FROM THE ARCHIVES – ARCHBISHOP WELBY REFUSES TO PUBLICLY CLEAR BISHOP BELL, REFUSES TO RETRACT “SIGNIFICANT CLOUD” REMARKS AND REFUSES TO WITHDRAW “GREAT WICKEDNESS” COMMENTS – DAILY TELEGRAPH – JANUARY 24 2019
The Archbishop of Canterbury was accused yesterday of persisting with a “malign” attack on Bishop George Bell after he refused to exonerate him following a “copycat” allegation of historic child sex abuse.
An official report published yesterday concluded that a 70-year-old allegation against Bishop Bell was unfounded. It found that the evidence of the complainant – a woman named only as “Alison” – was “unreliable” and “inconsistent”.
Alison had written to the Church of England, claiming she had been sexually assaulted by the bishop in 1949 when she was aged nine.
The letter was sent a week after the Church of England was found to have wrongly besmirched Bishop Bell in its handling of a previous complaint brought by a woman known only as “Carol”.
The latest report suggested that Carol’s allegation had “prompted a false recollection in Alison’s mind”.
Yesterday, the Most Rev Justin Welby “apologised unreservedly for the mistakes” in the handling of the complaint made by Carol. But he declined to publicly clear the former Bishop of Chichester of any wrongdoing or retract a statement that he had a “significant cloud … over his name” and that he had been accused of “great wickedness”.
In a private letter, however, sent to Bishop Bell’s closest surviving relative, his niece Barbara Whitley, he wrote: “Once again I offer my sincerest apologies both personally and on behalf of the Church. We did wrong to you and before God.”
Bishop Bell, one of the towering figures of the Church in the 20th century, has been unable to defend himself, having died in 1958. But his supporters urged the Church to restore his reputation after two reports exonerated him.
Ms Whitley, 94, said yesterday: “I would like to see my uncle’s name cleared before I die.”
Desmond Browne QC, a leading barrister who acted for the bishop’s family and who was christened by him in 1949, said: “What is now clear is that the investigations by two experienced lawyers [have established] George Bell’s innocence. But not once [has] the Archbishop of Canterbury offered Bell the presumption of innocence.”
Alison had alleged that Bell, the former bishop of Chichester, had sat her on his lap and “fondled her”.
But the report by Timothy Briden, an ecclesiastical lawyer and vicar general of Canterbury, concluded that in her oral evidence “her attempts to repeat what had been written in the letter displayed, however, a disturbing degree of inconsistency”.
Alison had alleged in the letter the abuse had taken place indoors in front of her mother but in oral testimony thought she had been assaulted outdoors. He concluded that her claim was “unfounded”.
The existence of Alison’s complaint made in December 2017 was made public by the Church of England at a time when it was facing increasing criticism for its handling of the earlier allegation by Carol. Alison’s claim was passed in January 2018 to police, who then dropped the case.
Mr Briden also investigated a separate complaint made by an 80-year-old witness – known only as K in the report – that his mother had told him that she had seen Bishop Bell “carrying out a sexual act with a man over his Rolls-Royce” in 1967.
Bishop Bell died in 1958 and did not have a Rolls-Royce. The report said: “The longer that the statement from K’s mother is analysed, the more implausible it appears.”
Lord Carlile, the QC who carried out the damning inquiry into the handling of Carol’s claim, was scathing of the Church of England’s decision to make public the police inquiry into Alison’s complaint.
Lord Carlile said: “I am astonished that the Church [made] public the further complaint against Bishop Bell and the error has been proved by the conclusion of this latest inquiry.”
Prof Andrew Chandler, Bishop Bell’s biographer and spokesman for the George Bell Group, said “the claim by Alison appeared a copycat of Carol’s complaint”. Carol was paid £15,000 compensation in a legal settlement in October 2015.
In his statement yesterday, Archbishop Welby described Bishop Bell as a “remarkable role model”, adding: “I apologise unreservedly for the mistakes made in the process surrounding the handling of the original allegation against Bishop George Bell.”
But he went on: “It is still the case that there is a woman who came forward with a serious allegation … and this cannot be ignored or swept under the carpet.”
The current Bishop of Chichester, Martin Warner, also declined yesterday to exonerate his predecessor. But he accepted that a public statement he made signifying Bishop Bell’s guilt and released in 2015 after Carol’s claim was settled was probably now an error.
“Knowing what we now do [we] would want to re-examine that and I don’t think we would [make that statement].”
Bishop of Huddersfield, Jonathan Gibbs, the Church of England’s lead safeguarding bishop said: “An independent investigation into allegations that the Dean, Martyn Percy, failed to fulfil his safeguarding responsibilities has concluded the Dean acted entirely appropriately in each case. The National Safeguarding Team, NST, followed the House of Bishops guidance when the four separate allegations were referred earlier in the year relating to the Dean, a senior office holder. At no point was there any allegation or evidence that the Dean presented a direct risk to any child or vulnerable adult.
I am aware this has been a very difficult time for all parties, particularly Martyn and his family, and I would like to thank everyone for their cooperation. There will of course be lessons to learn about the processes, as there are with any safeguarding case, and that is an essential part of our guidance to make the Church a safer place for all. We welcome the Dean’s commitment to taking part in this. Now the investigation has concluded and the Dean has been exonerated of these safeguarding allegations, the NST’s involvement has come to an end. I continue to pray for his ministry and the life of the Cathedral and its mission in the diocese and wider Church.
As I have said before, the NST has no view about, and is not involved in, the wider issues relating to the College and the Dean at Christ Church, Oxford and this remains the case.
The Very Revd. Professor Martyn Percy Statement on Christ Church, Oxford from the Bishop of Oxford 8 September 2020
In March this year it was alleged that the Very Revd. Professor Martyn Percy, a senior member of the clergy and Dean of Christ Church Oxford, had not fulfilled his safeguarding responsibilities. The National Safeguarding Team (NST) duly appointed an independent safeguarding person, who was asked to investigate and report back. The report has concluded that the Dean acted entirely appropriately in each case. The Bishop of Oxford has issued the following statement:
“I welcome the news that the investigation by the National Safeguarding Team (NST) has concluded and that Martyn is exonerated. The investigation process was not without pain, and could have been concluded more quickly, but it is entirely right that allegations against clergy and church officers are properly investigated when they are made. This investigation brings full closure to the matter put before the NST, though these continue to be testing times for all at Christ Church. My prayers remain with Martyn and Emma, the Chapter and wider College at the start of this new academic year.”
“The Church of England’s National Safeguarding Team has announced the outcome of its independent investigation into the handling of four disclosures to the Dean of Christ Church, made by survivors of sexual assault. The NST has now informed Christ Church that its report concludes there has been no breach of the Church of England’s protocols.
“Safeguarding is of the utmost importance at Christ Church, and it is our obligation to report such concerns appropriately. After a query from a national newspaper regarding a serious sexual assault, an independent QC advised that a referral should be made to the Church of England as the handling of such disclosures fell within its jurisdiction. It is vital that everyone has the confidence to report safeguarding concerns. We will be reviewing the NST’s findings with regard to Christ Church’s safeguarding responsibilities.
“Our thoughts are with all survivors of abuse. If anyone affected by this news requires support, they should contact the police or the relevant safeguarding authority.
“Lest anyone urge us to swiftly move on, suggesting that a good outcome is sufficient closure, let us remind ourselves that a man and his family have been put through the most awful experience by powerful, well-resourced bullies using other people’s money to pursue their own grievances and protect their own vanities. That they failed is good, but both the University of Oxford and the Church of England have a moral duty to look carefully into how this happened, and to ensure it cannot not happen again” ~ Martin Sewell
The signs aren’t promising when the public statement concludes “If anyone affected by this news requires support, they should contact the police or the relevant safeguarding authority.” (My italics.) Reply
A number of questions need to be answered by Christ Church: (i) who was responsible for and/or authorised the above statement on the College website? (ii) will the remainder of the Governing Body now disown the censors who made the wholly misconceived complaint about the Dean to the NST? (iii) who was the ‘independent QC’ who advised referral of the matter to the Church of England and will the College publish his/her advice and the instructions setting out the basis on which it was sought? (iv) what has been the cost to the College (legal fees and those of the… Read more » Reply
I am baffled by the final sentence of the Christ Church statement quoted above. Who, in these circumstances, would require ‘support’ – for which they are told they should contact the police and ‘relevant’ safeguarding authority? Is this further mischief-making or just incompetence – using a ‘standard’ wording irrespective of the circumstances – I wonder? Reply
Sam Jones 1 day ago
It is good that Martyn Percy has been cleared, but his position is untenable if the governing body have no confidence in him. Reply
I think this is right. I am an alumnus of Christ Church, and deplore what has happened. I agree with many of the pro-Percy comments (notably that of Interested Observer). However, the relationship between dean and governing body has become so bitter, so envenomed and so visceral that it is difficult to see how Dr Percy can be an effective leader of the ‘college’. Other heads of house have resigned, and in far milder contexts, when they have lost the confidence of their respective governing bodies. Whilst Dr Percy may be entitled to a feeling of victory, he might lose… Read more » Reply
Many thanks. I really don’t think that anyone believes that the sovereign would be involved personally. What is more likely to happen is that the private secretary to the sovereign, or perhaps also (and more probably) the privy council, would be petitioned about a possible formal visitation or the creation of a dispute resolution mechanism (there is also an outside chance that they might act of their own motion after taking ‘soundings’). Then, following receipt of that petition and/or consultations, the sovereign (i.e., the prime minister) would secure appointment of a deputy, who will probably be a retired senior judge.… Read more » Reply
I don’t know how many times I have dealt with these points on earlier TA threads! The procedure for Visitations is all set out in Statute XXXVI (at pages 37-39 of the Christ Church Statutes), and far too long to repeat here. It provides for both a ‘routine’ Visitation every ten years (at Her Majesty’s option) or by intervention. I’m unsure about the machinery for appointing Her Majesty’s Commissary. A retired senior judge seems a likely appointee. There has always been a direct right of appeal to the Crown, which I quote again below, but for whatever reason it has… Read more » Reply
“In another unfortunate piece of heritage, the Visitor is the Queen, whom nobody wants to involve.”
Her Majesty is the Supreme Governor of the Church of England!
Dominic Barrington 20 hours ago Reply to Fr Gustavo
I think you are making a false assumption about the powers of the bishop in relation to this unique (and utterly dysfunctional) cathedral. Reply
Interested Observer 1 day ago
It isn’t actually Confucius, although often credited to him (or James Bond, either will do): “before setting off on revenge, first dig two graves”. It strikes me that there is no way that this ends well for either Christ Church corporately or for Martin Percy’s persecutors. Even “victory” is hollow (Tacitus actually did write “ubi solitudinem faciunt, pacem appellant”), if their definition of “victory” is Martyn Percy’s departure; the resulting employment tribunal looks increasingly difficult and the attempt to use CofE safeguarding as a weapon can only backfire in both the short and long term. The loss of credibility for… Read more » Reply
Pete Broadbent 1 day ago
Martyn Percy cleared of all [trumped up] “charges” This is very good news! But it can’t end there – a full interrogation of how the NST became the patsy of the CC Oxford dons/plotters & into the procedures the NST employ must now take place. Reply
There’s an issue of the waste of money for legal proceedings on behalf on the college, which raises the issue of whether the complaints should be required to repay that amount. There’s also an issue of the fees that Percy incurred. I haven’t read anything about that. Is the college liable for those? Reply
“An independent investigation into allegations…” Come on, it was hardly that, was it – and since when has the NST been in any way “independent”? Was the Bishop at Lambeth and Ecclesiastical Insurance in the room? While I share the widespread delight that this aspect of the burden Martyn Percy and those closest to him are carrying, if there had not been a significant challenge to the way the NST Core Group for this complaint was set up, there could have been a catastrophic miscarriage of justice. So, to my mind, nil points for the C of E over this… Read more » Reply
This is very welcome news- especially to those of us who have witnessed with growing amazement the chutzpah of Dean Martyn Percy’s accusers. One hopes they will do the right thing now and meet all of Martyn’s legal expenses. They should also be responsible for some substantial monetary compensation for what Martyn and his family have suffered during this unfortunate breach of common justice. Reply
Catholic priest equates ‘white privilege’ with white supremacy
LAMBETH, England (ChurchMilitant.com) – Despite being mocked for “self-flagellation” by a distinguished Indian parliamentarian after he apologized for Britain’s colonial past, the archbishop of Canterbury is now apologizing for his “white privilege” in the wake of Black Lives Matter (BLM) riots.
“I acknowledge that I come from privilege and a place of power as a white person in this country,” Anglican archbishop Justin Welby announced Tuesday in a video posted on Twitter. “But I feel within me, again today, that great call of Jesus that we are as a Church to be those who set our own house in order and who acknowledge our own historic errors and failings.”
“I come back to the fact that, in the New Testament, Jesus says be angry about injustice, repent of injustice — that means go the other way, take action against injustice,” Welby said, beginning his brief apology by reflecting on the parable of the Good Samaritan.
“It must never involve the creation of more injustice, by seeking to damage other people,” Welby noted, barely acknowledging the widespread BLM-led violence and iconoclasm against statues of Abraham Lincoln, Winston Churchill, Mahatma Gandhi and Edward Colston in London and other British cities.
“Justin Welby seems to have made it his trademark to apologize for everything and anything which the ‘wokeratari’ will applaud,” Anglican cleric Melvin Tinker told Church Militant.
“But the archapologizer of Canterbury is very selective about what he will apologize for. Most ordinary people couldn’t care less for what he has to say anyway,” said Tinker, a well-known critic of cultural Marxism and author of That Hideous Strength: How the West Was Lost.
“There is no personal apology for the character assassination of Bp. George Bell or the dreadful sexual abuse of Fr. Matthew Ineson — both left lying wounded on the road while the archbishop happily passes by on the other side leaving it to other ‘Good Samaritans’ to take up their causes,” the vicar of St. John Newland Church in Hull remarked.
Welby had tarnished the name of Bp. Bell, who stood against Hitler by insisting that Bell was guilty of pedophilia, even after the Lord Carlile Review exonerated him. Ineson was repeatedly raped by an Anglican vicar when he was 16 years old.
Meanwhile, openly gay Catholic priest Bryan N. Massingale claimed he could equate “systemic racism” with “white supremacy, although I know that white people find that term even more of a stumbling block than white privilege.”
“You realized that, if you wanted, by being white you could make things hard — much harder — for others, especially black folks,” Fr. Massingale, professor of theological and social ethics at Fordham University wrote in the leftwing National Catholic Reporter on June 1.
The archapologizer of Canterbury is very selective about what he will apologize for. Most ordinary people couldn’t care less for what he has to say anyway.Tweet
“The only reason for racism’s persistence is that white people continue to benefit from it,” he fulminated. “Demand that your parish and diocese sponsor not just an evening on race, but a whole series,” and “Tell your priests and religious education directors to make anti-racism a staple feature of their homilies and your children’s religious formation.”
Massingale added to his diatribe:
While you’re at it, write your bishop and ask how anti-racism is part of your church leaders’ formation for ministry. Ask how he is actively educating himself to become anti-racist. Let him know that if seminarians and candidates for ministry and religious life are unwilling or unable to be actively anti-racist, then they do not have a vocation for church leadership since they haven’t embraced a fundamental requirement of Christian discipleship.
Speaking to Church Militant, Dave Brennan, director of pro-life Brephos, explained that “real repentance and true courage would entail confronting the greatest, most hidden, most accepted injustice of our day — the industrial-scale slaughter of babies in the womb.” This includes a disproportionate number of black babies, especially in America.
“But sadly, the Church of England has no track record of confronting the accepted evils of the day when it actually matters — only jumping on the bandwagon of retrospective virtue-signaling once it is felt to be politically expedient to do so,” lamented Brennan, an associate of the Center for Bioethical Reform UK.
“So it seems we must wait for the secular media and mob to finally clock that ripping babies to pieces is wrong, and then, like clockwork, we can expect to see Welby appear saying how everyone needs to ‘repent,'” he added.
Former Anglican bishop Gavin Ashenden told Church Militant that “the archbishop of Canterbury’s capacity to betray Jesus” seems “unbounded.”
Dr. Ashenden elaborated: “Jesus demands personal responsibility, the betrayers speak about privilege. Jesus speaks about personal repentance, the betrayers speak about corporate apology. Jesus concentrates on the individual person, the betrayers focus on group guilt by association.”
“Welby’s legacy and his current obsession are all consistent with the great betrayal,” the former Queen’s Chaplain and recent convert to Catholicism commented.
“If you drive Jesus out of the Church and replace him with Marx and Engels, you get not a Church, but a political party. You get not Jesus but Judas. Tragically, Welby appears to have sided with Judas,” he pointed out.
In 2019, on his visit to India, Welby fell prostrate at the Jalianwalla Bagh memorial in Amritsar and apologized for the massacre of 1919, where British soldiers shot dead at least 379 people.
Real repentance and true courage would entail confronting the greatest, most hidden, most accepted injustice of our day — the industrial-scale slaughter of babies in the womb.Tweet
But Indian parliamentarian Swapan Dasgupta, recipient of the Padma Bhushan (India’s third highest civilian award) for literature, derided Welby’s Amritsar apology as “a form of self-flagellation that may appeal to multiculturalism … but doesn’t alter the [positive] way India thinks of contemporary Britain.”
“Indians are not obsessed about the Raj [British colonial rule]. It was a reality but I don’t think it is seen as a national catastrophe,” he observed, not hesitating to mention the “chuckles over the many Indians who actively propped up the Empire.”
“Welby jumps on bandwagons more nimbly than any of his predecessors. Meanwhile, only 870,000 attended C of E [Church of England] services every week, and that will shrink when the churches reopen. Note that so far only 250 people have retweeted the ‘spiritual leader of 80m Anglicans,'” Catholic journalist and presenter of the Holy Smoke religion podcast tweeted.
“The biggest and the deepest way of being transformed is through stepping outside the company of those who reinforce our views and listening to those who disagree with us profoundly. Listening, not so as to speak, but so as to hear”
Archbishop Justin Welby [Church of England’s General Synod – Church House Westminster – Thursday, Feb 21 2019]
“‘Pot, kettle, black’ comes to mind with these pontifications by Archbishop Welby, especially when it comes to that ‘Elephant at Synod’ called Bishop Bell. There are many of us outside the General Synod ‘bubble’ of Church House Westminster who have no wish to be cynical, nor dampen any non-cynical spirits therein, but Archbishop Welby’s exhortations are becoming a little too hard to digest by those of us who take Matthew 7 v 5 seriously. I’ve now lost both confidence and patience in an Archbishop who wilfully and inexcusably refuses to take a leader’s responsibility for Bishop Bell’s character assassination; nor has he the moral courage to apologise for perpetuating an injustice which is staring in everyone’s face except his own”
PUBLISHED: 01:42, 16 December 2018 | UPDATED: 01:52, 16 December 2018
This Christmas I would like you to think of the plight of a 94-year-old woman, who has been atrociously mistreated by the Archbishop of Canterbury
Her name is Mrs Barbara Whitley.
Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby and Barbara Whitley http://archbishopcranmer.com/church-england-bullies-george-bell-niece/
More than three years ago, the Church of England publicly accused her beloved long-dead uncle of the filthy crime of child sex abuse.
The charge was based on the word of a single accuser, more than half a century after the supposed offence. The Church had presumed his guilt and made no serious effort to discover the truth. Key living witnesses were neither sought, found nor interviewed. A senior bishop admitted soon afterwards that they were actually not convinced the claim was true. Yet by some mysterious process, a number of newspapers and BBC stations, all on the same day, felt safe in confidently pronouncing that Barbara’s uncle had been a disgusting paedophile. No ifs or buts.
Who told them?
A later inquiry would show that this miserable episode was based on nothing more than a chaotic, sloppy kangaroo court. One of this country’s most distinguished lawyers, Lord Carlile, tore the case against Barbara’s uncle to shreds. He said there would have been no chance of a conviction on the evidence available, and made mincemeat of the shambolic committee that had published the original allegation.
After delaying the release of this inquiry for weeks, Justin Welby’s church eventually published it.
But did it admit its mistake and restore the reputation of Barbara Whitley’s wrongly defamed uncle?
Nope. Mr Welby, in defiance of all the rules of British justice, sulkily insisted that a ‘significant cloud’ still hung over the name of Barbara’s uncle. Thus, just as she might have been able to rejoice that her relative’s name had at last been cleared, the Head of the Established Church made it his personal business to prevent this.
And then, a few weeks later, another supposed allegation against her uncle was said to have been made. Why then? What was it? Who had made it? Nobody would say, but it served to stifle potential criticism of Mr Welby at the General Synod of the Church of England, which was about to begin. Details of the second allegation remain a secret. After nearly a year, Mr Welby’s church (which has a bad record of sitting on reports that it doesn’t like) still hasn’t come up with its conclusions. Yet Sussex Police, given the same information, dropped their investigations into the matter after a few short weeks.
It all looks a bit as if someone is trying to save someone’s face. But the cruelty to Barbara Whitley, who was 91 when this horrible saga began, is appalling. Who cares about some prelate’s pride (a sin in any case) when Mrs Whitley could be spared any more pain?
Because the cruelty to Mrs Whitley seems to me to be so shocking in a supposedly Christian organisation, I have deliberately left till last that the object of these accusations is the late Bishop of Chichester, George Bell.
George Bell Bishop of Chichester – Howard Coster / RWS Photography
Bell was, as people who knew him have told me, a kind, scrupulously honest, courageous man. He was, most notably, a beloved friend of the German Christians who fought against Hitler and a brave critic of the cruelty of war. I sometimes wonder if modern bishops and archbishops are afraid of being compared with him. They have reason to be. In the meantime, Mr Welby’s church should end Mrs Whitley’s agony.
Does anyone really doubt that, if the archbishop wanted to, he could end the whole business today?