Category Archives: Bishop George Bell

OCTOBER 16 2020 – IPSO RULING AWAITED ON MONSTROUS ‘BISHOP BELL’ ARTICLE IN BRIGHTON ARGUS

IPSO RULING AWAITED ON MONSTROUS ‘BISHOP BELL’ ARTICLE IN BRIGHTON ARGUS

“If Archbishop Justin Welby and Bishop Martin Warner had been unequivocal in clearing the name of Bishop George Bell, such articles would never have been written”

Richard W. Symonds – The Bell Society

OCTOBER 3 2020 – 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

Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby

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

Archbishop of Canterbury apologises ‘unreservedly’ for CoE’s ‘mistakes’ in handling Bishop Bell allegations

Archbishop of Canterbury (pictured) apologises 'unreservedly' for CoE's 'mistakes' in handling Bishop Bell allegations
Archbishop of Canterbury (pictured) apologises ‘unreservedly’ for CoE’s ‘mistakes’ in handling Bishop Bell allegations

24 JANUARY 2019 • 2:51PMFollow 

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.

Bishop George Bell pictured at home in 1943
Bishop George Bell pictured at home in 1943 CREDIT: HULTON ARCHIVE/TOPICAL PRESS AGENCY

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].”

OCTOBER 3 2020 – BISHOP BELL DAY [OCT 3] – ALL SAINTS CHURCH, SIDLEY, BEXHILL CELEBRATES THE LIFE AND WORK OF THE BISHOP OF CHICHESTER GEORGE BELL [1883-1958] – 62ND ANNIVERSARY

All SAINTS CHURCH, SIDLEY, BEXHILL, EAST SUSSEX

Bishop Bell Day [October 3]

“Today, on Bishop Bell Day [Oct 3], I shall be celebrating the Eucharist at All Saints’, Sidley and giving thanks for our great former bishop and his courageous witness, and confidence that he prays with us and for us in the Kingdom of Heaven. And let’s hope that the much awaited statue of Bishop Bell to be placed on the west front of Canterbury Cathedral (where he served as Dean before coming to Chichester) will soon be erected”The Rt Revd Nicholas Reade

The Rt Revd Nicholas Reade – Bishop of Blackburn [2004-2012]

UPDATES AND INFORMATION

BISHOP BELL DAY 1 – FROM THE ARCHIVES – 50TH ANNIVERSARY ADDRESS BY ARCHBISHOP ROWAN WILLIAMS AT CHICHESTER CATHEDRAL – OCTOBER 3 2008

BISHOP BELL DAY 2 – FROM THE ARCHIVES – A SPECIAL SERVICE AT ST MICHAEL’S CORNHILL, CITY OF LONDON – OCTOBER 3 2016

BISHOP BELL PORTRAIT 1 [BY WILLIAM COLDSTREAM] AT THE PALLANT HOUSE GALLERY IN CHICHESTER [IN STORAGE]

BISHOP BELL PORTRAIT 2 [+ PLAQUE] AT THE CATHEDRAL LIBRARY IN CHICHESTER [IN STORAGE]

WARTIME BISHOP OF CHICHESTER GEORGE BELL – “PEACEMAKER”

GEORGE BELL STATUE 1 – CANTERBURY CATHEDRAL

GEORGE BELL STATUE 2 – CANTERBURY CATHEDRAL

THE BELL CHRONOLOGY

‘THINKING ANGLICANS’

FROM THE ARCHIVES 1 – 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

FROM THE ARCHIVES 2 – ARCHBISHOP WELBY REFUSES… TELEGRAPH – JANUARY 22 2018

FROM THE ARCHIVES 3 – ARCHBISHOP WELBY REFUSES…GUARDIAN – JANUARY 22 2018

Bishop George Bell [1883-1958]

SEPTEMBER 30 2020 – “CHURCH HAS FAILED BISHOP BELL. PUBLIC RETRACTION SOUGHT” – ‘VIRTUE ONLINE’

https://virtueonline.org/church-has-failed-bishop-bell-public-retraction-sought

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Home»News»The Church has failed Bishop Bell. Public Retraction Sought

The Church has failed Bishop Bell. Public Retraction Sought

By Richard W. Symonds
September 28, 2020

The Archbishops of Canterbury and York stated last week [“New scheme ‘marks turning point’ in Church’s treatment of survivors”, Church Times, Sept 25]:
“As we await IICSA’s report…we continue to pray for survivors and all those the Church has failed”

The Church has failed the wartime Bishop of Chichester George Bell, and will continue to do so until there is a public retraction of the “significant cloud” remark by Archbishop Justin Welby, and the name of George Bell House is restored by the Bishop of Chichester Martin Warner.

Archbishop Welby and Bishop Warner still appear to believe there is ‘no smoke without fire’ regarding the Bishop Bell abuse allegations, even though the two separate investigations by Lord Carlile QC and Timothy Briden – commissioned by the Church – have clearly shown there is ‘no smoke and no fire’.

Both have the power to heal serious divisions within a Cathedral community – and beyond it.

It is also within their power to commission another investigation into ‘mistaken identity’. ‘Carol’ was clearly abused when she was 8 years old — and she should be fully believed and supported — but there is now clear evidence her abuser was not Bishop Bell.

Yours sincerely

Richard W. Symonds
The Bell Society
2 Lychgate Cottages
Ifield Street, Ifield Village
Crawley – Gatwick
West Sussex RH11 0NN
Tel: 07540 309592 [Text only please]
Email: richardsy5@aol.com

Below is the Church Times article.

New scheme ‘marks turning point’ in Church’s treatment of survivors

By PAUL HANDLEY
The Church Times
26 SEPTEMBER 2020

THE Archbishops’ Council has approved an interim pilot scheme for survivors of abuse in the C of E, as part of what the Archbishops of Canterbury and York describe as “a turning point” in the Church’s treatment of survivors.

The sum available has not been disclosed, but is believed to be in six figures. Survivors campaigning for redress had argued in the past that anything less than £250,000 would not be worth offering.

The announcement of the fund on Friday was accompanied by a commitment by the Archbishops’ Council “to urgently pursue the principle of independent safeguarding recognising the need for greater independence and transparency of safeguarding”.

The Church’s hierarchy has long accepted the need to address the question of redress for survivors of church-based sexual abuse, but survivors have been frustrated by the time it has taken to come up with a scheme.

The issue has gained fresh impetus with the appointment of the Bishop of Huddersfield, Dr Jonathan Gibbs, as the Church’s lead bishop of safeguarding, and the imminence of the final report on the Church of England from the Independent Inquiry on Child Sexual Abuse (IICSA), due to be published on 6 October.

Five weeks ago, the Archbishop of Canterbury released emergency funds for “VB”, whose business was in danger of going under because of a severe bout of depression linked with his abuse (News, 21 August). It is understood that VB has been offered further sums from the new pilot scheme.

The pilot scheme is geared to those survivors’ cases which are already known to the Church, “where the survivor is known to be in seriously distressed circumstances, and the Church has a heightened responsibility because of the way the survivor was responded to following disclosure”, a statement said on Friday.

Lessons learnt from the pilot will inform the creation of a full redress scheme.

A statement from the Archbishops of Canterbury and York, joint chairs of the Archbishops’ Council, spoke of “a long, honest, and soberingly frank discussion. . .

“The issue of independence is something we have taken a personal lead on and are very committed to. We are glad that the Church is now going to make this happen. Along with providing redress for victims and survivors, this is the next step we must take.

“Today’s meeting and these decisions feel like a turning point. As we await IICSA’s report into the Church of England, we continue to pray for survivors and all those the Church has failed. We are profoundly sorry for our failings, but today our words of sorrow are matched by actions that we believe will lead to real change. We hope that this will provide some hope for the future.”

Dr Gibbs described the move as “an endorsement by the Archbishops’ Council of General Synod’s unanimous vote in February for a more fully survivor-centred approach to safeguarding, including arrangements for redress”.

The interim scheme is expected to help between five and ten survivors initially, although any survivor of church-based abuse “who is in dire straits” can request help. This can be at any stage of their case management, even if they have already accepted a settlement with an insurer.

If it is a recent case, the diocese would be expected to support the application, but a survivor unwilling to engage with the diocese can apply direct. The presumption is that the survivor’s present difficulties are wholly or partially a consequence of past abuse “and/or the re-abuse through the Church’s actions in response to their report of abuse”.

The scheme will be able to offer cash sums, but the emphasis will be on funding support such as financial/debt counselling, therapeutic support, seed funding to help with employment. Help with housing is also a possibility, but is expected to be offered rarely.

Andrew Graystone, who has worked as advocate for victims of abuse, said on Friday: “It is good that the Council seems to have acknowledged — I think for the first time — that the Church cannot deal with safeguarding failures in-house.

“Victims have said for a long time that independent scrutiny and management of safeguarding is the only way to make the church safer. I’m glad that the Archbishops are both now committed to this. I fully expect that IICSA will demand nothing less.”

He said that survivors remained sceptical that a full redress system would be in place in 12 to 15 months, a suggestion from the safeguarding bishops. The interim pilot support scheme was therefore welcome.

He warned, though, that it had to be properly funded. “If the fund runs out in three months, victims will be further damaged.”

And he reminded the Church of the severity of the need. “The Church shouldn’t look at this as an act of generosity, but as the very beginnings of paying its debt to survivors of abuse. The lead bishops know that this fund will do nothing more than rescue a few survivors from the cliff edge. It’s not a repair fund, but a suicide-prevention budget.”

In the view of survivors, the Church should restore them to the place they were when they disclosed their abuse. “No one should be worse off because they have disclosed what was done to them,” Mr Graystone said.

“Beyond that, the needs of survivors are very varied and lifelong. They may include housing, counselling, information, and apology, as well as financial support for lost income. It’s never just a matter of writing a cheque to make things better. I’m glad that the Lead Bishops recognise this, and are committed to designing bespoke packages for individual survivors.”

END

JULY 31 2020 – GEORGE BELL BISHOP OF CHICHESTER – PORTRAIT BY WILLIAM COLDSTREAM [1954] – PALLANT HOUSE GALLERY CHICHESTER [ON LOAN FROM THE TATE GALLERY LONDON]

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Bridgeman; (c) Pallant House Gallery; Supplied by The Public Catalogue Foundation

 

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MAY 27 2020 – JOSEPH SHAW ON ARCHBISHOP JUSTIN WELBY AND BISHOP GEORGE BELL

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St. Margaret’s Parish Church in Ifield Village

https://www.lifesitenews.com/blogs/wheres-the-moral-outrage-from-the-christian-left-while-being-locked-out-of-their-churches

Referring to the government’s message about public health, he [Archbishop Welby] told the press that “by closing the churches, we make a powerful symbol of the need to listen to that message.”

I’m not someone who has called for people to flout the government’s guidelines, but going beyond them in this extraordinary way seems to me a powerful symbol of the Church of England’s worship of the idol of “health and safety.”

This isn’t the first time Welby has jumped on a bandwagon without engaging his brain. He condemned the long-dead and much-revered Bishop George Bell of Chichester for child abuse, without bothering to find out if the accusation was credible, a condemnation now criticized by a succession of official reports. Welby has found it difficult to apologize to Bell’s relations, who were understandably furious. Perhaps he was hoping his zeal in criticizing the dead would counter-balance Anglican failures to deal with Peter Ball, a living Anglican bishop actually imprisoned for sexual abuse.

May 22 2020 – “NINTH COMMANDMENT CONCERNS ABOUT THE BISHOP OF CHICHESTER” – ANGLICAN LINK

Rt-Revd-Dr-Martin-Warner-main_article_image

Present Bishop of Chichester Martin Warner

Letter to the editor: Ninth commandment concerns about the Bishop of Chichester

Letter to the editor: Ninth commandment concerns about the Bishop of Chichester

Richard Symonds of The Bell Society believes the General Synod of the Church of England and the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse should investigate the Bishop of Chichester for being “economic with the truth” in his statements on his handling of clergy sexual abuse cases. He writes:

 

Sir:

The Bishop of Chichester Martin Warner makes very clear at the IICSA in March 2018, the Church’s insurance company at the time – presumably Ecclesiastical? – was fully involved in (and I’m sure was fully paid for) the advice to the Church, and presumably its Core Group, regarding Bishop Bell and ‘Carol’:

Day 8 IICSA Inquiry – Chichester 14 March 2018 – Page 21 – Fiona Scolding QC: “The other matter I want to put to you is [quoting Lord Carlile]: ‘There was no organised or valuable enquiry or investigation into the merits of the allegations, and the standpoint of Bishop Bell was never given parity or proportionality.’ What is your response to that?”

Bishop of Chichester Martin Warner: “The question of an organised or valuable inquiry is something of a value judgement, I think, and we certainly didn’t feel that there was no serious inquiry into that which was undertaken through our insurers and their legal representative in whom we had considerable trust and regard and who Lord Carlile also recognises as a responsible and able person. I see him to say that the standpoint of Bishop Bell was never given parity or proportionality. It was certainly given proportionality. We understood absolutely that was the case. I think the area which he’s rightly also identified is that there was nobody there to speak for Bishop Bell, and that, again, with the benefit of hindsight, is something that I think was wrong…”

Mr. David Lamming, Church of England’s General Synod Member representing St. Edmundsbury & Ipswich, further comments: ‘Bishop Martin Warner’s answer to Fiona Scolding’s question at IICSA [Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse] on 14 March 2018 about the involvement of insurers in the settlement of ‘Carol’s’ claim (see…Richard Symonds’s comment) appears to be at odds with information he provided to me in 2016.’

At General Synod on 8 July 2016 I asked a question about the contribution to the settlement made by the Church Commissioners. The question was answered by the then First Church Estates Commissioner, Sir Andreas Whittam Smith. In the light of his written answer, I asked by way of a supplementary “whether insurers were asked to contribute to the settlement and, if so, whether and why they declined to do so?”’

This was Sir Andreas’s response: “You are accrediting the Church Commissioners with far more involvement in this case than you might think. We have a discretion to pay bishops’ costs, as you probably know, and we make judgments on what costs to bear on a variety of factors. In this case, the answers are really clear in my answer. I do not think I can add to them. There are the damages; there are the claimant’s legal costs and there are the Diocese of Chichester’s costs. We paid £29,800 of those and a private individual came forward, not an insurer, and paid the rest. I cannot add to that.”’

His answer led to the following exchange with Martin Sewell:

Mr Martin Sewell (Rochester): There is a very simple question on the table: did any insurer decline to indemnify?
Sir Andreas Whittam Smith: I have no idea whether an insurer was involved. We were not told about such a case.
Mr Martin Sewell: Who would know?
Sir Andreas Whittam Smith: The Diocese of Chichester would know.
Mr Martin Sewell: Will that information be made available?
Sir Andreas Whittam Smith: I cannot speak for the Diocese of Chichester, I am afraid.’

In the light of this exchange I e-mailed the Bishop of Chichester on 25 July 2016, asking (inter alia), “Were insurers involved at any stage prior to the settlement with Carol? If so, were they asked to contribute to the settlement and, if so, did they decline to do so or to indemnify the Diocese and, if so, why?”’

This was Bishop Martin’s reply in an e-mail on 29 July 2016: “No relevant insurance was held in respect of this claim, so no insurers were involved in the case and no requests were made to any insurer. As Sir Andreas said in his reply to the Synod, the costs and damages were paid by the Commissioners and a private individual who wishes to remain anonymous. The claim was made against me in my corporate capacity.”

Yours sincerely

Richard W. Symonds, The Bell Society

Ifield Village, Crawley-Gatwick, West Sussex RH11 0NN
Email: richardsy5@aol.com