Imagine what would have happened if, after the Appeal Court had found (say) the Birmingham Six innocent, the Home Secretary had said: ‘I still think there’s a significant cloud over their names. I’m not letting them go.’
Well, this is how the Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, is behaving over Bishop George Bell, wrongly accused of child abuse and cleared last month by a devastating report.
Lord Carlile QC, who reviewed the case, says that had Bishop Bell been alive when the accusations were made, ‘there would have been absolutely no chance… of him being convicted’.
But the Archbishop refuses to accept that his Church was mistaken when it publicly condemned Bishop Bell.
Now a group of powerful historians and another group of international church leaders have written sternly to Mr Welby, telling him to accept the verdict.
Is he big enough to climb down? We shall see. But if not, is he big enough for his throne?