Monthly Archives: January 2021

JANUARY 30 2021 – FROM THE ARCHIVES [OCTOBER 5 2018] – ADDRESS BY LORD CAREY OF CLIFTON – REBUILDING BRIDGES CONFERENCE – CHURCH HOUSE WESTMINSTER

ADDRESS BY LORD CAREY OF CLIFTON – REBUILDING BRIDGES CONFERENCE – CHURCH HOUSE WESTMINSTER – OCTOBER 5 2018

Rebuilding bridges

Restoring Bishop Bell’s place in history

VOICES & RESPONSES

Lord Carey with Conference Chair Sandra Saer

Address by Lord Carey of Clifton

The following words were addressed to those attending the Keep Rebuilding Bridges conference on October 5. Baron Carey of Clifton was the Archbishop of Canterbury from 1991 to 2002.

I am delighted to offer a contribution to this Conference on Rebuilding Bridges and thank Richard Symonds for his invitation and for all he has done and continues to do, to clear George Bell’s name. It is good to see in our audience Dr. Ruth Hildebrandt Grayson, the daughter of Bishop Bell’s close friend, Franz Hildebrandt. We look forward to hearing her later.


Now, I am uncomfortably aware that my presence here raises two unrelated questions.
I have been accused many times over the past few years of presiding over a ‘cover-up’ of Bishop Peter Ball’s crimes. Peter Ball misused his office as a bishop to abuse, and indecently assault young people who were exploring vocations into Christian ministry. There was, of course, no cover-up. We now know that the police at the time examined many allegations against Ball and together with prosecutors only charged him with a caution. This decision was very much of its time. But later even after I had left office other people, including police, had an opportunity to look at all the evidence that was in our hands at Lambeth to bring Peter Ball to justice, yet they did not do so until Chichester Diocese passed on its files and Peter Ball was finally brought to justice in 2015. I and my colleagues at the time did make mistakes and rightly my actions are being subjected to public scrutiny – a review by Dame Moira Gibb and the IICSA Inquiry. I have cooperated willingly, openly and honestly with this scrutiny at every stage.

I will take every opportunity I can to publicly apologise to the victims of Peter Ball for the mistakes I made in the 1990s which have caused them such pain to this day. I will say no more about this matter because IICSA is still to report on this next year.


The other question is about the role of retired bishops and archbishops. ‘Don’t spit on the deck as you leave’ is usually good advice. But I am not retired from ministry. I am still active in ministry, still a member of the church and by Her Majesty’s invitation a member of the House of Lords. If it is permissible to speak out on public affairs, as I do from time to time, then it is permissible for me to speak out on matters of justice when so few others will.


Over the last 12 months or so I have had a recurring disturbing worry. It is the ‘nightmare’ that in spite of a very happy and faithful marriage to the same woman for nearly 60 years some 50 or so years from the point of my death, rumours will circulate that I was an abuser of others. The rumours will reach such a pitch that the Church to which I had given my life will capitulate, pay out money and believe the falsehoods. Who would defend me?


This could happen to anyone of us – male or female. It became a reality for one of the great giants of Anglicans, namely George Bell who died 70 years ago and whom we honour today. I remember the time when I was Archbishop visiting Morton’s Tower in Lambeth Palace where Bell’s works were stored. I was amazed by the scale of his correspondence and work. It expressed his energy, output and commitment to public affairs. He was never afraid to be unpopular because his commitment was to the gospel of Jesus Christ and its truth. Before ecumenism became a fashionable word he had already embraced a deep commitment to other Christians and Churches. Whilst anti-Jewish hatred continued to change the face of Germany and western Europe, Bell instinctively turned his face against the ugliness of anti-Semitism. I read his correspondence with Dietrich Bonhoeffer and marvelled at their deep friendship and common faith. At a time of understandable patriotism and jingoism on the part of the British people, Bell courageously argued against unacceptable retribution against Germany. Winston Churchill turned against him and, we understand, put paid to any prospect of Bell becoming Archbishop because of his opposition to carpet bombing.
But Bell was more than an energetic, courageous and knowledgeable public figure. He was a man rooted in prayer and worship; a high churchman who loved the order and beauty of liturgy. In his exceptionally busy life he was supported loyally, deeply and lovingly by his wife, Henrietta. She was always alongside him, as were his chaplains who were there to take some of the burden of his high public office.


And then, fifty-seven years after his death, his own diocese which he served faithfully and greatly loved – supported by the Archbishop of Canterbury and the House of Bishops – made an announcement which was likely to affect Bell’s reputation forever more. The announcement was widely interpreted by press and public alike as an accusation that Bell had sexually abused a child between 1949 and 1953. Strangely, church leaders deny that they have ever said that Bell was guilty of the abuse, but this is surely disingenuous. In the Archbishop of Canterbury’s words, a ‘cloud’ hangs over his name.


In that initial announcement, very few details were given but it was clear that an unspecified sum of money had been given to the complainant. The Church said it had decided to give this compensation on the basis of the ‘balance of probabilities’. But even on this evidential basis, arguments for the defence should have been heard. Previously, no other accusations – or even rumours – had ever been heard against Bell. And on the basis of this one unproven, and probably unprovable allegation, his name was removed from buildings and institutions named after him.


A recent detailed review of the case by Lord Carlile showed that no significant effort had been made by the Church to consider any evidence that might have supported Bell’s innocence. In particular, those investigating did not consult Bell’s biographer, Andrew Chandler, nor the living people who worked with him at that time.
George Bell’s cause was given no legal advocate. Instead, in a process, which I referred to in the House of Lords in 2016 as ‘having the character of a kangaroo court’ it seems as though the ‘victim’ was automatically believed. The normal burden of proof was reversed and it was considered ‘wicked’ to doubt the veracity of the allegations.
Dr Andrew Chandler in his excellent biography of George Bell states: ‘We are asked to invest an entire authority in one testimony and to dismiss all the materials by which we have come to know the historical George Bell as mere figments of reputation.’ Of course, if Bell was guilty, his high reputation should not protect him. But we have not been given the chance to establish fairly whether he was.


In an appendix devoted to the controversy, Chandler notes that Bell’s 368 volume archive contains his personal notebooks and pocket diaries from 1919 to 1957, in which he kept track of all his appointments and engagements. He notes Bell’s “conspicuously high view of the standards required by his office,” and adds that Bell was almost constantly observed, that he participated in many disciplinary processes for clergy, that he maintained what seemed like a happy marriage, and that he worked almost continually in the presence of his wife, secretary, domestic chaplain, or driver.
Chandler interviewed the only member of Bell’s circle who was then still alive, Adrian Carey, his domestic chaplain from the early 1950s. This man “is firm, indeed emphatic, that ‘no child or young teenager ever entered during my two years as Chaplain, except on the day in January chosen for the parish Christmas party which he and Mrs Bell laid on every year for the children of the clergy’”.


Thankfully an outcry came against such a miscarriage of justice and I was delighted in 2016 to be invited to join the George Bell group, led by Andrew Chandler, to fight to clear George Bell’s name.
It was a relief to us all when the Bishop of Chichester asked Lord Carlile of Berriew QC, a well-known independently-minded human rights lawyer, to conduct an independent review which he did thoroughly and authoritatively. His report concluded that the “core group” established by the church to consider the claims “failed to follow a process that was fair and equitable to both sides”.

“The church, understandably concerned not to repeat the mistakes of the past, when it had been too slow to recognise that abuse had been perpetrated by clergy and to recognise the pain and damage caused to victims, has in effect over-steered in this case.

“In other words, there was a rush to judgment: the church, feeling it should be both supportive of the complainant and transparent in its dealings, failed to engage in a process which would also give proper consideration to the rights of the bishop. Such rights should not be treated as having been extinguished on death.”

He added: “In my view, the church concluded that the needs of a living complainant who, if truthful, was a victim of very serious criminal offences were of considerably more importance than the damage done by a possibly false allegation to a person who was no longer alive.”

Carlile said the purpose of his review was not to determine the truthfulness of the allegations nor to rule on Bell’s guilt or innocence.

He went on, “even when the alleged perpetrators have died, there should be methodical and sufficient investigations into accusations leveled against them”.
In this case, “the truth of what Carol was saying was implicitly accepted without serious investigation or inquiry. I have concluded this was an inappropriate and impermissible approach.”

What then followed was to my mind more damaging to the Church than to George Bell. Instead of this logically leading to the rehabilitation of George Bell’s reputation, the Church compounded the problem further by apologizing for the procedures that had been found wanting by the Carlile review, but nevertheless refused to retract its conclusion that George Bell was in all probability guilty of the abuse.

In the words of the Archbishop of Canterbury a ‘significant cloud’ hangs over his name. The Archbishop bluntly added: ‘he is accused of great wickedness’.

What is deeply unsatisfactory is that no explanation is given and no evidence for these conclusions. If the Carlile report revealed how biased and unjust were the conclusions of the Core Group, how can the Archbishop, the Bishop of Chichester and Bishop of Bath and Wells continue to unblushingly assert that George Bell’s reputation remains under a cloud?

Now, it gives me no pleasure to note that the Archbishop of Canterbury has received harsh criticism from a number of leading historians and theologians and, sadly, his response has been so far unsatisfactory. Those of us still committed to the national Church remain horrified that not more has been done to explain his remark that ‘a cloud remains’. At the very least justice demands it.

Perhaps an explanation lies in a further allegation which has come out of the blue, at the beginning of this year, before the Carlile review could be properly debated in General Synod. But after the first core group debacle, can we really have confidence that the Church can investigate this competently itself?

Regarding the current investigation at least this time we know that George Bell’s niece is to be represented by one of the George Bell Group, Desmond Browne QC, and that Andrew Chandler’s expertise and knowledge of Bell is being utilised. But a gnawing and perhaps understandable suspicion remains that the hierarchy are hoping we will all forget and the ‘can’ will be kicked further down the road. It is a sorry mess: a great man’s name has been traduced, justice has been denied and the good name of George Bell rubbished.

The Archbishop has rightly made mediation and reconciliation a major plank of his ministry, and I hope he will reach out to all those who are dismayed by this treatment of Bell and consider again his judgement of Bishop George Bell.

However, one of the matters I am most dismayed by is the silence over these concerns by the House of Bishops. The Church of England has always been respected for scholarship, theological exploration and independent thought. George Bell stands out as a pre-eminent scholar-bishop of the 20th century who engaged in public debate within the church and nation – frequently disagreeing with his episcopal colleagues.
In my time as Archbishop I served with colleagues of great scholarship and distinction including John Habgood, David Hope, Tom Wright, Mark Santer, Michael Nazzir-Ali, Peter Selby, Richard Harries, David Jenkins, Hugh Montefiore, David Sheppard, Simon Barrington Ward, and John Taylor of St. Alban’s and many others. These were bishops who prized justice and spoke out when they saw injustice. Bishops were prepared to speak out even against their own hierarchy – and they did not always agree with me.
So why the silence from the House of Bishops? Each member must know that he or she is implicated indirectly in this condemnation of Bell. Only one bishop has distanced himself from the Archbishop’s conclusion, but I understand that at least six others disagree with him. Unity, and collegiality are good things but never should they replace what is right and true. ‘Collegiality’ is not to be mistaken for ‘collective cabinet responsibility’ or ‘party discipline’.

So it is right to press the Bishops to declare themselves. Do you share the opinion that a significant cloud hangs over George Bell’s name? Do you agree that he is guilty of great wickedness? Please tell us what you think. At the February Group of General Synod Martin Sewell was told that ‘the House of Bishops is accountable for safeguarding in the Church of England’. If that is the case, why the silence? Is it an honorable thing to be silent on a matter so crucial as this? If the bishops are at one with the Archbishop of Canterbury’s declaration that a ‘cloud hangs’ over George Bell’s reputation and that ‘he is accused of great wickedness’, let them says so in a collective declaration of support for the Archbishop’s view.

It is because we all make mistakes that we need a church that preaches grace, forgiveness, repentance and new life. I see very little of grace in the way that the Church of England has handled allegations against George Bell. Indeed, it is shaming because it is unjust. We know we can do better. That is why this conference talks about rebuilding bridges, and that is why many of us will continue to fight for justice for George Bell.

However, I want to end on a positive note. Rebuilding Bridges is central to the Christian faith and that is what we all want to do. Let me offer three points:
I believe the George Bell case and also the Peter Ball investigation makes the argument for outsourcing investigations in the case of accusations of sexual misconduct. It is not because Archbishops and bishops can’t be trusted to have an important role in safeguarding, rather it is because we are too close to the clergy concerned and very likely to defend instinctively the institution, rather than actively promote an unbiased and independent approach.

Secondly, George Bell was a man of the Church, passionate about its witness and unity. Here we are today with declining numbers of worshippers, with no clear evangelistic programme, and no apparent plan to reach the young. The gap between Church and society is widening all the time. Yes, I know that great work is going on and not all churches are declining. It grieves us all that this major squabble is taking up so much time and energy when our gaze should be directed away from ourselves. The supporters of Bishop George Bell desire wholeheartedly to speak with one voice with the Archbishop and the House of Bishops. Reconciliation would certainly send out a great signal of overcoming a major barrier to our unity, which of course is part of our mission.

A third positive sign is an attractive idea that Dr. Ruth Hildebrandt Grayson is going to offer later and I do not want to steal her thunder in any respect. As I understand it, she is going to suggest a way of continuing Bishop George Bell’s work in the diocese.

Let me close my remarks with George Bell’s own words: words we should all heed, and which should guide our attempts to clear his name: ‘To despair of being able to do anything, or refuse to do anything, is to be guilty of infidelity’.

George Carey

Posted on October 2018 conference proceedingsvoices

JANUARY 30 2021 – “CHRIST CHURCH TRUSTEES EXPRESS ANGER AFTER WATCHDOG QUESTIONS EFFORTS TO OUST EMBATTLED DEAN” – DAILY TELEGRAPH + CHARITY COMMISSION TO QUIZ CHRIST CHURCH TRUSTEES OVER PERCY TRIBUNAL” – CHURCH TIMES – FEBRUARY 2 2021

Christ Church Oxford

“CHRIST CHURCH TRUSTEES EXPRESS ANGER AFTER WATCHDOG QUESTIONS EFFORTS TO OUST EMBATTLED DEAN” – DAILY TELEGRAPH – JANUARY 30 2021

Christ Church trustees express anger after watchdog questions efforts to oust embattled Dean

The Very Rev Martyn Percy has been involved in a long-standing row with fellow Oxford dons over his tenure

By Gabriella Swerling, SOCIAL AND RELIGIOUS AFFAIRS EDITOR 29 January 2021 • 7:00pm

Mandatory Credit: Photo by Greg Blatchford/REX (9300853c)
Annual Carol Service attended by Very Revd Professor Martyn Percy, Dean of Christ Church Cathedral and College, Oxford.
Nine Lessons Carol Service, Christ Church Cathedral, Oxford, UK - 23 Dec 2017
The second tribunal is the latest twist in a dispute which saw Dr Percy initially suspended from his £90,000-a-year post for alleged ‘immoral, scandalous and disgraceful behaviour’, complaints that have been dismissed CREDIT: Greg Blatchford/REX

Trustees of a prestigious Oxford college have expressed “considerable anger” after a watchdog questioned its efforts to oust an embattled Dean, a leaked letter has revealed.

The Very Rev Martyn Percy, who presides over Christ Church College and cathedral, has been embroiled in a long-standing row with fellow Oxford dons over his tenure.

Earlier this month, the governing body of Christ Church Oxford was supported by the chapter of the cathedral in a vote to convene a second internal tribunal against the Dean amid an allegation of “sexual harassment”, which he denied.

It is claimed he stroked a woman’s hair and complimented her on her appearance, a matter that was reported to police and promptly dropped.

Earlier this week the Charity Commission wrote to the college trustees questioning whether a tribunal is a “responsible use of the charity’s resources” in a letter that was leaked to the media.

Now a further leaked  internal leaked email between the trustees has been shared with The Telegraph, revealing their anger at the watchdog’s review. 

It reads: “Considerable anger was expressed at Governing Body about the nature of the Charity Commission’s communication and we are taking this up with the Commission.  However, with regard to the enquiries they seek to make, we should feel confident that we have absolutely nothing to be concerned about.”

The Charity Commission has written to all trustees of Christ Church advising that it is proposing to make enquiries about the decision to convene a tribunal to consider the sexual harassment allegation against the Dean brought by a junior member of staff.

However, the leaked email also reveals that the Censors Christ Church Oxford has written to all its governing body members about the nature of individual “follow up contact” by the regulator, and offered tips for how to deal with questions from the watchdog.

It said members are “welcome to contact the Censor Theologiae or Senior Censor if you would like support in responding” to the questions and added: “If a representative of the Commission contacts you by telephone unannounced with questions, you are entitled to ask to reschedule the discussion at a convenient time and to ask to see the questions in advance. 

“You may also ask to have a representative with you and, if it is a formal interview, you are entitled to legal representation. This is unlikely to happen, but we thought it would be helpful to share this advice.”

The second tribunal is the latest effort to force out the Dean, and follows an alleged incident which took place in Christ Church cathedral in October. 

Thames Valley Police said it had conducted a “thorough investigation” into the matter at the time, adding: “Our investigation has now concluded and the matter has been filed pending further information coming to light.”

However, the College set up its own internal probe into the incident and is now preparing to use it as the basis to remove Dr Percy from his post.

Allies of Dr Percy claim this is “certainly not a safeguarding issue” but part of a long-running “persecution” of him by other senior dons which has become “a vendetta” 

The second tribunal is also the latest twist in a dispute dating from 2018 when Dr Percy was suspended from his £90,000-a-year post for alleged “immoral, scandalous and disgraceful behaviour”.

A first internal tribunal dismissed complaints against the Anglican priest and theologian after a hearing the following year.

In September, church officials cleared him of safeguarding charges, saying he “acted entirely appropriately” in each of four cases referred earlier this year by the college’s governing body.

Last year, the charity watchdog ordered Christ Church and Dr Percy to enter a mediation process.

A Charity Commission spokesman said: “We remain concerned about the protracted and public dispute within the College’s governing body. Our role is to ensure that charity trustees comply with their legal duties and responsibilities. 

“This week, as part of an ongoing compliance case, we have written to every member of the governing body – each of whom is a trustee in charity law – to seek reassurance that they have acted in line with their responsibilities and duties as charity trustees and complied with our guidance. We have drawn no conclusions at this point.”

A spokesman for Christ Church said: Christ Church’s governing body and cathedral chapter earlier this month decided to take forward internal disciplinary proceedings, following a complaint of sexual harassment made by a junior member of staff. 

“Christ Church is clear that, as an employer, a charity, and an educational institution, it will always treat such an allegation fairly. We should not and cannot ignore such serious allegations.

“Christ Church has followed the formal requirements in our statutes to deal with such an allegation, as well as the Charity Commission’s guidance on safeguarding and protecting people for charities and trustees, in the handling of this complaint. 

On January 12 , we provided a further update to the commission accordingly. We welcome the opportunity to share the process in a transparent way with the Charity Commission and we know they will take as seriously as we do all accusations of sexual harassment. We continue to keep the commission fully informed and respond to any questions they may have.”Related Topics

Martyn Percy Dean and Head of Christ Church Oxford

RELATED COMMENTS AND LETTERS

John S Reply to  Janet Fife ‘Thinking Anglicans’

“It feels a little inappropriate to be discussing favourite pubs in a thread that is basically about the unfolding car crash of a man being relentlessly hounded by agencies including the church …”

Charity Commission to quiz Christ Church trustees over Percy tribunal

by A STAFF REPORTER 01 FEBRUARY 2021 – CHURCH TIMESISTOCK

Christ Church, Oxford

THE Charity Commission has written to each member of the Governing Body of Christ Church, Oxford, enquiring about its decision to launch a second tribunal to investigate the Dean, the Very Revd Professor Martyn Percy.

The investigation relates to a complaint of sexual harassment in the cathedral in October (News, 20 November 2020). In agreeing to the tribunal, both the cathedral chapter and the Governing Body judged the complaint to be “supported by sufficient evidence which could, if proved, constitute good cause for the removal of the Dean from office” (News, 15 January).

The reported cost of the college’s action against Dean Percy since a first complaint in 2018 is said to be above £2 million, and prompted alumni such as the Revd Jonathan Aitken, the former MP, to ask the Charity Commission to investigate. Christ Church acts as a charity titled “the Dean and Chapter of the Cathedral Church of Christ in Oxford of the Foundation of King Henry VIII”, registered in 2011.

On Wednesday of last week, Helen Earner, director of regulatory services, wrote to each member of the Governing Body, 65 in all, including the members of the cathedral Chapter, each of whom functions as a trustee of the charity.

“To begin with, we will be seeking further information and assurances from the members of the Governing Body about why establishing a Tribunal is: in the best interests of the charity and its beneficiaries; a responsible use of the charity’s resources.

“We will also examine how, when reaching this decision, the members of the Governing Body: took account of our published guidance and previous regulatory advice; and identified and managed any conflicts of interest and/or loyalty.

“This is not an exhaustive list.”

Ms Earner recognises that the Governing Body members took professional advice before proceeding; but she warns: “That does not relieve them, as trustees, of their responsibilities — collectively and individually — for the management and administration of the charity, although that will be considered accordingly. For that reason, we may want to discuss these matters with individual trustees directly.”

In response, the college authorities said that, “as an employer, a charity, and an educational institution”, the college would always treat allegations fairly.

It went on: “Christ Church has followed the formal requirements in our statutes to deal with such an allegation, as well as the Charity Commission’s guidance on ‘Safeguarding and protecting people for charities and trustees’ in the handling of this complaint. On 12 January 2021, we provided a further update to the Commission accordingly.

“We welcome the opportunity to share the process in a transparent way with the Charity Commission and we know they will take as seriously as we do all accusations of sexual harassment. We continue to keep the Commission fully informed and respond to any questions they may have.”

An internal email sent to Governing Body members, leaked to the Telegraph, suggested a less eirenic reaction: “Considerable anger was expressed at Governing Body about the nature of the Charity Commission’s communication and we are taking this up with the Commission.

“However, with regard to the enquiries they seek to make, we should feel confident that we have absolutely nothing to be concerned about.”

The email suggests tactics for Governing Body members approached by the Charity Commission: “If a representative of the Commission contacts you by telephone unannounced with questions, you are entitled to ask to reschedule the discussion at a convenient time and to ask to see the questions in advance.

“You may also ask to have a representative with you and, if it is a formal interview, you are entitled to legal representation. This is unlikely to happen, but we thought it would be helpful to share this advice.”

Dean Percy is on sick leave, and unavailable for comment. He has denied the allegation.

JANUARY 30 2021 – “THE CHURCH’S UNJUST TREATMENT OF CLERGY HAS CREATED A CLIMATE OF FEAR” – GEORGE CAREY [FORMER ARCHBISHOP OF CANTERBURY] + “LORD CAREY: CLERGY LIVE IN A CULTURE OF FEAR IN THE CHURCH” – GABRIELLA SWERLING – DAILY TELEGRAPH

Former Archbishop of Canterbury George Carey

Photograph: Murdo Macleod

“THE CHURCH’S UNJUST TREATMENT OF CLERGY HAS CREATED A CLIMATE OF FEAR” – GEORGE CAREY [FORMER ARCHBISHOP OF CANTERBURY] – DAILY TELEGRAPH – JANUARY 30 2021

“The Church’s unjust treatment of clergy has created a climate of fear” – George Carey

I am far from alone in having fallen foul of a slow and secretive approach to disciplinary matters GEORGE CAREY 29 January 2021 • 10:00pm

Earlier this week, my Permission to Officiate was returned eight months after it was perfunctorily removed. To others it may seem a small or arcane thing but PTO for the retired priest is essentially a licence which allows you to assist your local vicar and continue to help keep the ministry of the church going in your small part of the nation. Retired priests are the backbone of the Church of England.

Priesthood is a lifelong vocation and though having a continuing ministry isn’t something that should be automatic nor should it be taken away without due process.

Yet last June I was told brutally that after 58 years of serving the church faithfully my ministry was withdrawn because of some kind of association, which I had no knowledge of, with John Smyth, QC. Smyth was a lawyer who also savagely beat young Christian boys from top public schools until they bled, with some perverse theological justification that his efforts would make them more “holy”.

I had no memory of him. He apparently came to Trinity Theological College Bristol in 1983, where I was Principal, to pursue a sabbatical term or two of independent study. I have only been able to find one member of staff who remembered him. 

An investigation took place under the auspices of a secretive and anonymous body, called a core group, which concluded that on the basis of a vague reference in a letter between two evangelical clergymen, who themselves knew about Smyth’s abuses, that details of his abuses had been passed to me. Incidentally, I understand that these clergy, and others, who had close knowledge of Smyth’s crimes, have never had their ministry revoked.

In contrast I, from a secondary modern school in Dagenham who had no associations with the top public schools, or the elite circles in which John Smyth and these other clergy moved, was judged guilty. If I had seen the “memo” listing Smyth’s terrible deeds it would have been seared on my memory. But the investigator and the core group took no note of my protestations, nor of the testimony of a senior member of staff at the college who gave clear evidence as to why I could not have known. And to this day the core group will not shift from the conclusion that they have “credible and supporting evidence” that I knew about Smyth some 30 years before his crimes were finally brought to light.

This matters because I am not the only one experiencing these unjust measures. Last year, it was reported that many clergy were left feeling suicidal by the way they were treated during the Church of England’s disciplinary processes. 

Martyn Percy, Dean of Christ Church, Oxford, has been in conflict for the last few years with a governing body which, having exhausted all other avenues, has resorted to core groups and the church’s disciplinary system. After my experience, I fear they may succeed in their attempts to remove him. The current Bishop of Lincoln, Christopher Lowson, has been suspended since May 2019. What monstrous system of justice leaves a bishop in such a difficult quandary for so long?

Similarly the late and great George Bell, the war-time bishop who rightly opposed blanket bombing of Germany, was adjudged to be guilty of child abuse more than 50 years after his death. Lord Carlile, reviewing the case later, said that the core group had “rushed to judgement” without carefully weighing the evidence. He urged the Church of England to allow those accused to be represented on the core group. As a result the Church of England now allows deceased persons to be represented – but not living persons, as I have found to my cost.

In contrast to these cases, and mine, recent safeguarding complaints about both the Archbishops of Canterbury and York have been closed quickly with judicious speed and finality. I have no reason to doubt that they were dealt with properly but those of us who have suffered the stutteringly slow, brutal and impersonal face of the Church of England’s core group process have reason to complain about the disparity.

This is not the Church of England that I have known – generous, open and kind. Tragically, I know that victims of clerical abuse found the Church of England in the past to be defensive and uncaring, and I greatly regret my part in that culture and those terrible attitudes. But it does not do to replace one failure with another. The current culture of fear in which survivors and clerics alike receive no kind of justice must be confronted.

Lord Carlile, QC, gives advice that the Church of England should urgently follow: “There should be root and branch reform, to provide investigative and disciplinary processes comparable with that for doctors and other professional groups.” I agree that independent oversight is now the only way ahead to provide justice for all.

And to those who ask why this matters, my reply is that in a week when we suffered our 100,000th Covid death, the church needs to be a strong, compassionate and generous body, with clerics who are free of fear to speak of hope and love to our needy world.

Lord Carey was Archbishop of Canterbury, 1991-2002

SELECTED COMMENTS

  1. I entirely share Lord Carey’s view that current accusations of misconduct in the Church should be handled by an independent professional body. However, the Church must then be prepared to accept the recommendations of such an independent body. Recent events suggest that this would be fiercely resisted.

Historical accusations of abuse are more problematic. Many accusations of abuse are fully justified. Others can be based on fantasy or deliberate malice and even the Police can be misled (as in recent high-profile cases). In other cases, crucial evidence is missing or hidden.  Any formal accusations of historical misconduct in the Church would therefore need to be investigated by a professional body that included independent historians. These could give advice on the quality and credibility of the evidence presented. Given the acrimonious quality of current disputes in the Church (and the vigour with which they are pursued), the likelihood of any reform seems slender. 30 Jan 2021 1:11AM

2. With their appalling record on abuse and the years of denial intended only to cover it up and protect the good name of the church, would any other organisation be allowed to still operate in the UK?  These are those that thought people were less important than reputation. I am not religious but I do hope there is a God that will demand an  explanation of what they did in his name. 30 Jan 2021 12:18AM

3. Sadly under the present Archbishop of Canterbury the Church of England has let everyone down and the current crisis has exposed a very un-Christian core at the top. It is presumably the same core that needs the root and branch reform recommended by Lord Carlile QC. 

4. I am sorry for what you have been through, but glad that you have had your PTO restored to you. I have good reason to know that retired priests are indeed the backbone of the Church of England – our little church in France has been well served by them for all of the 23 years. I have been a member of the congregation! 

“LORD CAREY: CLERGY LIVE IN A CULTURE OF FEAR IN THE CHURCH” – GABRIELLA SWERLING – DAILY TELEGRAPH – JANUARY 30 2021

Lord Carey: Clergy live in a culture of fear in the Church of England

Lord Carey of Clifton – Screenshot of Photo by Andrew Crowley for the Daily Telegraph

Former Archbishop of Canterbury criticises Church’s ‘brutal’ treatment of him over abuse allegations By Gabriella Swerling, SOCIAL AND RELIGIOUS AFFAIRS EDITOR29 January 2021 • 11:53pm

Lord Carey, 85, has had his ban on ministering overturned
Lord Carey, 85, has had his ban on ministering overturned CREDIT: EDDIE MULHOLLAND

The former Archbishop of Canterbury has criticised the Church of England’s “brutal” treatment of him over allegations he covered up abuse, saying that both survivors and clergy face a “culture of fear”.

The Telegraph revealed this week that Lord Carey, 85, had his ban on ministering overturned, and fellow clergy members urged Church officials to instead “concentrate their energies on those who are genuinely at fault”.

In June last year it emerged that Lord Carey had his permission to officiate (PTO), which is required for any Church of England priest to preach or minister, revoked.

At the time, the Church of England said that new evidence linking Lord Carey to a review into abuse by the late John Smyth QC, had emerged.

The barrister, who died aged 77 in 2018, was accused of attacking boys he met at a Christian camp during the Seventies and Eighties. Seven months after Lord Carey’s ban, the Rt Rev Dr Steven Croft, the Bishop of Oxford, reinstated his PTO because he did not “pose a safeguarding risk”.

Lord Carey, who was Archbishop of Canterbury from 1991 to 2002, has now attacked the Church and its “monstrous” treatment of members of the clergy who are accused of or alleged to have committed wrongdoing.

Writing in The Telegraph, he describes “suffering the stutteringly slow, brutal and impersonal face of the Church of England’s” internal complaints process and reiterates that he is “not the only one experiencing these unjust measures”. He adds: “Last year, it was reported that many clergy were left feeling suicidal by the way they were treated during the Church of England’s disciplinary processes.”

John Smyth was accused of attacking boys he met at a Christian camp during the Seventies and Eighties
John Smyth was accused of attacking boys he met at a Christian camp during the Seventies and Eighties

The clergy disciplinary measure process is under review amid calls for reform and concerns that accused clergy are left suicidal at the “toxic” and drawn-out process.

Lord Carey also criticised the Church’s “culture of fear” and demanded that survivors and clerics both have equal opportunities for justice. He said: “This is not the Church of England that I have known – generous, open and kind. Tragically, I know that victims of clerical abuse found the Church of England in the past to be defensive and uncaring, and I greatly regret my part in that culture and those terrible attitudes. But it does not do to replace one failure with another.

“The current culture of fear in which survivors and clerics alike receive no kind of justice must be confronted.”

Lord Carey’s PTO was withdrawn after the independent Learning Lessons Case Review into Smyth referred to two letters to the national safeguarding team of the Church of England.

They prompted concerns that when Lord Carey was principal of Trinity College Bristol in 1983-84, he had received a report concerning Smyth’s “evil conduct” in the early Eighties and had not disclosed these concerns to the appropriate authorities.

Smyth attended the college for a short period part-time. The safeguarding team concluded that Lord Carey had seen the report, which he denies.

The Church of England said: “When a safeguarding concern is raised the Church has a duty to respond and follows the House of Bishops guidance. All safeguarding concerns involving church officers are treated in the same way, irrespective of their position in the Church … We continue to learn and are committed to putting survivors at heart of our work.”

Related Topics

RELATED COMMENTS AND LETTERS

“The Church’s treatment of George Carey has indeed been disgraceful. Only an institution morally rotten at the core could operate investigative and disciplinary processes in the present manner” – ‘GT’ – 30/01/2021

Clergy discipline, safeguarding cases, and NDAs – Church Times Letters – 29/01/2021

From Mr David Lamming

Sir, — The announcement (News, 22 January) by the Bishop at Lambeth, the Rt Revd Tim Thornton, that reform of the Clergy Discipline Measure (CDM) is “on hold” to enable wider consultation on proposed changes before they are brought to the General Synod is welcome, as is the Sheldon Hub’s recommendation of a moratorium on “all new CDM cases which do not meet the threshold of ‘if proved would warrant prohibition’”.

This test, at least for determining whether a case should be referred to a Bishop’s Disciplinary Tribunal, has the support of the recently retired Deputy President of Tribunals, Sir Mark Hedley. In a lecture to the Ecclesiastical Law Society in October 2017, Sir Mark opined that a case should only be referred if it involved “a degree of seriousness that, if conduct is proved, will render the respondent liable at least to removal from office or revocation of licence”. He added: “Whether that is a threshold that should apply at every stage of the Measure is a matter that we will need to consider further.”

I would go further and suggest that the proposed moratorium should apply to existing CDM cases that do not meet the Hedley test — such as, I would maintain, the CDM complaint against the Dean of Christ Church, Oxford.

It is not only the CDM that needs to be changed. The separate non-statutory “jurisdiction” of core groups requires substantial reform, together with the ability of bishops to deny or revoke a priest’s permission to officiate (PTO) without due process or any right of appeal. It is welcome news that Lord Carey’s PTO has been restored, but he should not have been put through seven months of anguish before justice was done.

As I stated (Letters, 3 July 2020), the revocation of his PTO last June could not be justified on any safeguarding basis, and the decision to do so was both “irrational and cruel”. He deserves an apology from the National Safeguarding Team, but I note that none was forthcoming in the less-than-gracious announcement on the Oxford diocese’s website, which, in its “Note for editors” was more concerned to record that the NST had found “substantiated”, solely on the basis of two letters written in 1983/84 by Canon David MacInnes to David Fletcher, a concern that Lord Carey had seen the Ruston report detailing allegations of physical abuse by the late John Smyth, a conclusion rightly rejected by Lord Carey.

DAVID LAMMING
General Synod member

From Mr Andrew Graystone

Sir, — I can’t comment on how much, if anything, Lord Carey knew about John Smyth’s abuse in 1983. But I am concerned at the grounds on which decisions about safeguarding are now being made.

Lord Carey’s permission to officiate has been reinstated on the grounds that whatever he did or didn’t do in the past, he has completed a safeguarding course and therefore doesn’t currently pose a safeguarding risk. This is the same standard as was recently used to dismiss a similar complaint against the present Archbishop of Canterbury. In the case of Lord Carey, we are told that the concern about his past actions was substantiated, but he wasn’t deemed to be a current risk (which is patently true). In the case of Archbishop Welby, the opposite logic was applied: he isn’t deemed to be a current safeguarding risk; so, therefore, the issue about what he did or didn’t do about Smyth didn’t need to be investigated.

I have nothing against either man, but the casuistry with which the National Safeguarding Team deals with complaints should ring loud alarm bells for us all. It is precisely this Law of Convenience that was criticised by IICSA just a few months ago. It doesn’t make victims feel any safer, or potential abusers feel any less confident.

ANDREW GRAYSTONE

From Dr Chris Knight

Sir, — It is good to see bishops condemn gagging clauses in contracts for cladding (News, 15 January), after similar criticisms of the use of non-disclosure agreements (NDAs) by universities, as raised in Parliament by the Bishop of Winchester in March 2020.

I am led to understand that the Church of England has no policy on the use and misuse of NDAs, centrally or in the dioceses. In the light of the IICSA reports and current concerns about the Church’s secrecy and misplaced concern for reputation, perhaps it is now time that the C of E considered these issues and produced such a policy. This might prevent future embarrassment as the Church was, yet again, found to be perpetrating what it decried in the world.

CHRIS KNIGHT

David Lamming Reply to  Toby Forward‘Thinking Anglicans’:

So, Toby, you don’t condemn injustice and poor practice in the Church’s procedures, then – the matters that George Carey is highlighting in this article, not just in relation to himself?

Read, too, the letter by Andrew Graystone in this week’s Church Times (page 14), highlighting the “casuistry with which the National Safeguarding Team deals with complaints”, contrasting the way the NST dealt with the ‘information’ (based on two letters in 1983/84) that Lord Carey may have known 37 years ago about Smyth’s abuse when he (Carey) was Principal of Trinity College, Bristol (which he denies, a position supported by other evidence ignored by the NST), and the basis on which a similar complaint against Archbishop Justin Welby was dismissed.
See: Letters to the Editor (churchtimes.co.uk)

JANUARY 29 2021 – PRIVATE EYE ON WINCKWORTH SHERWOOD AND LUTHER PENDRAGON [FROM THE ARCHIVES – “CHRIST CHURCH AT WAR” – MAY 28 2020]

The wily Censors went directly to the National Safeguarding Team rather than the local diocese in Oxford. They also retained the church’s own lawyers, Winkworth Sherwood – and hired its favourite PR firm, Luther Pendragon, to brief selected hacks– Private Eye, May 28 2020 [Issue 1522]

“CHRIST CHURCH AT WAR” – FROM THE ARCHIVES – PRIVATE EYE – MAY 28 2020 [ISSUE 1522]

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https://richardwsymonds.wordpress.com/2020/05/28/may-28-2020-christ-church-at-war-private-eye/

Christ Church at war

Oxford by gaslight, Issue 1522

martyn-percy.jpg

OXFORD BLUES: Dr Martyn Percy, dean of Christ Church, Oxford, who is being hounded by a cabal of disgruntled dons and ex-dons

THE dean of Christ Church, Oxford, has a unique double status: head of a major university college and senior resident cleric at the city’s cathedral. As the current incumbent the Very Revd Dr Martyn Percy is learning, two jobs also mean twice the opportunities for a cabal of disgruntled dons and ex-dons who want to force him out.

War was publicly declared in September 2018, when seven of them formally accused Percy of “conduct of an immoral, scandalous or disgraceful nature” – the wording that justifies removal from office under college statutes (Eye 1484). The governing body duly suspended him and set up an internal tribunal, chaired by the retired high court judge Sir Andrew Smith. The college said the dispute “relates to issues surrounding the dean’s own pay and how it is set”, without explaining how that could be immoral or scandalous.

Percy had indeed proposed a pay review for himself, and for the treasurer and bursar. But his enemies were plotting well before that. The old guard didn’t see Percy – adopted, and from a humble background – as “one of us”. They were also infuriated by his attempts to modernise the college’s safeguarding practices, following a violent incident involving a student.

The sword of truth

Internal emails seen by Sir Andrew Smith revealed what the judge called “distinct hostility” from a clique of former “Censors”, the academics who regulate the college’s academic and social life. “He’s got to go,” an emeritus professor wrote in an email to cronies. “Does anyone know any good poisoners?” Another commented: “Just think of the Inspector Morse episode we could make when his wrinkly withered little body is found at Osney Lock.”

Sir Andrew Smith’s inquiry, completed last August, rejected all charges against the dean. His 110-page report, which the Eye has seen, often seems bemused by the whole affair: “I find it difficult to understand the real complaints… I cannot understand the Prosecutor’s reasoning… Nor can I understand how the dean can be said to be guilty of culpable behaviour, still less immoral, scandalous or disgraceful conduct.”

When the Censors read the report, they promptly lived up to their name by announcing that the rest of the governing body would get only a heavily redacted version. But college alumnus Revd Jonathan Aitken then deployed the sword of truth and the trusty shield of British fair play. Outraged that a “small cabal of anti-dean dons” were suppressing the report, in February this year he sent unredacted copies to all 60 governors. Within half an hour they had an email from the panic-stricken Senior Censor, Professor Geraldine Johnson, ordering them to “immediately delete the email from Mr Aitken”.

‘Safeguarding concerns’

Despite being fully vindicated, Martyn Percy is left with legal bills of more than £400,000 – and because there is no internal grievance process available to him, the only resort is to an employment tribunal to recover his costs. But he is still dean. Having failed to oust him using college statutes, Percy’s nemeses have now turned to the Church of England to do the job for them. Early this year they alerted church authorities to “very serious safeguarding concerns” about him. The new allegation is that on four occasions students had told Percy that they had been abused, but he didn’t report this to the local authority.

The former students were all adults, and not otherwise vulnerable. Percy’s pastoral role was to listen and offer counsel. He gave them the option to pursue their case within or beyond the college. In the end they chose not to, and he respected their wish for confidentiality. The students made no complaint about the dean. But the word “safeguarding” sends the Church of England’s leadership into a spin, as his detractors presumably knew. The wily Censors went directly to the National Safeguarding Team rather than the local diocese in Oxford. They also retained the church’s own lawyers, Winkworth Sherwood – and hired its favourite PR firm, Luther Pendragon, to brief selected hacks.

Scores to settle

Yet Percy is not accused of breaching any C of E safeguarding protocols. Nor does he even work for the Church of England: he is employed directly by Christ Church, Oxford. Only a few months ago the National Safeguarding Team declined to take action against Revd Jonathan Fletcher, a proven serial abuser, on the grounds that he didn’t technically work for the C of E, even though he had been a parish priest for 35 years (Eye 1513).

With Percy, however, there were scores to settle. The dean is not much loved in Church House Westminster, having helped to expose its mishandling of the false allegations against Bishop George Bell (an alumnus of Christ Church). Instead of telling the college to sort itself out, the C of E has decided to form one of its notorious Core Groups. The Core Group convened to deal with the Percy problem appears to breach the House of Bishops’ own rules. These say that if a complaint is made against someone who is engaged in a statutory process (such as an employment tribunal), that must be completed before the church has its go. Percy’s employment case will not be heard until the autumn of 2021.

The church has swept aside these obstacles and set up a secretive investigation. The dean himself is not represented on the Core Group, and not allowed to know who is on it or when it meets. But two of the complainants from the college, including Senior Censor Geraldine Johnson, are members. It is hard to see what the group can achieve. It can’t question the students whose safeguarding issues the dean allegedly mishandled, since they did not make any complaints and their identity is not known. It can’t ask the dean, since the students spoke to him in confidence. And it can’t see Sir Andrew Smith’s report exonerating the dean, because the Censors have censored it.

The National Safeguarding Team has now asked Dean Percy to stand down during the inquiry, even though nobody believes he poses a risk to anyone. Professor Johnson has indicated that if Percy is still in post when the governing body next meets, she will put a notice on the college’s website to the effect that Christ Church’s safeguarding protocols are all robust except in respect of the dean – richly ironic, given that one of the Censors’ previous complaints about Percy was that he wanted them to take their safeguarding responsibilities more seriously.

‘THINKING ANGLICANS’ COMMENTS

RICHARD W. SYMONDS – THE BELL SOCIETY

This is beyond shocking…”Christ Church At War” – Private Eye

“But the word “safeguarding” sends the Church of England’s leadership into a spin, as his detractors presumably knew. The wily Censors went directly to the National Safeguarding Team rather than the local diocese in Oxford. They also retained the church’s own lawyers, Winkworth Sherwood – and hired its favourite PR firm, Luther Pendragon, to brief selected hacks.

“Yet Percy is not accused of breaching any C of E safeguarding protocols. Nor does he even work for the Church of England: he is employed directly by Christ Church, Oxford. Only a few months ago the National Safeguarding Team declined to take action against Revd Jonathan Fletcher, a proven serial abuser, on the grounds that he didn’t technically work for the C of E, even though he had been a parish priest for 35 years (Eye 1513).

“With Percy, however, there were scores to settle. The dean is not much loved in Church House Westminster, having helped to expose its mishandling of the false allegations against Bishop George Bell(an alumnus of Christ Church).

“Instead of telling the college to sort itself out, the C of E has decided to form one of its notorious Core Groups. The Core Group convened to deal with the Percy problem appears to breach the House of Bishops’ own rules. These say that if a complaint is made against someone who is engaged in a statutory process (such as an employment tribunal), that must be completed before the church has its go. Percy’s employment case will not be heard until the autumn of 2021.

“The church has swept aside these obstacles and set up a secretive investigation. The dean himself is not represented on the Core Group, and not allowed to know who is on it or when it meets. But two of the complainants from the college, including Senior Censor Geraldine Johnson, are members”

The Church ‘Bell’ Core Group was a kangaroo court made up of moral and legal incompetents who casually dispensed with the presumption of innocence for Bishop Bell and wantonly threw him under the bus in a despicable act of character assassination and injustice.

There seems little difference between the ‘Bell’ Core Group and the ‘Percy’ Core Group.

I’m afraid to say the fish stinks from the head down in the Church of England which has become institutionally corrupt.

RICHARD SCORER

Some really important points in the Private Eye piece. As a lawyer for victims and survivors in IICSA I have said repeatedly that unless safeguarding complaints are dealt with by an independent body external to the church, the suspicion will always arise that safeguarding is being used as a vehicle to settle theological and political scores. The understandable concern expressed here is that Church House has it in for Martyn Percy because of his campaigning over Bell. Victims and survivors of abuse similarly mistrust church processes and core groups. Nobody, whether abuse complainant or those accused of abuse or safeguarding breaches, will have confidence in investigative processes whilst these remain in-house. They need to be handled by a fully independent body.

RICHARD W. SYMONDS

“The understandable concern expressed here is that Church House has it in for Martyn Percy because of his campaigning over Bell”

What is less understandable, but equally of deepest concern, is why Church House still has it in for Bishop George Bell. They had no such problem with Bishop Peter Ball at the time.

FURTHER INFORMATION

May 25 2020 – “Row over Oxford Dean” – Daily Telegraph Letters – Brian Martin and Jimmy James

JANUARY 29 2021 – “A BETRAYAL OF TRUST” – REPORT ON THE SEXUAL ABUSE COMMITTED BY FORMER BISHOP OF CHESTER HUBERT VICTOR WHITSEY, AND THE SUBSEQUENT COVER-UP AND EXPOSURE OF THE CHURCH OF ENGLAND

Review into Bishop Whitsey – ‘Thinking Anglicans’

on Friday, 29 January 2021 at 12.45 pm by Peter Owen
categorised as Church of EnglandSafeguarding

The review into Bishop Whitsey, originally published in October and then withdrawn, has now been republished, along with the press release below. There are several statements below the fold.

Review into Bishop Whitsey
29/01/2021

A Betrayal of Trust, the independent report into the Church’s handling of the allegations concerning the late Hubert Victor Whitsey, former Bishop of Chester, was originally published in October 2020 and concluded that Whitsey sexually abused a large number of children and young persons (both male and female) and vulnerable adults. The review has now been republished following the resolution of a legal issue – we apologise to those who were affected by this. The Church is committed to taking very seriously criticisms in the report about how and where it failed to respond.

The learning lessons review was carried out by His Hon David Pearl and independent safeguarding consultant Kate Wood.

The Church supported the police in an investigation into allegations of sexual offences against children and adults by Whitsey dating from 1974 onwards when he was Bishop of Chester and from 1981 while he was retired and living in Blackburn diocese. A public apology was issued in October 2017 following this investigation which included a commitment to a learning lessons review.

Joint statement from David Pearl and Kate Wood

“The findings of our review will make deeply uncomfortable reading for the Church and we know will be very difficult for victims as they are reminded of their appalling abuse by a senior Church figure in a position of trust. Their suffering was clearly made worse by the poor response of Church officers at different times when they had the courage to come forward.

“We have reached the conclusion that Whitsey sexually abused a large number of children and young persons (both male and female) and vulnerable adults during a period from 1966 until after he had retired which was December 1981. We have identified 18 victims, but we are conscious that there may be more.

“It is our opinion that he groomed his victims, and often their families to enable this abuse. He used his position in the Church to abuse both prospective ordinands, and children and young persons, many of whom were particularly vulnerable as they were experiencing personal family difficulties, such as the death or departure of a parent.

“Applying the appropriate standard of proof of a balance of probabilities, we have concluded that some of the victims did disclose that they were abused to senior members of the Church, and opportunities were missed right up until 2012.

“We hope our recommendations are helpful in the Church learning lessons in responding to allegations of abuse as well as being a reminder that for victims the effects of Whitsey’s abuse are lifelong. ”

Statement from the Church of England’s lead safeguarding bishop, Jonathan Gibbs

“I am receiving this report on behalf of the national Church and it is a stark account of the appalling abuse by Victor Whitsey and the Church’s failure both to protect these children and young adults and to respond well when the survivors and victims had the courage to come forward.

“It is also particularly poignant coming so close to the publication of the damning IICSA report on the Church of England. We apologise to all victims and survivors of Victor Whitsey, including those who may not be known to us and where he also failed to prevent abuse by others. As we said following IICSA, 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. Our focus must lie today with the survivors and victims of Whitsey, recognising the impact that this horrendous abuse has had on their lives, and with deep gratitude for their courage in engaging with the independent review.

“We are taking action to ensure that the Church is a safer place for all and we will be using these recommendations to help us drive change – and some of these already link up with existing work. We recognise that an urgent response to the identified failures in safeguarding practice is necessary. The IICSA recommendations have been accepted in full by the House of Bishops which has committed to moving towards an independent safeguarding structure as well as to working for a real and lasting change in the culture of the Church.

“These are important steps, but they are only first steps and we are aware there is a long way to go, as the report today emphasizes. We will be taking very seriously criticisms in the report about how and where we failed to respond, and we recognise that an urgent response to the identified failures in safeguarding practice is necessary.

“We commit ourselves above all to doing all we can to support the victims and survivors of Whitsey’s abuse in the future.”

If you or anyone you are in contact with are affected by the publication of this report and want to talk to someone independently please call the Safe Spaces helpline on 0300 303 1056 or email safespaces@victimsupport.org.uk. There are also other support services available.

Alternatively, you may wish to contact the diocesan safeguarding team in your area.

Statement from the Bishop of Chester, Mark Tanner

“There are no words to express my horror and shame as I read this report; and even if there were, words alone are not enough. Our apologies, which are freely and sincerely given must be backed up by action. I am grateful to all those who have already helped us start to change, to Judge Pearl for this report, and most of all to the incredibly brave survivors who have spoken up and made us listen. It is with them and all victims of abuse that my thoughts and prayers rest today as I commit myself and the Diocese of Chester to respond in word and action to this report.”

Statement from the Archbishop of York, Stephen Cottrell

“I am very grateful to Judge David Pearl, Kate Wood, and Hannah Sinclair for their report, entitled ‘A Betrayal of Trust‘. This a detailed analysis and assessment of the church’s handling of allegations concerning the late Hubert Victor Whitsey, who was Bishop of Chester 1974 to 1982. Most of all I thank those survivors who have been willing come forward to speak to the reviewers. Without their help we would never be able to move forward and turn lessons learned into better practice.

“That a bishop should have been able to go on abusing young and vulnerable people over such a long period without ever being held to account for his actions is a matter of deep shame for the Church of England. In addition, there may be others for whom the publication of the report raises painful questions – we know of at least one instance where disclosures of abuse by someone else were made to Whitsey when he was bishop, and he did nothing in response.

“On behalf of the Church I apologise, and I say am deeply sorry to all who suffered as a result of his behaviour. In addition to making this apology, I also want survivors to know that if you wish it, my colleagues and I will be here to offer you real and ongoing support. Meanwhile we must ensure that these challenging lessons are learned, so as not to repeat the errors of the past.

“The thirty-three recommendations of the report are helpfully practical, specific, and detailed, and will be vital to the urgent and ongoing task of reform and improvement to the Church of England’s safeguarding policy and practice.

“They must be considered alongside the recommendations of the IICSA report.

“My prayers are with all those who are tasked with this work in the coming weeks, and with those who have contributed to the review.

“Essential to our vision as a Church today is the commitment to become a safer church for all. This report, hard as it is to receive, is a help to us in making that vision real.”

Read an open letter from the Archbishop of York.

JANUARY 29 2021 – ABUSE SURVIVOR CONFUSES BISHOP BELL WITH BISHOP BALL

Former Bishop of Lewes Peter Ball

Thank you #### for a thought-provoking piece. You are always balanced, and informative.

I end up at a different conclusion, but your points are as always well made and I think we agree on the principles.

If it were just the evidence of this case, as you have explained it, it would seem justified to restore PTO. But this isn’t an isolated incident. Personally, I don’t think he should have had it restored after the Bell case. There was deliberate withholding of evidence from the police, for example. It’s not just about: does he pose a current risk? It’s also about, what message does this give to Bell and Smyth survivors and their families?

#######

“Source and name withheld as a courtesy – but are in the public domain” – Richard W. Symonds – The Bell Society

Bishop of Chichester George Bell

JANUARY 29 2021 – FROM THE ARCHIVES [OCTOBER 5/6 2015] – “‘DEEPLY CORRUPT’ CHURCH OF ENGLAND TRIED TO SILENCE ME, ABUSE VICTIM CLAIMS” – ITV NEWS

FROM THE BELL SOCIETY ‘CHRONOLOGYARCHIVE

Oct 5 2015 – “‘Deeply corrupt’ Church of England tried to silence me, abuse victim claims” – ITV – Rebecca Barry

Oct 6 2015 – “‘Deeply corrupt’ Church of England Tried To Silence Abuse Victim” – Rev Graham Sawyer of MACSAS – Video (subtitles)

Oct 6 2015 – “Bishop Peter Ball sex abuse victims sue Church of England” – BBC News