…. ‘ The process leading up to the settlement, the apology and the announcement was long, complex and carried out with all the sensitivity that a case of this nature demands.

Both legal and medical advice was taken with a number of lawyers involved in the core group including a very experienced practitioner in the field of civil claims relating to child abuse. The clear legal advice received was that on the balance of the probabilities the claimant was likely to succeed if her claim were heard in court…the presumption of innocence and  ‘ beyond reasonable doubt’ only apply in criminal cases.

It  would have been unjustifiable to spend the time and money on defending a claim the Church was likely to lose, and put the claimant through the ordeal of giving evidence…

The Bell Group has suggested that the Church can and should disclose further  sensitive information about Carol and her claim. The Church does not accept their legal analysis, which relies on an out-of-date version of a statute…The Church has a wider duty to Carol than that. She has already expressed hurt by the campaign to “ clear his name” as it implies she has not been believed.

We recognise that no procedure is ever perfect and that is why our guidelines provide for the commissioning of ‘ lessons learned’ reviews at the end of complex cases involving allegations of sexual abuse; we will soon be announcing further details of the review into the handling of the George Bell case…..

…the core base of all church safeguarding is the work done in our 12,500 parishes.. This is where safeguarding is worked out every day of the week—and all church policies and practices have to be designed for this. The local church is a place of welcome for all but the welcome has to be safe for all’.

From ‘ Duty of Care’ by the Bishop of Durham, The House: Parliament’s Magazine 28 October 2016

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