Monthly Archives: November 2016

Bishop Bell and ‘The Cathedral Guide Letter’ to the Dean of Chichester


Chichester Cathedral

Monday, November 28 2016

The Deanery

Chichester Cathedral


West Sussex PO19 1PY

Dear Dean and Members of Chapter

We write concerning the recent publication of the Pitkin Guide to the Cathedral. In common with many people locally and nationally who have read it, we find your stance on the text concerning the late Bishop Bell unhelpful. We are given to understand the copyright is your responsibility and that you wrote the text in question.

When every effort is being made to heal the hurt and divisions occasioned by the way the Church locally and nationally has handled this affair, it seems to us unwise to leave in place any potentially damaging text about Bishop Bell.

As concern grows nationally regarding the handling of sexual abuse cases, we await the investigation into the Church of England’s handling of this affair.

In the meantime, we would suggest three possible courses of action:

1. The withdrawal of the Guide from sale pending the Review by Lord Carlile QC

2. The re-printing of the Guide, excluding – or re-writing – the text in question

3. The insertion of a Slip into every copy of the Guide, stating something along the lines of: “The accusation of child sexual abuse which has been made against Bishop George Bell is now the subject to an investigation – led by Lord Carlile QC – which will report in 2017”.

Thank you for giving this letter your consideration.


Yours sincerely


Timothy ADAMS









Professor Peter BILLINGHAM

Joanna BOGLE






Dr Colin CLARK

Brian COOK

Yvette COOK






Charlotte EVANS

The Reverend David EVANS

Anthony FRENCH

The Reverend Dr Jules GOMES


Dr Ruth Hildebrandt GRAYSON

Professor James GRAYSON

Annabelle HANCOCK


The Reverend Professor Martin HENIG



Christopher HILL

Christopher HOARE

Richard HOARE








The Very Reverend Professor Martyn PERCY

Thelma PERCY





Sandra SAER

Marguerite SAFFERY



Michael SHARP

Richard W. SYMONDS


Dr Geoffrey THOMAS

The Reverend John TIBBS

Michael TIBBS








For any reply and/or further information, please contact:

Richard W. Symonds The Bell Society 2 Lychgate Cottages Ifield Street, Ifield Village Crawley, West Sussex RH11 0NN
Tel: 07540 309592 (Text only – Very deaf)


cc The Rt Revd Dr Martin Warner, Bishop of Chichester

Further Information:


Bishop Bell – “The Rule of the Lynch Mob” – Church of England Newspaper – October 2015 [Archives] – The Justice Gap – November 2016

[Source : The Justice Gap ]


The rule of the lynch mob

Well let’s get it out of the way. All child abuse is wrong and horrible. All claims of child abuse should be investigated properly and the offenders, if found to be guilty in a court of law, should be flung into prison for a very, very long time.

So now we’ve done the formalities. There is much discontent with the Church of England’s behaviour over the way it has handled abuse allegations against one of its greatest sons, George Bell – a great ecumenist, liturgist, wartime leader and friend to Dietrich Bonhoeffer and the Confessing Church.

It was announced last week that a legal civil claim has been settled by the Diocese of Chichester regarding sexual abuse claims against Bishop Bell. The allegation was first made in 1995 and was not reported to the police. The case was reopened in 2013 and now an unknown sum of money has been handed over.

But why on earth is the Church of England traducing the reputation of one of its greatest wartime spiritual leaders on the basis of recent allegations about the events of 65 years ago? We talk about cases of historic abuse in reference to Jimmy Savile crimes during the 60s, 70s and 80s, but this case is truly prehistoric.

Bishop Bell died in 1958 and the crimes of abuse he is alleged to have committed against a young child date from the late 40s and early 50s when the Bishop himself was in his late 60s and early 70s.

He is effectively being tried and convicted by the Church of England with little thought for proper justice and due process.

“We are all diminished by what we are being told,” said the modern Bishop of Chichester. He goes on to explain: “Our starting point is response to the survivor. We remain committed to listening to all allegations of abuse with an open mind. In this case, the scrutiny of the allegation has been thorough, objective and undertaken by people who command the respect of all parties.

“We face with shame a story of abuse of a child; we also know that the burden of not being heard has made the experience so much worse. We apologise for the failures of the past.”

And here much of the problem lies. The starting point must be justice, not just a concern for the ‘survivor’, because that is to jump to conclusions. The Bishop, and the independent assessors, have missed out a vital part of the process of justice that is that the accused is presumed innocent and has the right to defend themselves.

The indecent haste to describe Bishop George Bell as an abuser is a failure of nerve on the part of the Church of England. The diocese of Chichester may have failed to respond properly when the allegation of abuse was first reported in 1995, and although the accuser was offered pastoral support, this should not lead to any sort of admission of guilt on behalf of George Bell.

There is hysteria and a lynch-mob mentality surrounding some of the cases of historic abuse. We have seen this in the false allegations of murder, rape and ritual abuse made against politicians such as Ted Heath, Leon Brittan and Harvey Proctor. The Church is now as much a part of this overreaction as any other part of society.


Of course there are historic cases of abuse, and there was a long period of time when child protection procedures were unknown and reports of abuse were dealt with poorly. There were cover-ups and failures to believe the victims of abuse. But we’ve had at least two decades of improving things, legislating and regulating to make sure that protections are better, and that children are properly listened to and dealt with.

These improvements should have lessened the sense of hysteria and panic surrounding these cases. Abusers such as Jimmy Savile could never have thrived in today’s climate of safeguarding. Yet the case of George Bell proves that we are living in a state of perpetual and rising fears over allegations of child abuse and we in the Church of England have no answers to these fears. In fact, we are complicit in the lynch mob.

Remember the ritual abuse controversy of the 1980s and 1990s in which social workers and police were convinced that Satanists were involved in the mass killing and abuse of children. And there was no evidence at all in the end.

Remember also the mob that surrounded the home of a paediatrician. The witch-hunt is back and no prominent person is safe from being named – alive or dead. And if named their reputation is trashed.

This is the very opposite of the Christian faith that decries fear and says ‘judge not, lest ye be judged’.

George Bell, with his reputation for bravery, and his leadership in bringing the victims of Nazism to safety, opposing carpet-bombing of German cities and supporting the martyrs of the Confessing Church, is the type of church leader who would have confronted this lynch mob with calm courage.

There may be a stain on his reputation for a short time but his memory will be cherished again in future especially when we look back at this time of witch-hunting with a proper sense of perspective.

6 Responses to “The rule of the lynch mob”

  1. EveOxford  07/11/2015 at 15:29

    “We are all diminished by what we are being told,” – actually, no. But we are diminished by the Church, in our name, presuming to judge, to apologise and then to pay compensation. If George Bell were still alive then perhaps we would have been treated to BBC film of a dawn raid of his palace (before the police admitted they shouldn’t have done that). Perhaps we’d have had a policeman standing in front of the Bishop’s Palace inviting “people who will be believed” to step forward. Perhaps his career would have been ruined and after a year of investigations the police would say they had nothing on him after all (as with Paul Gambaccini). Who on earth was selected by the diocese of Chichester to sit in judgment on the reputation of this bravest of Christians?

  2. Tony Foreman  07/11/2015 at 15:40

    In a wicked world we cannot, unfortunately, do without suspicion. But that suspicion has to be equally apportioned – to Bishop Bell, to the complainant and in regard to the competence of the C of E committee that saw fit to take the matter into its own hands and tacitly admit Bishop Bell’s guilt by issuing an apology. This is not justice: open and honest. It is an illegitimate, anonymous, unaccountable exercise of power. It is wholly against everything the C of E ought to stand for.

  3. Fr David Lawrence-March  07/11/2015 at 21:50

    Well doe, CofE Newspaper for a measured, Christian response.

  4. Fr David Lawrence-March  07/11/2015 at 21:52

    Whoops, ‘done’ !

  5. Richard  08/11/2015 at 07:35

    In 1995 Bishop Bell had been dead for 37 years. Dead people are beyond the reach of civil justice so how could the bishop at that time have gone to the police? And why, if they could have done, didn’t the acuser. Something stinks about this whole witch hunt.

Cathy Presland on Coaching and Leadership


Hi, it’s Cathy here and I was talking to a group of coaches last week about leadership and deep coaching. About what it means to lead in our role as a coach, and what a client should expect from the coach they choose to work with.

I’ll share more of the content of the talk in future emails; I don’t think it applies only to coaching — we are all leaders — and the concepts of how to co-create with someone else applies to each and every one of us in the work we do in the world.

Anyway…. this question came up in the Q&A:

What’s the difference between a coach and a leader?

So many leaders are being asked–or told–to acquire coaching skills, so what’s the difference and why do we still need coaches if our managers can ‘coach’ us?

Hmm, that’s a pretty interesting question.

I could see the reasoning behind it, yet I also see the role of of a coach and the role a leader (or manager) as very different.

One of the other speakers answered before me. She talked about a commitment to the outputs, an allegiance to the organisation, sensible stuff.

And then it was my turn. I hadn’t really thought about what to say until that moment, and what came out surprised me.

“It’s about love,” I said.

“A coaching relationship is one of the few places where you can expect unconditional love.

“Your coach doesn’t demand anything of you. Your coach is never there to judge or to tell you to do something you don’t want to do. Even when — in fact especially when — you mess up. Your coach just wants to you be yourself and to do what inspires you. He or she will give you that love whatever happens.

“And it comes with an unconditionality so rare in most adult relationships.

“Now, you might also get this from your manager or leader, but that isn’t guaranteed. That you should get it from your coach is a given.”

The L.O.V.E word

We don’t often talk like that in our professional relationships, especially in business. I don’t think you’ll find the L… word on many sales pages or even in many coaching conversations.

And yet, it is completely true.

I don’t mean love…” in the way I might mean romantic love; I don’t mean a passionate love, or the deep, powerful love that we have for our children.

The love we give, and receive, as a coach is about a calmness, a non-judgemental, unconditionally supportive kind of love that transcends everyday transactional business and personal relationships.

It comes from a deep knowing that, at the end of the day, we are going to be OK, no matter what the world throws at us. That, together, we will find the answers, find a way through our challenges, and find the strength to achieve what we want to achieve.

And I think being in that relationship is very special.

Here’s to creating more of that unconditional understanding and caring this week!

With love,


Helping you see things differently. Find out more at Cathy Presland

P.S. If you want to be in the kind of supportive, intimate, professional relationship where you can shine and grow, then maybe you’re ready for my World-Changers’ Circle. For those who join, it’s a chance to share your dreams with a hand-picked group of people who truly understand your dreams and your challenges. Reply and tell me more about those dreams…

“Review of George Bell child abuse case will be rigorous, Lord Carlile insists” – The Church Times – November 25 2016

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

Tim Wyatt

by Tim Wyatt

Posted: 25 Nov 2016 @ 12:07


Click to enlarge

Expecting to report “in a timely fashion”: Lord Carlile


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

It was announced on Wednesday that the peer, an experienced lawyer and judge and former Liberal Democrat MP, would be leading the review of the affair, in which a woman, referred to under the pseudonym Carol, complained that Bell, a former Bishop of Chichester, who died in 1958, had sexually abused her at his palace when she was a child. She received £15,000 compensation in recognition that the complaint had been handled badly over a number of years (News, 23 October 2015).

A church statement to the media about the compensation settlement accepted Bell’s guilt, and prompted campaigning in his defence. The Church of England has been accused of destroying a revered churchman’s reputation on flimsy evidence (News, 24 March). The review of the case was announced in July (News, 1 July).

Lord Carlile has been asked to review both how the diocese of Chichester dealt with Carol’s initial complaint in 1995, her subsequent complaints sent to Lambeth Palace, and how the Church’s own investigation came to conclude that, on the balance of probabilities, Bishop Bell had abused Carol.

“The important thing about my review is that is should produce an objective assessment and lessons learned on an evidence base,” Lord Carlile said on Tuesday. Investigating the Church’s own inquiries into the truth of Carol’s complaint would be the “heart” of his job.

“I shall be crawling into files like a mole and looking at every detail in them,” Lord Carlile said. Material from both inside and outside the C of E would be considered, including any written evidence submitted by Bell’s defenders. He said that he was well aware that there were “strongly held opinions both for and against Bishop Bell”, but he was only interested in what evidence was available to substantiate those views.

The Bishop of Bath & Wells, the Rt Revd Peter Hancock, the lead bishop for safeguarding, said that there would always be lessons to be learnt from every significant case. “The Church of England takes all safeguarding issues very seriously, and we will continue to listen to everyone affected in this case while we await the findings of the review. The diocese of Chichester continues to be in touch and offer support to the survivor known as Carol, who brought the allegations,” he said.

Desmond Browne QC, a member of the George Bell Group, which seeks to rehabilitate his reputation, told the BBC: “I’ve obviously had to look closely at the settlement, and nothing that I have seen either about the evidence or the process adopted by the Church has led me to believe that there is any substance in the allegations.”

To protect Carol’s identity and for legal reasons, not all of the report will be made public; but Lord Carlile expected that as much as possible would be.

“My intention is to produce a public report, and I’m confident that the Church of England will release everything that is material in this report. I would not be doing this if I did not have the right kind of assurances about the outcome.”

The review is due to be completed by the summer. Lord Carlile said that he had cleared his diary to dedicate “some quality time” to it, to report in a “timely fashion”.

An inquiry into sweeping allegations of child abuse by prominent figures in Westminster, the Metropolitan Police’s Operation Midland, was the subject of stinging criticism by its reviewer, Sir Richard Henriques, earlier this month. The findings led the Metropolitan Police Commissioner, Sir Bernard Hogan-Howe, to apologise for “serious failings” to prominent figures who were publicly accused of child abuse but later found to be innocent.

Lord Carlile said that he held Sir Richard’s judgement in high regard, and would take his findings into account.