January 24 2018 – “Mr Bunker is back in his Bunker

http://hitchensblog.mailonsunday.co.uk/2018/01/mr-bunker-is-back-in-his-bunker-.html

24 January 2018 11:39 AM

Mr Bunker is back in his bunker.

I felt this exchange from the latest George Bell thread deserved a post of its own, and some emphases that cannot be given in the text of comments:

Mr Bunker writes:’ No need to re-read the Archbishop of Canterbury’s statement to know that he did not “compare opinions held mistakenly before a fair trial and conviction showed them to be wrong” with current opinions on the Bishop Bell case. Far from it.

The Archbishop merely pointed out the following: That what is “alleged could not have been true” (because someone is “absolutely certain that it was impossible”) “sometimes turns out to be untrue” as it did, for example, in the case of Bishop Ball.

And that is a simple statement of fact. Not a comparison. – I can’t put it more plainly than that.

****PH responds: here is the Archbishop’s statement in full :

‘Following a letter sent to Lambeth Palace and also to the Telegraph newspaper by a group of academics, I felt it important to send a considered, personal response and this statement reflects the essence of my reply.

I cannot with integrity rescind my statement made after the publication of Lord Carlile’s review into how the Church handled the Bishop Bell case. I affirmed the extraordinary courage and achievement of Bishop Bell both before the war and during its course, while noting the Church has a duty to take seriously the allegation made against him.

Our history over the last 70 years has revealed that the Church covered up, ignored or denied the reality of abuse on major occasions. I need only refer to the issues relating to Peter Ball to show an example. As a result, the Church is rightly facing intense and concentrated scrutiny (focussed in part on the Diocese of Chichester) through the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse (IICSA). Our first hearing is in March.

The Diocese of Chichester was given legal advice to make a settlement based on the civil standard of proof, the balance of probability. It was not alleged that Bishop Bell was found to have abused on the criminal standard of proof, beyond reasonable doubt. The two standards should not be confused. It should be remembered that Carol, who brought the allegation, was sent away in 1995, and we have since apologised for this lamentable failure; a failure highlighted by Lord Carlile.

I wrote my response with the support of both Bishop Peter Hancock, the lead bishop for safeguarding, and Bishop Martin Warner, the Bishop of Chichester. We are clear that we accept all but part of one of the recommendations Lord Carlile makes and we are extremely grateful to him for what he has done and the help he has given the Church.

He indicates that in his judgement, a better way to have handled the allegation would have been for the Church to offer money on condition of confidentiality. We disagree with this suggestion. The confidentiality would have been exposed through the IICSA process, and the first question we would have faced, both about Bishop Bell and more widely, would have been ‘so what else are you concealing?’. The letter from the historians does not take into account any of these realities, nor the past failures of the Church. But we will go on considering how we can make our processes better and more robust, as pointed out by Lord Carlile.

As in the case of Peter Ball, and others, it is often suggested that what is being alleged could not have been true, because the person writing knew the alleged abuser and is absolutely certain that it was impossible for them to have done what is allegedAs with Peter Ball this sometimes turns out to be untrue, not through their own fault or deceit but because abuse is often kept very secret. The experience of discovering feet of clay in more than one person I held in profound respect has been personally tragic. But as I said strongly in my original statement the complaint about Bishop Bell does not diminish the importance of his great achievements and he is one of the great Anglican heroes of the 20th Century.’

 

** PH continues :He will note the operative section ‘As in the case of Peter Ball, and others, it is often suggested that what is being alleged could not have been true, because the person writing knew the alleged abuser and is absolutely certain that it was impossible for them to have done what is alleged. As with Peter Ball this sometimes turns out to be untrue, not through their own fault or deceit but because abuse is often kept very secret.’

This is a direct response to the historians, when they said: (First) : ‘We regard George Bell as a significant historical figure and *our assessment of his life and career has been an important aspect of our academic work. On this basis we suggest that our collective view on these matters constitutes a genuine and very pertinent authority.*

In this matter they are saying, with astonishing bluntness just this side of scorn,  that they know better than the Archbishop, and are better qualified to judge the matter than the Archbishop.

They continue : ‘In your public statement of 15 December 2017, the authority of your position was used to perpetuate a single allegation made against Bishop Bell, and you did so in face of the independent review which the Church itself commissioned. We believe that your statement offends the most basic values and principles of historical understanding, ones which should be maintained firmly by those in positions of public authority across society. They must never be ignored or abused.’

**This further passage elaborates the same point***

‘In the past you have insisted that the Church’s view was based on an investigation that was ‘very thorough’. But Lord Carlile has plainly, and utterly, devastated this claim. Historians and lawyers both attach great importance to the presumption of innocence. Your comment seems to imply that a case against Bell has actually been established. It has not.

History cannot be made out of allegations. It is the study of sources. Lord Carlile’s review sets out the material of the allegation for everyone to assess for themselves, and he invites them to do so. There is nothing in it that connects in any way with what is firmly known about Bishop Bell. The allegation is not only wholly uncorroborated but is contradicted by all the considerable, and available, circumstantial material which any historian would consider credible. (****PH: This argument is what Mr Welby refers to, and seeks vainly to rebut,  when he says lots of people thought Peter Ball was innocent, before he pleaded guilty to his undoubted crimes****)

 

The historians continued: ‘ Furthermore, even on its own terms we find it to depend wholly on scenarios which simply could not have occurred, given what is firmly known and authoritatively establishend

There is no credible representation of personalities, relationships, patterns or locations which is remotely recognisable (***PH notes, this passage is also plainly the object of Mr Welby’s reference to those who doubted the guilt of Peter Ball)**. Far from enhancing the allegation, the insistence on vivid quotations undermines critically a testimony in which the experiences of infancy are ‘recollected’, not immediately but at a distance of many decades. Even a modest historical sensitivity would have established the basic implausibility of such a testimony.

The material supporting this allegation does not in our view constitute a credible basis for the writing of history and it flies in the face of our customary critical method. It represents something quite different, an unhistorical, indeed anti-historical, testimony, explicable, perhaps, but in different terms. We cannot understand how such an unsupported, indeed insupportable, allegation can be upheld by a responsible public authority. Quite simply, it is indefensible.’

***PH notes: The reference to the Ball case is clearly a riposte to this (Mr Welby’s statement is a direct response to the letter. To which parts of that letter could it possibly be a response, if not those I cite?), though as I have explained it is a pathetically, pitiably inadequate and misplaced one.

As it happens, nobody in the Bell campaign, to my knowledge , has said that he or she *knows* him to be innocent. I certainly have not. In fact, from the very start, I have conceded explicitly that the allegations against him *might* be true. I specifically said so in my original article on the subject in the Spectator. No honest inquiry or trial could proceed unless our minds were open to this possibility. (You might say that the Church could not have honestly inquired into the matter unless their minds were open to the possibility that George Bell was innocent. And you could reasonably say that they did nothing which suggests that their minds were open to this – not least, the appalling fact that Bishop Bell had no advocate or defender during this procedure, let alone a presumption of innocence).

 

I several times said privately to my allies in this that we must not be afraid of the truth. If persuasive evidence emerged that Bell was indeed a child molester, then we must concede it immediately, and withdraw.  This was the explicit price of engaging in such a campaign, and if we lacked the courage to face it, we should keep quiet. As it happens, in the two years of this campaign, not one solitary further accusation of this kind has emerged, despite local, national and now international publicity given to the accusation. On the contrary, two persuasive witnesses have emerged, who recall the time and place at which the crimes are supposed to have taken place and who (from very different perspectives) offer evidence which fails to confirm, and casts doubt upon, the accusation.

I acted accordingly. Without knowing the answer to my question, I contacted both Sussex police and the NSPCC (who set up a helpline freephone after the allegation was publicised) to ask if there had been any further complaints against George Bell. I waited some months to do so. There were precisely none.  For the same reason, I sought a meeting with the accuser, so that I could hear her side. This request was denied,  though she had been willing to speak to other media and i was willing to abide by all necessary conditions to preserve her anonymity.

If Mr ‘Bunker’ has actually read the Carlile report and its annexes, he will know the great cloud of circumstantial evidence undermining Carol’s claim, and the total lack of hard corroboration of it, just as he will know that Professor Maden, engaged by the Church to examine the accusation, warned specifically and voluntarily of the possibility of false memory (though not all members of the investigating team were told of this) . No court, civil or criminal, would have found against George Bell on the basis of what we actually know. Thus, by any civilised measure, as well as in law,  he remains innocent of the charge made (just as Peter Ball, by comparison a trivial figure, remains by any civilised measure guilty of the crimes of which he was accused). Those who insist there is a ‘cloud’ over George Bell’s reputation are no better than gossipers, rumour-mongers and purveyors of tittle tattle. I really do not know why Mr Bunker clings to his position, except to draw attention to himself.

 

 

Comments

Feed You can follow this conversation by subscribing to the comment feed for this post.

 

I do not think whether ’to suspend judgement or not’ is the heart of the matter in this case now.

The restoration of the good name of George Bell is the most crucial issue, especially after the Review.

The C of E had failed to respond to the claimant properly earlier and apologized her about it and paid for a certain sum of money. This part of the case is completed and closed.

The C of E had wronged the good name of Bishop Bell on 22 Oct. 2015 through the statement they had made.

The consequences of the statements were/are among others:

Many (or the majority) of journalists of news media *believed* and wrote the allegation as the proven fact. None of them has, as far as I know, retracted their articles (most of them were published on 22 Oct. 2015 and still available on the Internet) or apologized Bishop Bell’s relatives. I have not heard that the C of E has protested to the media who described the Bishop as a pedophile then.

The name of Bishop Bell has been swiftly and unfairly removed from many places. It was reported that the portrait of Bell was put back to the former place in the city hall of Chichester, if my memory serves well. But otherwise we have not seen that his good name has been restored concretely and thoroughly.

What the Archbishop Welby is doing is that he is saying ’Yes’ in practice to all the negative consequences upon the good name of George Bell and therewith hurting Mrs Whitley. Why is it *Bishop Bell* who continuously has to pay the price now and even in future for the allegation no one can sufficiently prove?

 

I wonder if Mr Hitchens noticed an apparent contradiction in the Carlile report?

I mean, “without a calculated intention to damage Bishop Bell’s reputation.” vs. “apparently deliberate destruction of the reputation”

Surely it can’t be both? Full quotes…

“I consider that what happened resulted from oversteer in the direction of what was believed to be the best interests of Carol and of the Church, and without a calculated intention to damage Bishop Bell’s reputation.”

“There is an innate contradiction between a settlement without admission of liability, as at least technically happened here, and the knowing and apparently deliberate destruction of the reputation of the alleged perpetrator, as plainly happened here.”

 

> ***PH writes. This is simply not true. No judgement is implied on ‘Carol’. The only thing that is judged is the case against George Bell, which is inadequate to justify a prosecution, let alone to secure a conviction( or compel him to give restitution for tort in a civil case). If this were not so, we would have to prosecute for perjury the advocates and witnesses in any failed prosecution, or nay failed defence, for that matter. Why do people refuse to understand the operation of the law? ****

What law? There was not a legal or civil trial. It was a “process”, internal to the Church.

Surely it is a judgement of some kind on “Carol” when you refer to “the great cloud of circumstantial evidence undermining Carol’s claim, and the total lack of hard corroboration of it”?

The George Bell Group refers to inconsistencies in the account of ‘Carol’ and asserts that it, “contributes to any assessment of Carol as a witness”.

Plainly, Mr Hitchens and other people believe her account is untrue (this does not mean she is deliberately lying, as I made clear). Logically, they must disbelieve Carol. Even if they don’t claim to *know* her account is untrue.

I am interested to know, what would satisfy Mr Hitchens? Would he be satisfied if the Archbishop said that George Bell should be “considered (or presumed?) innocent” in a probatory sense? I mean based on the something like the civil concept of the “balance of probabilities”.

Or would Mr Hitchens only be satisfied if the Archbishop declared that George Bell is, simply, innocent? I still maintain that at least in this latter sense, that would reflect badly on ‘Carol’.

For the avoidance of doubt, Mr Hitchens, I support and commend your efforts throughout this affair.

 

Contributor Mike B, whom I thank for kindly replying, wrote:

“I think that you will find, Mr Preston, that the defence of Bishop Bell’s good name is all that is concerning those on Peter Hitchens’s side of the argument, who have contributed to this, and other threads, regarding this matter.”

Well, I am not sure who exactly you may mean by “those on Peter Hitchens’s side of the argument”, sir. Any decent person will naturally support a defender of another’s good name and especially the good name of a deceased person, for such a person is unable to defend himself or his reputation.
Yet I wonder if you may be exaggerating a little the disinterestedness of some of those supporters by your expression “all that is concerning” them.
I may be wrong, of course, but I seem to detect here and there in their writings a certain readiness to criticize the Archbishop himself and the Church along with him, a readiness which seems to me hardly to become people solely concerned with putting right an alleged defamation of a man’s character.
In defending one man’s good name shouldn’t people be careful to avoid any righteous exuberance in which they might be tempted to defame another?
You conclude, sir “..given that the Archbishop went public with his comments, it has become a public matter, hence the public’s business.”

How so, sir? I had never even heard of the good Archbishop’s comments nor indeed of the good bishop himself, until I happened to read Mr Hitchens’ robust defence of his reputation. Nor do I imagine that I was alone in that ignorance of events. If it is anyone’s “business” at all, it is surely the business only of those who manage and apply or withhold our laws, their advocates, plaintiffs and any summoned witnesses and jurors.
For the rest of the population it is, I maintain, none of their business, though some may be so susceptible to what Mr Hitchens himself has aptly called ‘gossip, rumour and tittle tattle’ that they are inclined to make it their ‘business’.

 

Peter Preston, “What I simply cannot make out is why anyone should interest himself at all – except to defend, as Mr Hitchens has done in the matter of the bishop’ good name – in whether a person with whom he or she has no connection whatever is to be held guilty or innocent of this or that offence. Why cannot people simply mind their own business?”

I’m not sure to whom you are referring?! Are you perplexed over the considerable comments and interest found here over a number of threads on the subject? If so, I wonder why. I do take your point that probably none of those posting knew the Bishop, (I don’t think) but even so, is it not the case, possibly, that firstly, we are responding to the numerous articles PH has provided us about the continuing issue and his part in it, to which many of us would want to show our support? Also there is the interest which all of us should be concerned with and that is the presumption of innocence which was wrongly denied the Bishop. And perhaps, since all of the discussion concerns the Church of England, we also ought to be concerned about its own behaviour throughout this most unedifying case.
All of which, regardless of whether we should really be concerned as to the guilt of a man we never met and don’t know, rather tips the balance in favour of sustained interest in all that Peter is kindly providing us for our information. And it is promoting a general discussion about several aspects of the case which could come up in other cases of both well known and anonymous people in future and things we need to try to guard against too.

 

@Peter Preston 27th January at 11:06AM

“What I simply cannot make out is why anyone should interest himself at all – except to defend, as Mr Hitchens has done in the matter of the bishop (sic) good name – in whether a person with whom he or she has no connection whatever is to be held guilty or innocent of this or that offence.”

I think that you will find, Mr Preston, that the defence of Bishop Bell’s good name is all that is concerning those on Peter Hitchens’s side of the argument, who have contributed to this, and other threads, regarding this matter.

Unfortunately, that good name has been wantonly discarded by Justin Welby and the Church of England, and Justin Welby has done so through statements which not merely hint at, but strongly suggest that Bishop Bell was guilty of prolonged child sex abuse. (I shan’t use the word paedophilia for reasons which you, as a Greek scholar, will doubtless understand.) Moreover, the Archbishop has done so, when there is nothing but the flimsiest of evidence to suggest Bishop Bell’s guilt. Hence, the discussion of legal principles and of the guilt or innocence of Bishop Bell. What is more, given that the Archbishop went public with his comments, it has become a public matter, hence the public’s business, so that people who care about the wanton discardment of someone’s good reputation are quite right to voice their concern and even anger, at what has occurred..

 

-“I’m not trying to justify Welby’s actions, just to point out that from his perspective, there may be other issues to consider than the strictly legal ones.”-
Posted by: Persephone | 27 January 2018 at 11:02 AM:

Self-interest..?

 

What I simply cannot make out is why anyone should interest himself at all – except to defend, as Mr Hitchens has done in the matter of the bishop’ good name – in whether a person with whom he or she has no connection whatever is to be held guilty or innocent of this or that offence. Why cannot people simply mind their own business?
If I read in the newspaper that Mr Fred Whatshisname of Somewhere or other Street has been charged with riding a bicycle without lights after dark, I may be momentarily shocked by the depths of depravity to which unregenerate human nature can sink but, as I don’t know the fellow, I would quickly consign the news item to the ‘nowt-to-do-with-me’ file and get on with the rest of my life. To continue to interest myself in the matter to the extent of guessing at the man’s personal state of conscience would indicate, I think, an unhealthy state of mind in myself.
Would my state of mind be any healthier, if the fellow had faced a more serious charge?

 

It’s certainly true that many people don’t understand the law, but what’s more to the point is that many people aren’t very good at thinking logically. If the law was the only issue here it would be straightforward, but it’s not. Welby also has to consider the public response to a high-ranking CoE official speaking about child abuse – however irrational that response might be. So what can he do? He can direct people to look at the evidence, he can state that the Bishop would probably have not been found guilty, had the case gone to court. But he can’t make any public statement that would even imply that ‘Carol’ was speaking untruthfully (let’s not use the word ‘lying’, to avoid the matter of intention). Many people would interpret this as an attempt to cover up child abuse. That’s not a logical conclusion, but a lot of people aren’t logical thinkers. They won’t read the Carlie report, they won’t bother to look at the evidence and even if they do, they won’t be able to interpret it in a logical way. They won’t know how the police proceed in a criminal investigation, or how lawyers work. They won’t understand the difference between criminal and civil cases or what the different standards of proof are. No point in telling them that the evidence available would probably not even have led to the man being charged – their reply will be ‘there’s no smoke without fire’.They’ll just immediately jump to the conclusion it’s an attempt to cover up child abuse. And he can’t risk that.

I’m not trying to justify Welby’s actions, just to point out that from his perspective, there may be other issues to consider than the strictly legal ones.

 

Archbishop Welby subscribes to the contemporary progressive-liberal worldview, and one of its tenets is that all men accused of sexual assault are guilty until proved innocent. My hunch is that, despite all the legitimate criticism he’s faced from Lord Carlisle and others, he’s ideologically incapable of taking any stand other than the one he regrettably continues to. I think he maintains there’s still a cloud over Bishop Bell’s name because, if he didn’t, he would be forced to challenge many of his own deeply-held beliefs, and just for today he’s unwilling or unable to walk down that particularly difficult and painful road.

I’m aware I’m talking about things I can’t know, but I’ve yet to see anything to suggest I’m not making reasonable assumptions.

 

Jeremiah Jones 26 January at 03:31PM

I agree with you, Mr Jones, that it is simply ignorance of the law (which isn’t that difficult to understand) which is causing confusion.

All that matters is whether the burden of proof has been met in the case of Bishop Bell. It clearly has not been, even on the less onerous civil standard.

That is all. ‘Carol’s’ character would not have been impugned simply because it was decided that the case she had brought had not met this requirement.

 

I must say, rare as it is, I’m in more or less complete agreement with Bunker’s last paragraph to Robert Duncan. I think that the presumption of innocence is a legal principle and not strictly relevant for how we judge even living individuals outside the legal system. Rather, what’s important is we err on the side of suspending judgement – the evidence must be very strong before we conclude someone is likely guilty of some accused offence. But there doesn’t have to be a trial, and it is even possible to disagree with the verdict of a trial.

In this case, the evidence isn’t strong. We have one accuser without corroborating evidence. On the other hand, there is little that casts definite suspicion or doubt on Carol’s claim. Somewhere should suspend judgement, neither suggesting Bell guilty nor Carol is lying or mistaken.

 

Persephone replying to Peter Preston,26th Jan @11.02am, about what Justin Welby can do regarding his “significant cloud” remark.

“This is where Justin Welby’s problem lies, I suspect, whatever he may personally think. He can’t risk publicly saying anything that would even imply that ‘Carol’ is lying. Apart from the fact that this cannot be proved, the papers could spin it as saying that all victims of child abuse are lying…”

He doesn’t need to make any further comment about whether ‘Carol’ is lying, mistaken or suffers faulty memory. That is something people can decide for themselves. As PH has repeatedly pointed out, in law, there is no legal recourse to a witness in any criminal case, otherwise courts would be full prosecuting them, and they would not be so willing to give evidence. People can be found not guilty regardless of the truth of a witness’s evidence for any number of reasons. That is why they are not pursued in law.
Mr Welby could still say he has reconsidered the situation and retract this statement and leave it to people to draw their own conclusions as to what may or may not be the truth in ‘Carol’s’ accusation.
The only query I have, is why he specifically told Lord Carlisle not to decide if Bishop Bell was guilty or not in his enquiry into the church’s handling of the case? That seems odd to me. Why leave that out of the enquiry?
One final point, I don’t quite understand how it follows that if ‘Carol’ is lying, the press could say, “all victims of child abuse are lying.”? Why would that be?

 

Posted by: Persephone | 26 January 2018 at 11:02 AM:

-“This is where Justin Welby’s problem lies, I suspect, whatever he may personally think. … He risks being accused of wanting to cover up child abuse. Basically, he’s in an impossible position. What’s the answer?”-

The Archbishop’s statement reads:

“The Diocese of Chichester was given legal advice to make a settlement based on the civil standard of proof, the balance of probability. It was not alleged that Bishop Bell was found to have abused on the criminal standard of proof, beyond reasonable doubt. The two standards should not be confused.”

Its meaning is open to interpretation.

The CofE made an out-of-court settlement of the civil claim precisely so that it would not be decided in court based on the civil standard of proof.

The allegation made was never examined in court and so never the subject of a legal finding.

Therefore, not only was it “not alleged that Bishop Bell was found to have abused on the criminal standard of proof, beyond reasonable doubt” – more precisely, in terms, Bishop Bell was “not found to have abused” – there was no legal finding AT ALL.

 

***PH writes. (re Mr Phil W) This is simply not true. No judgement is implied on ‘Carol’. The only thing that is judged is the case against George Bell, which is inadequate to justify a prosecution, let alone to secure a conviction … Why do people refuse to understand the operation of the law? ****

I don’t think they are *refusing* to understand, I believe they genuinely *don’t* understand. Either the facts as to how English law works, or, far less, the reasons *why* it operates like that. The proximate reasons for what we have are buried in the accidents of our history, and what we have we now analyse at our (complacent) leisure. One could drone on about the failure of our school system to educate people in the most elementary facts of our history, constitution, law, presumption of innocence (isn’t that what we’re talking about ?) etc – but PH has done that better, many times. I comment only in surprise that he doesn’t answer his own rhetorical question.

Mr Robt Duncan’s contribution is pertinent:

“Perhaps, then, you will see the importance of this issue. It is not enough to suspend judgement. It is not enough to talk cloudily of clouds. In such cases, where knowledge is impossible, one has a duty, formally, to ASSUME innocence.”

Some people here seem to be getting stuck on a merely logical quandary of ‘Carol’ vs Bell, one or the other. This may be good mathematics (though only if you have your abstraction right), even useful for detective analysis, but it is completely useless for justice and morality. It is the stuff of continental “inquisitorial” justice systems (which, like Justin Welby, would be stuck forever on this case because the detailed truth is now irrevocably lost), but alien to the English justice system, which could easily have decided any case brought against Bell, and on all the public facts now known, would have acquitted – had there not been an early ruling that there was no case to answer.

***PH notes (re Persephone, and “survivors’ memories are false” etc) If any newspaper did this, it would certainly be open to condemnation under the IPSO code for inaccuracy, and so forced to print a prominent retraction, and probably also for a suit at libel from the Archbishop. The person who *has* suggested that the complainant’s memories *may* be false (not that they are which is unknowable) is the professional psychiatrist employed by the C of E to examine the claim.***)

Quite so. So even if Persephone is right as to Welby’s fears, he can easily (if he bothers to think it out properly) face down not only his own fears, but any ignorant flak that might fly as a result. The question is, does he have the basic moral courage required? Sadly I don’t think so.

 

I thank Phil W for his reply, in which he says: “Like I said, imagine the headlines? My point is that the explanation for [the Archbishop’s] behaviour is obvious.”

Not to me it’s not. Is the suggestion that the Archbishop is afraid of personal criticism in the newspapers, or negative headlines aimed at the complainant?

If the former, are we not entitled to expect a religious leader to do what he believes to be morally right irrespective of whatever criticism his actions may attract? George Bell certainly lived up to that.

If avoiding criticism is his motivation, the untenable stance he is taking is hardly helping his cause as he is on the receiving end of lots of it – and from people with a lot more standing than the editor of a tabloid newspaper.

If the latter, I cannot see the problem.

Phil writes: “…if we assume that she was confused or suffering from false memories then still her account cannot be believed by someone who believes George Bell to be innocent.”

Indeed. I do not believe her account. Does Phil? If so, on what basis given that there is no corroborating evidence but several inconsistencies in it?

Every legal case has a winner and a loser. Losers do not normally come in for criticism unless they have deliberately lied, and I stress I am not suggesting that applies here. Who among us has a clear recollection of events that took place in our childhood? Why therefore would Carol be likely to receive unpleasant press coverage? Even if she were, that is still no reason to avoid doing the right thing.

This should be a rare case with two winners: George Bell emerges with his reputation intact and Carol keeps the financial compensation she received for abuse she may well have endured at the hands of an unknown perpetrator.

I also thank Mr. Bunker for his reply but wonder if perhaps the legal system in Germany is different from that in England and Wales. I am not a legal expert either. I believe “not proven” is a possible outcome in Scotland but my understanding is that south of the border the onus is on the complainant to prove their case; the defendant remains innocent until such time that the case is proven beyond reasonable doubt. If there is doubt – and how can there not be in this case? – then George Bell is innocent.

I am not sure why Mr. Bunker feels the need to mention that he does not judge Carol to be guilty. George Bell’s innocence does not imply Carol’s guilt. Carol is not on trial.

 

@Phil W

“‘SURVIVOR’S MEMORIES OF ABUSE ARE “FALSE” CLAIMS ARCHBISHOP'”

Actually, this might not be the headline in the papers. They might take the apostrophe out, and make the word ‘survivor’ plural – with all that implies.

***PH notes: If any newspaper did this, it would certainly be open to condemnation under the IPSO code for inaccuracy, and so forced to print a prominent retraction, and probably also for a suit at libel from the Archbishop. The person who *has* suggested that the complainant’s memories *may* be false (not that they are which is unknowable) is the professional psychiatrist employed by the C of E to examine the claim.***)

 

@ Peter Preston

“But what need is there that “we” should decide such things at all, ma’am, when we have law courts whose precise function that is? Isn’t that a bit like keeping a dog and barking yourself?”

Well, this is the problem isn’t it? If an accusation is made against someone who died decades ago, there is no possibility of taking the case to court, and establishing guilt or innocence in the usual way. “We” – I use the term impersonally, to mean anyone who considers the case – may think it is extremely unlikely that the accusation is true, and indeed the “balance of probabilities” would indicate that it is not true – but this can’t be established with certainty. This is where Justin Welby’s problem lies, I suspect, whatever he may personally think. He can’t risk publicly saying anything that would even imply that ‘Carol’ is lying. Apart from the fact that this cannot be proved, the papers could spin it as saying that all victims of child abuse are lying. He can’t even say that false memory may be involved, even though this is a likely enough scenario, as there is also no way this can be conclusively proved. He risks being accused of wanting to cover up child abuse. Basically, he’s in an impossible position. What’s the answer? I don’t know. Perhaps the Scottish verdict of ‘not proven’. But what can he say that won’t be spun as saying the accuser if lying?

 

Contributor Mr Bunker wrote:

“In a way, I feel more comfortable if, instead of “assuming innocence”, I simply do “not assume guilt”. I think this must be because assuming innocence is “active” (and could easily be false) whereas not assuming guilt is “passive” (and cannot be false).”

Now that’s what I call plain good sense. The law-courts themselves sensibly concentrate on the charge brought against the defendant and so they do not “find innocent” but rather “not guilty as charged”, when they acquit.
Unless and until any charge is brought, the law, as I understand it, presumes innocency of life – a courtesy of the law to the citizen and a right thereto, should it fail to be accorded.

 

Peter Preston – 25 January 2018 at 11:47 AM – understandably cannot make out how what is called “the civil standard of proof” comes into the matter at all.

It’s a good question.

In fact it only came into it as a civil action in prospect which was never in the event either properly investigated or examined in court.

The civil claim brought against the Church of England was settled out of court when the CofE was confronted with the prospect of denying liability and the case being decided in a public judgement “on the balance of probabilities”.

The point is not academic.

That an institution is faced with being held financially liable by association in civil law – as a collective punishment – for serious crimes allegedly perpetrated in secret by one individual, even sixty years dead, whether or not they actually occurred, is an incredible situation.

The resulting confusion has been so all pervading from the outset that anyone might be forgiven for thinking that it appears intentional.

As is stated in paragraph 52 of the Carlile review:

“There is an innate contradiction between a settlement without admission of liability, as at least technically happened here, and the knowing and apparently deliberate destruction of the reputation of the alleged perpetrator, as plainly happened here.”

 

@Phil W 25 January at 02:28PM

“That is a legal principle.”

So it is; and it was a legal case which ‘Carol’ brought, so she should have been required to comply with it. That she clearly was not, is what has brought about this whole debate.

 

I was thinking about this regarding the previous thread on this theme, and am glad that PH has once again stated in this one that fighting for the presumption of innocence is not the same thing as an absolute declaration that the Bishop could not have committed any abuse. Because PH and his allies have been clear about this, it makes it even harder to understand why the Archbishop, with this qualification in mind, cannot bring himself to rehabiliate the reputation of Bishop Bell until and unless any hard evidence comes to light to cast doubt on it.

What other clergy have done is not relevant to this particular case.

Oh identity politics, what crimes are committed in thy name !!

 

”Oddly enough though, the impression I get from this article and the current discussion in general is that it is no longer primarily a question of whether the Bishop is innocent or not. Instead it had degenerated into a question of the Archbishop of Canterbury’s role in this affair and how suited he is for his job. I won’t take part in that discussion.” (Mr Bunker 24 January 2018 at 10:52 PM)

I think it is not *odd* at all. Since the Carlile Review has been published, it becomes clear that Lord Carlile has found no *feet of clay* in George Bell but rather found the wrongful actions of the C o E regarding this case from the beginning. It had not * degenerated* but rather focused on the responsibility of the Archbishop of Canterbury.

As adeledicnander comments:

”This has been the actual point at issue from the very beginning.”

We should not forget what the C of E did on 22 Oct in 2015 to the good name of George Bell and how the media responded to it.

We should not forget that the name of George Bell has been *swiftly* removed from many places, especially around the C of E, from the schools, guidebooks and buildings etc.

His name has not yet been restored in many places because of the choice of the Archbishop of Canterbury and his supporters.

Mr Hitchens latest posts on this case are titled:

– What Does the Archbishop Think He is Doing? (22 Jan 2018)

– Historians and now Theologians are amazed by Welby’s refusal to admit that George Bell is not guilty of child abuse (18 Jan 2018)

-Justin Welby’s astonishing refusal to accept the outcome of a report he commissioned” (1 Jan 2018)

– Who’s really preaching fake news, Archbishop? (31 Dec. 2017)

– Acquitted and Vindicated – but his Reputation is Still in Prison.
The Church’s Duty to George Bell” (20 Dec. 2017)

 

I think this whole issue has been neatly summed up in Martin Sewell’s forum when he states

“If Bishop George Bell were alive today, and if he had children, they would have been removed from his care as soon as the allegations were made. Upon receipt of Prof. Maden’s report and the report of a judge of Lord Carlile’s expertise, these children would have been returned to his care. There would have been no lawful basis to do otherwise.”

In such a hypothetical situation one wonders if Archbishop Welby would stand by his statement that he believed there to be a ‘significant cloud’ hanging over Bell’s reputation.

 

Contributrix Persephone wrote:

“……it is naive to imagine that good people can’t do bad things. But there has to be evidence. And when an accusation is made decades after an event, where it comes down to one person’s word against another’s, how do you gather evidence? You can’t take forensics, you can’t interview witnesses if almost everyone involved is dead. So how do we decide?”

But what need is there that “we” should decide such things at all, ma’am, when we have law courts whose precise function that is? Isn’t that a bit like keeping a dog and barking yourself?
Why in any case need the condition of one person’s word against another be in any way a decisive consideration? Might not an individual still be innocent, even if several accusers should bring allegations of wrongdoing after the individual’s death, particularly if the latter had in his lifetime been wealthy and might therefore have been seen by unscrupulous persons as a potential source of compensation?
At all events, whether any of us is “guilty” or “not guilty” as charged is for the law courts to establish and not for others. In other words, since the adjective “forensic” actually means ” of or pertaining to the law courts”, we are in fact obliged to leave it to the “forensics”.

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s