Monthly Archives: June 2016

“Bell Review Welcomed” – Editorial Comment – Chichester Observer – June 29 2016

http://www.chichester.co.uk/news/comment-bell-review-welcomed-1-7454550

EDITORIAL COMMENT: “BELL REVIEW WELCOMED”

Bishop George Bell.

Bishop George Bell

13:16 Wednesday 29 June 2016

Last autumn, the reputation of one of Chichester’s most principled and distinguished Bishops, George Bell, was destroyed.

The Diocese of Chichester issued an apology and financial settlement to a woman who said she had been sexually abused by Bell and had spent years seeking to get the Church to take her allegations seriously.

This newspaper has never questioned the integrity of the woman. Nor have we criticised the current Bishop of Chichester Dr Martin Warner for the action he took.
But supporters of Bell and the George Bell Group have persistently called for the evidence to be made public as it would have been if Bell was still alive and subject to criminal proceedings.

The uncertainty generated has left a series of questions that serves no-one well, least of all the alleged victim.

For that reason, we welcome an announcement this week that the Church of England has launched an independent review into the processes regarding the settlement.

The review is a matter of standard procedure and is not intended to undermine the original decision, but we trust its remit will go beyond mere process without adding further to the distress of the woman involved.

Bell was too important a figure to have his reputation trashed without full transparency and disclosure in the public domain.
His alleged victim deserves to have her claims clearly and unequivocally vindicated – so that a line can be finally drawn under this matter.

Read more: http://www.chichester.co.uk/news/comment-bell-review-welcomed-1-7454550#ixzz4CyWXUk7X

“Church Opens Inquiry Into George Bell Case” – The Argus – June 29 2016

June 29 2016 – “Church Opens Inquiry Into George Bell Case” – The Argus

http://www.theargus.co.uk/news/14585942.Church_opens_inquiry_into_George_Bell_case/

Church opens inquiry into George Bell case

Bishop George Bell.

Bishop George Bell.

4 hrs ago / Joel Adams, Reporter / Argus_JoelA

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THE Church of England is launching an independent review into its handling of a case involving a woman abused by a former bishop.

A statement issued by the Diocese of Chichester said that in accordance with House of Bishops guidance on such matters, a core group will meet to review the process surrounding the handling of the George Bell case which made headlines last year.

In October of last year the diocese of Chichester announced that it had paid a settlement to an unnamed survivor of sexual abuse following accusations levelled against the wartime head of the Church in Sussex, Bishop of Chichester George Bell (1883 – 1958).
The victim exclusively spoke to The Argus – whom we named Carol to protect her anonymity – who explained that the four years of abuse in the Bishop’s Palace in Chichester had started when she was just five years old. He said it was their little secret because God loved her.

In March a group defending Bell’s reputation published a detailed critique of the Church’s handling of the case.

The new review will not re-examine the decision to settle the case. A diocese spokeswoman told The Argus: “There is absolutely no suggestion that this review is about what decision was made.”

The review will be commissioned by the Church of England’s National Safeguarding Team, on the recommendation of the Bishop of Chichester, to see what lessons can be learnt from how the case was handled. The same process is undergone in all such cases involving bishops.

It will look at the processes followed when allegations were first brought in 1995 to the diocese of Chichester and then brought again, to Lambeth Palace, in 2013.

It will also consider the processes – which according to the statement included the commissioning of expert independent reports and archival investigations – which were used to inform the decision to settle the case.

The Church’s opacity on these issues has been specifically criticised by the George Bell Group.
The church’s statement said: “The settlement was based on the balance of probabilities as criminal proceedings cannot be brought in a case where the alleged perpetrator is dead.”

Details of the review, including terms of reference and the name of the independent reviewer will be announced at a later date.

The Bishop of Chichester, Dr Martin Warner, said: “I hope that the review will provide a constructive way forward for all concerned.

“Along with my colleagues in the wider Church, I am committed to ensuring that the past is handled with honesty.”

 

 

Post comment

GrammarBoy 6:47am Wed 29 Jun 16
If the Church of England had commissioned a thorough, independent and professional investigation in the first place, interviewing other relevant people and looking dispassionately into the case rather than spinsterishly throwing up their hands in horror and accepting unquestioningly the accuser’s word, the “balance of probabilities” might well have swung decisively in the other direction, and the subsequent destruction of Bishop Bell’s reputation never have occurred. Sadly Bishop Warner is only now going ahead with this review to try to ensure that when he is dead and gone his successors do not have the opportunity to do the same to him as he has done to Bishop Bell. I realise that this statement is inevitably going to be received by the “hang the paeds high!” clique as defending the indefensible, but I would merely say to them that were one of their own family to be treated fifty years after their death the way Bishop Bell was treated, they too would see matters very differently.

“Diocese Of Chichester To Review Processes Used In Bishop Bell Case” – Chichester Observer

Chichester_Cathdral_from_town

June 28 2016 – “Diocese of Chichester To Review Processes Used In Bishop Bell Case” – Chichester Observe

http://www.chichester.co.uk/news/local/diocese-of-chichester-to-review-processes-used-in-bishop-george-bell-case-1-7452592

Diocese of Chichester to review processes used in Bishop George Bell case

Chichester cathedral
10:41Tuesday 28 June 2016
An independent review of the processes used in the George Bell case has been announced today by the Diocese of Chichester.

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

In a statement, the diocese said: “The House of Bishops practice guidance on all complex cases states that once all matters relating to any serious safeguarding situation have been completed, the Core Group should meet again to review the process and to consider what lessons can be learned for the handling of future serious safeguarding situations.
“A review has always been carried out in any case involving allegations against a bishop.

“The review will be commissioned by the Church of England’s National Safeguarding Team, on the recommendation of the Bishop of Chichester, to see what lessons can be learnt from how the case was handled.

“The case involves the settlement in 2015 of a legal civil claim regarding sexual abuse against George Bell, who was Bishop of Chichester from 1929-1958.

“The Church has always recognised Bishop Bell’s principled stand in the Second World War and his contribution to peace but it also has a duty to listen to survivors.

“The diocese of Chichester continues to be in touch and offer support to the survivor known as Carol, who brought the allegations in this case.
“The review will look at the processes surrounding the allegations which were first brought in 1995 to the diocese of Chichester with the same allegations brought again, this time to Lambeth Palace, in 2013.

“It will also consider the processes, including the commissioning of expert independent reports and archival and other investigations, which were used to inform the decision to settle the case.

“The settlement was based on the balance of probabilities as criminal proceedings cannot be brought in a case where the alleged perpetrator is dead.

“Details of the review including Terms of Reference and name of the independent reviewer will be announced at a later date.”
The Bishop of Chichester, Dr Martin Warner said; “As in any serious safeguarding situation it is always important to learn lessons from the process and this review will ensure this is done.

“I have, however, made it absolutely clear that the survivor in the case be reassured that we will do everything we can to continue to support her as we have done throughout this process.

“Like her, we recognise the gravity of this matter, given its impact on the national and international reputation of Bishop George Bell.

“I hope that the review will provide a constructive way forward for all concerned.

“Along with my colleagues in the wider Church, I am committed to ensuring that the past is handled with honesty.”

Read more: http://www.chichester.co.uk/news/local/diocese-of-chichester-to-review-processes-used-in-bishop-george-bell-case-1-7452592#ixzz4CskCH59i

“Church of England Orders Review Into Handling Of George Bell Sex Abuse Case” – The Guardian

Church of England orders review into handling of George Bell sex abuse case

Independent review is announced nine months after church compensated and apologised to bishop’s victim

 

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2016/jun/28/george-bell-church-of-england-review-handling-sex-abuse?CMP=share_btn_tw

Anglicanism
Church of England orders review into handling of George Bell sex abuse case
Independent review is announced nine months after church compensated and apologised to bishop’s victim
Bishop George Bell smiling in a black hat – Photograph: PA Archive
George Bell, the former bishop of Chichester, died in 1958. The Church of England settled a civil claim against him by a woman who said she was abused as a small child.
Harriet Sherwood Religion correspondent
@harrietsherwood
Tuesday 28 June 2016 12.21 BST Last modified on Tuesday 28 June 2016 12.50 BST
The Church of England has launched an independent review into its processes regarding the settlement of a claim of sexual abuse by one of its leading figures of the 20th century, George Bell.

C of E sources said the review was routine and it was not revisiting its decision to apologise and pay compensation to a woman who claimed she was abused as a small child by the bishop of Chichester in the 1940s and 50s.

The name of the independent reviewer and the review’s terms of reference will be announced at a later date.

The move is likely to be seized on by Bell’s supporters to bolster their argument that the church acted without sufficient evidence when it effectively branded the former bishop as a child abuser. The C of E issued a formal apology when settling a civil claim last September against Bell, 20 years after the abuse allegations were first made.

The serving bishop of Chichester, Martin Warner, wrote at the time to the survivor, known as Carol, expressing “deep sorrow” and apologising for a “devastating betrayal of trust”. The response from the diocese of Chichester when the survivor first made claims in 1995 “fell a long way short, not just of what is expected now, but of what we appreciate you should have had a right to expect then”, his letter added.
Church challenged over apology for George Bell abuse claims
Read more
Bell, who sat in the House of Lords, was once tipped as a possible archbishop of Canterbury, although his outspoken opposition to the bombing of German civilians by the RAF during the second world war was thought to have counted against him. He died in 1958.

A group of academics, lawyers, politicians and church figures subsequently challenged the church over its apology, saying Bell’s “condemnation as a paedophile” had irreparably damaged his reputation. The Church had failed to investigate properly, they said.

The settlement was based on the balance of probabilities as criminal proceedings could not be brought in a case where the alleged perpetrator was dead, the church said on Tuesday.

Its independent review was in accordance with House of Bishops guidance on all complex cases and was aimed at considering what lessons could be learned in future safeguarding situations, it added. “The church has always recognised Bishop Bell’s principled stand in the second world war and his contribution to peace but it also has a duty to listen to survivors,” said a statement. “The diocese of Chichester continues to be in touch and offer support to the survivor known as Carol, who brought the allegations in this case.”

Warner said he had “made it absolutely clear that the survivor in the case be reassured that we will do everything we can to continue to support her as we have done throughout this process. Like her, we recognise gravity of this matter, given its impact on the national and international reputation of Bishop George Bell.”
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“The Church Seriously Misled People About Bishop Bell. People Will React Accordingly”

George_Bell_House,_Chichester-geograph-3576594-by-Virginia-Knight

George Bell House

People interpreted the Church of England’s Press Statement on October 22 2015 as clearly stating it believed Bishop Bell was guilty of sexual abuse, as alleged by ‘Carol’:

https://www.churchofengland.org/media-centre/news/2015/10/statement-on-the-rt-revd-george-bell-%281883-1958%29.aspx

The Church Statement was written in such a way as to make those who read and reported it to assume Bishop Bell’s guilt. And that’s exactly what the Media did assume, as their headlines made clear.

If the writer of the Statement had a different intention, then they only had to publish that immediately after all the headlines stating the Bishop’s guilt. But they did not.

It was the following year in which the Bishop of Durham was forced to say something different from that intended by the writer of the Church of England Press Statement – tucked away in a House of Lords debate which almost no-one reads on January 28 2016:

“If noble Lords read very carefully the statements that have been put out, they will see that there has been no declaration that we are convinced that this [sexual abuse] took place”

The Archbishop of Canterbury and the Bishop of Chichester immediately supported the October 2015 Press Statement, leaving people in no doubt they believed Bishop Bell was guilty – especially by immediately changing the name of George Bell House to 4 Canon Lane.

The Church of England’s Diocese of Chichester justifies its secrecy and silence by saying it is legally bound by confidentiality. The George Bell Group Legal Team has completely destroyed this legal argument:

http://www.georgebellgroup.org/a-review-of-the-law/

The Church has seriously misled people about Bishop Bell. People will react accordingly.

 A miscarriage of justice is now almost an inevitability unless an Independent Review of the process leading up to the October 2015 Press Statement is secured – with a re-examination of all the available evidence.