November 17 2017 – “Publish the Carlile Report Now! We have waited long enough” – Peter Hitchens – Mail Online

Peter_Hitchens_at_SidneySussex

Peter Hitchens

http://hitchensblog.mailonsunday.co.uk/2017/11/publish-the-carlile-report-now-we-have-waited-long-enough.html

17 November 2017 4:24 PM

Publish the Carlile Report Now! We have waited long enough

I intend to ask, every day until it is published, why the report which the Church of England commissioned into its handling of an allegation against the late Bishop George Bell, has not been published. The report, which is highly critical of Church behaviour, was delivered to the Archbishop of Canterbury on Saturday 7th October 2017. Once again, I must explain why I am devoting so much of my life to clearing the name of a long-dead Bishop. Here goes.

The matter is strikingly similar in some ways to that of Lord Bramall, disgracefully accused in conditions of total publicity of appalling offences on the basis of scanty evidence. But Lord Bramall, being still alive,  was eventually able to secure a proper retraction (thoihgh his wife did not live to see it). George Bell, a man (in my view) of comparable integrity   only has us to stand up for him.

Those who wish to know why Bell, a rare courageous voice in this or any time, matters, might wish to read this full account of the case.

http://hitchensblog.mailonsunday.co.uk/2017/11/as-the-c-of-e-still-sits-on-the-report-into-his-unfair-trial-the-story-of-how-george-bells-reputatio.html

Much more, including a detailed and professional review of the case by experts, can be found here

http://www.georgebellgroup.org/

Many weeks ago, the distinguished lawyer Lord Carlile of Berriew delivered a report to the Archbishop of Canterbury. This report has still not been published, and the Church can give no adequate explanation as to why it has not been.

I have good reason to believe that the report is pretty severe on the Church’s procedures. This is English understatement. I have little doubt that George Bell was publicly condemned on the basis of a procedure that would have shamed a banana republic.

Many people are affected by this, perhaps most shockingly  the Guardian newspaper, which reported the allegations against Bishop Bell as if they were proven charges and has never made any attempt to put this right, though I have pressed them to do so through their own internal procedures (the Guardian does not belong to any outside regulatory body). The Times did so slightly less prominently. A reasonable summary of the coverage is here http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/magazine-35971308

My attempts to get the Independent Press Standards Organisation (IPSO) to condemn their reporting also failed. I maintain that these reports would have been considered gravely inaccurate had Bishop Bell been alive. Why then were they not inaccurate just because he is dead? The BBC, surprisingly, did admit they had been wrong to accuse George Bell of ‘proven abuse’ and publicly regretted it, though they made no on-air correction.

The ‘Argus’ of Brighton and the Chichester Observer, while they have given me space in which to plead George Bell’s case, have continued to treat the matter as settled and George Bell as guilty.  Horrible, Stalinoid things have followed – a school and a school school house have been renamed, portraits have been taken down (and in one casae eventually restored) and flowers removed form Bell’s memorial in Chichester Cathedral (though this has now ceased, and the monument, once defaced by a nasty little notice about ‘safeguarding’,  is now rarely without flowers at its base). In some ways worst, George Bell House, given to the Church in his memory by a group of Anglican nuns who loved George Bell, and named in his honour by the former Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams, has had Bell’s name stripped from it. Mentions of him have also been removed from a guidebook to Chichester cathedral.

The Carlile report was the result of many months of work. It is a review into the process which led to the public condemnation, as a child-molester, of the late Bishop of Chichester, George Bell.

George Bell is not to be confused with Bishop Peter Ball of Lewes, convicted of serious sexual offences a short time ago. I mention this because I have received more than one letter from persons who have made this confusion. I sometimes wonder if those who condemned George Bell realised that this confusion would be made.

Trying to clear George Bell’s name was difficult. The Church had recruited the Sussex Police to say that they would have arrested the Bishop had he been alive. Many ignorant people thought this was evidence of his guilt, though it is no such thing, and their foolish conclusions only show how poorly we are now taught the rules of our own liberty.

This was an absurdity. He had been dead since 1958 and the alleged offences supposedly dated from even earlier than that.  The only evidence they had was a single uncorroborated accusation.

It is interesting that this is all it takes to get Sussex Police to arrest someone, when he has been dead for 57 years and there is no conceivable action they can take against him. For Sussex Police are among those many forces which claim they already have far too much to do.

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-5079547/Now-police-force-gives-solving-minor-crimes.html

But the Police have since explained that it was the Church which out them up to this. Did the Church realise that so many people would be persuaded by this ‘arrest’ of a corpse that George Bell was guilty as charged? I wonder.

The same Church was very hard on anyone who criticised its action. The Bishop of Chichester, the Rt Revd Martin Warner, complained : ‘The presence of strident voices in the public arena which have sought to undermine the survivor’s claims has added in this case to the suffering of the survivor and her family.’

Apart from being prejudicial, by using the term ‘survivor’ instead of the neutral expression ‘complainant’, this seeks to use the complainant as a sort of human shield.  It would be ridiculous if no objections to an allegation could be voiced lest the upset the person making the allegations. Justice of all kinds would cease, and every defendant, criminal and civil, would be guilty as charged.

One of his episcopal colleagues (who has since apologised after I engaged in a long struggle to explain to him that this was his Christian duty) actually claimed in the House of Lords that supporters of George Bell had said ‘hurtful things’ about his accuser, a flat untruth. For reasons which escape me, nothing has been done to amend the record of the House of Lords itself. Where there’s a will, there’s a way and I intend to return to this once the Carlile Report is eventually published. It is one of many unfinished tasks, which will be easier once this whole matter is in the light of day. There is no good excuse for further delay in publication.

 

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Following this matter, I am becoming increasingly vexed and disgusted with the established Church and some of its members, which have shown themselves to be of dubious moral character – or at the least, poorly educated in both their Christian faith and duty, as well as traditional English law – despite their fancy titles. Many of us have known for years, even those like myself who aren’t and have never been CofE, that the Church of England is generally a progressive left-wing institution with barely a shred, if even that, of Christian conservatism or integrity remaining. But this case indubitably displays how far from grace this institution has fallen, when it so utterly failed to come to the aid of a revered Bishop, and one of its own, who, as far as we know and understand, was (at least) ten times the moral, wise, Christian man many of his modern day successors are, especially those who sought to blacken his name for one reason or other. Parts of the media and police have also been a disgrace. In our secular and generally anti-religious and poorly educated age, this comes as no shock or surprise, even though this doesn’t make it any less wrong. But the handling by the CofE in this matter has been utterly inexcusable and unacceptable. As you’ve rightly and repeatedly stated, nobody is safe if this is allowed to stand. And so full public apologies and retractions must be made by all those within the Church involved here. The media and police should also do the same, though I imagine the chances of this happening are even more remote.

 

I posted the following text yesterday.

However, I wonder if this part of the text that Mr Hitchens read aloud at some kind of the memorial service or meeting for Bishop Bell in the last winter?

I find interesting that there are some words quite ’relevant’ today in November.

Yes, we have been *waiting*.

***
Murder In The Cathedral by T.S.Eliot

Part I

Chorus

Here let us stand, close by the cathedral. Here let us wait.
Are we drawn by danger? Is it the knowledge of safety, that draws our feet
Towards the cathedral? What danger can be
For us, the poor, the poor women of Canterbury ? what tribulation
With which we are not already familiar? There is no danger
For us, and there is no safety in the cathedral. Some presage of an act
Which our eyes are compelled to witness, has forced our feet
Towards the cathedral. We are forced to bear witness.

Since golden October declined into sombre November
And the apples were gathered and stored, and the land became
brown sharp points of death in a waste of water and mud,
The New Year waits, breathes, waits, whispers in darkness.
While the labourer kicks off a muddy boot and stretches his hand to the fire,
The New Year waits, destiny waits for the coming.
Who has stretched out his hand to the fire and remembered the
Saints at All Hallows,

Remembered the martyrs and saints who wait? and who shall
Stretch out his hand to the fire, and deny his master? who shall be warm
By the fire, and deny his master?

 

Thanking you for fighting the good fight. The CoE has indeed become ‘the Labour Party at prayer’

 

I was not surprised by the actions of the Church of England.

Eighteen years ago in Ireland, during a sustained bout of anticlericalism (or rather Anti-Catholicism), which continues even today, Nora Wall, a nun in the Sisters of Mercy order, was convicted of rape (the first such conviction for a woman in this country) and gaoled for life (another first for a woman). A homeless man was also convicted of the offences, presumably to lend credence to the accusations. This man, Pablo McCabe, was actually in prison on the date of one of the offences.

Her religious order did not defend her. Journalist Kevin Myers (who was born in Leicester as far as I remember) quipped once that the Sisters of Mercy showed no charity and the Sisters of Charity showed no mercy. This was untrue of course but it did apply in the case of Wall. (Myers lost his job with the Sunday Times a few months ago for offences against political correctness.)

The judge when sentencing spoke of Wall’s “betrayal” of the young girl.

The Sisters of Mercy said they were “devastated by the revolting crimes”. “Our hearts go out to this young woman who, as a young child, was placed in our care. Her courage in coming forward was heroic.” Even after Wall was cleared they did not withdraw their statement of support for the accuser and did not apologize to their own nun.

The Dublin Rape Crisis Centre welcomed the verdict.

As for the press, Wall had been describes as “Vile Nun”, “Pervert Nun” and “Mercy Devil”. One headline was “I Was Raped By Anti-Christ”. The Sunday World newspaper let its imagination run wild and had to pay 175,000 euros in damages after her name was cleared. (The late Richard Webster noted that it is the serious papers which are in general more susceptible to losing their sense in witch hunts.) Myers was one of the very few journalists to stand up for Wall and to point to the witch hunt. The media in Ireland, including the state broadcaster, are with few exceptions, stridently critical of the Church, of course, in particular its surviving traditionalist members who are unwilling to accept the radical re-writing of history based on lies.

Wall was released from prison after the accuser and the witness unwisely gave a press interview and relinquished anonymity. The witness was recognized by a businessman who had earlier been falsely accused himself. It turned out the she had been declared unreliable as a witness then and should not have been allowed to testify afterwards. This detail was overlooked and is typical of witch hunts.

When Bishop Bell’s accuser made her first allegation there was already a climate of press hysteria about child abuse, centred on the infamous Bryn Estyn case (which Webster investigated in a lengthy book). She repeated her allegation a year after the death of the man who shall not be named, when hysteria had reached unprecedented levels.

 

I have read all the material about Bishop George Bell on the Chichester Observer and Brighton Argus websites and the conclusion I drew was shame on both publications and the Church of England and Sussex Police ; it all smacks of taking the easy option of finding a man who is long dead, guilty of highly questionable allegations.

 

Is the C of E bound by Freedom of Information requests? That might be a way to oblige them to furnish you with a copy of the report.

***PH : Thank you, but no, and this not the way FoI works anyway. ***

 

Mr. Hitchens, your cause and your tenacity in pursuing it are admirable. On the face of it, the Church of England has behaved abominably, and deserves to be hounded until this wrong is righted.

 

It is not so long ago the sense of proportion was mentioned in this blog.
I think there is a huge contrast between the cases of Bishop Bell and of ’Squawking’.

In October 2015 the Guardian and other newspapers had published articles on Bishop Bell with shamelessly thoughtless headlines with clear statement that he *was* a pedophile or he *abused* a child as if they knew it as a proven truth.

Although many people among others Mr Hitchens have been protesting, the articles are sadly still there on the internet and anyone would read them and misunderstand the falsehood as the truth.

The Guardian openly says in their PR;
”We will give people the facts, because they want and need the information they can trust, and we will stick to the facts.”

I have also noticed that the BBC changed a little bit, through inserting the word ’alleged’ in the sentences. This little word ’alleged’ is important but many other journalists do not care – probably because Bishop Bell is not with us and cannot protest.

I see here a parallel with the abortion of unborn babies – they cannot protest or escape.

And now we see so many people are reacting strongly against Mr Hitchens’s article and its headline as if it were wrong – although they really do not have any firm, reasonable basis. I think it is totally out of proportion – or selective sense of justice.

So many people are suddenly interested in truth and the meaning and intention of a text & its headline – where were they on 22 October 2015?

 

Absolutely right, the church and much of the media’s handling of this affair has been an absolute disgrace. Any decent fair minded person would applaud your stance. Is there anything practical we can do to help?

 

In visiting the Carlile Review website, there are two items of interest about the report. The Terms of Reference state that ‘The Church of England will determine whether the full report can be sufficiently redacted or otherwise anonymised to enable its publication without risking disclosure of the complainant’s identity.’ Under the Frequently Asked Questions, however, it states that ‘The report will first be presented to the Church of England, National Safeguarding Steering Group. It will then be published in full.’

If we overlook this apparent clash (‘published in full’ vs. published ‘without risking disclosure’) and accept the narrower Terms of Reference as the controlling standard, it seems that the only permissible reason for the delay would be to redact any material that could somehow reveal ‘Carol’s’ identity. Are we to believe that it has taken over forty days to do this? Once asked, the question seems to answer itself, doesn’t it?

 

Along with the sly and weasily statement of October 2015, the statement of the Bishop of Durham (8th February 2016) still resides on the Church of England website, in which he says:

“Almost three years ago a civil claim was made, raising allegations of abuse by George Bell, the former Bishop of Chichester.
In response to the claim independent legal and medical reports were commissioned and duly considered. The evidence available was interrogated and evaluated. This led to a decision to settle the claim and to offer a formal apology to the survivor. This decision was taken on the balance of probabilities – the legal test applicable in civil claims.
The church therefore, having evaluated the evidence before them, accepted the veracity of the claims before them.”

It will be fascinating to learn the nature of the independent legal and medical reports mentioned, and the reasons why “the evidence available” was so limited – perhaps because it was not looked for?

Also keenly anticipated is the detail of what measures the Church undertook to test the assertions of the claimant, as any half decent employer would on behalf of an employee unable to defend himself.

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