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Case for Bishop Bell

Sir – The Archbishop of Canterbury, the Most Rev Justin Welby, is not alone in being ashamed of the Church in its handling of child abuse cases in the Diocese of Chichester (report, March 22). So are quite a few others. And some of us would add that we are ashamed of Archbishop Welby too.

At the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse hearing on Wednesday, the Archbishop was questioned about his continuing attack on the late Bishop George Bell, whose reputation has been besmirched by what Lord Carlile, the Church’s own eminent appointee to examine its legal processes, has described as a very misguided rush to judgement on a single accusation of historic child sexual abuse.

The continued anger that the case has aroused has nothing to do with Bishop Bell’s eminent reputation. It has everything to do with the fact that no one has ever been allowed to present a case in his defence.

The recent effort by the family to appoint its own lawyer in a new investigation has been turned down by the Chichester authorities. And once again, the Archbishop missed a chance to affirm his belief in Bishop Bell’s innocence as presumed by the law.

When will the Archbishop have the grace to admit that the Church leaders responsible for handling the George Bell case – including himself – have made the most colossal error of judgement in this instance?

Dr Ruth Hildebrandt Grayson

Sheffield, South Yorkshire

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