bell’s reputation remains under a cloud?

Now, it gives me no pleasure to note that the Archbishop of Canterbury has received harsh criticism from a number of leading historians and theologians and, sadly, his response has been so far unsatisfactory. Those of us still committed to the national Church remain horrified that not more has been done to explain his remark that ‘a cloud remains’. At the very least justice demands it.

Perhaps an explanation lies in a further allegation which has come out of the blue, at the beginning of this year, before the Carlile review could be properly debated in General Synod. But after the first core group debacle, can we really have confidence that the Church can investigate this competently itself?

Regarding the current investigation at least this time we know that George Bell’s niece is to be represented by one of the George Bell Group, Desmond Browne QC, and that Andrew Chandler’s expertise and knowledge of Bell is being utilised. But a gnawing and perhaps understandable suspicion remains that the hierarchy are hoping we will all forget and the ‘can’ will be kicked further down the road. It is a sorry mess: a great man’s name has been traduced, justice has been denied and the good name of George Bell rubbished.

The Archbishop has rightly made mediation and reconciliation a major plank of his ministry, and I hope he will reach out to all those who are dismayed by this treatment of Bell and consider again his judgement of Bishop George Bell.

However, one of the matters I am most dismayed by is the silence over these concerns by the House of Bishops. The Church of England has always been respected for scholarship, theological exploration and independent thought. George Bell stands out as a pre-eminent scholar-bishop of the 20th century who engaged in public debate within the church and nation – frequently disagreeing with his episcopal colleagues.

In my time as Archbishop I served with colleagues of great scholarship and distinction including John Habgood, David Hope, Tom Wright, Mark Santer, Michael Nazzir-Ali, Peter Selby, Richard Harries, David Jenkins, Hugh Montefiore, David Sheppard, Simon Barrington Ward, and John Taylor of St. Alban’s and many others. These were bishops who prized justice and spoke out when they saw injustice. Bishops were prepared to speak out even against their own hierarchy – and they did not always agree with me.

So why the silence from the House of Bishops? Each member must know that he or she is implicated indirectly in this condemnation of Bell. Only one bishop has distanced himself from the Archbishop’s conclusion, but I understand that at least six others disagree with him. Unity, and collegiality are good things but never should they replace what is right and true. ‘Collegiality’ is not to be mistaken for ‘collective cabinet responsibility’ or ‘party discipline’.

So it is right to press the Bishops to declare themselves. Do you share the opinion that a significant cloud hangs over George Bell’s name? Do you agree that he is guilty of great wickedness? Please tell us what you think. At the February Group of General Synod Martin Sewell was told that ‘the House of Bishops is accountable for safeguarding in the Church of England’. If that is the case, why the silence? Is it an honorable thing to be silent on a matter so crucial as this? If the bishops are at one with the Archbishop of Canterbury’s declaration that a ‘cloud hangs’ over George Bell’s reputation and that ‘he is accused of great wickedness’, let them says so in a collective declaration of support for the Archbishop’s view.

It is because we all make mistakes that we need a church that preaches grace, forgiveness, repentance and new life. I see very little of grace in the way that the Church of England has handled allegations against George Bell. Indeed, it is shaming because it is unjust. We know we can do better. That is why this conference talks about rebuilding bridges, and that is why many of us will continue to fight for justice for George Bell.

However, I want to end on a positive note. Rebuilding Bridges is central to the Christian faith and that is what we all want to do. Let me offer three points:

I believe the George Bell case and also the Peter Ball investigation makes the argument for outsourcing investigations in the case of accusations of sexual misconduct. It is not because Archbishops and bishops can’t be trusted to have an important role in safeguarding, rather it is because we are too close to the clergy concerned and very likely to defend instinctively the institution, rather than actively promote an unbiased and independent approach.

Secondly, George Bell was a man of the Church, passionate about its witness and unity. Here we are today with declining numbers of worshippers, with no clear evangelistic programme, and no apparent plan to reach the young. The gap between Church and society is widening all the time. Yes, I know that great work is going on and not all churches are declining. It grieves us all that this major squabble is taking up so much time and energy when our gaze should be directed away from ourselves. The supporters of Bishop George Bell desire wholeheartedly to speak with one voice with the Archbishop and the House of Bishops. Reconciliation would certainly send out a great signal of overcoming a major barrier to our unity, which of course is part of our mission.

A third positive sign is an attractive idea that Dr. Ruth Hildebrandt Grayson is going to offer later and I do not want to steal her thunder in any respect. As I understand it, she is going to suggest a way of continuing Bishop George Bell’s work in the diocese.

Let me close my remarks with George Bell’s own words: words we should all heed, and which should guide our attempts to clear his name: ‘To despair of being able to do anything, or refuse to do anything, is to be guilty of infidelity’.

George Carey SOURCE The Bell Society

St_Margaret's_Church_Warnham,_West_Sussex.jpg

Do the archbishops know that Leicester Diocese is about to close 234 parishes?

Archbishop Cottrell: The Dream for the Church

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OCTOBER 6 2021 – FROM THE ARCHIVES [OCT 3 2016] – PETER HITCHENS ON BISHOP BELL

Justice for Bishop George Bell

Latest from Peter Hitchens:

Peter Hitchens

On Sunday evening I provided a short prologue to a dramatised reading of the final part of T.S. Eliot’s ‘Murder in the Cathedral’ in the Friends’ Meeting House at Chichester, beautifully situated near the lovely old Priory, now the Guildhall, where William Blake was once put on trial. The reading was of very high quality, and I found myself riveted both during the rehearsal and the actual performance, by Eliot’s apposite words, full of power and truth.

There was a good and attentive audience, most of whom stayed for a while afterwards to discuss the case of Bishop Bell, in whose cause the reading was held. I always gain a special pleasure from voluntary, civic occasions such as this, when individuals band together for a good purpose. Chichester itself has been an intensely civilised corner of England since Roman times, every stone and brick, and every tree, lawn and garden evidence of the long and peaceful existence of a prosperous society of free, independent men and women. But none of this will survive forever if we do not resolve to defend it. I regard the George Bell campaign as part of the battle to keep free civilisation alive, because it is entirely about disinterested justice and truth.

I visited Bishop Bell’s memorial in the Cathedral early this morning, and found it surrounded by flowers. This contrasts with the occasion a year ago when I laid a small posy there, which was swiftly snatched away. At that time the memorial was obscured by a large notice about ‘safeguarding’, which has now gone. A few feet away lies the lovely ‘Arundel Tomb’ of which Philip Larkin wrote, moved by the way that the effigies of a knight and his lady are shown holding each other’s hands in death. ‘What will survive of us is love’, he concluded, reluctantly and conditionally. I think he was righter than he knew or wanted to be.

I must now go to the special service (to be held at St Michaels’s Church at Cornhill in the City of London) to remember Bishop Bell, whose life and work are commemorated today (the 58th anniversary of his death) in the Anglican calendar.

‘George Bell, Bishop of Chichester, Ecumenist, Peacemaker, 1958’ – Christian Calendar – Sunday October 3 2021

THINKING ANGLICANS – COMMENTS

Richard W. Symonds Reply to Fr Dexter Bracey

Fr Dexter, you are not alone in thinking the Bishop of London’s remark [“the coroner put that in the public domain, and I am sorry for the hurt that that has caused”] sounds like an attempt to deflect criticism and blame others.

‘Private Eye’ puts it succinctly:

Lexden [Lord Lexden who resigned from the Ecclesiastical Committee – Ed] was particularly angry that the diocese urged the coroner at Griffin’s inquest, Mary Hassell, not to include in her report “any concerns that may be taken as a criticism of clerics or staff for not filtering or verifying allegations”. She ignored the plea.

If the Bishop of London [and her colleagues and superiors] wish to demonstrate real pastoral care and help heal “a sense of rage, indignation, bewilderment, frustration and sorrow”, may I make one suggestion [there are others]:

Offer up formal prayers tomorrow [Sunday Oct 3] for Bishop George Bell – his Day of Commemoration in the Church of England Year Calendar:

‘George Bell, Bishop of Chichester, Ecumenist, Peacemaker, 1958’.

Yes! Indeed special remembrance next Sunday of our great Bishop who within the communion of saints prays with us and for us. A holy and courageous priest, and we look forward to the erection of the statue on the west wall of Canterbury Cathedral. I wish we could be told a bit more about it, apart from the usual ‘ it will now be delayed probably for five years because of other works’. But on his special day in the Church’s Calendar, let us focus on the glorious life George Bell lives in the Kingdom of Heaven, and give thanks for the great work GOD did in and through him while he was among us

+ Nicholas Reade

I need not remind you of all people of the greatness of Bishop George Bell, a loyal friend of Dietrich Bonhoeffer from 1933 onwards and the staunchest of opponents of Nazi Germany.
Nothing marks out his moral and spiritual leadership more than the speech in opposition to area bombing of Germany delivered in the House of Lords on 9 February 1944. We may now read it as a terrible warning about or  premonition of the bombing of Dresden one year later in the four raids of 13-15 February 1945.
We may reflect on the moral courage of this great man speaking out as he did when he did. Our own moral pieties in relation to Dresden in 2021 are easy by comparison. 
Had it not been for these words Bishop George Bell may well himself have become Archbishop of Canterbury.
No English man or woman of any standing deserves to be condemned by the presumption of guilt. It is an attack on the very values for which we were fighting such a war.
In a way we may thank those who have called Bishop Bell’s reputation into question. On the anniversary of his death on 3 October 1958 we may once again give thanks to God that the Church of England is still able to raise such men among us.

Dr Gerald Morgan OM FTCD 

“Thank you for your vigorous defence of the beloved Bishop. He is vindicated and Welby disgraced”

+C

“Would that any decent priest gave a thought to Bishop Bell.  Far too busy virtue signalling instead. As for Welby…..give me strength. Resting somewhere while here churches are still closed when most we need them. He’s beyond useless. A cowardI’ve now read your enclosures sent today and I’m shocked. The obfuscations of the core group contain more holes than a Glaswegian string vest. I’ve not been in church today but I’ll pass this on to our rector who is an admirer of Bishop Bell. (We’re up here near Glasgow) The rector assures me “Welby has no muscle north of the border”

‘L’

WINDOW SPACE

A smattering of dawn challenges the night sky,

severing earth from heaven

in a long line, pale pink and yellow

across my window space.

Then, as if on Nature’s cue,

a gaggle of gossamer clouds,

cream and unruly-edged, float by,

blown by a soft breeze,

soft as a first-love kiss.

I watch all this, wondering

at the unhurried yet inevitable

light, dancing out of darkness.

Now, blinding sunshine adds dazzle to the day’s light…

Clearly reflected in all this drama

is the beginning of my new life,

here is this waiting place.

*** *** *** *** ***

I rise, smiling

to close the curtains on my window space.

At curtain fall, I leave the stage and glide into the wings.

From there, I fly away to search for fresh delights

in my own new day.

© Sandra Saer

Arundel, 2010

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OCTOBER 2 2021 – ‘PRESUMPTION OF INNOCENCE’ LETTER SUBMISSION TO THE DAILY TELEGRAPH – BY DR GERALD MORGAN]

Sir William Garrow coined the phrase “presumed innocent until proven guilty”, insisting that defendants’ accusers and their evidence be thoroughly tested in court

Sir,

I welcome the letters by Dorothy Smith of Doncaster, South Yorkshire, ‘Managerial Bishops Misunderstand Parishes’ (1 October 2021) and by Charles Puxley of Newbury, Berkshire, ‘Parish Church Closures’ (2 October 2021).
How I regret that anyone in England in 2021 has to write such a letter to the Daily Telegraph in respect of the Church of England in England…


The glory of the English countryside is not so much the presence in our midst of great cathedrals but of the parish church in every village. These churches are the repository of the history of England and of our religious history. Not so much the history of great religious controversies but of the peaceful and quiet lives of humble devotion lived out in the parish.


When people fail in their responsibilities in life they must go, because by staying in the midst of personal failure they continue to do great damage to the lives under their care…….that is why bishops who have failed in their primary duty of pastoral care must go. That is why an Archbishop of Canterbury, who does not believe in the presumption of innocence, must go.


I wonder how it is possible to be educated at Eton College and Trinity College, Cambridge, and still not understand the importance of the presumption of innocence in English law or in the history of the Christian church.


No nation can prosper when there is so much ignorance and infirmity of purpose among our leaders.


Kind regards,

Dr Gerald Morgan OM FTCD

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OCTOBER 3 2021 – BISHOP BELL DAY OF COMMEMORATION – ‘SAY A LITTLE PRAYER’ SUNDAY – “GEORGE BELL, BISHOP OF CHICHESTER, ECUMENIST, PEACEMAKER, 1958” – THE CHURCH YEAR CALENDAR [3/10/2021]

OCTOBER 3 2021 – BISHOP BELL DAY OF COMMEMORATION‘SAY A LITTLE PRAYER’ SUNDAY – OCTOBER 3 2021 – “GEORGE BELL, BISHOP OF CHICHESTER, ECUMENIST, PEACEMAKER, 1958” – THE CHURCH YEAR CALENDAR [3/10/2021]

THE CHURCH YEAR CALENDAR

Sunday, October 3    George Bell, Bishop of Chichester, Ecumenist, Peacemaker, 1958

‘SAY A LITTLE PRAYER’ SUNDAY – OCTOBER 3 2021

Bishop George Bell [February 4 1883 – October 3 1958]

LETTER SUBMISSION TO THE CHURCH TIMES – OCTOBER 1 2021 [UNPUBLISHED]

Dear Editor

One core reason for the resignation of a highly respected peer from the Ecclesiastical Committee has been the injustice meted out to the Bishop of Chichester George Bell [Lord Lexden in the House of Lords, Sept 16].
“Passion and anger” and “total despair” at the Church’s unfair and unjust system are not just felt by this Conservative peer – he is not alone.
It would appear Divine intervention is the only means by which the injustice inflicted against the wartime bishop can be made just.
To that end, prayers will be offered up this Sunday [Oct 3] – a Day of Commemoration in the Church of England Year Calendar:
‘George Bell, Bishop of Chichester, Ecumenist, Peacemaker, 1958’.


Yours sincerely

Richard W. Symonds

The Bell Society

SEPTEMBER 17 2021 – “MY FAITH IN THE CHURCH’S INSTITUTIONAL INTEGRITY HAS BEEN COMPLETELY BROKEN” – LORD LEXDEN IN THE HOUSE OF LORDS

“To despair of being able to do anything, or refuse to do anything, is to be guilty of infidelity”

Bishop George Bell [quoted by the former Archbishop of Canterbury George Carey at the end of his address in the 2018 Rebuilding Bridges Conference in Westminster]

Yes! Indeed special remembrance next Sunday of our great Bishop who within the communion of saints prays with us and for us. A holy and courageous priest, and we look forward to the erection of the statue on the west wall of Canterbury Cathedral. I wish we could be told a bit more about it, apart from the usual ‘ it will now be delayed probably for five years because of other works’. But on his special day in the Church’s Calendar, let us focus on the glorious life George Bell lives in the Kingdom of Heaven, and give thanks for the great work GOD did in and through him while he was among us.

+ Nicholas Reade

Nicholas Reade on Bishop Bell – Extracts from “Rarely Ordinary Time – Some Memoirs” [Rother 2019]

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OCTOBER 1 2021 – CHURCH TIMES ‘LORD LEXDEN-BISHOP BELL’ LETTER SUBMISSION [UNPUBLISHED]

LETTER SUBMISSION TO THE CHURCH TIMES – OCTOBER 1 2021 [UNPUBLISHED]

Dear Editor

One core reason for the resignation of a highly respected peer from the Ecclesiastical Committee has been the injustice meted out to the Bishop of Chichester George Bell [Lord Lexden in the House of Lords, Sept 16].
“Passion and anger” and “total despair” at the Church’s unfair and unjust system are not just felt by this Conservative peer – he is not alone.
It would appear Divine intervention is the only means by which the injustice inflicted against the wartime bishop can be made just.
To that end, prayers will be offered up this Sunday [Oct 3] – a Day of Commemoration in the Church of England Year Calendar:
‘George Bell, Bishop of Chichester, Ecumenist, Peacemaker, 1958’.


Yours sincerely

Richard W. Symonds

The Bell Society

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SEPTEMBER 29 2021 – “CHURCH NEWS – CLERICAL ERRORS” – PRIVATE EYE + LORD LEXDEN’S RESIGNATION + BISHOP GEORGE BELL

CHURCH NEWSCLERICAL ERRORS – PRIVATE EYE – NO. 1557 – 1 OCTOBER – 14 OCT 2021

During a debate in the House of Lords last week, Lord Lexden announced his resignation from the parliamentary ecclesiastical committee because “my faith in the Church’s institutional integrity has been completely broken”. He said that he “can no longer support the Clergy Discipline Measure, in view of the harm it is capable of inflicting on innocent clergy caught up in sex abuse allegations.

The resignation was prompted by the Diocese of London’s response to the suicide of Fr Alan Griffin, a retired Church of England priest who was falsely accused of visiting “rent boys” and subjected to a long and agonising safeguarding process by the church he had served for 40 years [Eye 1553].

Lexden was particularly angry that the diocese urged the coroner at Griffin’s inquest, Mary Hassell, not to include in her report “any concerns that may be taken as a criticism of clerics or staff for not filtering or verifying allegations”. She ignored the plea.

The diocese has denied it was “trying to deflect criticism away from clergy or staff”. But the Bishop of Blackburn, the sole prelate standing in the House of Lords to represent the Church of England at a debate two weeks ago, clearly didn’t get the memo. he agreed with Lord Lexden that the request to the coroner was “reprehensible and completely unacceptable”.

An in-house “Lessons Learned” review has been commissioned, of course, but so far no one has been held responsible for the chain of events that ended so tragically for Fr Griffin.

It began with a “brain dump” two years ago by the diocese’s retiring director of operations, Martin Sargeant, in which he identified 42 clergy whom he regarded as problematic. The claims ranged from drunkenness and sexual deviance to more prosaic gossip such as “he has a student living with him” and “chaos seems to follow him around”.

Since then the catastrophic handling of the allegations by the Bishop of London, Sarah Mullally, has led to a dramatic breakdown of trust with her clergy. The 41 surviving clerics named in the “brain dump” want to know what has been said about them, why they were given no opportunity to rebut it, and whether the unsubstantiated claims are now held on their personal files.

The Eye learns that a majority of clergy in the Two Cities area of London Diocese – the part overseen directly by the Bishop of London – held a closed meeting on 14 September at which feelings ran high. Many were friends and former colleagues of Fr Griffin. Some spoke of “rage, indignation, bewilderment, frustration and sorrow” at the failure of the senior diocesan staff to care for them in the face of allegations made against them. One, driven to despair, said they had not received a kind communication from diocesan leaders in three years.

Some are quietly planning legal action against their own diocese. Others, encouraged by the threatened vote of no confidence that led to the defenestration of the Bishop of Winchester [Eye 1549], are now proposing a similar vote against the Bishop of London.

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SEPTEMBER 29 2021 – “BREAKING NEWS. THE CHURCH OF ENGLAND DOES NOT HAVE TO EXIST. GOD CAN BUILD THE KINGDOM WITHOUT US. SO WE NEED TO DISCOVER WHY WE EXIST” – MARTYN PERCY

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SEPTEMBER 26 2021 – “I FIND IT DEEPLY TROUBLING THAT AN ARCHBISHOP [WELBY], CONSIDERED TO BE MORE SENSITIVE THAN MOST TO DIVINE MORAL LAW, CAN BE SO MORALLY BLIND TO THAT WHICH IS IN FRONT OF HIS MORAL NOSE – EVEN THOUGH MATTHEW 7 v 5 RINGS IN MY OWN MORAL EARS” ~ RICHARD W. SYMONDS – THE BELL SOCIETY

Richard W. Symonds

The Bell Society

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OCTOBER 14 2021 – “THE TRUTH WILL SET YOU FREE” BY RT HON GEORGE CAREY, FORMER ARCHBISHOP OF CANTERBURY

By Dave Hall

Former Archbishop to launch second instalment of memoirs at CRE National

In a memoir which pulls no punches, Rt Hon George Carey, former Archbishop of Canterbury, reflects on nearly two decades of ministry post-retirement.

Lord Carey was the first former Archbishop of Canterbury to write an autobiography and has now written a second. The Truth Will Set You Free takes up the story from his retirement to the current day while revisiting key lessons learned throughout his life.

In the book, published by the Barnabas Fund, Carey reflects on aspects of leadership, overseas development, education and mission. He also writes honestly about how, in his 80s, the Bishop Peter Ball scandal came back to haunt him when his permission to officiate was suspended not once but twice.

He launches The Truth Will Set You Free at CRE National 2021 on Thu 14 Oct (11am, Daniel’s Bar) in an event open to all visitors to the exhibition.

• The Barnabas Fund are on stand C5 at CRE National 2021

Book your tickets to CRE National! – and save up to £5

Seminar Guide – See the complete guide to seminars and special features at CRE National 2021

Welcome Back – See an online version of the CRE National 2021 ‘Welcome Back’ brochure

Our next exhibitions

CRE National 2021
12-14 October 2021
Sandown Park, Surrey

CRE South West 2022
23-24 February 2022
Westpoint, Exeter

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Building Bridges

Sandra Saer, who chaired the Keep Rebuilding Bridges Conference, at Church House, Westminster, on 5 October 2018, waiting with Lord George Carey, former Archbishop of Canterbury, a key Speaker at the Conference, to hear a question from the floor.

Address by Lord Carey of Clifton

The following words were addressed to those attending the Keep Rebuilding Bridges conference on October 5. Baron Carey of Clifton was the Archbishop of Canterbury from 1991 to 2002.

I am delighted to offer a contribution to this Conference on Rebuilding Bridges and thank Richard Symonds for his invitation and for all he has done and continues to do, to clear George Bell’s name. It is good to see in our audience Dr. Ruth Hildebrandt Grayson, the daughter of Bishop Bell’s close friend, Franz Hildebrandt. We look forward to hearing her later.
Now, I am uncomfortably aware that my presence here raises two unrelated questions.
I have been accused many times over the past few years of presiding over a ‘cover-up’ of Bishop Peter Ball’s crimes. Peter Ball misused his office as a bishop to abuse, and indecently assault young people who were exploring vocations into Christian ministry. There was, of course, no cover-up. We now know that the police at the time examined many allegations against Ball and together with prosecutors only charged him with a caution. This decision was very much of its time. But later even after I had left office other people, including police, had an opportunity to look at all the evidence that was in our hands at Lambeth to bring Peter Ball to justice, yet they did not do so until Chichester Diocese passed on its files and Peter Ball was finally brought to justice in 2015. I and my colleagues at the time did make mistakes and rightly my actions are being subjected to public scrutiny – a review by Dame Moira Gibb and the IICSA Inquiry. I have cooperated willingly, openly and honestly with this scrutiny at every stage. I will take every opportunity I can to publicly apologise to the victims of Peter Ball for the mistakes I made in the 1990s which have caused them such pain to this day. I will say no more about this matter because IICSA is still to report on this next year.
The other question is about the role of retired bishops and archbishops. ‘Don’t spit on the deck as you leave’ is usually good advice. But I am not retired from ministry. I am still active in ministry, still a member of the church and by Her Majesty’s invitation a member of the House of Lords. If it is permissible to speak out on public affairs, as I do from time to time, then it is permissible for me to speak out on matters of justice when so few others will.
Over the last 12 months or so I have had a recurring disturbing worry. It is the ‘nightmare’ that in spite of a very happy and faithful marriage to the same woman for nearly 60 years some 50 or so years from the point of my death, rumours will circulate that I was an abuser of others. The rumours will reach such a pitch that the Church to which I had given my life will capitulate, pay out money and believe the falsehoods. Who would defend me?
This could happen to anyone of us – male or female. It became a reality for one of the great giants of Anglicans, namely George Bell who died 70 years ago and whom we honour today. I remember the time when I was Archbishop visiting Morton’s Tower in Lambeth Palace where Bell’s works were stored. I was amazed by the scale of his correspondence and work. It expressed his energy, output and commitment to public affairs. He was never afraid to be unpopular because his commitment was to the gospel of Jesus Christ and its truth. Before ecumenism became a fashionable word he had already embraced a deep commitment to other Christians and Churches. Whilst anti-Jewish hatred continued to change the face of Germany and western Europe, Bell instinctively turned his face against the ugliness of anti-Semitism. I read his correspondence with Dietrich Bonhoeffer and marvelled at their deep friendship and common faith. At a time of understandable patriotism and jingoism on the part of the British people, Bell courageously argued against unacceptable retribution against Germany. Winston Churchill turned against him and, we understand, put paid to any prospect of Bell becoming Archbishop because of his opposition to carpet bombing.
But Bell was more than an energetic, courageous and knowledgeable public figure. He was a man rooted in prayer and worship; a high churchman who loved the order and beauty of liturgy. In his exceptionally busy life he was supported loyally, deeply and lovingly by his wife, Henrietta. She was always alongside him, as were his chaplains who were there to take some of the burden of his high public office.
And then, fifty-seven years after his death, his own diocese which he served faithfully and greatly loved – supported by the Archbishop of Canterbury and the House of Bishops – made an announcement which was likely to affect Bell’s reputation forever more. The announcement was widely interpreted by press and public alike as an accusation that Bell had sexually abused a child between 1949 and 1953. Strangely, church leaders deny that they have ever said that Bell was guilty of the abuse, but this is surely disingenuous. In the Archbishop of Canterbury’s words, a ‘cloud’ hangs over his name.
In that initial announcement, very few details were given but it was clear that an unspecified sum of money had been given to the complainant. The Church said it had decided to give this compensation on the basis of the ‘balance of probabilities’. But even on this evidential basis, arguments for the defence should have been heard. Previously, no other accusations – or even rumours – had ever been heard against Bell. And on the basis of this one unproven, and probably unprovable allegation, his name was removed from buildings and institutions named after him.
A recent detailed review of the case by Lord Carlile showed that no significant effort had been made by the Church to consider any evidence that might have supported Bell’s innocence. In particular, those investigating did not consult Bell’s biographer, Andrew Chandler, nor the living people who worked with him at that time.
George Bell’s cause was given no legal advocate. Instead, in a process, which I referred to in the House of Lords in 2016 as ‘having the character of a kangaroo court’ it seems as though the ‘victim’ was automatically believed. The normal burden of proof was reversed and it was considered ‘wicked’ to doubt the veracity of the allegations.
Dr Andrew Chandler in his excellent biography of George Bell states: ‘We are asked to invest an entire authority in one testimony and to dismiss all the materials by which we have come to know the historical George Bell as mere figments of reputation.’ Of course, if Bell was guilty, his high reputation should not protect him. But we have not been given the chance to establish fairly whether he was.
In an appendix devoted to the controversy, Chandler notes that Bell’s 368 volume archive contains his personal notebooks and pocket diaries from 1919 to 1957, in which he kept track of all his appointments and engagements. He notes Bell’s “conspicuously high view of the standards required by his office,” and adds that Bell was almost constantly observed, that he participated in many disciplinary processes for clergy, that he maintained what seemed like a happy marriage, and that he worked almost continually in the presence of his wife, secretary, domestic chaplain, or driver.
Chandler interviewed the only member of Bell’s circle who was then still alive, Adrian Carey, his domestic chaplain from the early 1950s. This man “is firm, indeed emphatic, that ‘no child or young teenager ever entered during my two years as Chaplain, except on the day in January chosen for the parish Christmas party which he and Mrs Bell laid on every year for the children of the clergy’”.
Thankfully an outcry came against such a miscarriage of justice and I was delighted in 2016 to be invited to join the George Bell group, led by Andrew Chandler, to fight to clear George Bell’s name.
It was a relief to us all when the Bishop of Chichester asked Lord Carlile of Berriew QC, a well-known independently-minded human rights lawyer, to conduct an independent review which he did thoroughly and authoritatively. His report concluded that the “core group” established by the church to consider the claims “failed to follow a process that was fair and equitable to both sides”.

“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 over-steered 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.”

He added: “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.”

Carlile said the purpose of his review was not to determine the truthfulness of the allegations nor to rule on Bell’s guilt or innocence.

He went on, “even when the alleged perpetrators have died, there should be methodical and sufficient investigations into accusations leveled against them”.
In this case, “the truth of what Carol was saying was implicitly accepted without serious investigation or inquiry. I have concluded this was an inappropriate and impermissible approach.”

What then followed was to my mind more damaging to the Church than to George Bell. Instead of this logically leading to the rehabilitation of George Bell’s reputation, the Church compounded the problem further by apologizing for the procedures that had been found wanting by the Carlile review, but nevertheless refused to retract its conclusion that George Bell was in all probability guilty of the abuse.

In the words of the Archbishop of Canterbury a ‘significant cloud’ hangs over his name. The Archbishop bluntly added: ‘he is accused of great wickedness’.

What is deeply unsatisfactory is that no explanation is given and no evidence for these conclusions. If the Carlile report revealed how biased and unjust were the conclusions of the Core Group, how can the Archbishop, the Bishop of Chichester and Bishop of Bath and Wells continue to unblushingly assert that George Bell’s reputation remains under a cloud?

Now, it gives me no pleasure to note that the Archbishop of Canterbury has received harsh criticism from a number of leading historians and theologians and, sadly, his response has been so far unsatisfactory. Those of us still committed to the national Church remain horrified that not more has been done to explain his remark that ‘a cloud remains’. At the very least justice demands it.

Perhaps an explanation lies in a further allegation which has come out of the blue, at the beginning of this year, before the Carlile review could be properly debated in General Synod. But after the first core group debacle, can we really have confidence that the Church can investigate this competently itself?

Regarding the current investigation at least this time we know that George Bell’s niece is to be represented by one of the George Bell Group, Desmond Browne QC, and that Andrew Chandler’s expertise and knowledge of Bell is being utilised. But a gnawing and perhaps understandable suspicion remains that the hierarchy are hoping we will all forget and the ‘can’ will be kicked further down the road. It is a sorry mess: a great man’s name has been traduced, justice has been denied and the good name of George Bell rubbished.

The Archbishop has rightly made mediation and reconciliation a major plank of his ministry, and I hope he will reach out to all those who are dismayed by this treatment of Bell and consider again his judgement of Bishop George Bell.

However, one of the matters I am most dismayed by is the silence over these concerns by the House of Bishops. The Church of England has always been respected for scholarship, theological exploration and independent thought. George Bell stands out as a pre-eminent scholar-bishop of the 20th century who engaged in public debate within the church and nation – frequently disagreeing with his episcopal colleagues.
In my time as Archbishop I served with colleagues of great scholarship and distinction including John Habgood, David Hope, Tom Wright, Mark Santer, Michael Nazzir-Ali, Peter Selby, Richard Harries, David Jenkins, Hugh Montefiore, David Sheppard, Simon Barrington Ward, and John Taylor of St. Alban’s and many others. These were bishops who prized justice and spoke out when they saw injustice. Bishops were prepared to speak out even against their own hierarchy – and they did not always agree with me.
So why the silence from the House of Bishops? Each member must know that he or she is implicated indirectly in this condemnation of Bell. Only one bishop has distanced himself from the Archbishop’s conclusion, but I understand that at least six others disagree with him. Unity, and collegiality are good things but never should they replace what is right and true. ‘Collegiality’ is not to be mistaken for ‘collective cabinet responsibility’ or ‘party discipline’.

So it is right to press the Bishops to declare themselves. Do you share the opinion that a significant cloud hangs over George Bell’s name? Do you agree that he is guilty of great wickedness? Please tell us what you think. At the February Group of General Synod Martin Sewell was told that ‘the House of Bishops is accountable for safeguarding in the Church of England’. If that is the case, why the silence? Is it an honorable thing to be silent on a matter so crucial as this? If the bishops are at one with the Archbishop of Canterbury’s declaration that a ‘cloud hangs’ over George Bell’s reputation and that ‘he is accused of great wickedness’, let them says so in a collective declaration of support for the Archbishop’s view.

It is because we all make mistakes that we need a church that preaches grace, forgiveness, repentance and new life. I see very little of grace in the way that the Church of England has handled allegations against George Bell. Indeed, it is shaming because it is unjust. We know we can do better. That is why this conference talks about rebuilding bridges, and that is why many of us will continue to fight for justice for George Bell.

However, I want to end on a positive note. Rebuilding Bridges is central to the Christian faith and that is what we all want to do. Let me offer three points:
I believe the George Bell case and also the Peter Ball investigation makes the argument for outsourcing investigations in the case of accusations of sexual misconduct. It is not because Archbishops and bishops can’t be trusted to have an important role in safeguarding, rather it is because we are too close to the clergy concerned and very likely to defend instinctively the institution, rather than actively promote an unbiased and independent approach.

Secondly, George Bell was a man of the Church, passionate about its witness and unity. Here we are today with declining numbers of worshippers, with no clear evangelistic programme, and no apparent plan to reach the young. The gap between Church and society is widening all the time. Yes, I know that great work is going on and not all churches are declining. It grieves us all that this major squabble is taking up so much time and energy when our gaze should be directed away from ourselves. The supporters of Bishop George Bell desire wholeheartedly to speak with one voice with the Archbishop and the House of Bishops. Reconciliation would certainly send out a great signal of overcoming a major barrier to our unity, which of course is part of our mission.

A third positive sign is an attractive idea that Dr. Ruth Hildebrandt Grayson is going to offer later and I do not want to steal her thunder in any respect. As I understand it, she is going to suggest a way of continuing Bishop George Bell’s work in the diocese.

Let me close my remarks with George Bell’s own words: words we should all heed, and which should guide our attempts to clear his name: ‘To despair of being able to do anything, or refuse to do anything, is to be guilty of infidelity’.

George Carey

https://findfullebook.com/download/the-truth-will-set-you-free/

‘SAY A LITTLE PRAYER’ SUNDAY – OCTOBER 3 2021 – “GEORGE BELL, BISHOP OF CHICHESTER, ECUMENIST, PEACEMAKER, 1958” – DAY OF COMMEMORATION – THE CHURCH YEAR CALENDAR [3/10/2021]

THE CHURCH YEAR CALENDAR

Sunday, October 3    George Bell, Bishop of Chichester, Ecumenist, Peacemaker, 1958

‘SAY A LITTLE PRAYER’ SUNDAY – OCTOBER 3 2021

Bishop George Bell [February 4 1883 – October 3 1958]

 

LETTER SUBMISSION TO THE CHURCH TIMES – OCTOBER 1 2021

Dear Editor

One core reason for the resignation of a highly respected peer from the Ecclesiastical Committee has been the injustice meted out to the Bishop of Chichester George Bell [Lord Lexden in the House of Lords, Sept 16].
“Passion and anger” and “total despair” at the Church’s unfair and unjust system are not just felt by this Conservative peer – he is not alone.
It would appear Divine intervention is the only means by which the injustice inflicted against the wartime bishop can be made just.
To that end, prayers will be offered up this Sunday [Oct 3] – a Day of Commemoration in the Church of England Year Calendar:
‘George Bell, Bishop of Chichester, Ecumenist, Peacemaker, 1958’.


Yours sincerely

Richard W. Symonds

The Bell Society

“To despair of being able to do anything, or refuse to do anything, is to be guilty of infidelity”

Bishop George Bell [quoted by the former Archbishop of Canterbury George Carey at the end of his address in the 2018 Rebuilding Bridges Conference in Westminster]

Yes! Indeed special remembrance next Sunday of our great Bishop who within the communion of saints prays with us and for us. A holy and courageous priest, and we look forward to the erection of the statue on the west wall of Canterbury Cathedral. I wish we could be told a bit more about it, apart from the usual ‘ it will now be delayed probably for five years because of other works’. But on his special day in the Church’s Calendar, let us focus on the glorious life George Bell lives in the Kingdom of Heaven, and give thanks for the great work GOD did in and through him while he was among us.

+ Nicholas Reade

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SEPTEMBER 17 2021 – “MY FAITH IN THE CHURCH’S INSTITUTIONAL INTEGRITY HAS BEEN COMPLETELY BROKEN” – LORD LEXDEN IN THE HOUSE OF LORDS

Alan Griffin case mentioned in House of Lords debate – ‘Thinking Anglicans’

on Friday, 17 September 2021 at 12.09 pm by Simon Sarmiento
categorised as Church of EnglandGeneral SynodSafeguarding

The speeches concerning the Safeguarding (Code of Practice) Measure  from the Bishop of Blackburn, Lord Cormack, and Lord Lexden are * all worth reading. However, I draw you attention to this exchange between Lord Lexden and the Bishop:

Lord Lexden Deputy Chairman of Committees, Deputy Speaker (Lords)

My Lords, my noble friend Lord Cormack referred at the start of his powerful remarks to the passion and anger that he felt because of some recent events. I feel very deep passion and anger, as I shall explain.

I have had the honour of serving on the Ecclesiastical Committee for a few years, but I am afraid I cannot continue my membership of it. I can no longer support the Clergy Discipline Measure, in view of the harm it is capable of inflicting on innocent clergy caught up in sex abuse allegations. Doubts about the Church’s capacity to devise a fair and just system for dealing with accusations of sex abuse laid against its clergy have long been simmering in my mind, not least because of the terrible way in which the reputation of the great George Bell, to whom my noble friend referred, was damaged–and damaged so unfairly. But worry and concern have now given place to total despair; my faith in the Church’s institutional integrity has been completely broken.

Long ago I was briefly close, perhaps for no longer than a single summer, to a witty and clever Cambridge contemporary. He was a classicist who became a lecturer at Exeter University and later took holy orders. His name was Alan Griffin. In November last year, the Reverend Dr Alan Griffin committed suicide. After the end of the inquest into his death in early July this year, the coroner wrote a detailed report on the way that the Church had investigated his suspected sexual misconduct. She revealed that when he died, the Church’s investigation had been going on for over a year. The coroner stated that

“he could not cope with an investigation into his conduct, the detail of and the source for which he had never been told”–

I repeat, the detail and source for which he had never been told.

Worse, when the coroner probed the evidence against him, she found it was non-existent. There was, she said,

“no complainant, no witness and no accuser”.

The Church had acted on the basis of mere gossip and innuendo. Could there be a clearer example of the denial of natural justice?

And how did the Church carry out its investigation during the year in which Alan Griffin was kept in ignorance of the so-called accusations against him? The coroner states:

“nobody took responsibility for steering the direction of the process from start to finish and for making coherent, reasoned, evidence based decisions”.

And so the scene was set for a terrible tragedy.

The last element of the Church’s behaviour in this case which I want the House to note is very serious indeed. The coroner records that submissions

“on behalf of the Church of England … urged me not to include any concerns that may be taken as a criticism of clerics or staff for not filtering or verifying allegations.”

This is not from some shady organisation or business with suspect moral standards, but from our country’s established Church. These are the circumstances that led to the death of a friend of mine from long ago, and that is why my faith in the Church’s institutional integrity has been broken.

Lord Lexden Deputy Chairman of Committees, Deputy Speaker (Lords)

Could the right reverend Prelate comment on the quotation from the coroner’s report that I read out at the end? The Church of England seeking to interfere with the content of a coroner’s report in order to diminish the extent of the criticism it would sustain: is that not utterly reprehensible?

The Bishop of Blackburn Bishop

It is reprehensible and unacceptable. One of the big issues has been the whole matter of cover-up and trying to silence voices. That is a very clear example and should never, ever be repeated. I will report that back to the national safeguarding team and others. We are in the business not of covering up but of being transparent and open, so that these things can be brought to light and people can learn from them. It is reprehensible and completely unacceptable.

COMMENTS – ‘THINKING ANGLICANS’

The presumption of innocence is a fundamental principle of English law over many centuries, but in recent years it has been honoured in the breach by those we normally expect to set an example”

Dr Gerald Morgan OM FTCD

THINKING ANGLICANS – COMMENTS

“The whole thing just smacks of an attempt to silence people within a system which everyone admits is broken”

Rev. Andrew Foreshew-Cain Reply

“The “system” may well be broken, but it has been operating within the Church for many centuries. An amended Code of Practice will change nothing until the centuries-old operating system is amended. That requires identifying those who run the system. Good luck with that”

Richard W. Symonds

The Lord Bishop of Blackburn:

Moved by The Lord Bishop of Blackburn

That this House do direct that, in accordance with the Church of England Assembly (Powers) Act 1919, the Safeguarding (Code of Practice) Measure be presented to Her Majesty for the Royal Assent.

The Bishop of Blackburn Bishop

My Lords, it has been a long day and we are on the cusp of a party conference recess. I do not want to detain your Lordships more than is necessary. I am somewhat anxious, and feel, to use the words of a noble Lord a moment ago, a scintilla of fear, standing here for the first time and hearing much of the previous debate about the importance of good leadership and of doing everything well. Perhaps I am a candidate for all that further training that was talked about. It is a great privilege to be allowed to spend this week as duty Bishop in this House and to lead Prayers each day.

I am grateful for your Lordships’ presence this evening, not least because the Measure before us is significant in its application and is about safeguarding. As noble Lords will know, the Church of England has been on a long journey of putting in place appropriate staff, policies and practices to make the Church a safe place for all people, especially children and vulnerable adults. That has been essential as a response to church often being unsafe and to stories—historic and current—of appalling cases of abuse by those in positions of power who should have known better and whom many were willing to trust.

This Measure updates the legislation concerned with the safeguarding of children and vulnerable adults by the Church of England. In particular, it responds to a recommendation made by the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse, known as IICSA. In 2019, the independent inquiry issued a report on case studies it had carried out into abuse committed by Peter Ball, a former Bishop of Gloucester, and on past abuse in the diocese of Chichester. The report recognised that steps had been taken by the Church to tackle abuse, including the passing of the Safeguarding and Clergy Discipline Measure 2016. But the independent inquiry considered that the way the 2016 Measure imposed obligations on individuals and Church organisations to follow correct safeguarding practice was less clear than it should be. This recommendation focused on the requirement in the 2016 Measure that a relevant person must have “due regard” to safeguarding guidance issued by the House of Bishops. The independent inquiry considered that the effect of a statutory requirement to have “due regard” to guidance was not well understood and should be replaced with a requirement that was more explicit in its terms.

The Archbishops’ Council accepted the recommendations contained in the report of the independent inquiry and has been taking steps to implement them. This Measure, passed by the General Synod in April this year, will implement the recommendation I have just described. It replaces the existing duty to have “due regard” to safeguarding guidance with the duty to “comply with” requirements imposed by a safeguarding code of practice. The concept of complying with a requirement should be more straightforward than having “due regard” to guidance.

The code of practice itself, and any subsequent amendments to it, will be subject to prior consultation, including with those who have suffered abuse, as well as with representative bodies of the clergy and the laity. The code will also be subject to scrutiny by the General Synod. The code of practice, and any amendment to it, will be sent to every member of the General Synod and published online. If 25 or more members of the synod give notice, a code will not come into force until the synod has debated and approved it.

The opportunity has also been taken in this Measure to update the list of “relevant persons”—that is, those individuals and bodies to whom the code of practice will be directed and who will be under a duty to comply with its requirements. Under the 2016 Measure, the list of relevant persons already includes clergy, licensed laypersons, church wardens and parochial church councils. Cathedral chapters will be added by the Cathedrals Measure 2021. This Measure will add diocesan boards of finance and diocesan boards of education to the list. It will also add staff working in the Church of England’s national safeguarding team, meaning that they too will be obliged to comply with relevant requirements contained in the code of practice.

During the passage of the Measure through the General Synod, the issue was raised as to how compliance with the requirements of the code of practice would be enforced, should that become necessary. So far as the clergy are concerned, non-compliance would potentially be a disciplinary matter, as it would be for licensed lay ministers. Bodies such as parochial church councils and diocesan boards are charities, and the Charity Commission takes the safeguarding responsibility of charity trustees very seriously and has statutory powers to intervene where they are not being properly carried out. Cathedrals are subject to visitation by the bishop and will shortly become subject to the jurisdiction of the Charity Commission.

The sole lacuna in terms of enforcing compliance was found to be the case of churchwardens. As matters stand, there is no power to take disciplinary or other action against a churchwarden who refuses to comply with correct safeguarding practice. The Measure therefore includes a power for the bishop to suspend a churchwarden where he or she has failed to comply with the requirement of the safeguarding code of practice. This is a discretionary power and builds on powers that bishops already have to suspend churchwardens who present a direct safeguarding risk. As with the exercise of those existing powers, a churchwarden who is suspended for non-compliance with the safeguarding code of practice will have a right of appeal to an independent judge.

I must conclude by acknowledging the serious past failings of the Church of England in protecting children and vulnerable adults from abuse—a failure which the most reverend Primate Archbishop of Canterbury has acknowledged on many occasions. As he said in his evidence to the independent inquiry in 2019:

“Overall, I remain utterly horrified by what we have done in the past, our failures, and no doubt there will be failures going on … We have made some small progress. We have a long way to go.”

I hope and pray that this Measure will be another step in making the Church of England a safer place for children and vulnerable adults. I beg to move.

Lord Cormack Conservative  7:00 pm, 16th September 2021

My Lords, I rise as one who has been a churchwarden—although no longer—for a total of 36 years in three different churches, who has served on the General Synod of the Church of England for 10 years between 1995 and 2005, and who is still actively involved in church affairs. I have also served on the Ecclesiastical Committee, whose report is what we are officially discussing tonight to approve it, for nearly 50 years. I therefore have a fairly long background.

I am so delighted to see my noble friend Lord Lexden here—I think we are the only two members of the committee here. I know that our chairman, the noble and learned Baroness, Lady Butler-Sloss, was very sorry not to be able to come, and I know that the noble Baroness, Lady Harris of Richmond, was also particularly sorry not to be able to come. I support the Measure, but I agreed with my colleagues on the committee that between us, we need to make some rather important points.

I support this Measure as being expedient but I hope it will also be effective and will not create some of the tragedies and difficulties that the ham-fisted handling of safeguarding has resulted in in recent years. I speak with some passion and some anger. The right reverend Prelate the Bishop of Lincoln, a Member of your Lordships’ House, was suspended—the first time a bishop had been suspended in centuries; I believe the previous one was suspended for shooting his gamekeeper—for 20 months and was then allowed back with a mild rap on the knuckles. He had done nothing serious—he himself had done nothing of a criminal nature—but he was held not to have handled a case drawn to his attention with sufficient expedition. It was a difficult case; I do not know all the details, and it would be wrong to give just a few. However, this man, who served the Church for many years and who was installed as bishop in November 2011, the day before Remembrance Day, having had almost two years of his episcopate suspended, is now somewhat broken, and has announced that he is retiring at the end of this year. I am pleased to say that he has been able to take Prayers in your Lordships’ House on a couple of occasions; I hope that he will be able to do so again. This was a disproportionate handling.

It would not be so bad if this were an isolated case. But staying in Lincoln, the chancellor was suspended because he was facing a criminal charge; that is fair enough. He was acquitted unanimously by the jury and was then exonerated by the Church authorities, but it took 789 days. Again, it was said that some further accusations were trivial and unsubstantiated. We must be careful when dealing with public men and women who have contact with their parishioners, or with a wider congregation if they are in cathedrals and so on. We must have regard for them as people.

For instance, it was said in Committee—my noble friend Lord Lexden was there—regarding the right reverend Prelate the Bishop of Lincoln, that part of the delay was due to the fact that the police were investigating and had to report to the Church authorities. He suggested that the police had held this up for well over a year when they had not done so at all. Within a few months of the action taken in May 2019, the police said that they had no further interest in the case, and yet the Church dragged its feet.

Of course, there are many examples of clergymen—it is not an exalted rank—who have had their lives completely wrecked by malice. There is recent example in the London diocese of a clergyman who committed suicide.

I am not for a moment suggesting that safeguarding is unimportant. As a Christian and an Anglican, I am deeply ashamed of some of the things that have happened historically. But I am also deeply ashamed of the way in which certain things have been handled, as I have indicated.

Let me make a historical reference. One of the saintliest bishops of the 20th century was, without doubt, Bishop Bell of Chichester, formerly the Dean of Canterbury. He was a man of great spirituality and is regarded as so important that he has a day devoted to him in the Church calendar. He stood up and spoke out against mass bombing. He did not always endear himself to our great Prime Minister of the day, Winston Churchill, or to others—although Churchill did say some very kind things about him, and meant them. This man, dead in 1958, was, a matter of just three of four years ago, suddenly traduced on the evidence of a woman in her late 70s, who alleged that she had been interfered with by the bishop as a girl of five. There was no corroborative evidence. An investigation was conducted with great forensic skill by the noble Lord, Lord Carlile of Berriew, who delivered what can only be called a damning report on the way in which the Church of England had handled this.

I welcome the Measure before us tonight—not that the bit of paper that colleagues have been able to pick up tells them very much about it, and so I am grateful to the right reverend Prelate for his concise but good explanation. I wish our colleagues had had a better piece of paper; they might then have been more tempted to come and take part in this debate. It is also a pity that this is a debate without a list of speakers, as I think we would have attracted more with one.

However, it would be wrong to let this debate take place without seeking to stress that this safeguarding business has not been handled well. It is important because any man or woman is innocent until proven guilty. It is important that if there are further cases they are handled with greater dispatch and compassion, and if the man or woman is guilty then of course they must be appropriately dealt with. If that means they must be unfrocked, as the term is when a priest loses holy orders, fine, but we have not got the balance right up to now.

I pray devoutly that this Measure will enable us to get the balance right but it is crucial for the reputation of the Church of England, which is going through a rough patch at the moment. I have not lost my faith, but I have come close to losing my faith in the Church of England from the experiences I have witnessed in the last few years. We have got to get the balance right. This Measure must work in a way that is fair to the accused as well, of course, as rooting out those who do evil. What we are talking about is that there are some people who do evil, but the vast majority of clergy men and women in the Church of England are honourable to their vocation. They deserve to be treated fairly and properly, as the right reverend Prelate the Bishop of Lincoln recently has not been.

Lord Lexden Deputy Chairman of Committees, Deputy Speaker (Lords)

My Lords, my noble friend Lord Cormack referred at the start of his powerful remarks to the passion and anger that he felt because of some recent events. I feel very deep passion and anger, as I shall explain.

I have had the honour of serving on the Ecclesiastical Committee for a few years, but I am afraid I cannot continue my membership of it. I can no longer support the Clergy Discipline Measure, in view of the harm it is capable of inflicting on innocent clergy caught up in sex abuse allegations. Doubts about the Church’s capacity to devise a fair and just system for dealing with accusations of sex abuse laid against its clergy have long been simmering in my mind, not least because of the terrible way in which the reputation of the great George Bell, to whom my noble friend referred, was damaged—and damaged so unfairly. But worry and concern have now given place to total despair; my faith in the Church’s institutional integrity has been completely broken.

Long ago I was briefly close, perhaps for no longer than a single summer, to a witty and clever Cambridge contemporary. He was a classicist who became a lecturer at Exeter University and later took holy orders. His name was Alan Griffin. In November last year, the Reverend Dr Alan Griffin committed suicide. After the end of the inquest into his death in early July this year, the coroner wrote a detailed report on the way that the Church had investigated his suspected sexual misconduct. She revealed that when he died, the Church’s investigation had been going on for over a year. The coroner stated that

“he could not cope with an investigation into his conduct, the detail of and the source for which he had never been told”—

I repeat, the detail and source for which he had never been told.

Worse, when the coroner probed the evidence against him, she found it was non-existent. There was, she said,

“no complainant, no witness and no accuser”.

The Church had acted on the basis of mere gossip and innuendo. Could there be a clearer example of the denial of natural justice?

And how did the Church carry out its investigation during the year in which Alan Griffin was kept in ignorance of the so-called accusations against him? The coroner states:

“nobody took responsibility for steering the direction of the process from start to finish and for making coherent, reasoned, evidence based decisions”.

And so the scene was set for a terrible tragedy.

The last element of the Church’s behaviour in this case which I want the House to note is very serious indeed. The coroner records that submissions

“on behalf of the Church of England … urged me not to include any concerns that may be taken as a criticism of clerics or staff for not filtering or verifying allegations.”

This is not from some shady organisation or business with suspect moral standards, but from our country’s established Church. These are the circumstances that led to the death of a friend of mine from long ago, and that is why my faith in the Church’s institutional integrity has been broken.

The Bishop of Blackburn Bishop  7:15 pm, 16th September 2021

My Lords, I am grateful to the two noble Lords for their contributions in this debate and for speaking from their experience and their expertise and involvement not only in this House but in the Ecclesiastical Committee, and bringing that experience to this matter.

I would be the first to put my hand up and say that we have not been getting things right, and the national safeguarding team is seeking to improve its way of working. There are a number of cases that have been referred to which are inexcusable, and the Archbishop of Canterbury, in particular, has expressed his deep regret over the 20-month suspension of the Bishop of Lincoln and has expressed that that should be something that is never, ever repeated. I am not aware of all the details of the other incidences that have been referred to, whether it is Bishop Bell or the Reverend Dr Alan Griffin, but there are obviously important lessons to be learned through those experiences and those stories that the Church of England needs to take on board and listen to very carefully.

There is a real sense in which it is important that there is a balance between the concern for safeguarding of children and vulnerable adults within the life of our Church, where terrible abuse has occurred, and for that to be dealt with firmly and rightly, but also a right case for compassion for those who are being accused of something and for that to be looked at both quickly, so that it does not drag on endlessly, and to be looked at quickly enough so that the evidence can be brought to light to see whether there is a case to answer or not. I am horrified to hear the stats just referred to about the Reverend Dr Alan Griffin, that he was never told what the accusation was and that, when it was looked at, it was found to be non-existent and it was all gossip and innuendo. That is not acceptable as a way for a Church to behave in trying to deal with safeguarding matters.

There is a real difference that needs to be drawn between the call to comply with guidance on safeguarding and dealing with those people differently from those who are subject to an allegation of some sexual abuse. There are cases where, sometimes, a person who has just not complied with a particular line of guidance has been treated as though they themselves are a safeguarding risk. That is an unacceptable comparison and there needs to be a distinction drawn between the two. My hope is that this Measure that talks about having to “comply with”, rather than having “due regard” for, will help sort some of that issue out in the days that lie ahead.

I am sorry to hear the stories that have been relayed. I hope that expressing them here in your Lordships’ House is helpful so that they are on the record and we know they have been told and heard by someone in the House of Bishops. I will do my part to relay something of this back to those who seek to carry out that safeguarding function for the Church of England and the national safeguarding team. I will undertake to report something of what I have heard today to them.

I will finish by saying that I and my colleagues commit to seeking to make the Church of England a place where it is safe for children, vulnerable adults and all people to be part of a church gathering and a church family, and for the Church not just to exercise good practice in those areas but to be a model to others of how to do this, because sometimes people have looked to the Church and said, “If the Church doesn’t do it, why should anybody else?” The Church has a call to model something to others in a way it has not done up to this moment. There is a challenge.

Although I am glad for the support for this change in the Measure to ensure good and better practice in the days that lie ahead, it is not the whole answer. We shall have much more to do. I will play my part in doing what I can to relay this back to others and encourage the House of Bishops to do the same.

Lord Lexden Deputy Chairman of Committees, Deputy Speaker (Lords)

Could the right reverend Prelate comment on the quotation from the coroner’s report that I read out at the end? The Church of England seeking to interfere with the content of a coroner’s report in order to diminish the extent of the criticism it would sustain: is that not utterly reprehensible?

The Bishop of Blackburn Bishop

It is reprehensible and unacceptable. One of the big issues has been the whole matter of cover-up and trying to silence voices. That is a very clear example and should never, ever be repeated. I will report that back to the national safeguarding team and others. We are in the business not of covering up but of being transparent and open, so that these things can be brought to light and people can learn from them. It is reprehensible and completely unacceptable.

CHURCH TIMES – CHURCH AND PARLIAMENT – SEPT 20 2021

IT IS not well known enough that the General Synod is a delegated body of Parliament. In respect of the law, it has similar powers to a government department, and, when it wants to change the law, it lays those changes, normally through statutory instruments, before the Commons, via the Ecclesiastical Committee. They will become law unless Parliament “prays” against them.

THINKING ANGLICANS – COMMENTS

“….crushed by the weight of institutional cruelty and corruption”

This would suggest the ‘system’ [however that might be defined] is cruel and corrupt – and those who implement it are themselves made cruel and corrupted by it.

The nightmare is that it is now, already, a self-regulating ‘cloven hoof’ system – it runs itself – and no human agency can stop the cruelty and corruption.

Therefore, this would necessitate an intervention of Divine agency.

Tennyson said: “More things are wrought by prayer than this world dreams of”.

So that is what we must do – pray – without ceasing.

MY FAITH IN THE CHURCH’S INTEGRITY IS BROKEN, SAYS PEER – CHURCH TIMES – SEPTEMBER 24 2021

My faith in the Church’s integrity is broken, says peer

 byMADELEINE DAVIES 24 SEPTEMBER 2021

Safeguarding errors prompt Lord Lexden to quit committee

LORD LEXDEN

CONSERVATIVE peer has resigned from the Ecclesiastical Committee of Parliament over the Church’s handling of safeguarding, telling the House of Lords: “My faith in the Church’s institutional integrity has been completely broken.”

Lord Lexden, a historian who has held senior posts in the Conservative Party’s central organisation, made the announcement on Thursday of last week, after the Bishop of Blackburn, the Rt Revd Julian Blackburn, asked that the Safeguarding (Code of Practice) Measure be presented to the Queen for Royal Assent.

“I can no longer support the Clergy Discipline Measure, in view of the harm it is capable of inflicting on innocent clergy caught up in sex-abuse allegations,” Lord Lexden said. “Doubts about the Church’s capacity to devise a fair and just system for dealing with accusations of sex abuse laid against its clergy have long been simmering in my mind, not least because of the terrible way in which the reputation of the great George Bell . . . was damaged — and damaged so unfairly.

“But worry and concern have now given place to total despair; my faith in the Church’s institutional integrity has been completely broken.”

He went on to describe the “terrible tragedy” of Fr Alan Griffin, a “witty and clever Cambridge contemporary”. Fr Griffin took his own life after unfounded allegations of child sex abuse, prompting a coroner to warn that more clergy deaths would follow unless action was taken to improve C of E safeguarding procedures (News, 23 July).

During his speech, Lord Lexden quoted from the coroner’s report. “The Church had acted on the basis of mere gossip and innuendo,” he told the Lords. “Could there be a clearer example of the denial of natural justice?”

The House also heard from Lord Cormack, who has served as a churchwarden and a General Synod member. He supported the Measure, but hoped that it would not “create some of the tragedies and difficulties that the ham-fisted handling of safeguarding has resulted in in recent years. I speak with some passion and some anger. . .

“As a Christian and an Anglican, I am deeply ashamed of some of the things that have happened historically. But I am also deeply ashamed of the way in which certain things have been handled, as I have indicated.”

ROGER HARRIS Lord Cormack

He spoke of the suspension of the Bishop of Lincoln, the Rt Revd Christopher Lowson, during a 20-month safeguarding investigation (News, 5 February), a “disproportionate handling” that had left the Bishop “somewhat broken”, and of the cathedral Chancellor, Canon Paul Overend, whose suspension had lasted 789 days (News, 18 June). He also mentioned the case of Bishop George Bell (News, 24 January 2019).

He concluded: “I pray devoutly that this Measure will enable us to get the balance right, but it is crucial for the reputation of the Church of England, which is going through a rough patch at the moment. I have not lost my faith, but I have come close to losing my faith in the Church of England from the experiences I have witnessed in the last few years.”

The Measure, which received final approval in the General Synod in April (News, 30 April) and responds to a recommendation by the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse (IICSA), requires the House of Bishops to issue “a code of practice for relevant persons on safeguarding children and vulnerable adults”.

It replaces the existing duty to have “due regard” to safeguarding guidance with the duty to “comply with” requirements imposed by the code. Relevant persons include anyone whose work “to any extent relates to safeguarding children and vulnerable adults”. The Measure includes a power for the bishop to suspend a churchwarden who fails to comply.

In his response to the two speeches, Bishop Henderson said: “I would be the first to put my hand up and say that we have not been getting things right, and the national safeguarding team is seeking to improve its way of working. There are a number of cases that have been referred to which are inexcusable, and the Archbishop of Canterbury, in particular, has expressed his deep regret over the 20-month suspension of the Bishop of Lincoln, and has expressed that that should be something that is never, ever repeated.”

He was “horrified” by Lord Lexden’s account of Fr Griffin’s treatment.

He continued: “There are cases where, sometimes, a person who has just not complied with a particular line of guidance has been treated as though they themselves are a safeguarding risk. That is an unacceptable comparison, and there needs to be a distinction drawn between the two.”

Lord Lexden pressed Bishop Henderson for a response to the revelation by the coroner in Fr Griffin’s case that she had been urged not to include in her report “any concerns that may be taken as a criticism of clerics or staff for not filtering or verifying allegations”.

Bishop Henderson agreed that this was “reprehensible and unacceptable. One of the big issues has been the whole matter of cover-up and trying to silence voices. That is a very clear example and should never, ever be repeated.”

Last month, Lambeth Palace and the diocese of London admitted to a catalogue of errors that led to Fr Griffin’s death (News, 27 August).

The investigation into Fr Griffin began when the head of operations of the diocese of London, Martin Sargeant, retired in 2019. Mr Sargeant had met the Archdeacon of London, the Ven. Luke Miller, in February, to undertake what the coroner’s report refers to as a “‘brain dump” of information that he had acquired over the preceding 20 years.

The information became the Two Cities Audit report 2019. In total, 42 members of the clergy in London diocese are named in the report, and references range from “descriptions of past convictions that had been dealt with and recorded, through current safeguarding concerns that might or might not have been acted upon, to what witnesses described as gossip . . . The origin of the information in the entries was in places obvious and factual, but in places entirely nebulous.”

The Bishop of London, the Rt Revd Sarah Mullally, has since written to the other 41 members of the clergy listed in the document. She states that there are “no matters that required a complaint under the CDM”, nor any “outstanding action . . . Nevertheless, we have committed to contacting individually any member of the clergy affected to provide further reassurance.”

She has offered to send anyone named a copy of the information that pertains to them, with references to third parties redacted. Clergy may also request face-to-face meetings with the Bishop’s adviser, the Ven. Rosemary Lain-Priestly, and the Area Bishop of Willesden, the Rt Revd Pete Broadbent. Pastoral support has been offered.

“I realise it will be disturbing to learn that your name appears in the document,” Bishop Mullally writes. “You are in my prayers as are all of those who knew and loved Fr Alan.”

Earlier this year, the Vicar of St John’s, Kensal Green, the Revd David Ackerman, resigned as a London diocesan clergy safeguarding support (Letters, 25 June). This week, he also resigned from an elected place representing clergy on the Two Cities Area Council

Last month, he wrote a letter to the Archbishop Cranmer blog, in which he spoke of a “crisis of trust within the diocese of London”.

He also gave an account of a Past Cases Review conducted in the diocese in which “clergy were asked to survey parish files to discover if there were any references to safeguarding issues that remained undiscovered and then sign a form stating whether in our opinion someone might pose a risk in the future. . . Although I found no such files I refused to sign a form saying that I should judge whether someone was a threat. . .

“My own view is that I take safeguarding so seriously that I no longer have confidence in the diocese or the Church of England having its own safeguarding departments or professionals.”

I have had the honour of serving on the Ecclesiastical Committee for a few years, but I am afraid I cannot continue my membership of it. I can no longer support the Clergy Discipline Measure, in view of the harm it is capable of inflicting on innocent clergy caught up in sex abuse allegations. Doubts about the Church’s capacity to devise a fair and just system for dealing with accusations of sex abuse laid against its clergy have long been simmering in my mind, not least because of the terrible way in which the reputation of the great George Bell, to whom my noble friend referred, was damaged—and damaged so unfairly. But worry and concern have now given place to total despair; my faith in the Church’s institutional integrity has been completely broken.

One core reason for the resignation of a highly respected peer from the Ecclesiastical Committee has been the injustice meted out to the Bishop of Chichester George Bell [Lord Lexden in the House of Lords, Sept 16].
“Passion and anger” and “total despair” at the Church’s unfair and unjust system are not just felt by this Conservative peer – he is not alone.
It would appear Divine intervention is the only means by which the injustice inflicted against the wartime bishop can be made just.
To that end, prayers will be offered up this Sunday [Oct 3] – a Day of Commemoration in the Church of England Year Calendar:
‘George Bell, Bishop of Chichester, Ecumenist, Peacemaker, 1958’.


Richard W. Symonds

The Bell Society

The Bell Society wants to clear the name of its beloved Bishop of Chichester, George Bell, Ecumenist and Peacemaker. Bell was charged with sexually abusing a young girl when he was bishop…. The society claims the charges are false and wants them overturned. Archbishop Welby is in no mood to do that.

The society recently got support from Lord Lexden who quit the Ecclesiastical Committee over safeguarding errors. One of the reasons was the injustice meted out to the Bishop of Chichester.

“Passion and anger” and “total despair” at the Church’s unfair and unjust system are not just felt by this Conservative peer – he is not alone, said Society leaders.

It would appear Divine intervention is the only means by which the injustice inflicted against the wartime bishop can be made just, they said.

David Virtue DD

VIRTUE ONLINE

Dear Richard,

My own experience has taught me that innocence, a rare thing in this world, is to be treasured and in the long run achieves things that could not have been achieved in any other way.
A new generation has learnt of the greatness of Bishop George Bell in World War II in supporting German Christians such as Dietrich Bonhoeffer in opposition to the horrors of Nazi Germany. The name of Bishop George Bell will stand proud in our history alongside that of Dietrich Bonhoeffer who was hanged at Flossenburg, Bavaria, on 9 April 1945. 
In the final analysis the moral courage of Bishop George Bell will merit even more than a bombing campaign that has proved morally and spiritually indefensible to many, not least in the destruction of Dresden on 13-15 February 1945..
Perhaps even now Bishop George Bell will inspire us in our opposition in the world of 2021 to the bombing of innocent civilians by great powers. America’s last act in Afghanistan was a drone strike that killed ten innocent people, mostly children, in Kabul. An apology is hardly sufficient for this and other such horrors.
Innocents are holy, and we have long celebrated the innocence of children on Holy Innocents’ Day on 28 December each year.
The attempt to destroy the reputation of Bishop Bell on insufficient evidence is indeed a shameful act. But as Christians we continue to believe that shameful acts can often inspire those of good will.
Let us hope it is so in the case of Bishop George Bell. Indeed a Christian humility on the part of the Archbishop of Canterbury will suffice to right this wrong. I am sure that he himself will have delivered sermons on the virtue of humility.
But it is one thing to speak of humility. Quite another to demonstrate it by one’s own actions.


Kind regards,


Dr Gerald Morgan OM FTCD (Leader: English Parliamentary Party, founded Lydbrook, Gloucestershire, 2001)

Lydbrook School (1946-1953), Monmouth School (1953-1961), Meyricke Exhibitioner, Jesus College, Oxford (1961-1964), D.Phil. (Oxon.), 1973 Director: The Chaucer Hub. FTCD (1993)

Dear Richard,

Thank you for your vigorous defence of the beloved Bishop. He is vindicated and Welby disgraced.

Best

George

Tel.: 086 456 56 60

“The presumption of innocence is a fundamental principle of English law over many centuries, but in recent years it has been honoured in the breach by those we normally expect to set an example.
If Keir Starmer wishes to be a knight then he must behave as a knight. Let him read Chaucer’s famous portrait of the Knight in the General Prologue and reflect upon it.
The present Archbishop of Canterbury has fallen short of his high estate in calling into question the reputation of the illustrious Bishop of Chichester, George Bell

Dr Gerald Morgan OM FTCD

“The whole thing just smacks of an attempt to silence people within a system which everyone admits is broken”

Rev. Andrew Foreshew-Cain Reply

“The “system” may well be broken, but it has been operating within the Church for many centuries. An amended Code of Practice will change nothing until the centuries-old operating system is amended. That requires identifying those who run the system. Good luck with that”

Richard W. Symonds

PROFESSOR ANTHONY MADEN AND THE BISHOP BELL CASE

Professor Anthony Maden

PHOTOGRAPHY: BLAKEEZRACOLE.COM

THE CARLILE REVIEW – DECEMBER 2017

  1. On the 9 March 2015 Graham Tilby as Core Group Chairman sent an email to
    some, but surprisingly not all members, outlining the proposed decision-making
    process regarding public disclosure. His emphasis was on:
    (i) The view of Carol and the potential psychological impact of disclosure by
    public announcement upon her.
    (ii) What evidence was there that there may be other complainants?
    (iii) Do other public agencies regard such announcements as being in the
    public interest?
    (iv) What is Church policy on public announcements?
    (v) What is the potential impact on the family/reputation of the deceased
    (given that he cannot offer his own defence)?
  2. The third meeting of the Core Group was on the 10 March 2015. Gemma
    Wordsworth was present on this occasion, in her role as Independent Domestic
    and Sexual Violence Adviser seconded to the Diocese. Also additional
    compared with the previous meeting was Gabrielle Higgins, who had
    succeeded Angela Sibson as Diocesan Secretary. In addition Graham Tilby
    attended for the first time, having succeeded Jill Sandham. Rachel Harden
    attended again, having attended the first but not the second meeting. Absent
    compared with the previous meeting were The Bishop of Horsham and Messrs
    Booth, Sandham, Sibson, Wood and Salimi.
  3. This was an unacceptable change in membership of the Group, given their
    responsibility and the requirement for consistency. Factual as well as tactical
    and procedural decisions were required of the Group, and attendance should
    have been a priority – a three-line whip. I appreciate that there were changes
    of personnel, illness, personal reasons for various non-attendances. My
    criticisms in this connection are not of individuals concerned, but of the fact of
    inconsistency in the Group. In a situation where important fact-finding
    46
    challenges are required, consistency of membership is important – even if it
    means reducing the size of the group and obtaining a broader spectrum of
    outside advisers.
  4. At this meeting a summary of the report of Professor Maden was provided to
    the members. I do not understand why it was decided not to give them the full
    report. The summary does not provide the full picture of Professor Maden’s
    comments on credibility. Some members of the Group had seen the full report:
    thus the members were not all possessed of the same information relevant to
    key decisions.
  5. The parts of Professor Maden’s report dealing generally with credibility were as
    follows:
    Summary of Opinion
    The delays in reporting in this case are exceptional. Memory is not reliable over such
    long periods of time and the only way to establish that the allegations are true would
    be through corroborating evidence.
    The Claimant had an unhappy childhood …… There are no current mental health
    problems and she has lived a normal life with no significant mental health problems
    for over 30 years.
    No mental health problems can be attributed to the material abuse and it has not
    affected the Claimant’s life.
    No treatment is indicated.
    She has never lacked the mental capacity to complain. She has never had a mental
    health problem that would have prevented her from complaining. The delay has
    caused enormous problems for the expert asked to assess the case.
    Opinion
    General Comments
    I found the Claimant to be an apparently straightforward woman of good character. I
    have no reason to believe that the material allegations are a conscious fabrication.
    However, there are enormous problems for the expert arising from the fact that the
    Claimant is now assessed 63 years after the material events. The alleged abuse was
    not reported until over 40 years after the material events.
    Memory is not reliable over such long periods of time. Recall is an active mental
    process in which memories tend to become distorted with time to fit the individual’s
    beliefs, needs and values. Both the content and the meaning of recollections change
    47
    with time. Events can and do acquire a significance years later that they did not have
    at the time.
    I can expand on these problems if it would assist the Court. The distorting and
    sometimes creative nature of recall has been recognised since the work of Bartlett in
    the 1940s. This and much of the subsequent research is summarised in works such
    as that by Sabbagh (2009), Schachter (2007) and Fernyhough (2013). It is a
    consistent finding of research in this field that these problems with recall are unrelated
    to questions of honesty, integrity, intelligence or level of education. The consequence
    is that neither the individual nor anybody else can test the reliability and accuracy of a
    recollection except by reference to other sources of information.
    The Royal College of Psychiatrists, in common with similar professional bodies in
    other countries, recognises that in some cases so-called “false memories” of abuse
    may arise. The emphasis in the College document on the subject (Brandon et al, 1997)
    is on such memories arising during therapy but the literature cited above gives no
    reason to believe the problems associated with recall of distant events are limited to
    therapeutic situations. Therapy is simply one of the many influences on the individual’s
    beliefs, needs and values that shape and determine memories.
    Taking that into account, my advice to the Court based on my interpretation of the
    research is that after so many years there is no way of determining without reference
    to corroborating information whether or not recall is accurate. I cannot say whether the
    allegations are a so-called “false memory” but equally I cannot say they are an
    accurate recollection of what happened. The onus is on the Claimant to establish that
    her recollection of what went on between about 1947 and 1952 is accurate. I do not
    know how she can do that without reference to corroborating information but it is an
    issue for the Court to decide.
    The psychiatric expert’s contribution is limited. I note that …. She had been living a
    normal life in a happy marriage since ….. During the course of her first marriage she
    was …… abused. It is very likely that those experiences affected her recall of the
    earlier, alleged events. After the 1995 complaint, she did not experience any
    deterioration in her mental health, as often happens when there is disclosure of abuse
    after many years. She carried on with her life as normal. Memories of the abuse were
    not triggered by her own experience of bringing up children, as often happens in such
    cases.
    Another problem with civil claims made so long after the material events is that they
    are an invitation to engage in a process of retrospective re- attribution. It is a natural
    tendency to look for meaning in one’s life and to impose meaning on events if
    necessary or helpful for one reason or another. One looks back at one’s life and reinterprets events, attaching to them a significance they did not have before and that
    they may not deserve. It is a particularly tempting prospect when things go wrong in
    one’s life. It can be even more tempting if the re-attribution leads to the responsibility
    for any problems being attached to others rather than to one’s own decisions. It is also
    a process in which anybody can engage.
    48
    No matter how successful a life, most people when looking back over 40, 50 or 60
    years will be able to identify things that could have been done better or could have
    turned out better. They will identify personality characteristics they would like to
    change. The distorting effects of memory reinforce this process. It can be particularly
    difficult to remember emotions or motivations after many years. None of this has much
    to do with mental health or psychiatric problems, which are the central issues for a
    psychiatrist. Psychiatrists have expertise in mental health problems but not in
    explaining why a person without a mental disorder takes one decision rather than
    another.
    In the present case, the Claimant looks back on a life that for the first 30 years or so
    was often unhappy. There is an obvious temptation to seek to (consciously or
    unconsciously) allocate the blame for that unhappiness to the actions of others in the
    distant past.
    The time spans in this case are immense when considering complex issues of
    causation. For example, by my calculations the Claimant left her [first] husband after
    .. years of marriage in about …. Erin Pizzey opened her first women’s refuge [[shortly
    afterwards] and did not publish her ground- breaking book on domestic violence
    (Scream Quietly or the Neighbours will Hear) until about 1975. There is no need to
    invoke a personality defect or any other psychological characteristic to explain why a
    woman of that era stayed so long with a violent husband – particularly when she did in
    fact leave him at a time when there was probably little or no support for her to call
    upon.
    The Claimant strikes me as a sympathetic and in many ways admirable woman. She
    does not suffer from a personality disorder. I have no doubt that she 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.
    In an attempt to assist the Court, for the purposes of diagnosis I assume the Court
    finds the Claimant was abused as she now alleges.
  6. As noted previously, the issue of credibility was not part of the instructions given
    to Dr Freedman, and accordingly was not addressed as an issue in her report.
    Paula Jefferson, plainly a key adviser to but not a member of the Group,
    informed the meeting of Professor Maden’s good reputation for balance. She
    said that there was no reason to regard Carol as making anything up, but that
    false memories can occur. This fell short of the professor’s view that he could
    not exclude the risk of false memories in this case. Colin Perkins provided his
    interpretation of the full report, which he had read – that much of the
    reservations raised by Professor Maden were about causation and quantum;
    49
    and that the unreliability of memory was not specific to Carol but is something
    that is raised in general with these types of claims. He had read a lot of accounts
    of this nature: false accounts tend to be an amalgamation of the worst
    newspaper headlines. Carol had given a consistent account, so his view was
    that it was unlikely that it was entirely false.
  7. In my view, the members of the Group who had not read the full report were left
    in no position to question what they were told.
  8. Given the comments of Professor Maden cited above, had there been full
    knowledge of them in the Group, my expectation would have been that the
    majority would have steered back towards a fuller evidential investigation of the
    claim. This is an important example of what, earlier in this review, I called
    ‘oversteer’.
  9. Arun Arora raised the issue of the standard of civil proof, the balance of
    probabilities. Mr Perkins then read from the police’s view set out in paragraph
    137 above. He said that they believed Carol, and that there was nothing to
    challenge her credibility. If the evidence is considered credible, then it is
    reported as a detected crime, as had happened in this case. However, Mr Arora
    added that there could be a number of reasons why a crime would be reported
    as detected, including police statistics, and this should be kept in mind.
  10. Gabrielle Higgins responded in relation to the balance of probabilities. She
    pointed out that there had been no other allegations: Mr Tilby responded that
    there might be only a single victim. Ms. Higgins emphasised Carol’s very young
    age at the time complained of, the possibility of false memory, and the possible
    contradiction between Carol saying to Professor Maden that Bishop Bell told
    her to tell nobody, but that she said she had told [the person she visited]. In Ms.
    Higgins’s view, false memory could be an issue; and she reported that the
    Bishop of Chichester was uncomfortable about accepting the claim. Paula
    Jefferson suggested that a Court if hearing the case would take into account
    the misgivings expressed by Ms. Higgins.
  11. John Rees asked if costs (and presumably some damages) could be paid on a
    ‘no liability’ basis.
  12. There was a discussion of a possible settlement involving a confidentiality
    clause. Paula Jefferson observed that they were difficult to enforce. In any
    event, the Archbishop’s Visitation Report to the Diocese had recommended
    strongly that confidentiality clauses should not be added to settlements.
    50
  13. There was then a vote among those present. A majority expressed the view
    that, on the balance of probabilities, indecency had taken place and this
    therefore justified considering a settlement.
  14. There followed a discussion about the issue of an apology, and that this should
    be by letter from the Bishop of Chichester, or possibly face to face. However,
    this was a matter for further consideration.
  15. Once again, this Core Group meeting progressed without adequate advocacy
    or significant consideration of the interests of Bishop Bell, or of the real
    adequacy of what was described as the investigation. Nor was detailed
    consideration given to the possibility of an attempt to deny liability, to see
    whether a claim would actually be pursued or not. Indeed, the possibility of
    fighting the claim was not considered in a structured way at any time.
  16. As indicated above, the possibility of a confidential settlement was rejected. I
    consider this further at paragraphs 51-52 above and 268 below.
  17. Not considered at any time was a litigation risk or ‘nuisance value’ settlement
    with a clear denial of liability, referred to further below. This would have involved
    paying a sum of damages and costs on the clear and explicit basis that it was
    a less costly option than fighting the case.
  18. There followed further delay. During that period, in June 2015, there was further
    publicity adverse to the Diocese, when a retired Eastbourne vicar Robert Coles
    had sixteen months’ imprisonment added to a previous eight year sentence for
    offences relating to boys.
  19. The fourth meeting of the Core Group was on the 28 July 2015. This meeting
    was attended by a diminishing number of members. Kate Singleton, a member
    of the Church safeguarding staff was added. Saira Salimi and the Bishop of
    Horsham attended. From the previous meeting, Bishop Stock, John Rees (who
    may well have been indisposed), Gemma Wordsworth (who worked mornings
    only) and Gabrielle Higgins dialled into the meeting. .
  20. On this occasion, the agenda was short. The solicitor Paula Jefferson had been
    negotiating with Tracey Emmott. The claim could be settled for damages of
    between £15-20,000. An offer had been made of £16,800. As part of the
    settlement, Claimant’s costs of around £15,000 would be payable in addition to
    the damages. There would be a written letter of apology from the Bishop of
    Chichester. There was no desire for publicity on Carol’s part personally, and
    her solicitor would have to be forewarned of any press release.
    51
  21. The meeting decided to progress with the settlement, if possible by the end of
    the following month. There should be a joint letter signed by The Archbishop of
    Canterbury and The Bishop of Chichester, and the latter should offer to meet
    Carol in September. A draft of the letter was to be circulated to the Group
    presumably for the purpose of comment, to include recognition of ‘acts of
    indecency’, acknowledging her correct recollection of abuse, and referring to
    the poor response in 1995.
  22. There was a discussion of the issue of public announcement. Several contraindications were mentioned, including that there was no other reported victim
    nor any history of other concerns. On the other side of the equation, the meeting
    addressed the ‘Principle of Transparency – in the interests of episcopal
    openness’, and also the understanding that Carol’s solicitor was likely to make
    some form of public notification.
  23. The meeting’s decision was as follows:
    On the balance of probabilities, the Core Group believed that we could not rule out
    other victims, who may be of a similar age to the complainant. It was agreed to seek
    a third party independent professional opinion based on an anonymous outline of the
    case. GT to contact Donald Findlater from Lucy Faithfull Foundation in the first
    instance, CP to formulate a summary of the case to be shared.
    It was agreed that given any form of public acknowledgement, that there would be
    potentially large scale media interest given subject’s involvement with Kinder
    Transport, Jewish Community and Holocaust Education Trust.
  24. Arun Arora was to draft the initial version of the media statement, and to consult
    the press officer at Lambeth Palace and the Communications Officer in
    Chichester. Colin Perkins was to notify public authorities of the intention to
    release a media statement. A ‘mapping exercise’ was to be undertaken about
    areas of involvement (impact) and possible family members. Carol was to be
    forewarned of any media release after settlement. The Group was to reconvene
    on 9 September at Church House in London to consider in more detail the
    impact of public disclosure based on the mapping exercise and agree the
    apology letter.
  25. The Core Group next met (fifth meeting) on the 9 September. On this occasion
    The Bishop at Lambeth, Jane Dodds, Gemma Wordsworth and a minute taker
    were those present who had not attended the previous meeting. The Bishop of
    Horsham had attended the previous meeting but was absent this time.
    Apologies were given by John Rees, and by Ailsa Anderson. Ms. Anderson was
    Head of Communications as Lambeth Palace; it is puzzling as to why she gave
    apologies, as she had never featured in the Core Group before.
    52
  26. Of those who attended the very first Core Group meeting of the 9 May 2014,
    absent on the 9 September 2015 were The Bishop of Chichester, The Bishop
    of Horsham, Angela Sibson, John Booth and Jill Sandham. All of these five
    individuals held significant roles and might have made contributions if present.
    Apparently the Bishop of Chichester and John Booth were not invited to this
    meeting; and I have been told that Angela Sibson and Jill Sandham no longer
    held significant roles.
  27. At this meeting it was revealed that the Lucy Faithfull Foundation, who had been
    asked to help, would not be able to provide a full, independent risk assessment
    of the kind discussed at the previous meeting: they were not willing to be quoted
    even if they provided information because no formal risk assessment was being
    prepared.
  28. Carol’s solicitors had agreed a settlement in the sum of £16,800 damages plus
    £15,000 solicitor’s costs. A letter of apology from The Bishop of Chichester was
    to be delivered personally by the Bishop to Carol. She would like to engage with
    Church communications, and wished to receive a timeline of action and any
    statements.
  29. The draft apology letter had been discussed and changed in a series of emails
    and had been agreed in principle. Colin Perkins was concerned that the letter
    should be ‘heartfelt’, and that it was better to let staff to set the parameters and
    the Bishop to write the letter. There would be a separate and public apology
    statement by the Church. This strategy was supported fully by The Archbishop
    of Canterbury.
  30. It was emphasised at the meeting that the Church should be seen to have a
    robustly supportive policy for survivors.
  31. There was a perceived problem that people such as the journalist Peter
    Hitchens, who recently had described Bishop Bell as a personal hero, would
    regard the Church as ‘caving in’ and would cause a media storm if the Church
    was insufficiently robust in its position. In this context, it was recommended that
    it was important that the Church openly should say that it had ‘settled a claim’,
    so that it was clear ‘there has been a legal test and an investigative threshold
    has been set’.
  32. Arun Arora advised that they needed a report or academic journal article
    supporting the position that ‘an offender like GB’ was very likely to reoffend,
    and therefore there were very likely to be other victims – this would support the
    need for disclosure. They needed to be able to quote the names of
    experts/papers etc. if/when asked by the press to explain their decisions.
    53
    Without established expertise, he said, they could be accused of jumping to
    conclusions, and could be challenged by the House of Bishops. The Church
    could not afford to look as shambolic as the police in the Ted Heath case.
    Rachel Harden said they needed a one-line answer to the question as to the
    evidential basis on which they settled the claim. Paula Jefferson responded that
    they had obtained an independent psychiatric report and had tested the
    evidence.
  33. Rachel Harden is minuted as having stated that they had failed to identify any
    living members of Bishop Bell’s family, and that the risk of family coming
    forward was low. This was later revised in the Minutes to read:
    A review of records at Lambeth Palace Library was undertaken. RH confirmed that the
    Bells had no children. However, there may be nieces or nephews alive and their
    descendants who may or may not come forward.
  34. That confirms that there was no or almost no effort to identify descendants.
    Some do exist, as I was able to discover with ease.
  35. There was an extensive discussion about the Bishop Bell name day and his
    name on buildings and institutions. The removal of these items of recognition
    would be a painful process.
  36. The communications strategy was discussed, with a target date of the 30
    September for the press release.
  37. On the 10 September 2015 Paula Jefferson produced a Note summarising the
    reasons for negotiating a settlement, with the relevant background information.
    Material extracts from the Note are at Annex F below.
  38. On the 17 September 2015 The Bishop of Chichester The Rt Revd Dr Martin
    Warner wrote to Carol the letter of apology contained in Annex A below.
  39. On the 7 October Peter Ball was sentenced to a term of imprisonment for
    offences of misconduct in public office arising from sexual abuse of young men
    under his episcopal influence. That case generated an enormous amount of
    media interest.

THE CHRONOLOGY

Oct 21 2015 – Telephone conversation between Church of England Director-General Sir William Fittall and Martyn Percy Dean of Christ Church Oxford

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 was also educated at Christ Church Oxford from 1972 to 1975 – Ed]

Sir William Fittall

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.

~ Martyn Percy Dean of Christ Church Oxford

Oct 22 2015 – Church of England Statement on the Rt. Revd George Bell (1883-1958)

“Moral, legal and common sense appears to have deserted the Church of England. The Presumption of Innocence has been described as ‘the golden thread that runs through British justice’. That thread was broken by the October Statement, and replaced with the Presumption of Guilt. The Media – including the BBC – assumed Bishop Bell’s guilt on the basis of the Church’s Statement, and their subsequent headlines reflected that assumption. No attempt was made by the Church, immediately after the headlines, to correct the media interpretation of the Statement. This would strongly suggest a Presumption of Guilt on the Church’s part towards Bishop Bell” – Richard W. Symonds

Oct 22 2015 – Bishop of Chichester (Martin Warner) Statement on the Rt. Revd George Bell [1883-1958] 

“In this case, the scrutiny of the allegation has been thorough, objective, and undertaken by people who command the respect of all parties….” – Bishop of Chichester Martin Warner

Featured post

SEPTEMBER 11 2021 – SHAME ON ECCLESIASTICAL INSURANCE GROUP [EIG] AND PRAISE FOR AN INVESTIGATIVE JOURNALIST

Award for Investigative Journalist supporting Abuse Survivors: Issues for the Church of England

Stephen Parsons

by Gilo and Tony

Tony and Gilo are members of the Church of England’s Survivor Reference Group. They have done much work together to bring necessary daylight to the unethical operations of the Church’s legal and insurer framework. They were both also the catalysts for the Interim Support Scheme. It was their work with an advocate which created the template for the ISS which is now helping many dozens of survivors, and growing exponentially all the time. 

The 2021 Headlinemoney Awards took place in the City of London this past week. These awards celebrate exceptional journalism from across the UK’s financial press and media. Headlinemoney website states that a central aspect of these awards is that “all the winners are decided by their peers following an extensive submission, shortlisting and judging process.” This is the industry recognising and validating its own, and signalling worthy journalists as voices to watch. 

Jen Frost of Insurance Post has written half a dozen articles on the complex and often difficult-to-report experiences that survivors have of the insurance response to our situations. Frost won two awards at this week’s Headlinemoney event. The first, for General Insurance Journalist of the Year, was shared jointly with Dean Sobers of WhichMoney. 

The second for Story of the Year Award was for her reporting on Tony’s case and the courageous exposure of the litigation strategies of Paula Jefferson (Berrymans Lace Mawer BLM) and Ecclesiastical Insurance (EIG). See the story below.  

https://www.postonline.co.uk/claims/4602976/ecclesiastical-faces-fresh-allegations-of-unethical-treatment-as-case-of-suicide-watch-claimant-comes-to-light

Why is this significant? It is the industry recognising Jen Frost as a serious investigative journalist. And crucially it is recognition of the valid criticism ranged at BLM and EIG for their unethical and aggressive litigation strategies in this case. Standouts in the story were Paula Jefferson’s use of a medical expert who delivered a report on behalf of the Church without even meeting the survivor. This was swiftly followed by sudden withdrawal of an earlier settlement offer whilst the survivor was in hospital on suicide watch. Causal percentages were applied in a derisory manner. Frost’s other reports also referenced callous language used about survivors by Ecclesiastical and BLM. 

There will be embarrassment in many quarters. Not least for Mark Hews CEO of EIG who has been feverishly rescuing his company’s reputation with a £million giveaway to charities and a renewed effort to win the loyalty of clergy with sabbatical grants. 

There will be acute embarrassment for Paula Jefferson who must by now be wishing she had acted with a modicum of ethical awareness in this as in many other cases. Jefferson will be aware that her working methods and the culture she has engendered at BLM has brought considerable damage to the reputation of their client the Church of England. We understand that EIG has been given clear instruction from the Church that any further deployment of Professor Tony Maden in these cases must now be considered unacceptable and unwelcome. Maden was for a long time Jefferson’s constant travel companion in the defence of other institutions in addition to the Church of England. It seems they worked in tandem and regularly deployed bewildering arguments such as ‘genetic predisposition’ and ‘cognitive predisposition’ in an alarming number of cases. In lay terms, the argument goes like this – the survivor was already pre-programmed through genetic history (birth, parental history) to develop such mental health conditions as Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, depression, anxiety, bi-polar condition, etc. And abuse had little or nothing to do with it. You will see they used the argument against Phil Johnson below.

https://www.postonline.co.uk/claims/7681106/former-broadmoor-psychiatrist-faces-investigation-for-role-in-ecclesiastical-abuse-claims

Abuse survivors, who typically have tried to suppress the trauma of the experiences for years (many for decades), need particular sensitivity and hand holding whilst within the civil claims process.  Re-counting and re-living our experiences, as is necessary for the process, is extremely triggering and can render the survivor re-traumatised, muted and vulnerable from the cumulative impact and protracted timeline of it all. Church of England survivors instead, have been met by BLM lawyers, in expensive corporate suits, smartly disguising the strategy and ethical intention of a gangster’s disgruntled Rottweiler. The Church of England has been complicit in this gangsterism and then pretended disdainfully that this gangsterism has nothing to do with it, its hands are clean. 

In Tony’s case there was an application of jiggery pokery abstract mathematics which resulted in a 5% causal figure – all of which had no relation whatsoever to his experience. These methods have been routine in the circus practised by Jefferson and her partners. This carefully calculated adversarial operation has managed the reputation and purse strings of their client.  But this has been wholly at the expense of survivors who have had life-long impact arrogantly and patronisingly belittled, resulting in further bullying, betrayal and abuse of power.

This award should be embarrassing for Archbishop Welby and other bishops (Paul Butler, Martin Warner, and others) who were first told of Jefferson’s and EIG’s unethical tactics many years ago by Phil Johnson. It will be embarrassing for Sarah Mullally, Bishop of London, who had a golden opportunity to address the behaviours of the Church’s insurer following the Church of England’s Elliott Review – but chose instead to walk away and silence every request that the Church address the public dissembling by EIG. Ditto the NST who during the Graham Tilby era did likewise, presumably under instruction from their managers. Survivors were left to fend for ourselves against a cruel system of reabuse, and struggle to bring daylight to what had been going on. 

It should be particularly embarrassing for William Nye, Secretary General of Archbishops’ Council, who has presided over a distinctly seedy culture in Church House of direct complicity with the insurer in a circus of reputation management. Under his watch Church House comms, legal department and disturbingly, the NST, all took part in a ‘retranslation’ of review recommendations for the purposes of reputation management for the insurer and the Church. 

http://survivingchurch.org/2020/09/15/thoughts-on-the-elliott-review-translation-by-archbishops-council/

And yet despite the efforts of all involved within Church House to airbrush this from history.. a plucky young journalist has now been recognised by her industry peers for her exposure of the shadowy and unethical underbelly of what passes for civil litigation defence in this country in relation to survivors of abuse. The industry itself is having to wake up. Frost’s award follows hard on the heels of the Association of British Insurers issuing new guidelines to its members on many of these unethical practices that Frost has helped expose. 

https://www.postonline.co.uk/claims/7868456/abi-publishes-child-sexual-abuse-claims-handling-code-in-response-to-inquiry

The Church is now having to create a Redress Fund in the region of £500m to £1billion to meet its responsibility for the repair of so many lives abused and institutionally re-abused and damaged. Ecclesiastical Insurance and its owner AllChurches Trust is being called upon by us to give £100m towards this Redress Fund as a mark of corporate repentance for its serial re-abuse of survivors. 

Whether or not the Church continues to use the services of Paula Jefferson is up to them, but survivors have insisted that Jefferson and BLM are kept well away from any involvement in the Redress. Her approach to the care and repair of survivors is considered offensive and grotesque by us and renders her unfit to be involved in further work with survivors.

As to Maden? In April this year a new Practice Direction 1A protecting vulnerable witnesses came into effect  (https://www.justice.gov.uk/courts/procedure-rules/civil/rules/part01/practice-direction-1a-participation-of-vulnerable-parties-or-witnesses).  Designed to specifically ensure that both sides of the civil case are on equal footing.  It will significantly improve the handling of vulnerable parties.  For the first time claimants can challenge what they might perceive as adversarial tactics if they give good reason why.  This does not address past cases, but has already had an impact as the following approved court judgement from Liverpool County Court earlier this year demonstrates:

“I have come to the conclusion on balance that her seeing Professor Maden, in view of the information out there on him, in view of his acting for high profile Defendants, in view of his CV and the balance of his Defendant work, on the balance of probabilities would be likely to impede the evidence of the Claimant given to him. I, therefore, accede to the request that the Defendant should have a consultant psychiatrist of their choosing but not Professor Maden.”

Ouch!

We suspect that any embarrassment any of the above experience will remain hidden. The Church has been fearful of acknowledging its part played in the gangsterism of its lawyers and insurer. And has a remarkable ability to absorb embarrassment and pretend it is not there. But they must now move on swiftly with the repair and rebuilding of lives.

We close by saying Award Well Deserved! Congratulations Jen Frost. 

Tony and Gilo

COMMENTS

Richard W. Symonds

Richard W. Symonds

Gilo and Tony Surviving Church Award for Investigative Journalist supporting Abuse Survivors: Issues for the Church of England

Perhaps this investigative journalist would consider investigating the pivotal role played by the Ecclesiastical Insurance Group [and ‘associates’] in the long-running Bishop Bell scandal?Last edited 18 hours ago by Richard W. Symonds Reply

Gilo

Gilo Reply to Richard W. Symonds 

As an insurance journalist working within the industry, Jen Frost would be unlikely to investigate the Bell case…. much as her investigative acumen might unearth interesting facets of the Church’s response. What is embarrassing for the Church though is that three agents employed in that review – Ecclesiastical, Jefferson, Maden – all come off looking pretty dodgy from her reports about their practices regarding survivors. I list her main reports below August 2021

https://www.postonline.co.uk/claims/7868456/abi-publishes-child-sexual-abuse-claims-handling-code-in-response-to-inquiry Sept 2020

https://www.postonline.co.uk/claims/7681106/former-broadmoor-psychiatrist-faces-investigation-for-role-in-ecclesiastical-abuse-claims July 2020

https://www.postonline.co.uk/claims/7652861/briefing-ecclesiasticals-child-abuse-claims-shame-ceo-hews-admission-too-little-too-late July 2020

https://www.postonline.co.uk/claims/4276536/revealed-leaked-emails-show-ecclesiastical-staff-using-callous-language-over-child-abuse-claims Feb 2020

https://www.postonline.co.uk/claims/4602976/ecclesiastical-faces-fresh-allegations-of-unethical-treatment-as-case-of-suicide-watch-claimant-comes-to-light

Maden, where he features in her investigative reporting does not I think come across as particularly replete with integrity or scruple. The genetic predisposition argument he used against Phil Johnson (which we know he has used with frequency in other cases) is really a very strange device.

It would seem that what comes across is a certain amount of duplicity in a range of unethical strategies played out upon survivors when the Church has carefully looked elsewhere.

I suspect these agents may have been careful to mind their Ps and Qs in the Bell case. The situation was extremely high profile, controversial, and fell under widespread and critical scrutiny.

Gilo

Gilo Reply to Gilo 

Correction:
What is embarrassing for the Church though is that three agents regularly employed by the Church…

(EIG were not involved in the Bell case)

Rowland Wateridge

Rowland Wateridge Reply to Richard W. Symonds 

Richard: Did EIG have an involvement? I understood that the claim was uninsured and for that reason was ‘handled’ wholly in house by the C of E. I no longer have a copy of the Carlile report. That investigation was so thorough and catalogued in detail all the shortcomings of the investigation, but I don’t remember any reference to EIG in an advisory role. I’m happy to be corrected if I am mistaken. 

Richard W. Symonds

Richard W. Symonds Reply to Rowland Wateridge

David Bonehill of the Ecclesiastical Insurance Office EIO [parent company Ecclesiastical Insurance Group EIG] had much to say at the IICSA in his criticism of Lord Carlile’s recommendations regarding Bishop Bell. 

Rowland Wateridge

Rowland Wateridge Reply to Richard W. Symonds

Richard: Thanks for that link. It makes depressing reading.

Richard W. Symonds Reply to Rowland Wateridge 

From the George Bell Group:

“The original statement by the Archbishops’ Council in October 2015 claimed that none of the expert independent reports had found reason to doubt Carol’s veracity. But Lord Carlile discovered that the only expert consulted by the Church [Professor Maden – Ed] thought it very likely that Carol’s experience of abuse in her first marriage had affected her recall, and that the possibility of false memories was a real one”

Richard W. Symonds

Richard W. Symonds 

Professor Maden comes in for much criticism – much of it justified – but it seems his analysis of ‘Carol’ in the Bishop Bell case was right.

From the George Bell Group:

https://richardwsymonds.wordpress.com/tag/professor-anthony-maden/ Reply

George Bell Group’s Martyn Percy:

http://www.georgebellgroup.org/reputation-righteousness-dec-2017/

The Carlile Report

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.

Janet Fife

Janet Fife Reply to Richard W. Symonds 

But if you read Gilo and Tony’s blog on Ecclesiastical Insurance (above), you will see that Prof Maden has been criticised for not taking sufficient trouble to ensure his expert opinions are soundly based. Reply

Richard W. Symonds

Richard W. Symonds Reply to Janet Fife 

I’m sure the criticism of Prof Maden is justified in the ‘Gilo and Tony’ cases, but in the case of ‘Carol’ and Bishop Bell [in which Ecclesiastical Insurance was involved] that criticism does not, in my view, apply.

Prof Maden was consulted as an expert in ‘false memory syndrome’ and he gave his expert opinion in the case of ‘Carol’.

The trouble was Prof Maden’s expert opinion was ignored by the Church of England Core Group, resulting in a miscarriage of justice which still has not been resolved after six long years.

Prof Maden may well have been wrong in many cases, but in the case of ‘Carol’ and Bishop Bell it seems he was right.

Rowland Wateridge Reply to Richard W. Symonds

Richard: if you analyse the articles from Insurance Post linked by Gilo you will find that they are largely criticism of EIO. As far as I can see, only two cases involving Professor Maden are mentioned and both complaints have been dismissed by the General Medical Council. The link I added below in reply to Janet Fife, from March 2021, should be included in the list for fairness.

Richard W. Symonds Reply to Rowland Wateridge 

Thanks for this Rowland.

The last sentence in one of the Insurance Post’s articles is significant – ‘Professor Tony Maden cleared on two counts in insurance expert witness complaints’:

“The GMC further noted in this case: ‘Dr Maden’s fitness to practise is not called into question by a decision made by the legal firm who had instructed him’”

Richard W. SymondsReply to Rowland Wateridge 11 hours ago

Thanks for this Rowland.

The last sentence in one of the Insurance Post’s articles is significant – ‘Professor Tony Maden cleared on two counts in insurance expert witness complaints’:

“The GMC further noted in this case: ‘Dr Maden’s fitness to practise is not called into question by a decision made by the legal firm who had instructed him’” Reply

Susannah Clark

Susannah Clark Reply to Richard W. Symonds 

“Prof Maden may well have been wrong in many cases, but in the case of ‘Carol’ and Bishop Bell it seems he was right.”

There is no ‘right’ confirmation of Bishop Bell’s guilt or innocence.

Stating that some memories can be defective does not mean that ALL memories are defective.

Carol’s allegations were ‘credible’ but I think we have to face the fact that we shall probably never know whether he was guilty of innocent (though technically in legal terms that means he remains legally innocent – which is not the same as factually innocent).

As Maden says, ‘There is no way of determining…’ [without corroborating evidence] ‘whether or not recall is accurate.’

We simply don’t know. We can guess. But we cannot know.

It’s all very sad – and I make no comment on how this all has been handled (which is a separate issue) – because on the one hand there is a reputedly good man’s reputation and living relatives… and on the other hand there is a woman of good character who is widely believed to have been abused (she claims by the Bishop) and who feels her claims are ignored or traduced.

It is not sufficient to say that, because a person had power and a public reputation, that accusations against them are therefore likely to be untrue. As the Carlile Report says in response to supporters of the Bishop who argue this point:

“The perpetrators of sexual abuse can be extraordinarily devious, presenting a carapace of piety and respectability to the outside world; and adverse facts can be concealed skilfully. In other words, the fact that Bishop Bell was (and continues to be) highly regarded by others is not determinative of his guilt or innocence of this allegation.”

People with high status and respect sometimes do bad things. Bishop Bell may not have. Or he may have.

We simply don’t know, and that’s hard for both Carol and for the Bishop’s living relatives. Frankly, it’s never going to be solved.

I hope support can be given to the Bishop’s relatives, but in all compassion to a decent woman who has found herself at the centre of a very public campaign that goes on and on without any means of proving anything, I wish we could leave her in peace, and stick to discussions of process. She must be experiencing a second kind of abuse to be the talking point of such a public campaign.

She’s been abused once – possibly by the Bishop, possibly not – and it seems unfair to expose her painful case further.

Just accept we shall never know, and work on better process in the future. That would be more productive.

Richard W. Symonds Reply to Susannah Clark 

“No doubt there will be people who are going to think there is no smoke without fire. I can do nothing about that except to say such an attitude would be wrong”

[Judge David Clarke in December 2000 – when dismissing the ‘sexual abuse’ case brought against the Southampton football manager David Jones]

Rowland Wateridge

Rowland Wateridge Reply to Janet Fife 

To restore some balance here, this is a further article from ‘Post’. It merits careful reading, especially what the GMC’s Expert Examiner said about medical experts reporting without meeting a patient face-to-face.

https://www.postonline.co.uk/claims/7813796/professor-tony-maden-cleared-on-two-counts-in-insurance-expert-witness-complaints 

Richard W. Symonds

Richard W. Symonds 3 hours ago

The alleged abused [and their defenders] are not always in the right.
The alleged abusers [and their defenders] are not always in the wrong.
That’s one reason why we have Courts of Law [and their defenders].
Thank God for them.

PERSONAL COMMENT BY RICHARD W. SYMONDS – THE BELL SOCIETY

“Are the abused and ignored thankful for the forensic work done by others in investigating and exposing false and wrongful accusations of abuse? If it wasn’t also for these diligent people, many miscarriages of justice would not have seen the light of day. Sometimes, it is only when false and wrongful accusations are fully investigated do the real abuses come to light”

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SEPTEMBER 9 2020 – “THERE IS PLENTY IN THE BOOK TO SHOW THAT COVER UP, WILFUL BLINDNESS AND BLINKERED LOYALTY WAS EXACTLY WHAT WAS GOING ON” – MARTIN SEWELL

Martin Sewell

Source: Church Times

Bleeding for Jesus. Martin Sewell reflects

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SEPTEMBER 5 2021 – NON-DISCLOSURE AGREEMENTS [NDA’S]

The Church and NDAs: when silence is enforced

03 SEPTEMBER 2021

THE Archbishop of Canterbury was asked in April about the use of non-disclosure agreements (NDAs). The night before, the BBC’s Panorama programme had featured an interview with Dr Elizabeth Henry, then the Church’s National Adviser for Minority-Ethnic Anglican Concerns (News 20 April).

She described how a man had filed a grievance with his HR department after being sent a racist image. A decision had been made that the image was not racist, and he left with a “very small compensation”, having been “forced to sign a non-disclosure agreement”.

“I have said many times that I am totally against NDAs,” the Archbishop told Times Radio. “NDAs are unacceptable. I am just horrified by that, and horrified by the fact of racism.”

He and the Archbishop of York had written to “senior people in the administration of the Church, both together, saying ‘no NDAS’. We reinforced that. We’ve been saying it for a long time. I’m very frustrated by it.”

The comments were welcome news to Ben Nicholson, one of the founders of NDAfree. He signed an NDA as part of a settlement agreement with Tearfund in 2018, but later lobbied the charity to be released from it. The charity agreed to this in April, although he is still subject to certain restrictions.

He has since launched, with others subject to NDAs, the #NDAfree campaign, which encourages churches and other organisations to sign its pledge “to never request another party to submit to an NDA . . . [or] use confidentiality agreements in settlements”.

“I was delighted to hear a clear and unequivocal position from the Archbishop,” Mr Nicholson said last week, “but disappointed that it was reactive following exposure by Panorama, with no indication of meaningful follow-through. I believe he was genuinely angry that NDAs continue to be used in the Church of England — although it is of no surprise, since efforts to discuss them at General Synod have been thwarted.”Advertisement

He would like to see the Archbishop encourage all Anglican churches sign up to the #NDAfree pledge, which would be a “show of support to survivors, and demonstrate a genuine commitment to tackling abuse in the churches where he has influence”.

The pledge also includes a promise to follow policies and due processes — including protection of whistleblowers — and to “always investigate wrongdoing, even where a settlement agreement is reached”. Signatories pledge not to use “non-disparagement clauses” with employees or volunteers.

NDAs have been used in employment contracts for decades, with the aim of preventing employees’ sharing information with third parties. They may also be included in settlement agreements in which an employee and employer agree to resolve a dispute and not proceed to a tribunal, in exchange for a financial arrangement.

In recent years, they have been the subject of increasing attention in the light of the #MeToo movement. In 2019, the parliamentary Women and Equalities Committee published the report of an inquiry, The Use of Non-disclosure Agreements in Discrimination Cases, which warned that “allegations of unlawful discrimination and harassment in the workplace are routinely covered up by employers with legally drafted non-disclosure agreements. . .

“The difficulties of pursuing a case at employment tribunal and the substantial imbalance of power between employers and employees mean that employees can feel they have little choice but to reach a settlement that prohibits them speaking out.”

Guidance from the CHS Alliance, a coalition of humanitarian and development organisations, advises that NDAs have “a legitimate reason for existing, protecting the confidentiality of the employees as much as the alleged perpetrator”. It gives several examples of instances in which confidentiality offers protection, including the handling of complaints about sexual exploitation and abuse “where assurances of confidentiality are essential to prevent further harm from occurring”.

But it also outlines the improper use of NDAs: they must not be used “to prevent whistleblowing, reporting of discrimination or harassment, or to cover up inappropriate behaviour or misconduct, particularly if there is a risk of repetition of such behaviour”.

When it comes to NDAs in settlement agreements, typically involving a payment to an employee, the line is: “It’s arguable if this use of donated financial resources is reasonable.” Using NDAs in this way “prevents organisations from resolving underlying and systemic issues and implementing the measures needed to tackle them”, the Alliance suggests. Its advice is that NDAs should not be included as standard in contracts.OTHER STORIESClerics fear to take racism complaints further in C of E, BBC’s Panorama reportsTIME and again the Church of England has “abysmally failed” to address racism within its institution, instead labelling complainants as “troublemakers” and “buying silence” through non-disclosure agreements, the Church’s former National Adviser for Minority-Ethnic Anglican Concerns, Dr Elizabeth Henry, has said

The #NDAfree campaign acknowledges that NDAs have “a legitimate purpose in protecting intellectual property, and occasionally personal data”, but argues that the need for them in churches and Christian organisations is “extremely rare. If your church has a genuine need to protect intellectual property or personal data, this is exempt from the #NDAfree pledge.”

Its FAQ section suggests that relying on an NDA to protect confidential information about vulnerable people is “an admission of failure in earlier processes such as recruitment, supervision, protection of confidential information, ongoing professional training and adherence to policies and procedures. Within your church/organisation, there is a responsibility to ensure that only appropriately trained and trustworthy staff have access to confidential information about vulnerable people.”

Churches and other organisations relying on legal instruments to prevent employees’ and ex-employees’ disclosing confidential information should “ask themselves what is the role of values, trust and relationships”, it suggests.

In June, Tearfund issued an updated statement, promising that it would no longer use NDAs in settlement agreements, and offering to lift them from anyone subject to one “should they wish us to”. It continued: “We recognise that in some cases employees may themselves wish to have a confidentiality clause in a settlement agreement, and in such cases we may consider using one.

“In very exceptional circumstances, some information may need to remain confidential in order to protect the safety, privacy and well-being of other individuals who are vulnerable and to whom we owe a duty of care.”

The statement said that Tearfund had “very rarely used settlement agreements”, but that when they had been used it had been “to allow parties to resolve disagreements and move on after a relationship has irretrievably broken down, or where it has been necessary for employment law purposes”.

Mr Nicholson welcomes the statement “as it gives me hope that change is possible”, but notes that “it has taken three years and a lot of work to get here.”

“Sadly, it’s not enough to just change the policy,” he adds. “There is a need to take responsibility for the damage done by NDAs, and to independently investigate and deal with what NDAs have concealed.”

THE Church Times has spoken to three people who have signed NDAs as part of settlement agreements with C of E dioceses and a Christian charity.


‘If you think this is a good process, why are you ashamed of people knowing about it?’
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THE Revd X signed a confidentiality clause when they accepted a settlement after being dispossessed as a parish priest as part of a pastoral reorganisation. Their comments come as the Church Commissioners await responses to a review of the Mission and Pastoral Measure 2011.

X describes the process as “appalling from beginning to end”: a rushed consultation was held with little notice and poor communication from the diocese. Many of the parishioners had no post-16 education, and struggled to understand the legal and ecclesiological language used in the consultation documents.

The hearing held by the Church Commissioners in London required an initial outlay of money for an expensive train ticket, and the process itself was “unnecessarily scary — like appearing at the Old Bailey”, X said. “It just feels like it is not an accessible process for anyone from a working-class community.”

Looking back, X feels naïve for having supported the diocese’s plans. None of the mission suggestions put forward by X and the parishioners during the consultation have materialised, despite positive noises from the diocese at the time: “The moment I walked out of the door, they just shelved all of that,” X said.

Although told that they could apply for the post-reorganisation position, X was presented with a job description written that day, which the Archdeacon admitted he had not read. X believes that the successful candidate had long been identified: the leader of a large city-centre resource church near by.

The confidentiality clause permits X to speak to close family members, which precluded them from seeking support from a spiritual director or friend: “It kind of closes down lots of avenues of support, while you’re going through the most hideous thing you’ve ever been through,” X said. X also asks: “If you think this is a good process, why are you ashamed of people knowing about it? If you are doing a process well, then, however painful it may be, people don’t just get angry and frustrated on social media.”

In a recent conversation, X’s fears about the parish were deepened: a man who had been an “absolute stalwart” had been sidelined in the new configuration, telling X: “I live in a council house; why would anyone listen to me?”

‘It is the anthesis to the gospel, which is all about reconciliation’

ELLIE started working as an administrative assistant at a Christian charity in September 2017. A couple of weeks after starting her part time Master’s at Wycliffe Hall, in October 2018, she reports that she was raped by a colleague, 17 years her senior, at the charity where she worked.OTHER STORIESFlawed clergy discipline is ripe for reformMeasure to be proposed would deal with complaints regionally, and be more pragmatic and theologically sound, says Peter Collier

In the first instance, she went to the executive director and his wife in extreme distress. Despite showing her bruises and describing saying “no” to the colleague’s attempts to have penetrative sex, she initially said that the incident was consensual.

She now knows that self-blame is a normal initial response from a woman who has been raped. After a visit to a GP, who recommended referral to the Sexual Assault and Rape Crisis Centre, she went to stay with friends, and reported what had happened to the police six days after the alleged rape.

Ellie was then contacted by the executive director, telling her not to come into work and that she was suspended pending disciplinary action. Among the six reasons listed was “behaviour causing potential reputational damage to the institution”. Even though Ellie gave the director a copy of her report to the police, the organisation continued to pursue dismissal.

At this point, Ellie employed a lawyer, who described the charity’s treatment of her as the worst handling of sexual assault she had ever encountered. In January 2019, Ellie returned to work at the charity, having signed a contract that included an NDA clause, preventing her disclosing anything about the way in which the organisation had handled her disclosure, including their initial decision to dismiss her.

She signed it on Christmas Eve, in need of her salary and in the hope of being able to move on. “I didn’t know what an NDA was,” she recalls. “I was very naïve, but most people don’t know about these things until they know about them. I thought: ‘This is them showing that they now believe me, and they are sorry,’ but the very opposite turned out to be true.”

Having read about low conviction rates for rape, Ellie decided to contact the police and drop her complaint. But, the next month, she discovered through her administrative work that the senior colleague was still supervising students through the charity. This prompted her to resign, reopen her case with the police, and report the charity to the Charity Commission. She also opened an employment-tribunal claim.

The Charity Commission ruled that the charity did not have appropriate safeguarding structures in place, and had failed to report a serious incident to them. Ellie felt unable to pursue the tribunal claim to court, finding the wait for a court date “excruciating”. The charity gave her a relatively small settlement, which covered her legal fees and losses incurred by having to pause her Master’s.Advertisement

Ellie is currently subject to two contracts which include NDA clauses: both the original, signed on Christmas Eve, and another, put in place at the time of her settlement, despite her lawyer’s protest that Ellie found an NDA clause highly inappropriate and unchristian. This second NDA was amended after she refused to sign wording preventing her from speaking negatively about the senior colleague whom she reported had raped her.

Today, she describes the way in which the charity handled her disclosures — the attempt to dismiss her, and their use of NDAs preventing further dialogue — as worse than the abuse itself. “The NDAs mean we have no capacity to move forward and resolve the pain that I have been caused, as we are not even allowed to talk about it,” she says.

“To me, it is the anthesis to the gospel, which is all about reconciliation. It is traumatising. Having honest conversations, listening to one another, all those things that are healthy and right and good — they are closing the door to all those things. That has left me in a lot of pain, more pain than the sexual abuse.”

Today, Ellie is now working in a different Christian charity. She hopes that, by sharing her story, Christian organisations will become aware of the distress caused by the misuse of NDAs.

‘NDAs in the diocese have been used in order to silence clergy’

THE Revd B has a BAME background. He served as priest-in-charge of an Evangelical church in the Province of Canterbury for five years. The church had a complex recent history, and, looking back, he believes that he inherited “a lot of pastoral concerns”.

Four years into his time there, the archdeacon invited him to a meeting. B then learned, “out of the blue”, that he was to be subject to a capability procedure. The code of practice for this, set out under the Ecclesiastical Offices (Terms of Service) Measure 2009, states that “the primary purpose of the procedure is to find a way of helping the office holder to improve unsatisfactory performance.”

It is expected, the code states, that “most performance-related matters will be identified and addressed informally, without engaging this procedure”.

During this first meeting, B told the archdeacon about some of the pastoral issues in the church, and that he was aware of “racial tensions”, but felt that the archdeacon took little notice of this. The archdeacon sought to test whether the problem lay in a lack of emotional intelligence.OTHER STORIESReview process of Clergy Discipline Measure criticised by Sheldon HubPROPOSED ground rules for a replacement for the Clergy Discipline Measure (CDM) have been posted on the Sheldon Hub, the support service for those caught up in the process, led by the Revd Dr Sarah Horsman

On the advice of friends, B engaged a lawyer. The lawyer’s advice was that an employer intending to conduct a capability procedure should first make a commitment to supporting the employee to enhance their capability. The C of E’s own code of practice states that such support can include coaching, counselling, and mediation.

Neither B nor his lawyer, who said that he had identified several flaws in the archdeacon’s handling of the matter, felt that the diocese had offered this assurance. Although B complied with the archdeacon’s request, the diocese never allowed him to see the results. The bishop of the diocese appointed an HR employee from another diocese to take on the case.

The diocese offered him a financial settlement to leave, including a non-disclosure agreement, which he signed. His lawyer’s advice was that “the amount of pain and hurt and devastation that any employee takes against an employer is just not worth it. Take the money, sign, and go.”

B recalls: “Even afterwards, from my point of view, the diocese was pretty brutal. When I resigned, I wrote to the bishop to say: ‘Now that the process is over, I am very happy to come and see you to answer any questions that the diocese might have about what went wrong.’ But he said ‘no’ very firmly on a number of occasions. It was all quite messy and horrible and nasty, really.” The bishop refused to give B permission to officiate in the diocese after his resignation, but gave no reasons.

“I am open to a properly run capability procedure, but I am not open to something where there is no support given according to employment law.” He also feels that none of the incidents of racial prejudice he encountered were acknowledged.

B agrees with the Archbishop of Canterbury’s comments about the use of NDAs. “It seems to me that NDAs in the diocese have been used in order to silence clergy,” he says. “There is imbalance of power. The diocese will always win — it has money, influence, position, status. I am only one individual.Advertisement

“The whole use and manipulation of NDAs is quite abusive and wrong and unchristian. . . For a Christian organisation to use them so that they are not embarrassed in public seems to be contrary to the principles of truth, honesty, and openness.”

He has written to the diocese to ask it to agree not to use NDAs in future.

THIS month, Christine Hewitt-Dyer, director of people for the National Church Institutions, said: “Confidentiality clauses in agreements are for use only in exceptional circumstances, and are made in line with ACAS guidance on where open processes may not have reached resolution.

“Any agreements entered into by dioceses, cathedrals, or parishes are a matter for the individual, independent organisation, and their employees/office-holders. The NCI Clergy HR team communicates regularly with HR colleagues in the dioceses, and shares NCI HR practice via meetings and newsletters.”

Mr Nicholson, who continues to work with people who have been subject to NDAs, helping them to disclose their stories safely, describes NDAs as “the opposite of our call to be witnesses to the light — the light that brings life.

“NDAs heap institutional abuse on top of already traumatised people, and rely on threats and intimidation, leaving people fearful. By enforcing silence, they actively undermine personal healing and make reconciliation impossible. Meanwhile, they protect perpetrators, leaving them free to continue abusing others.”

ndafree.org

SEPTEMBER 17 2021 – CAMPAIGN LAUNCHED TO END MISUSE OF NON-DISCLOSURE AGREEMENTS – CHURCH TIMES

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JULY 27 2020 – FROM THE ARCHIVES [OCTOBER 22 2015 – CHURCH OF ENGLAND STATEMENT BY THE BISHOP OF CHICHESTER MARTIN WARNER ON THE RT REVD GEORGE BELL – 1883-1958]

 

October 22 2015 – Church of England Statement by the Bishop of Chichester Martin Warner on the Rt Revd George Bell (1883-1958):
 
“In this case, the scrutiny of the allegation has been thorough, objective, and undertaken by people who command the respect of all parties…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”
 
Ponder this if you will, then decide what action to take.
 
In Chichester, action has already taken place by restoring 4 Canon Lane back to George Bell House:
 
https://richardwsymonds.wordpress.com/2020/07/26/july-26-2020-george-bell-house-4-canon-lane-chichester-po19-1px/
 
More action is to follow.

Bishop of Chichester Dr Martin Warner

Photo source: Wiki