November 26 2017 – “C of E tries to defend its delay over publishing the Carlile Report, which severely criticises its handling of the Bell case” ~ Peter Hitchens – Nov 20 2017

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Peter Hitchens

http://hitchensblog.mailonsunday.co.uk/2017/11/c-of-e-tries-to-defend-its-delay-over-publishing-the-carlile-report-which-severely-criticises-its-ha.html

20 November 2017 1:16 PM

C of E tries to defend its delay over publishing the Carlile Report, which severely criticises its handling of the Bell case.

 

The Church of England today published this statement, seeking to defend the 44 day (and counting) delay since it received the Carlile Report into its handling of abuse allegations against the late Bishop of Chichester, George Bell (see many posts here)

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

Nobody wants to risk identifying the complainant and it would, I think, be easy to ensure that the report was redacted to ensure that this risk was removed. It would certainly not take more than six weeks to achieve this. More than six weeks also seems more than enough to consult those criticised, though this is now more or less obligatory under the ‘Maxwellisation’ rules instituted after that businessman was once criticised in a report. 

For what I care, those responsible for this nasty episode can remain anonymous with their shame, and be left to seek forgiveness in private,  through contrition. All I want to see is an admission that the procedure was (as it was) quite unjust, and immediate steps taken to re-establish the good name of George Bell, including the restoration of his name where it has been expunged from buildings, schools and guidebooks. And the recognition by several media organisations that they treated an allegation as a proven charge and were wrong to do so. It took quite long enough to persuade a reluctant church even to admit there was anything to worry about.

But if they are so keen on delay and caution, why did they not pause for a little longer before publicising the original claims, as they so energetically did?

 

 

 

 

Mr Hitchens writes,

”All I want to see is an admission that the procedure was (as it was) quite unjust, and immediate steps taken to re-establish the good name of George Bell, including the restoration of his name where it has been expunged from buildings, schools and guidebooks.”

When my husband and I visited Chichester Cathedral this Summer, we checked for a short time the Cathedral’s bookshop if there was anything about Bishop Bell left. There was not much, or rather, nothing. My husband only bought a beautiful booklet of ’Saint Richard’ because he wanted to know more about the saint.

Later, at home he found something in the booklet and showed it me:

”Bishop George Bell was Bishop of Chichester at the time of the 700th anniversary of St Richard’s death, in 1953, and he issued a spiritual call ’to every priest and every parish in the diocese to renew their discipleship, and to pray to God for a fresh outpouring of the Holy Spirit’.

During the year the bishops visited each deanery, and in Chichester there were lectures and special services, including a celebration of the Eucharist by the Archbishop of Canterbury. There was also a pageant in which The Acts of Saint Richard were performed in the palace forecourt. Each performance ended with a procession of clergy, actors and audience to the shrine.

Bishop Bell also created a Guild of St Richard for the newly confirmed.

Since 1953 the shrine of St Richard has been further enriched. The ’Anglo-German Tapestry’, which includes references to the saint’s life, was commissioned to mark the centenary of Bishop Bell’s birth in 1983.”

We later also found in a pamphlet in Japanese (not mentioned in English one) that Bishop Bell’s ashes rest at the shrine in the Cathedral.

We left *a small posy of flowers* with a card at the memorial to Bishop George Bell (I wrongly thought I had to hide the flowers under my cardigan at the entrance) and there were already two more bunches of beautiful flowers there.

 

I have realised now that I should have writen the C *of* E.

 

@John Vernau

Thank you for your comment. I have probably given you an impression that I am very optimistic about the effect of the Carlile Report.

I think this would be an opportunity for the leaders of the C o E to show if they have enough conscience and courage (left) to admit that they have made several serious mistakes under the procedure and wronged the good name of Bishop Bell without any irrefutable foundation. And very importantly, this should not be mixed with the credibility of ’Carol’. I do not think it is the heart of the matter.

She has to accept the fact that there is no witness beside her and we have to accept the fact that there is no proof that can 100% prove that the Bishop was innocent. But then again we have the important principle of the presumption of the innocence. The C o E, the Police and many journalists have failed to respect that important principle. I think the Report should be able to establish this point.

You quoted:

“To provide the Church of England with a review which, having examined relevant documents and interviewed all relevant people, ensures that:

1. Lessons are learnt from past practice:

– As Mr Hitchens and others have shown that the alleged investigation done by the C o E was not thorough and orderly and caused distress not least to the Bishop’s niece. This failure has to be learnt and documented and they have to apologise her. (Have they done it already?)

2. Survivors are listened to and taken seriously, and are supported:

– They failed to take and support ’Carol’ seriously in the beginning. They failed to take the truth seriously too.

3. Good practice is identified and disseminated:

– The way the Church dealt with Police and the media on this issue cannot be called ’good’.

4. Recommendations are made to help the Church embed best practice in safeguarding children and adults in the future.”

– They have to think about safeguarding people from defamation too.

 

Re Ky | 22 November 2017 at 09:42 AM

“Mr Hitchens and many other more, myself included, want to see:
1) An admission that the procedure was (as it was) quite unjust.
2) Immediate steps taken to re-establish the good name of George Bell, including the restoration of his name where it has been expunged from buildings, schools and guidebooks.”

That would be wonderful, Ky, but I’m not hopeful. In fact I’m not sure that we’ll see an un-redacted version, or any version at all, of what the Church calls the ‘draft’ of the ‘lessons learned review’. Their statement of 22/11/2016, “The reviewer [Lord Carlile] will produce an executive summary, which will be published to support the dissemination of learning” implies that the summary, at least, may see the light of day as written, but I wouldn’t count on it. I think Lord Carlile has reported to the Church and the Church will, in the fullness of time, report to us. The independent part of the review is over, but reviewing continues.

The same (2016) statement provides the terms of reference for the review, which in my opinion provide little solace for those interested in justice. The objectives of the review are identified as:
“To provide the Church of England with a review which, having examined relevant documents and interviewed all relevant people, ensures that:
1. Lessons are learnt from past practice
2. Survivors are listened to and taken seriously, and are supported
3. Good practice is identified and disseminated
4. Recommendations are made to help the Church embed best practice in safeguarding children and adults in the future.”

Also, the “scope of the review” goes no further back in time than 1995. I suspect the current delay is to needed to masticate the ‘draft’ report into a familiar CofE mixture of pious pabulum and corporate gibberish, in which it will be held that much disseminating of many valuable best-practice safeguarding lessons learned has occurred. I very much hope that I’m wrong, but the rehabilitation of Bishop Bell’s reputation may have to wait until the ‘survivor’ in this case can no longer be so described.

 

The Cof E hierarchy who are responsible for enabling the unjust and official smearing of Bishop Bell’s good name and reputation have, through lack of proof and witnesses, collectively broken the 9th commandment.
What, in Heaven’s name, does that make them!?

 

Mr Hitchens and many other more, myself included, want to see:

1) An admission that the procedure was (as it was) quite unjust.

2) Immediate steps taken to re-establish the good name of George Bell, including the restoration of his name where it has been expunged from buildings, schools and guidebooks.

3) The recognition by several media organisations that they treated an allegation as a proven charge and were wrong to do so.
What do we need in order to be able to step forward?

An impartial, objective and well-researched report written by a thoughtful and highly respected lawyer:

I have heard such a report exists in this world – but it is still firmly locked and kept secret from public. There are reasons why we have to wait, they say. But the question is whether 46-days is a reasonable length of time or not.

Does the C o E really care for Bishop Bell’s 92-year-old niece, Ms. Barbara Whitley, who has been distressed by this treatment of the good name of her beloved uncle? I am sure that the restoring of Bishop Bell’s impaired reputation would meant a lot for her, as well as for other both young and old people.

 

I fear that those hoping for a takedown of the church’s actions will be disappointed: the report and its remit have been controlled by the CoE from the off; and they chose Lord Carlile, a lawyer who’s preciously defended draconian anti-terrorism powers.

Traditional English liberties aren’t sacred here, but just one factor that can be “balanced” against other considerations like public order and victims’ rights.

After the obligatory refusal to assign any personal blame, the best we can hope for is probably some recommendations urging restraint in the publishing of future accusations.

 

‘note how they have slipped in “a few months” as the normal period of delay’ (Mr Rob)

Yes, they must have seen your claim to write about this issue every day until it is published and thought that if the let you know it will take a few months you might desist. It is weaselly from them. This is an organisation thinking in self-preservation mode, thinking only about PR. For a church this is outrageous, a complete dereliction of its stated purpose. When put under pressure by ‘Carol’s’ lawyer the church deals with the issue immediately, but when dealing with the issue immediately is not in their benefit they stall.

I applaud you for your determination.

 

All of this is to confuse the wheat with the chaff. Who cares about this old stickler Bell and his hangups about Nazis in the 1930s or carpet bombing in the 1940s?

Is somebody seriously saying that there was something wrong about our revered Archbishop Welby believing all that the victim or survivor has had to say about the cruel treatment she suffered at the hands of that wicked Bell (so cruel and upsetting that she could only bring herself to speak about that treatment when she was certain that the villain was well dead) or is someone saying that his Lordship might have been tempted to sacrifice even that old geezer from history, for the sake of promoting his modern image as an administrative investigator of unimpeachable credentials?

Is it not enough of a burden that his Lordship has the thoroughly unpleasant task of having to constantly apologise for the shortcomings of others in the Church, as though it did not pain him beyond endurance to have to point his finger at those lesser mortals who have sinned by act or omission?

 

“….. issues over factual accuracy and identification of ‘Carol’.”
I can understand they they still feel constrained to keep her identity secret, but ‘factual accuracy’ rather suggests that they’re not even sure now if she really exists – interesting.

 

“Nobody wants to risk identifying the complainant …” says PH.

I strongly disagree.

If someone is claiming money by way of “compensation”, I don’t give tuppence for their credibility if they remain anonymous and act via solicitors.

 

Please keep at them. Please contact the CoE every day.

 

I venture to predict that the report is so damning of their actions that it will never see the light of day. That’s how the system “works”.

 

The statement doesn’t really say anything at all, does it? They’re playing for time (note how they have slipped in “a few months” as the normal period of delay…).

Keep up the pressure, Mr H, I am sure that more and more people are through your efforts becoming acquainted with this case and the lamentable actions of the Church of England.

 

One can only contrast the Bishop’s bravery for standing against British terror bombing of Germany in WW2 with the timidity of the C of E in publishing a report that might show they acted wrongly in this case.

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