Four months ago, there was a formal complaint by ‘Graham’ against the Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby [June 12 2020].
Three months ago, Paul Handley – Church Times Editor – wrote an article ”NST considers safeguarding complaint against Welby [CT, July 28], and quoted the NST [National Safeguarding Team]: “Since a formal complaint has now been received by the NST, it is reviewing the information and will obviously respond on this to the person who brought the complaint and take any further action if needed.” A core group had been set up, according to the Church Times report, which also quoted ‘Graham’ as saying “there is no evidence that Archbishop Welby took steps to ensure that the allegations [against John Smyth] were known to the authorities in South Africa”. Lambeth Palace was contacted about the allegations against Smyth in 2013 – five years before his death in 2018.
“The key person who seems missing in action is…Justin Welby” ~ Stephen Parsons
This raises serious safeguarding concerns:
(a) ‘Safeguarding’ is the responsibility of all – including Archbishops.
(b) John Smyth was left to abuse others in South Africa for a further five years.
(c) Public interest in the outcome of a serious complaint against a Church of England Archbishop.
NB Archbishop Welby has not been suspended for these safeguarding failures, whereas the Bishop of Lincoln Christopher Lowson was suspended, and the Permission To Officiate [PTO] of former Archbishop George Carey revoked.
The Bishop of Chichester has issued a formal apology following the settlement of a legal civil claim regarding sexual abuse against the Right Reverend George Bell, who was Bishop of Chichester from 1929 until his death on 3rd October 1958.
The allegations against Bell date from the late 1940s and early 1950s and concern allegations of sexual offences against an individual who was at the time a young child.
Following settlement of the claim the serving Bishop of Chichester, the Right Reverend Dr. Martin Warner, wrote to the survivor formally apologising and expressing his “deep sorrow” acknowledging that “the abuse of children is a criminal act and a devastating betrayal of trust that should never occur in any situation, particularly the church.”
Bishop Warner paid tribute to the survivor’s courage in coming forward to report the abuse and notes that “along with my colleagues throughout the church, I am committed to ensuring that the past is handled with honesty and transparency.”
Tracey Emmott, the solicitor for the survivor, today issued the following statement on behalf of her client:
“The new culture of openness in the Church of England is genuinely refreshing and seems to represent a proper recognition of the dark secrets of its past, many of which may still not have come to light. While my client is glad this case is over, they remain bitter that their 1995 complaint was not properly listened to or dealt with until my client made contact with Archbishop Justin Welby’s office in 2013. That failure to respond properly was very damaging, and combined with the abuse that was suffered has had a profound effect on my client’s life. For my client, the compensation finally received does not change anything. How could any amount of money possibly compensate for childhood abuse? However, my client recognises that it represents a token of apology. What mattered to my client most and has brought more closure than anything was the personal letter my client has recently received from the Bishop of Chichester.”
The survivor first reported the abuse to the then Bishop of Chichester, Eric Kemp, in August 1995. Bishop Kemp responded to the correspondence offering pastoral support but did not refer the matter to the police or, so far as is known, investigate the matter further. It was not until contact with Lambeth Palace in 2013 that the survivor was put in touch with the safeguarding team at the Diocese of Chichester who referred the matter to the police and offered personal support and counselling to the survivor.
In his letter to the survivor Bishop Warner acknowledges that the response from the Diocese of Chichester in 1995, when the survivor first came forward, “fell a long way short, not just of what is expected now, but of what we now appreciate you should have had a right to expect then.”
In accordance with the recommendations of the Church Commissaries’ report into the Diocese of Chichester in 2012 the settlement does not impose any form of “confidentiality agreement” restriction regarding public disclosure upon the individual. In this case the survivor has expressed the desire to remain anonymous.
Following a meeting between the survivor and Sussex police in 2013, it was confirmed by the police that the information obtained from their enquiries would have justified, had he still been alive, Bishop Bell’s arrest and interview, on suspicion of serious sexual offences, followed by release on bail, further enquiries and the subsequent submission of a police report to the CPS.
A formal claim for compensation was submitted in April 2014 and was settled in late September of this year. The settlement followed a thorough pre-litigation process during which further investigations into the claim took place including the commissioning of expert independent reports. None of those reports found any reason to doubt the veracity of the claim.
The Church of England takes any allegations of abuse very seriously and is committed to being a safe place for all. Any survivors or those with information about church-related abuse must always feel free to come forward knowing that they will be listened to in confidence.
Should anyone have further information or need to discuss the personal impact of this news the Church has worked with the NSPCC to set up a confidential helpline no. 0800 389 5344.
Notes to Editors
A copy of this statement can be found on the Church of England website and the Diocese of Chichester website.
For further information contact Lisa Williamson at the Diocese of Chichester Communications office on 01273 425791 or The Revd Dr Rob Marshall +44 (0) 7766 952113
The Rt. Revd. Mark Sowerby, Bishop of Horsham in the Diocese of Chichester is available for interview today. Please use the above numbers or contact his office on 01403 211139
“Moral, legal and common sense appears to have deserted the Church of England. The Presumption of Innocence has been described as ‘the golden thread that runs through British justice’. That thread was broken by the October Statement, and replaced with the Presumption of Guilt. The Media – including the BBC – assumed Bishop Bell’s guilt on the basis of the Church’s Statement, and their subsequent headlines reflected that assumption. No attempt was made by the Church, immediately after the headlines, to correct the media interpretation of the Statement. This would strongly suggest a Presumption of Guilt on the Church’s part towards Bishop Bell” – Richard W. Symonds
“In this case, the scrutiny of the allegation has been thorough, objective, and undertaken by people who command the respect of all parties….” – Bishop of Chichester Martin Warner
Oct 22 2015 – “I would be grateful…if you could refrain from including George Bell in your guided tours and external presentations” – Dean of Chichester Cathedral, The Very Reverend Stephen Waine [to Cathedral Guides]
“Beware of throwing someone under the bus. Remember: the bus can shift into reverse” ~ Janette McGowen
“The professional approach is to neither believe nor disbelieve the complainant and their allegation. There is no right or entitlement for a complainant to be believed, but there is a right and entitlement for a complainant to be treated with respect, to take their allegation seriously, to listen with compassion, and to record the facts clearly. It would appear the Church regarded ‘Carol’ as a victim to be believed at all costs. There seems to have been a panicked rush to judgement in which an astonishing lack of judgement was made manifest. Bishop Bell was an easy target, disposable and dispensable…’thrown under the bus’ for reasons unknown” ~ Richard W. Symonds
Excerpt from the IPSO complaint against the Argus newspaper – October 2020
‘…Indeed, the subsequent report (published in December 2017) by Lord Carlile of Berriew QC, who was commissioned by the Church of England to “conduct a Review into the way the Church of England dealt with a complaint of sexual abuse made by a woman known as ‘Carol’ against the late Bishop Bell,” said (critically) of the press statement of 22 October 2015, announcing the settlement and apology, that “it provided the following conclusions:
(i) The allegations had been investigated, and a proper process followed.
(ii) The allegations had been proved; therefore
(iii) There was no doubt that Bishop Bell had abused Carol.” (Carlile Review, para 237.)
Lord Carlile’s report, which condemned that statement, is not even mentioned in the Argus article. By contrast, even though Lord Carlile’s terms of reference did not ask him “to determine the truthfulness of Carol, nor the guilt or innocence of Bishop Bell” he stated clearly (para 171) “Had the evidence my review has obtained without any particular difficulty… been available to the Church and the CPS, I doubt that the test for a prosecution would have been passed.”‘
I recently received a WhatsApp forward of an American Catholic priest using his sermon to speak out against presidential candidate Joe Biden and vice-presidential candidate.
His argument was based on their ‘un-Christianness’ which includes their pro-choice stance, support for trans people and gay marriage and their alleged bent towards socialism. He also blames them for the unrest in the US. There are two levels of hypocrisy here. The obvious one is that he is blind to Trump’s ‘un-Christianness’ – his infidelity, his many marriages, his disrespect of others, his dodging of taxes, his lies that put millions of lives in danger, to name just a few. The second level of hypocrisy is ignoring the fact that Jesus Christ was the first socialist and his teachings are in effect the fundamentals of socialism. He gathered the poor, the weak and the oppressed and gave them hope and said all are equal in God’s eyes.
It’s a wonder that this priest doesn’t see the ‘tithe’ (portion of the produce or earning given to support the religion and the clergy) as socialism in practice. One wonders who will bear the cost of this priest’s hypocrisy. The fact of the matter is that hypocrisy is the grease that makes the world go round. As a corollary, the bigger the hypocrite, the greater the individual’s social capital. There is a reason for this. People do not call out hypocrites and make the person accountable because they themselves have something to hide or lose – tangible or intangible. When a leader or his political party’s actions are called out, the counter charge of hypocrisy I used, becomes both an offensive and defensive weapon. For example, whenever the Congress party questions the BJP on riots, corruption, nepotism etc, the BJP points a mirror at them and to their track record. It ultimately leads to a status quo or stalemate that draws attention away from the original issue.
At a personal level, to not use various forms of hypocrisy in everyday life would mean either living as a saint or not participating in society. As social animals we deal with a variety of people, attitudes, and opinions. Thus, to function within a certain milieu, it becomes necessary to look beyond things that may not fit our framework. If there is damage, then it is limited to the self, but the choice is an individual one.
However, what happens when an entire section of society chooses hypocrisy? Take the example of a survey conducted by the polling firm YouGov. It found that 72% of Indian Americans are going to vote for Biden-Harris. This means that they espouse the liberal ideals of the Democratic party. Their liberal ideals do not extend to the land of their ancestors though. Why wouldn’t those enjoying and protecting liberalism in America want the same for their folks back home in India? The support from this section of American society for the Indian Prime Minister has strengthened his image and hold over the country.
The ramifications of such sanctimony are far more egregious because of the consequences for those at the receiving end.
What happens when institutions that are supposed to be pillars of society choose to be hypocrites? The fallouts are manifold – citizens lose faith in them, they opt for alternatives which range from fake news to taking the law into their hands to either mete out justice or exact justice. In the process the country becomes a nation of hypocritical lawbreakers. Of course, such an extreme will not be reached because either the laws would be changed in time or the courts will set the guilty free. These actions will find resonance in the media.
It is not easy for a society to not transact in hypocrisy when it has become the lifeblood and a valuable currency. But this must be done if we are to come out into the light. I would suggest a four-step process. Acknowledgement, Restitution, Remediation and finally Prevention.
Acknowledgement does not accomplish much if there is no restitution and remediation. Restitution and remediation can include not interfering in the investigative and judicial process. These steps can neutralise the charge of hypocrisy. It may also inspire people to look at their own actions and inspire citizens to speak truth to power. More importantly democratic institutions and those who administer them will regain the trust of the people they are supposed to serve.
I am sure you will say these are the suggestions of an idealist and therefore a pipedream. Given how deeply hypocrisy is entrenched as an administrative and political ethic, it won’t of course be easy, but there are instances from history. Post the Salem Witch trials not only was an apology tendered to the victims but restitution offered.
President Lincoln established Thanksgiving to repent to god for ‘our national perverseness and disobedience’ during the Civil War. Pandit Nehru apologised to foreign missions attacked by rioters in Delhi. Arkansas Governor offered apologies after African-Americans were refused service at a café. Pope Francis apologises and seeks forgiveness from victims abused by priests. Manmohan Singh apologised for the anti-Sikh riots. Though one can argue that these had nothing to do with combating hypocrisy, the fact of the matter is that apologising is not new. What will be different are the next steps and eventual outcomes.
Hypocrisy in society and in the functioning of institutions is corrosive as it ultimately negates what can be the best in us as a society and country. It is far more important to come out of its servitude because then we will be able to deal with so called 1200 years of slavery.
Full Disclosure – I am a hypocrite on the path to recovery.
For all the latest India News, Follow India Section.
WILLIAM NYE – “SHADOWY FIGURE” BEHIND THE ARCHBISHOP OF CANTERBURY AND BEYOND [PRIVATE EYE – NO. 1533 – 23 OCTOBER – 5 NOV 2020]
“CHURCH NEWS” AND WILLIAM NYE [+ CHRISTCHURCH + JOHN SENTAMU] – PRIVATE EYE – NO. 1533 – 23 OCTOBER – 5 NOV 2020
The Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse (IICSA) published its report on the Church of England tow weeks ago, sending a chill wind up many a cassock.
It found that “the church’s neglect of the physical, emotional and spiritual wellbeing of children and young people in favour of protecting its reputation was in conflict with its mission of love and care for the innocent and the vulnerable”.
The church duly pre-emptied the report with a flurry of announcements designed to, er, protect its reputation. Besides establishing a fund to help survivors , it launched a “Safe Spaces” helpline to counsel victims – which was first promised in 2014, has been endlessly delayed ever since but was somehow magically ready for lift-off in the very week the IICSA report was published (Eye 1511).
Alas, the course of true reputation management never did run smooth. The survivors’ support fund was agreed under the name Pilot Interim Survivors Support, until someone pointed out the unfortunate acronym. It was also announced before there were any mechanisms or criteria for claiming – and before any actual funds were available to draw on.
The Safe Spaces helpline, which is only funded for another 18 months anyway, went live this month with broken links, untrained staff and an answerphone message saying that the service would be up and running in September. Some calls to the live phoneline on the launch day went unanswered.
Meanwhile, Archbishop Justin Welby reacted to the IICSA report by issuing the customary press release saying he was even more appalled/ashamed/determined to do better than he had been the last time he was appalled/ashamed/determined to do better, and the time before that.
But although it is Welby who fronts the apologies, behind the scenes the ecclesiocrats in Church House are directed by a shadowy figure unknown to most church members and even most clergy – William Nye, who became secretary-general of the Archbishops’ Council in 2015 after four years as Prince Brian’s PPS [Principal Private Secretary to Prince Charles – Ed]
The publicity-shy ex-courtier, who used to run the National Security Secretariat in the Cabinet Office, now earns north of £170,000 plus bonuses, well over twice Welby’s wad, though staff say he would struggle to organise a consecration in a cathedral .
The church’s management of safeguarding has descended into chaos, but spending on it has ballooned from £50,000 to around £20m, without a single penny of redress being delivered to survivors of abuse.
Nye recently survived a complaint about the leadership of the church’s safeguarding, but there is pressure for a full review of its governance.
The Archbishops’ Council, which he leads, is currently being investigated by the regulatory compliance division of the Charity Commission
Christ Church Oxford
Christ Church, Oxford, has written to alumni and supporters pleading for contributions to its Covid-19 Student Support Fund. The College needs to raise £90,000, “at a time when there is enormous demand on the institution’s finances…Should you be able to help support our students during this very challenging time, we encourage you to help make a difference now.
How reassuring to know that student welfare during the pandemic is such a high priority, but heartbreaking to realise that the college can’t afford £90,000 and so has to pass round the begging bowl.
Clearly, this can’t be the same Christ Church, Oxford, that has funds of more than half a billion quid stashed away (£588m in 2018/19, up by £23m from the previous year) – and that has so far spent £2m on legal bills in a failed attempt to sack its dean (Eyes passim)
Former archbishop of York John Sentamu
“‘Snubbed’ archbishop WILL get his peerage…Downing Street had apparently always intended to ennoble former archbishop of York John Sentamu. A source added: ‘Everyone recognises his great contribution, and the peerage was never in doubt.’ It will allow Dr Sentamu to continue sitting in the House of Lords following his retirement in June.” – Daily Mailoutraged by idea senior clergy should be denied voice in politics, page 24, 19 October
“With congregations shrinking and churches struggling for survival, you’d think Anglican archbishops would be concentrating firmly on their day job. Instead, they appear to have formed an anti-government lobby group…Regardless of the merits of the Internal Market Bill, what on earth does it have to do with the Church? If these clerics want to be politicians, they should stand for election.” – Daily Mailoutraged by idea senior clergy should be allowed voice in politics, page 16, 19 October
INDEPENDENT trustees will hold the National Safeguarding Team of the C of E to account, the lead bishop of safeguarding, Dr Jonathan Gibbs, has confirmed. In addition, an independent panel will be set up to approve support packages for survivors. “Whatever it costs, the money will be found,” he said. Dr Gibbs, who is also the Bishop of Huddersfield, was speaking on Monday after the House of Bishops unanimously endorsed a motion to accept the investigation report from the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse (IICSA), and “unreservedly apologise” to victims and survivors for the harm done by the Church. The House also committed itself to “urgently implementing” the Inquiry’s recommendations. One of these recommendations was to upgrade the post of diocesan safeguarding adviser (DSA) to diocesan safeguarding officer (DSO) in order to allow them to be able to take the lead on safeguarding matters, including reporting serious incidents and commissioning investigations and risk-assessments. To do this, the House agreed unanimously to establish an independent safeguarding structure, with a new trustee body, to take over responsibility from the Archbishops’ Council. The Bishops also agreed that an interim arrangement be put in place for additional independent oversight of safeguarding before the new trustee body is established. Dr Gibbs explained after the meeting: “The key thing is that we are all agreed that safeguarding needs to be independent: we can’t have bishops, diocesan secretaries, making decisions about safeguarding for two reasons: because they are not professionally qualified in safeguarding, and because there is an element of structural conflict of interest. They have a diocese to look after and to run, so there is always a potential conflict.” He reported full support among the Bishops for the independence of diocesan safeguarding advisers. The Bishops were “very happy to explore changing their name and status to diocesan safeguarding officers, but really in order to be affective that needs to be picked up in terms of how we structure the whole question of independence. . . and accountability.” He clarified that under current guidance, DSAs are already able to report safeguarding issues without seeking permission; “but the reality is that they are employed within the diocese and line-managed by diocesan secretaries and bishops, and we need to cut that.” It was an issue of balance, Dr Gibbs said. “You need people to have a proper degree of independence; but, on the other hand, they need to be rooted and integrated in the diocese if they are really going to bring about culture change.” The new trustee body would oversee the National Safeguarding Team and hold it to account, rather than the Archbishops’ Council, as at present. Whether or not the independent trustees would have any relationship to the Church was “still to be worked out”, he said. “It has to be credible, partly that they are not answerable to and being line-managed by the National Church Institutions.” The Church Times understands that the body would be established, and members appointed by an independent body, such as the Charity Commission. Dr Gibbs said that both Archbishops were keen to implement this “very soon”. There would be a management board with an independent chair and the equivalent of non-executive directors. “You then have to think who represents the Church on that; some have suggested the lead bishop; but there clearly needs to be a majority of independent members on that board who are holding the NST to account on their safeguarding work.” The NST has been criticised recently for its handling of safeguarding cases, particularly in relation to core groups, as in the case of the Dean of Christ Church, the Very Revd Professor Martyn Percy (News, 11 September). Dr Gibbs said that a full review and consultation on the core group process was “imminent”. “The  guidelines were written for someone who had been alleged to have abused someone; the complicated cases we have been dealing with recently are whether this senior church person has properly handled the process: that is a different issue. . . We certainly need to clarify at what stage and how are people represented; what are the procedures for making sure that things are being done properly; what is the process for appealing.” There was “a lot to do”. Asked about the interim redress scheme for survivors to provide immediate financial and pastoral need, Dr Gibbs said: “We are aware of particular cases where there is urgent financial need and for other kinds of support . . . counselling, therapy, life coaching, debt advice. . . We recognise that we have a lot to learn about how we do this, which is why it is a pilot scheme.” He described a system designed to repair the damage caused not by the original abuse but by how complaints were handled subsequently. “We are not revisiting at this stage the original claim; that may come later in the [full] redress scheme. What we are looking at is what has happened to [survivors] since they have first disclosed: in particular how has the Church responded to them? “Sadly, some survivors have found that the whole process of disclosure — and how that has been handled by the Church and its representatives, i.e. insurance companies and lawyers — has left them in a worse place than before they disclosed. That is deeply shocking.” A “package of support” would be decided upon and offered by an independent panel, which is currently being convened so that decisions about the case are not made by the lead bishops or by members of the NST. “That would include an independent chair who has worked with survivors, a survivor voice in the panel, and someone with expertise in understanding trauma: a psychologist background.” There was a fund to get this started, and the Church Commissioners had been approached to work out when and how redress might be costed, Dr Gibbs said. “Even in the interim phase, we need access to serious money to do this job. The needs of survivors will be funded to the extent that they need to be funded; this is about compassion, justice, and, dare I say it, generosity. “Whatever it costs, the money will be found. That is a matter of honour as far as I am concerned. We have failed people dreadfully in the past.” A new “more demanding” suite of training had also been developed to change attitudes to safeguarding on the ground. It brought people face-to-face with the kind of clericalism and deference highlighted in recent television documentaries, he said, which were also used in training. Recruitments processes were also being revised. What was significant at the meeting on Monday, Dr Gibbs said, “was the fact that we had 100-per-cent support from the bishops — to recognise not only the need for cultural change, but their role in helping to drive and lead cultural change.” Dr Gibbs, who has two more years as lead safeguarding bishop, said that there was “a small window of opportunity” to listen to survivors in order to bring about cultural change and establish training and independence. He did not want to waste it. “We are starting from a very low base of trust. I am well aware that there is a well of frustration, anger, hurt, about the way that survivors have been treated in the past. I am very grateful for their willingness to work with us at all. I am very conscious that we have a very small window of opportunity to take this forward.” While his role is primarily strategic, he said, “my contacts with individuals also massively influences my whole perspective.” The House of Bishops is due to release a full response to the IICSA report in the coming weeks.
“RECOGNISE THAT WORDS HAVE CONSEQUENCES” – LORD MACDONALD
“If Archbishop Justin Welby and Bishop Martin Warner had been unequivocal in clearing the name of Bishop George Bell, such articles would never have been written” ~ Richard W. Symonds – The Bell Society
“I agree with you that Aidan Barlow’s [Argus] report is sloppy. It is more than that: it is reprehensible and Bishop Bell would have grounds to sue the Argus for damages for defamation were he still alive“ – David Lamming
“Argus Crime Reporter Aidan Barlow really should have done his homework much, much better. As a trained journalist, I know about looking into all the facts, before setting anything down” ~ Sandra Saer
“It is wicked of the Argus to lump George Bell together with Peter Ball – one convicted and the other cleared. They obviously knew they would be giving a false impression” ~ Christopher Hoare
“The tone of the “response” to your very valid complaint is shamelessly insulting and patronising. Its awful syntax and obfuscating abuse of the English language is a disgrace. These people must be perfectly aware of what they are doing. Anything rather admit they’ve made a dreadful mistake. And they even imply that as the saintly bishop’s 95 year old niece hasn’t complained they need to do nothing” ~ Lindsay
“I have not had any contact with Barbara Whitley since Timothy Briden’s ruling that Alison’s allegations against Bell were unfounded…IPSO is not the appropriate body to investigate Carol’s allegations even assuming that Carol consented as well as the Bell descendants…Bell is in any event entitled to the presumption of innocence, particularly after the demolition by Lord Carlile of the conclusions of the Diocesan Core Group concerning Carol and by Mr Briden concerning Alison…I do not share the Bell Society’s position…that there is no doubt Carol was abused” ~ ‘B’
Our reference: 28452-20(The Argus (Brighton) (Newsquest Media Group)
Dear Mr Symonds,
I write further to our earlier email regarding your complaint about an article headlined “Church’s child sex abuse shame”, published by The Argus on 8 October 2018.
When IPSO receives a complaint, the Executive staff review it first to decide whether the complaint falls within our remit, and whether it raises a possible breach of the Editors’ Code of Practice.
We have read your complaint carefully, and have decided that it does not raise a possible breach of the Editors’ Code.
You said that the article breached Clause 1 (Accuracy) because, by stating that “[a] an independent inquiry into child sex abuse within the Church looked at the conduct of former Bishop of Lewes Peter Ball and former Bishop of Chichester George Bell”, the article gave the misleading impression that George Bell, like Peter Ball, had been found guilty of child sex offences. The report released by the inquiry in question did mention George Bell by name, and so we found that it was no inaccurate nor misleading for the article to state that the inquiry had “looked at” George Bell’s conduct, where the article did not state that Mr Bell had been convicted of any offence in relation to the allegations against him. For this reason, we found no possible breach of Clause 1 on this point.
You also said that the article breached Clause 1 because you consider that it misrepresented the findings of the Independent Inquiry into Child Sex Abuse’s (IICSA) report, as the report “was thorough and wide-ranging with detailed recommendations, finding that “the church’s neglect of the physical, emotional and spiritual wellbeing of children and young people in favour of protecting its reputation, was in conflict with its mission of love and care for the innocent and the vulnerable” and the article instead chose to focus on the mention of George Bell within the report.
Newspapers have the right to choose which pieces of information they publish, as long as this does not lead to a breach of the Code.
In this case, failing to mention recommendations made by the report did not make the article inaccurate or misleading, where you did not dispute that the report was critical of the Church of England and that George Bell had been named in the report. Where these pieces of information were included in the report, the publication was entitled to focus on them and so we found that your complaint on this point did not raise any possible breach of Clause 1.
You said that the article as a whole breached Clause 1, as you consider that it gave the impression that Mr Bell was guilty of the crimes for which he was alleged to have committed, for instance by referring to ‘Carol’ as a “victim.” In this case, we decided that the alleged inaccuracy related directly to George Bell. In order to make a decision on whether the Code was breached, it appears IPSO may need to make findings on the allegations against Mr Bell. Any ruling by IPSO on this matter would result in the publication of information about Mr Bell and ‘Carol’, which might not be appropriate without their consent. In these circumstances, we considered that it would not be appropriate to investigate and publicly rule on your complaint without the consent of Mr Bell’s surviving family, or a representative of his estate. Because of this, we declined to consider this point of complaint further.We noted that you also expressed concerns regarding the accuracy of an article, also published by The Argus, headlined “Police handed fresh material in George Bell case.” While we understand that you raised this point of concern because the online version of the article under complaint contained a hyperlink to the earlier article, we cannot take forward complaints about online material that was first published over a year ago. As such, we were unable to consider this point of complaint further.
You are entitled to request that the Executive’s decision to reject your complaint be reviewed by IPSO’s Complaints Committee. To do so you will need to write to us in the next seven days, setting out the reasons why you believe the decision should be reviewed. Please note that we are unable to accept requests for review made seven days after the date of this email.
We would like to thank you for giving us the opportunity to consider the points you have raised, and have shared this correspondence with the newspaper to make it aware of your concerns.
Cc The Argus (Brighton)
Emily Houlston-Jones Complaints Officer
IPSO Gate House 1 Farringdon Street London EC4M 7LG
You are entitled to request that the Executive’s decision to reject your complaint be reviewed by IPSO’s Complaints Committee. To do so you will need to write to us in the next seven days, setting out the reasons why you believe the decision should be reviewed.
Dear IPSO Complaints Committee
I request that the Executive’s decision to reject my complaint be reviewed, and set out below seven reasons why:
1 You have dismissed my complaint without reading it carefully enough.
2 Your reasons for rejecting it are beyond weak.
3 The article is, therefore, in breach of Clause 1 (Accuracy) of the Editors’ Code.
1 You said that the article breached Clause 1 (Accuracy) because, by stating that “an independent inquiry into child sex abuse within the Church looked at the conduct of former Bishop of Lewes Peter Ball and former Bishop of Chichester George Bell”, the article gave the misleading impression that George Bell, like Peter Ball, had been found guilty of child sex offences.
The report released by the inquiry in question did mention George Bell by name, and so we found that it was no inaccurate nor misleading for the article to state that the inquiry had “looked at” George Bell’s conduct, where the article did not state that Mr Bell had been convicted of any offence in relation to the allegations against him. For this reason, we found no possible breach of Clause 1 on this point.
2 You also said that the article breached Clause 1 because you consider that it misrepresented the findings of the Independent Inquiry into Child Sex Abuse’s (IICSA) report, as the report “was thorough and wide-ranging with detailed recommendations, finding that “the church’s neglect of the physical, emotional and spiritual wellbeing of children and young people in favour of protecting its reputation, was in conflict with its mission of love and care for the innocent and the vulnerable” and the article instead chose to focus on the mention of George Bell within the report.
Newspapers have the right to choose which pieces of information they publish, as long as this does not lead to a breach of the Code. In this case, failing to mention recommendations made by the report did not make the article inaccurate or misleading, where you did not dispute that the report was critical of the Church of England and that George Bell had been named in the report. Where these pieces of information were included in the report, the publication was entitled to focus on them and so we found that your complaint on this point did not raise any possible breach of Clause 1.
3. You said that the article as a whole breached Clause 1, as you consider that it gave the impression that Mr Bell was guilty of the crimes for which he was alleged to have committed, for instance by referring to ‘Carol’ as a “victim.”
In this case, we decided that the alleged inaccuracy related directly to George Bell. In order to make a decision on whether the Code was breached, it appears IPSO may need to make findings on the allegations against Mr Bell. Any ruling by IPSO on this matter would result in the publication of information about Mr Bell and ‘Carol’, which might not be appropriate without their consent. In these circumstances, we considered that it would not be appropriate to investigate and publicly rule on your complaint without the consent of Mr Bell’s surviving family, or a representative of his estate. Because of this, we declined to consider this point of complaint further.
4 We noted that you also expressed concerns regarding the accuracy of an article, also published by The Argus, headlined “Police handed fresh material in George Bell case.”
While we understand that you raised this point of concern because the online version of the article under complaint contained a hyperlink to the earlier article, we cannot take forward complaints about online material that was first published over a year ago. As such, we were unable to consider this point of complaint further.
A shocking new inquiry has found that, not only did the Church of England forgive some 400 pedophiles, but it allowed them to continue working with children.
The Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse (IICSA) found that between 1940 and 2018, some 390 people employed by the church, as clergymen or in trusted positions, were convicted of child sex abuse.
They were ‘forgiven’ for their crimes by the church and allowed to continue their duties, often in close proximity to children, the IICSA found.
“The culture of the Church of England facilitated it becoming a place where abusers could hide,” the report reads.
The inquiry found the church repeatedly failed to respond in a consistent manner to victims and survivors of abuse, compounding their trauma over a period of decades.
In 2018 alone, there were some 2,504 concerns raised about possible abuse of children or vulnerable adults, including 449 allegations of recent sexual abuse.
“Over many decades, the Church of England failed to protect children and young people from sexual abusers, instead facilitating a culture where perpetrators could hide and victims faced barriers to disclosure that many could not overcome,” chair of the inquiry, professor Alexis Jay said.
The IICSA lambasted the church for regarding forgiveness “as the appropriate response to any admission of wrongdoing.”
As part of the findings announced Tuesday in the damning report, the panel found that record-keeping of abuse claims was “almost non-existent.”
The panel decried the church’s willingness to pervert the course of legal justice by meting out its own ‘forgiveness,’ precluding sex offenders from being held responsible for their crimes and prevented from re-offending.
The church was also blasted for its handling of the reverend Ian hughes scandal, in which he was convicted in 2014 of downloading 8,000 child porn images, including 800 in the most serious category.
At the time, Bishop Peter Forster claimed Hughes had been “misled into viewing child pornography”.
The report further condemned what it dubbed as “tribalism” within the church, which placed loyalty to its own over the safety and wellbeing of children. It cited a “culture of fear and secrecy within the Church about sexuality” which then facilitated a climate of sex abuse.
The church issued an apology and expressed shame after the inquiry’s findings were released. “The report makes shocking reading and while apologies will never take away the effects of abuse on victims and survivors, we today want to express our shame about the events that have made those apologies necessary,” said the Bishop of Huddersfield, Jonathan Gibbs.
“The whole Church must learn lessons from this Inquiry. Our main focus in response must be recognising the distress caused to victims and survivors by the Church’s failures in safeguarding,” Gibbs added.
The inquiry held public hearings in July 2019, which led in part to the findings of the report.
The panel made eight recommendations, including an improved complaints process for victims of abuse, the reintroduction of immediate expulsion from the church for anyone convicted of child sex offences and improved funding and support for victims and survivors.
by Jayne Ozanne, Editor of ViaMedia, Director of the Ozanne Foundation and Member of General Synod
I resigned from my Bishop’s Council this week.
The decision has been a long time coming – I’ve felt I’ve been hitting my head against a brick wall over our failure to prioritise the poor and disadvantaged, especially given we are such a rich diocese, for years. In fact, I’ve been banging the drum since I got onto Council five years ago. Interestingly, even though we constantly rated serving the poor in our diocese as a “the top priority” during our discussions, it rarely seemed to make the cut into any paperwork . In virtually every meeting I can remember I have had to remind those in authority of the commitments we had agreed as a Council.
I realised things would never change when after one Diocesan Synod meeting I was told, when the priority yet again failed to be mentioned to those gathered, that it was because it was too long to fit on the slide! All rather ironic given that we’d just had a report that emphasised the real issue in our diocese was that of “hidden poverty”!
In truth, I know I was as tired of banging my drum as Council members were of hearing it.
So, eventually, it got to the point where I felt that the best way for them to hear me was by my absence. You see, sometimes leaving is the only way left for people to be heard….
Since I resigned, I’ve been reflecting on why it is so difficult for those in the central Church or Diocesan structures to hear what those outside or on the fringes of the Church see as completely obvious. It came into sharp focus again this week with the IICSA report which stated what so many of us have been saying for some time now – that we need a completely independent safeguarding system in the Church in order for it to be fully functional.
I have decided that the real problem is that our boards and councils are populated by mostly white, mostly male, mostly middle class and mostly middle aged (and that’s being kind) people who all hold virtually the same world view – and who are incapable of recognising that there is legitimacy to any other view other than their own. Because they all end up endorsing each other, they confirm their own legitimacy, and nothing therefore ever changes.
That’s why we find it difficult to embrace those from other backgrounds – those that are different to the monochrome “norm” that the Church of England has built into the warp and weft of its very foundations. You just have to look at the make up of General Synod to see what I mean.
It is why we’ve an appalling record on nearly every measure of diversity – we are seen by those “on the outside and margins” as racist, sexist, homophobic and transphobic. We are outrageously bad at dealing with people with differing abilities too. Although it’s “not good show” of course for us to admit this in public.
And what does this “monochrome” system result in? Well, I won’t be popular in saying this, but I believe this ultimately results in the single most critical problem for us as a Church. It’s the real root of most of our problems, which few are prepared to admit let alone publicly name – it is that we have a leadership structure that is, I’m afraid to say, deeply dysfunctional. It seems our House of Bishops operates like a boys public school, with prefects and head boys who whip the younger boys (and they are of course mostly boys!) into line. It may seem like the body that so many aspire to, but once you’re there you get sucked into colluding with a system that few feel able to break free from. Although thankfully, there are some brave individuals who do.
It is interesting to question why so few have called this out publicly over all these years?
Especially given that to many of us on the outside and fringes this dysfunction is plain to see. We have bishops leading double lives, which no one seems to bother about or challenge. We have bishops preaching one thing and practicing another, particularly when it comes to the way in which they treat LGBT+ clergy in their midst. We have bishops who lament safeguarding failures, but whose own record is pretty poor. It all leads to a postcode lottery, which everyone knows about but no one does anything about because they (we?) have all got too much to lose…or worse, that they don’t think that somehow anyone will notice.
But we do, and we all know. The charade was up a long time ago.
It’s just like my own experience with Bishop’s Council – no one can be bothered to bang the drum any more. We are resigned to letting it all continue, with no one rocking the boat.
But time is running out. Many are tiring of this game. And they’re leaving.
So much so that soon the primary problem won’t be the fear of people rocking the boat, but rather the fear of ensuring that there are still people who are prepared to sail in it!
So reform is needed – and it needs to start at the top.
The House of Bishops is about to release resources for the Church of England to engage with over sexuality. What they seem to have failed to see (again!) is that the vast majority of people in the pews made up their minds about LGBT issues long ago….what they’re waiting for is for the House of Bishops to finally do so themselves. And to do so in a way that has some credibility.
So it’s time the House of Bishops had an OFSTED inspection. They need to turn the mirror on themselves and take a long hard look at what they see. They need to be honest about their dysfunctionality, their divisions and their double standards.
Miracles can happen – and with God’s grace this might just be one of them. Goodness knows we need it!
8 Responses to Resignations, Dysfunctionality and the House of Bishops
Roy Clementssays: October 9, 2020 at 8:20 am You have fought the good fight, Jayne. But at last you have realised that the real problem with the C of E is its unreformed ecclesiology. There is no biblical warrant for the kind of centralised authoritarian episcopacy it perpetuates. Baptists, congregationalists and other independents have their faults, but they can CHANGE!
Kim James says: October 9, 2020 at 8:37 am Kicking issues into the long grass is quite a speciality in many organisations that are embarrassed by their own failures. The CofE is very good at it at all levels of the hierarchy – from PCC subcommittees all the way up to Synod and the archbishops.
Susan Paterson says: October 9, 2020 at 11:20 am Absolutely nailed it – well done. We need a Reformed Anglican Church – though sadly the initials are already taken!
Philip Feakin says: October 9, 2020 at 11:34 am Excellent. It is a great pity that you have had to resign. The Church needs more people to be speaking out about the Church’s very evident shortcomings.
James Normand says: October 9, 2020 at 6:16 pm Speaking as a white, middle class, late middle-aged man, not (yet) on General Synod, I think your assumption that we ‘all hold virtually the same world view – and .. are incapable of recognising that there is legitimacy to any .. view other than [our] own’ is far too much a generalisation and simply not true. That is not to say that I’m critical of your decision to resign from the Bishop of Oxford’s Council. I fully appreciate that ‘there comes a time’ and I’m very sorry that that time has come for you – who have done so much to open the eyes of old fogeys like me. Keep battling on, Jayne, in the forums which you continue to inhabit – and, in particular, through your Foundation and Via Media.
Jayne Ozannesays: October 9, 2020 at 6:22 pm All generalisations are, by their very nature, that – generalisations. But given the exceptionally large number of people who have today agreed with this caricature of Church of England Boards and Councils I think those who fit this description need to reflect on how diverse their groups actually are…
Following the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse [IICSA] investigations, we call upon Justin Welby to consider his position as Archbishop of Canterbury.
The Archbishops of Canterbury and York said on October 2:“As we await IICSA’s report…we continue to pray for survivors and all those the Church has failed”.
Archbishop Welby has failed the wartime Bishop of Chichester George Bell [whose 62nd Anniversary fell on October 3], and will continue to do so until there is a full exoneration by the Archbishop, calling on him to withdraw his “significant cloud…great wickedness” remarks, and for 4 Canon Lane in Chichester to be renamed back to George Bell House.
Justin Welby still appears to believe there is ‘no smoke without fire’, even though the IICSA and two separate investigations by Lord Carlile QC and Timothy Briden – both commissioned by the Church – have shown there is ‘no smoke and no fire’.
The Archbishop has been given every opportunity to right this wrong against Bishop Bell, but still refuses to use his power to heal the very serious divisions caused by this miscarriage of justice.
Our endeavour is to right this wrong.
ATKINS, Revd. Forrest William
CHARMLEY, Professor John
DONALD, Revd. Steve
GOMES, Dr. Jules
INESON, Revd. Matthew
MORGAN, Dr. Gerald
MULLEN, Revd. Dr. Peter
RAVEN, Revd. Canon Charles
ROBINSON, Dr. Steven
SYMONDS, Richard W.
SYKES, Bishop Nicholas
VIRTUE, David W. DD
For further information regarding this letter and its signatories, please contact: