Category Archives: Child Sex Abuse

“CHURCH OF ENGLAND FORGIVING PEDOPHILES EN MASSE ALLOWED THEM TO CONTINUE WORKING WITH CHILDREN, INQUIRY FINDS” – RT NEWS

“CHURCH OF ENGLAND FORGIVING PEDOPHILES EN MASSE ALLOWED THEM TO CONTINUE WORKING WITH CHILDREN, INQUIRY FINDS” – RT NEWS

Church of England forgave pedophiles en masse, allowed them to continue working with children, inquiry finds

6 Oct, 2020 11:57 / Updated 4 days agoGet short URL

Church of England forgave pedophiles en masse, allowed them to continue working with children, inquiry finds

© PickPik/ file photo

A shocking new inquiry has found that, not only did the Church of England forgive some 400 pedophiles, but it allowed them to continue working with children.

The Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse (IICSA) found that between 1940 and 2018, some 390 people employed by the church, as clergymen or in trusted positions, were convicted of child sex abuse. 

They were ‘forgiven’ for their crimes by the church and allowed to continue their duties, often in close proximity to children, the IICSA found. 

“The culture of the Church of England facilitated it becoming a place where abusers could hide,” the report reads. 

The inquiry found the church repeatedly failed to respond in a consistent manner to victims and survivors of abuse, compounding their trauma over a period of decades.

In 2018 alone, there were some 2,504 concerns raised about possible abuse of children or vulnerable adults, including 449 allegations of recent sexual abuse. 

“Over many decades, the Church of England failed to protect children and young people from sexual abusers, instead facilitating a culture where perpetrators could hide and victims faced barriers to disclosure that many could not overcome,” chair of the inquiry, professor Alexis Jay said.

The IICSA lambasted the church for regarding forgiveness “as the appropriate response to any admission of wrongdoing.”

One such case highlighted is that of Timothy Storey, a man who was permitted to continue working with children after apologising “for everything he had done wrong.” Storey is currently serving a 15-year prison sentence for multiple offences against young girls, including rape. ALSO ON RT.COM‘I’m ashamed of our history’: Church of England is ‘still deeply institutionally racist’ says Archbishop of Canterbury

As part of the findings announced Tuesday in the damning report, the panel found that record-keeping of abuse claims was “almost non-existent.”

The panel decried the church’s willingness to pervert the course of legal justice by meting out its own ‘forgiveness,’ precluding sex offenders from being held responsible for their crimes and prevented from re-offending.

The church was also blasted for its handling of the reverend Ian hughes scandal, in which he was convicted in 2014 of downloading 8,000 child porn images, including 800 in the most serious category. 

At the time, Bishop Peter Forster claimed Hughes had been “misled into viewing child pornography”.

The report further condemned what it dubbed as “tribalism” within the church, which placed loyalty to its own over the safety and wellbeing of children. It cited a “culture of fear and secrecy within the Church about sexuality” which then facilitated a climate of sex abuse.

The church issued an apology and expressed shame after the inquiry’s findings were released. “The report makes shocking reading and while apologies will never take away the effects of abuse on victims and survivors, we today want to express our shame about the events that have made those apologies necessary,” said the Bishop of Huddersfield, Jonathan Gibbs.

“The whole Church must learn lessons from this Inquiry. Our main focus in response must be recognising the distress caused to victims and survivors by the Church’s failures in safeguarding,” Gibbs added.

The inquiry held public hearings in July 2019, which led in part to the findings of the report. 

The panel made eight recommendations, including an improved complaints process for victims of abuse, the reintroduction of immediate expulsion from the church for anyone convicted of child sex offences and improved funding and support for victims and survivors.

DECEMBER 8 2011 – “IRISH ARCHBISHOP [JOHN CHARLES MCQUAID] WHO DIED IN 1973 IS LINKED TO ABUSE” – NEW YORK TIMES

Irish Archbishop Who Died in ’73 Is Linked to Abuse

New York Times

By

DUBLIN — The former archbishop of Dublin, John Charles McQuaid, widely regarded as the most powerful Catholic prelate in modern Irish history, stands accused of serial child sexual abuse, The Irish Times newspaper said Thursday.

Two specific complaints and a separate unspecified “concern” against an unidentified cleric were reported to the Murphy Commission, a state-sponsored investigation into the handling of clerical sexual abuse of children in the Dublin archdiocese. The newspaper reported that Archbishop McQuaid, who retired in 1972 and died a year later, was the unidentified cleric.

The commission published its main report in 2009, but it said that “due to human error” the latest allegations emerged only in a supplementary report published in July. This does not name Archbishop McQuaid, but the newspaper is adamant that the allegations of abuse contained within it refer to the archbishop. One allegation is regarding abuse of a 12-year-old boy in 1961.

“The supplementary report records that in June/July 2009, as the commission was completing its main report, it received information which would have ‘brought another cleric’ within its remit,” Patsy McGarry, the newspaper’s religious affairs correspondent, said in an interview. The archdiocese “found a letter ‘which showed that there was an awareness among a number of people in the archdiocese that there had been a concern expressed about this cleric in 1999,’ the report states. The ‘cleric’ is Archbishop McQuaid.”

The main body of the Murphy report was highly critical of Archbishop McQuaid’s attitude toward abuse, accusing him of showing “no concern for the welfare of children.” However, this is the first suggestion that the official body had received specific complaints against Archbishop McQuaid, who was at the very apex of the Roman Catholic Church in Ireland for three decades.

In a statement, a victims’ group, One in Four, called for a statutory inquiry into the accusations, saying that “if Archbishop McQuaid was, as is alleged, a sex offender himself, then it is no wonder that the secrecy and cover-ups which have characterized the church’s handling of sexual abuse was so entrenched.”

The archdiocese told the newspaper that the police were investigating the matters dealt with in the supplementary report. There is also a separate civil action being taken against the archdiocese by one complainant.

 

EIGHT FALSELY ACCUSED BISHOPS

Tuesday, July 10, 2018

Eight Falsely Accused Bishops (and Archbishops) in Ireland

Archbishop John Charles McQuaid (slandered by Dr Noel Browne and John Cooney)

Cardinal Archbishop Cahal Daly (slandered by Deputy Pat Rabbitte)

Background:

This article started as an “open letter” to several Irish historians on 7 December 2006, with a follow-up 10 days later. Both were published at the time by the “Alliance Victim Support Group” on its website AllianceSupport.org. I think that the Group which was founded in 1999, disbanded recently and there is just a skeletal website remaining. The first two letters refer to false allegations against six Irish Bishops – including two Archbishops (John Charles McQuaid of Dublin and Cahal Daly of Armagh – pictured above). In June 2008 I forwarded copies of the two to Brenda Power of the Sunday Times in response to an article she had written concerning the effects of false allegations of sexual assault. By this time there had been an additional allegation against a former Archbishop i.e. Thomas Morris of Cashel and I also recalled that Mary Raftery had slandered the former Bishop of Ossary, Peter Birch. Bishop Birch had been widely admired for his work among the poor by many people – including by my own mentor Brother Maurice Kirk.

All of the falsely accused Bishops were extremely high-profile – including three Archbishops. There are only four Archdioceses in Ireland and I have joked over the years that an Archbishop of Tuam – either current or deceased – is obviously next on our anti-clerics hit-list. Actually it has already occurred – but more on this later!

EIGHT Falsely Accused Bishops 

Monday, 23 June, 2008
From: “Rory Connor”
To: Brenda Power, Sunday Times

Brenda Power
The Sunday Times 
Regarding your article “It’s the Innocent who Merit an Explanationhttp://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/world/ireland/article4188284.ece
you may like to look at the following two articles which have appeared on the http://www.alliancesupport.org website.

The letters were originally addressed to a number of Irish Historians – and cced to Colm O’Gorman of the “victims” group One in Four for obvious reasons.

A total of 8 Bishops have been falsely accused of sex offences in Ireland – including 3 Archbishops. There are only 26 full Bishops in the country including 4 Archbishops so the Archbishop of Tuam is presumably next on our liberals hit list!

The following articles dated December 2006 relate to 6 Bishops. There has been one subsequent case – the late Archbishop Thomas Morris of Cashel [1] and incredibly I had overlooked one case – that of the late Bishop Peter Birch of Ossory (Kilkenny) [2].

Finally the hysteria about sex crimes is not indiscriminate or at least it didn’t begin that way. It was first directed at the Catholic Church and then spread to the rest of society. To counter it you need to start with the obscene lies directed at Churchmen.

Regards

Rory Connor

[1] See “Archbishop Thomas Morris and Oliver O’Grady” on http://www.alliancesupport.org on 17 January 2007.
Relevant Link: Archbishop Thomas Morris and Oliver O’Grady

[2] Included in the article “Vincent Browne, Mary Raftery and Sister Conception” on http://www.alliancesupport.org on 21 July 2006.
Relevant Link Bishop Birch and Mary Raftery

Originally SIX Falsely Accused Bishops

Ladies, Gentlemen and Scholars,
The following article concerns false sex allegations directed against 6 Irish Bishops between 1994 and 2006. This represents nearly a quarter of the Irish Hierarchy (shades of “One in Four“!).
Can we expect Colm O’Gorman, the founder of “One in Four” to comment? After all people who make false allegations of child abuse are trading on the misery of those who were REALLY abused. When our current Witch-hunt eventually comes to an end, children who are true victims of child abuse will find it difficult to get a hearing.
Cynicism is the legacy of Hysteria and Cynicism will be the ultimate legacy of our Irish Salem.
Regards
Rory Connor 
7 December 2006
FALSE SEX ALLEGATIONS AGAINST IRISH BISHOPS
In the 12 years since 1994, a total of six Irish bishops have been the target of false sex allegations in the media. The majority of the allegations relate to claims that the bishop was a paedophile, one to a different sex claim and one to a charge of trying to prevent the extradition of the paedophile priest Father Brendan Smyth.
There are only 26 bishops in the whole of Ireland.
My articles on the allegations are published on the website http://www.alliancesupport.org between June and November 2006.
    http://www.alliancesupport.org 29 September 2006
Relevant Link: The Guardian and Bishop Magee
On 2 April 1994, The Guardian, which is Britain’s most distinguished “liberal” newspaper, published an allegation that a senior Irish Bishop was linked to a paedophile ring. 
The Guardian thought that, by not naming the bishop they could get away with their lies. However there are only 26 bishops on the whole of Ireland and the newspaper report contained certain remarks that reduced the number of possible targets still further. The Irish Hierarchy threatened a class libel suit and the Guardian were forced to apologise.
On 22 April 1994, the Irish Times which is the Irish equivalent of the Guardian, published a report that contains little more than the text of their sister paper’s apology. However the more down-market Sunday Independent published a detailed report into the background of the libel. Independent journalist Sam Smyth pointed out that this claim had been previously investigated by a number of British TABLOIDS which rejected it as false! Yet the Guardian went ahead and published anyway!
The following summary comes from Richard Websters article “States of Fear, The Redress Board and Ireland’s Folly” on the website http://www.richardwebster.net. 
(My own longer article “FALSE ALLEGATIONS: PAT RABBITTE AND CARDINAL CATHAL DALY” is on http://www.alliancesuppoprt.org in October 2006.)
Relevant Link: Pat Rabbitte and Cardinal Cahal Daly 
The beginnings of the story go back to 1994 when the authorities in Northern Ireland sought the extradition from the Republic of Father Brendan Smyth, a Catholic priest who was facing a number of counts of child sexual abuse to which he would eventually plead guilty. It would appear that he had previously been protected against allegations by his own Norbertine order, which had moved him from parish to parish as complaints arose, and failed to alert the police.
 
 Perhaps because of the age of the allegations, which went back twenty years, there was a delay of several months during which the Irish attorney general took no action in relation to the extradition request. Unfounded reports began to circulate in Dublin that the process was being deliberately delayed in response to a request made at the highest level by the Catholic Church. An Irish opposition deputy, Pat Rabbitte, then referred in parliament to the possible existence of a document that would ‘rock the foundations of this society to its very roots’. He apparently had in mind the rumoured existence of a letter written by the Primate of All Ireland, Cardinal Cathal Daly, to the attorney general in Dublin. In this letter the Cardinal had supposedly interceded on behalf of Father Brendan Smyth and requested the delay in his extradition which had in fact taken place.
 
No evidence has been produced that any such letter ever existed. Yet, as a direct result of the rumours which now swept the country, confidence in the ruling establishment was undermined and the Fianna Fail government of Albert Reynolds fell, amidst talk of a dark conspiracy involving politicians, members of Opus Dei, the Knights of Columbus and others. This conspiracy was allegedly seeking to cover up the activities of paedophile priests.”
Relevant Link: Bishop Comiskey and Gay Byrne

The following is from a sneering article by Declan Lynch in the Sunday Independent on 8 October 1995. It is headed “Gaybo Speaks and the Catholic Faithful Tremble“:

I personally would rate myself a friend and admirer of Brendan Comiskey [said Gay Byrne on his radio programme], and indeed I was looking for him on the telephone recently, and he didn’t make contact with me which would have been kind of unusual, a little bit unusual.

“So much so that I don’t believe now that Brendan Comiskey has gone to America because of stress, nor do I believe he’s gone because of alcohol, nor do I believe he’s gone because of his alleged protection of a priest who’s up on charges.

“I think there is something other. I haven’t the faintest idea of what it is, but I think there is something else, and I think it is something dreadful, and I.m almost afraid of what it might be. That’s my personal reaction.”

A second article in the same paper commented that “although the remarks appeared to be ‘off the cuff’ it is known that Gay scripts his shows with extreme care and attention.

[See article “Apology to Bishop of Cloyne, John Magee by TV3”  on http://www.alliancesupport.org on 27 Sept 2006]
Relevant Link: TV3 and Bishop Magee

The following is the text of TV3’s apology for libelling Bishop Magee:
RETRACTION AND APOLOGY TO THE BISHOP AND DIOCESE OF CLOYNE BROADCAST BY TV3 ON TUESDAY 21ST SEPTEMBER  [1999] IN THE 5.30PM, 7.30PM AND 10.45PM NEWS BULLETINS
It was reported on the 15th September last in the news at 5.30pm, 7.00pm and 10.45pm that the Catholic Church had settled a case with a man who claimed that inappropriate behaviour took place in the Bishop of Cloyne’s residence. We wish to unreservedly retract same as it is clear that no such claim was made by the man in question. We are satisfied that there was no basis or truth whatever in the allegations and any suggestion that the Bishop of Cloyne has been compromised in any manner in the conduct of his duties is sincerely regretted and entirely without foundation. We wish to offer an unreserved apology to the Bishop and to the Diocese of Cloyne.
The sincerity of TV3’s repentance can be gauged from the fact that, one month later, in October 1999, they broadcast Louis Lentin‘s documentary “Our Boys“. This contained an allegation by Gerry Kelly that he attended the funerals of boys in Artane who had been killed by the Christian Brothers. No boy died of any cause while Gerry Kelly was in Artane!
Relevant Links: Five Articles on John Cooney and John Charles McQuaid
I have published several articles on this subject on the Alliance website from July 2006 onwards. See in particular the 5 articles entitled “JOHN COONEY AND JOHN CHARLES MCQUAID” (1) to (5). The first article contains quotations from 4 Irish historians, all of whom agree that the allegations in Cooney’s biography of John Charles are rubbish. Incredibly they also agree that its a great book – provided you disregard the “silly bits” about paedophilia!! 
The most outrageous claim in John Cooney’s book “John Charles McQuaid – Ruler of Catholic Ireland” is that the Archbishop was a homosexual paedophile. However in my third article I refer to Cooney’s other allegation that the Archbishop used an astronomical telescope to spy on courting couples on Killiney beach and on girls in a schoolyard. I point out some problems with these claims
:
(A) Killiney beach is not visible from the Archbishop’s observatory
(B) Homosexual paedophiles do not normally display an interest in courting couples or females of any age (Actually the same applies to non-paedophile homosexuals!).
(C) An astronomical telescope is designed to view stars millions of miles away. It is not suitable for observing human beings a hundred yards away!
Dr Noel Browne is the source of the main allegation against the late Archbishop. See articles “DOCTOR NOEL BROWNE AND HIS ENEMIES” and “DOCTOR NOEL BROWNE AND THE BISHOPS” on the Alliance Support website.
Relevant Links: Noel Browne and His Enemies and Noel Browne and the Bishops
Relevant Link: Bishop Casey Accused
Bishop Eamonn Casey was recently accused by a middle aged woman who claimed that he had abused her 30 years ago. Thus we are clearly talking about an allegation of pedophilia. The claim was given huge publicity by the media which emphasised that the woman is regarded as mentally disturbed and has made unfounded allegations against other people. So why all the publicity since journalists obviously did not believe her?. If she had accused a retired headmaster or senior civil servant would her lies have been given equal prominence? The difference is that Eamonn Casey is a retired Bishop. The Rape Crisis Network also thought that this was a good opportunity to demand that he apologise again to Annie Murphy. 
What we have here is a society that is spewing on itself. The saga of false allegations against Bishops began in 1994 when the UK Guardian accused an un-named Bishop of being part of a paedophile ring. Later that year Pat Rabbitte  implied that Cardinal Cahal Daly was engaged in a conspiracy with the Attorney General to prevent the extradition of Father Brendan Smyth. In that year the false allegations were being made by the highest in the land. Now a poor deranged woman is repeating them. “A fish rots from the head” says the Russian proverb about the role of intellectuals in society. Now the rot has reached both tail and heart!
Rory Connor 
7 December 2006

‘One in Four’ Bishops – as per Colm O’Gorman!

Ladies, Gentlemen and Scholars,

A couple of objections to my article on “False Allegations against Irish Bishops” have come to my attention. [www.alliancesupport.org on 9 Dec 2006]. The main objection is that I am overstating the significance of the number of false allegations. I claim – only partly with tongue in cheek – that the allegations against six Bishops amount to “One in Four” of the Irish Hierarchy (as per Colm O’Gorman and his group of that name).
FIRST OBJECTION.  You are referring to TWO different generations of Bishops. After all Archbishop McQuaid died in 1973 and Bishop Casey retired in 1992. Therefore the proportion of falsely accused Bishops is one in eight or ten rather than “One in Four“. 
MY ANSWER. Yes but all of the allegations date from 1994 to date and these 12 years fit neatly into one generation. MOREOVER the usual explanations for making claims decades after the event, do not apply in these cases. The usual excuses are:
(A) I was traumatised by my experiences and only recovered recently, 
(B) Nobody would believe my word against that of a priest/Bishop.
Since we are talking about lies and slander these explanations are irrelevant. Thus the “One in Four” proportion is OK.
SECOND OBJECTION: There are 26 Irish dioceses but 33 Bishops – the other 7 are “Auxiliary Bishops”. Again this means that you have exaggerated the proportion of those who have been falsely accused.
MY REPLY.  No Auxiliary Bishop has been falsely accused (as far as I know) and I think it unlikely that one will be in the future. Just look at the list of those who have been the target of obscene lies:
  • John Charles McQuaid was the best known Irish prelate of the 20th Century. He was Archbishop of Dublin and Primate of Ireland.
  • Cathal Daly was Cardinal Archbishop of Armagh and Primate of All Ireland.
  • John Magee of Cloyne is the only man in the history of the Church to have been Private Secretary to three Popes (Paul VI, John Paul 1 and John Paul 11)
  • Bishops Eamonn Casey and Brendan Comiskey are very well known prelates who had frequent dealings with the media
  • I am reasonably sure I know the identity of the un-named Bishop who was accused by the UK Guardian in 1994. He is no “Auxiliary” either!
  • Our lying intellectuals tend to concentrate on the “big shots” in the Catholic Church and disdain mere Auxiliary Bishops.  Thus I think my “One in Four” proportion is still valid.
FINALLY I believe that the behaviour of our lying anti-clerics says a great deal about the nature of the paedophile problem in this country. Let us suppose, for the sake of argument, that there is a major problem with paedophile clergy in the Catholic Church. Then over the last 50 years or so, you would expect that at least one Bishop would be identified as a paedophile. You would also expect that this man would be operating in a small diocese and that few people would have heard of him before the scandal. THAT is the way things work out in real life (as opposed to Salem Style Witch-hunts). And the reason things happen that way is that a man with severe moral and emotional problems is unlikely to be a high-flier in any profession. (Compare the unfortunate Judge Brian Curtin).
However that is NOT how things actually worked out. Ludicrous and lying allegations have been made against  a Cardinal Archbishop of Armagh, a  former Archbishop of Dublin who was a hate figure for “liberals” since the 1970s etc etc. 
Clearly we are not talking about real life but a parallel universe in which our anti-clerics draw their plots from Dallas and their morals from the Nazi pornographer Julius Streicher. 
Is it possible that I am overstating my case?
Best wishes, 
Rory Connor
 

[19 December 2006]

False Allegation against Former Archbishop(s) of Tuam

Over the years I have joked that  Irish “liberals” who slandered three of our four Archbishops, were bound to take aim at the Archbishop of Tuam. Actually it happened  a few years ago but I didn’t fully appreciate its significance at the time. In June 2014 the Jesuit magazine “America” persuaded the Associated Press to issue an apology for claiming that the Catholic Church had refused to baptise the children of unmarried mothers at the mother and baby home in Tuam run by the Bon Secour nuns. Senior Editor Kevin Clarke wrote in “The Galway Horror Part II”
https://www.americamagazine.org/content/all-things/galway-horror-part-ii
“Babies born inside the institutions were denied baptism and, if they died from the illness and disease rife in such facilities, also denied a Christian burial.” It is a sentence, unattributed to any source, which repeats—either word for word or in a close approximation—in hundreds of articles concerning the now infamous deaths and burials of hundreds of children in Tuam, Galway between 1925 and 1961. This appalling sacramental indifference is referenced in major U.S. and U.K. publications and cited in leading online opinion journals like Salon as more evidence of the cruelty of the Bon Secours sisters who ran the home and the Catholic Church in Ireland in general.

The text of the apology is as follows:
DUBLIN (AP) — In stories published June 3 and June 8 [2014] about young children buried in unmarked graves after dying at a former Irish orphanage for the children of unwed mothers, The Associated Press incorrectly reported that the children had not received Roman Catholic baptisms; documents show that many children at the orphanage were baptized. The AP also incorrectly reported that Catholic teaching at the time was to deny baptism and Christian burial to the children of unwed mothers; although that may have occurred in practice at times it was not church teaching. In addition, in the June 3 story, the AP quoted a researcher who said she believed that most of the remains of children who died there were interred in a disused septic tank; the researcher has since clarified that without excavation and forensic analysis it is impossible to know how many sets of remains the tank contains, if any. The June 3 story also contained an incorrect reference to the year that the orphanage opened; it was 1925, not 1926.

The journalists who published those lies were aiming at the Bon Secour nuns in particular and at the Catholic Church in general. However it is the clergy and not nuns, who would have made that decision and the local priest would certainly have referred an issue of such rarity and importance to his Bishop – or in this case to the Archbishop of Tuam.  According all four Irish Archbishops have now been subjected to obscene lies by our “liberal” media!

If our journalists – and politicians – were targeting Protestant Archbishops or the Chief Rabbi of Ireland with such lies, no one would be in any doubt as to their motivation!

 

“Christ Church dean accused of mishandling child sexual assault case” – Cherwell – March 5 2020

“Christ Church Governing Body criticised for its attacks on the Dean” – Thinking Anglicans

Christ Church Governing Body criticised for its attacks on the Dean

https://cherwell.org/2020/03/05/christ-church-dean-accused-of-mishandling-child-sexual-assault-case/

chch-cathedral

Christ Church Oxford

Christ Church dean accused of mishandling child sexual assault case

Martyn Percy, Dean of Christ Church, has been accused of failing to correctly report the sexual assault of a minor.

Percy, embroiled in a long dispute with his own college, has denied the allegations in a statement to The Guardian.

On the 4th March, a statement on Christ Church’s website was posted, entitled “Update on Safeguarding”. It read: “On 7 February 2020, we received a media enquiry regarding the two Employment Tribunal claims, which the Dean has lodged against Christ Church.”

“This included an allegation that a former student had been sexually assaulted during their time at Christ Church, whilst still a minor. Upon further investigation, it is apparent that this allegation was disclosed to the Dean, but never reported by him to the police, the local authority designated officer, Christ Church’s safeguarding officers, or the Church of England’s safeguarding officer.

“This allegation has now been reported to the police. Internal investigations have subsequently raised serious concerns about the Dean’s handling of four separate matters reported to him. All relate to allegations of sexual abuse or assault, two involving a minor. On legal advice, we have also made a report to the Church of England’s National Safeguarding Office, and they have opened an investigation.

“There is no implication whatsoever that the Dean himself has been involved in any form of sexual misconduct.

“Protecting our students, pupils, staff, and all those who live, work, or study at Christ Church is our highest priority. We are assisting the Church of England and the police in their enquiries, and we are putting in place measures to ensure that our safeguarding obligations continue to be met.

“Christ Church’s Governing Body is fully committed to safeguarding and has robust policies and processes in place. Our thoughts are with any survivors of abuse affected by this news. If anyone requires immediate support, they should contact Christ Church or the police.”

Speaking to Cherwell, the Dean issued the following statement: “The statement on the College website will give rise to unfortunate speculation. For the avoidance of doubt, the Dean dealt correctly with three historic cases of reported sexual assault in the Academic year ​​20​16-​17, and the information on these were shared with the appropriate college officers at the time. One of these individuals had already made a report to the police, which was already known ​to​the college officers concerned. A fourth historic disclosure was made by an individual who had never reported the matter to the police, and only agreed to talk about the ​alleged assault ​on the condition that there was no further disclosure. Their position of this individual has not changed. No person making a disclosure was still a minor – all were over 21.

“Three of the cases took place before 2014, prior to the Dean taking up office. None of alleged perpetrators posed a safeguarding risk. None of the alleged perpetrators was a current employee of Christ Church at the time of these disclosures.

“The Dean raised concerns that college officers in 2017, and who should have had responsibility for safeguarding​,​ did not ​in fact ​know this, and had not been properly trained. ​ ​The Dean raised this as a matter of concern with the three individuals with the most responsibility for the legal compliance of the college. (i.e. statutory, welfare, etc.).  The job descriptions for the relevant college officers were changed in January 2018 to take account of the concerns raised by the instigation of the Dean. The college and cathedral regularly review their safeguarding practice, and are compliant with their statutory obligations, and our safeguarding leads are all properly trained.

The Police made a statement on this matter some weeks ago (20-02-20). This is what they said to me in writing: “We received a third party report of a rape on 13 February this year relating to an alleged incident at Christchurch sometime between 2010 and 2017. However, the alleged victim has never reported such an incident to police, and as such there is no line of enquiry and no current investigation. Due to Home Office guidelines, we have recorded the offence as reported, but the matter has been filed.”

In addition, the Dean told The Guardian he had “dealt correctly with three historic cases of reported sexual assault in the academic year 2016-17, and the information on these were shared with the appropriate college officers at the time.

“A fourth historic disclosure was made by an individual who had never reported the matter to the police, and only agreed to talk about the alleged assault on the condition that there was no further disclosure. Their position has not changed.”

In a comprehensive response to the Dean’s statement, Christ Church issued the following rebuttal:

“1. “For the avoidance of doubt, the Dean dealt correctly with three historic cases of reported sexual assault in the aca­demic year 2016-17, and the infor­ma­tion on these were shared with the appropriate college officers at the time.”

The Dean has told Christ Church that four historic cases were reported to him in the calendar year of 2017. Christ Church’s Safeguarding Officers were not informed by the Dean at the time about three of these reports of sexual assault – nor was any other college officer.

“2. “One of these individuals had already made a report to the police, which was already known to the college officers concerned.”

No college officer was informed by the Dean about any police report at the time, with regard to any of these four disclosures.

“3. “A fourth historic disclosure was made by an individual who had never reported the matter to the police, and only agreed to talk about the alleged assault on the condition that there was no further disclosure. Their position of this individual has not changed.”

A fourth case was mentioned, regarding a former student, to a Safeguarding Officer, but with no indication that it involved an individual who was a minor at the time of the alleged assault.

“4. “No person making a disclosure was a minor — all were over 21.”

According to what the Dean has told us, two of the survivors were minors at the time of the alleged abuse/assault.

“5.  “Three of the cases took place before 2014, prior to the Dean taking up office.”

Four cases were disclosed to the Dean, according to his own account, in the calendar year of 2017.

“6. “None of alleged perpetrators posed a safeguarding risk.”

Apart from the Dean, we are not aware of anyone at Christ Church who has any information about any of the alleged perpetrators, and therefore we are unable to assess whether there is any safeguarding risk.

“7. “The Christ Church statement omits to note that the police have reported that no investigation is being pursued.”

Thames Valley Police has asked the Dean for more information with regard to the perpetrator of the recently-reported alleged assault against a minor. Christ Church is not aware that the Dean has responded to this request.

This is the latest instalment in the continuing clash between Martyn Percy and his colleagues. The origins of the dispute are contentious, with the Dean claiming a hostile response to this efforts to modernise the college. His opponents in the ongoing battle cite a request for a pay rise.

After a suspension in 2018, Martyn Percy was reinstated following an internal tribunal, in August of last year. His case will be heard in an Employment Tribunal in 2021.

  • IICSA Transcript – Day 1 – Monday – July 23 2018 – Fiona Scolding QC

     

    Page 90

    MR GIFFIN: Chair, members of the panel, the Archbishops’ Council is grateful for this opportunity to make some brief opening remarks….In 2015, after Ball, as you have heard, pleaded guilty to offences and was sentenced for them, the Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, wrote to individuals known to have been abused by Ball to offer his apologies and the church made a public statement, including these words, which bear repeating. Shall I pause?

    FIONA SCOLDING QC: I’m terribly sorry. I don’t know what is
    going on. I will ask Mr Fulbrook to go and see if
    whatever is happening can be desisted from immediately.
    MR GIFFIN: Shall I continue, chair? I will, if I may,
    repeat my previous words….

    Page 171 & 172

    REVD GRAHAM SAWYER: Let me make this very clear. The sexual abuse that was
    perpetrated upon me by Bishop Peter Ball pales into
    insignificance when compared to the enduringly cruel and
    sadistic treatment that has been meted out to me by
    officials, both lay and ordained, in the
    Church of England, and I know from the testimony of
    other people who have got in touch with me over the last
    five or ten years that what I have experienced is not
    dissimilar to the experience of so many others, and
    I use those words “cruel and sadistic”, because I think
    that’s how they behave.

    FIONA SCOLDING QC: How much of that do you attribute to the lingering
    effect, shall we say, of Peter Ball, because the events
    you describe sort of postdated Peter Ball’s caution and
    resignation?

    REVD GRAHAM SAWYER: Well, there’s an expression used in Australia to refer
    to the bench of bishops, they don’t refer to the bench
    of bishops, but they refer to the “purple circle”,
    and the purple circle exists pretty much in every national
    church within Anglicanism. It no doubt exists in other
    episcopally-led churches. They support one another in
    a sort of club-like way.
    If anyone attacks one of them, they will, as
    a group, as a sort of collective conscience and in
    action, seek to destroy the person who is making
    complaints about one individual.
    Now, don’t take my testimony alone from this. There
    is former — in fact, the recently retired bishop of
    Newcastle in NSW, Australia, who was a victim of sexual
    abuse there, and he described his treatment — he said
    it is like an ecclesiastical protection racket. That is
    the culture within Anglicanism and no doubt within other
    episcopally-led church. It is an ecclesiastical
    protection racket, and anyone who seeks in any way to
    threaten the reputation of the church as an institution
    has to be destroyed. That is the primary thing, and
    that is the culture within Anglicanism.

     

  • March 12 2020 – From The Archives [July 24 2019 – Luther Pendragon – “‘Professional Bullies’ and the Church of England” – ‘The Bell Society’ – Richard W. Symonds]

    Luther-Pendragon

    EIO-new

    March 13 2020 – From The Archives [July 23 2108 – Transcript – Day 1 – Monday – July 23 2018]

    • Excerpts – Fiona Scolding QC
    • This case study will seek answers to the following
      questions:
      (1) why did Bishop Peter Ball escape detection as an
      abuser, despite, as it has now emerged, the fact that he
      made sexual advances to a significant number of young
      men who came within his ambit of influence?
      (2) how did the church permit him to run a scheme
      25 where young people came to stay with him for extended
      periods of time in his home without any supervision or
      oversight and without any real sense of what was
      happening or who was there over a more than ten-year
      period whilst he was a suffragan bishop?
      (3) why was he given a caution, rather than
      prosecuted, for the offending that the police
      investigated in 1992/1993 in respect of Neil Todd and
      others? Why were other complaints brought at that time
      not prosecuted or subject to any form of disposal at
      that time?
      (4) why was Peter Ball represented by a lawyer
      during the criminal proceedings in 1992 who was also the
      diocesan registrar, that is, an official lawyer for the
      diocese in religious matters? This individual discussed
      the case and Peter Ball’s defence with various senior
      members of the church during the course of
      the investigation. Why was this potential conflict of
      interest not identified or acted upon?
      (5) was it wrong for the church to become involved
      in seeking to defend Peter Ball by employing a private
      detective on his behalf?
      (6) were the church, police or prosecution put under
      undue and improper pressure by individuals who held
      positions of power and influence within society to try
      and quash the criminal allegations made against
      Peter Ball and return him to ministry?
      (7) should a caution ever have been administered?
      (8) why was he not subject to any disciplinary
      action by the church until 2015? Were the disciplinary
      powers of the church at the time in question, 1992
      through to 2015, fit for purpose to manage the sorts of
      allegations that this case study raises? Why, given the
      frustrations expressed by senior individuals within
      Lambeth Palace about Peter Ball’s lack of insight into
      his own offending behaviour was no risk assessment
      process undertaken of him until 2009?
      (9) why was he allowed to return to public ministry
      and even granted permission to visit schools and
      undertake confirmations in the light of what was known
      about his offending behaviour within the church at the
      time?
      (10) why didn’t the church refer letters received
      from various individuals which made allegations similar
      to those that Neil Todd had made to the police
      in December 1992 and why in fact did it take until 2010
      for the majority of those letters to be passed to the
      police?
      (11) was the internal investigation conducted by the
      Church of England in 1992/1993 adequate?
      (12) why did the prosecution decide to accept the
      guilty pleas entered into by Peter Ball in 2015 and why
      were other offences not pursued to trial?
      (13) would the church approach a similar matter
      concerning a senior member of its ranks in a like manner
      today and, if not, what steps have been nut in place to
      create a consistent approach to dealing with such
      allegations?
      (14) what steps does the church, police, Crown
      Prosecution Service and society need to undertake to
      overcome the problems that this case study may
      demonstrate?
      We have sought and obtained evidence from Peter Ball
      himself. He has provided two witness statements to the
      inquiry. We have received medical evidence that he is
      too unwell to give us evidence either in person or by
      way of videolink. Both his witness statements will be
      placed upon the website. He has provided an apology in
      the second of those witness statements and has
      identified that he has neither been open nor shown
      penitence in the past. He also identifies that
      previously he has not had the courage to be forthright
      about his sexuality that maybe he should have had…….

    Page 90

    MR GIFFIN: Chair, members of the panel, the
    Archbishops’ Council is grateful for this opportunity to
    make some brief opening remarks. The inquiry of course
    heard longer submissions from us at the start and finish
    of the Chichester case study, and we also filed detailed
    written submissions at the close of the Chichester
    hearings, and all of those are publicly available and
    I needn’t repeat any of the detail of them now.
    Rather, I shall confine myself to three matters.
    The first and foremost is to say, clearly, that the
    church is sorry and ashamed. At the Chichester
    hearings, the Archbishops’ Council offered an
    unqualified apology to those vulnerable people, children
    and others, whose lives have been damaged by abuse, and
    who were not cared for and protected by the church as
    they should have been. We repeat that apology now,
    specifically to those who suffered abuse at the hands of
    Peter Ball, and the families and others who have been
    affected by that abuse.
    In 2015, after Ball, as you have heard, pleadedguilty to offences and was sentenced for them, the
    Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, wrote to
    individuals known to have been abused by Ball to offer
    his apologies and the church made a public statement,
    including these words, which bear repeating. Shall
    I pause?
    MS SCOLDING: I’m terribly sorry. I don’t know what is
    going on. I will ask Mr Fulbrook to go and see if
    whatever is happening can be desisted from immediately.
    MR GIFFIN: Shall I continue, chair? I will, if I may,
    repeat my previous words….

    Page 99

    Mr Bourne

    Now, this does not excuse the error of not passing
    on the letters, but the inquiry will see that the police
    back then had abundant evidence of a wider picture of
    Peter Ball’s abusive activity and the inquiry can be
    reassured that the addition of one further allegation
    would not have altered that picture in any significant
    25 way.
    My second comment on Dame Moira’s report is that, on
    three key points, it will benefit from some
    clarification. Unfortunately, those key points have
    attracted as much attention as anything else in the
    report. They are the references to collusion, cover-up
    and deliberate concealment.
    In fairness to Dame Moira, her report is actually
    expressed in very measured terms; so measured, in fact,
    that any conclusions drawn about collusion, cover-up or
    deliberate concealment are not easy to pin down. The
    problem, however, is that the report’s use of those
    words has already had serious consequences, and that’s
    not surprising because there is a crucial difference
    between mistakes, however blameworthy, and
    conspiratorial acts carried out for a guilty purpose.
    We have no doubt that this inquiry will wish to
    distinguish carefully between those two things.
    There are, therefore, questions for Dame Moira Gibb
    about those specific areas. All I will add now in
    opening is that Lord Carey’s hope is that this week’s
    hearing will make some important matters clearer for
    everyone. The clearest possible understanding is, of
    course, for the benefit of all of the public and
    especially for victims and survivors.
    Chair, thank you…….

    Reverend Graham Sawyer

    Page 171/172

    A. Let me make this very clear. The sexual abuse that was
    perpetrated upon me by Bishop Peter Ball pales into
    insignificance when compared to the enduringly cruel and
    sadistic treatment that has been meted out to me by
    officials, both lay and ordained, in the
    Church of England, and I know from the testimony of
    other people who have got in touch with me over the last
    five or ten years that what I have experienced is not
    dissimilar to the experience of so many others, and
    I use those words “cruel and sadistic”, because I think
    that’s how they behave.

    Q. How much of that do you attribute to the lingering
    effect, shall we say, of Peter Ball, because the events
    you describe sort of postdated Peter Ball’s caution and
    resignation?

    A. Well, there’s an expression used in Australia to refer
    to the bench of bishops, they don’t refer to the bench
    of bishops, but they refer to the “purple circle”, and the purple circle exists pretty much in every national
    church within Anglicanism. It no doubt exists in other
    episcopally-led churches. They support one another in
    a sort of club-like way.
    If anyone attacks one of them, they will, as
    a group, as a sort of collective conscience and in
    action, seek to destroy the person who is making
    complaints about one individual.
    Now, don’t take my testimony alone from this. There
    is former — in fact, the recently retired bishop of
    Newcastle in NSW, Australia, who was a victim of sexual
    abuse there, and he described his treatment — he said
    it is like an ecclesiastical protection racket. That is
    the culture within Anglicanism and no doubt within other
    episcopally-led church. It is an ecclesiastical
    protection racket, and anyone who seeks in any way to
    threaten the reputation of the church as an institution
    has to be destroyed. That is the primary thing, and
    that is the culture within Anglicanism.

 

Sept 5 2019 – “Sir Cliff Richard accepts £2m from BBC towards legal costs” – AOL/PA

https://www.aol.co.uk/news/2019/09/04/sir-cliff-richard-accepts-a-2m-from-bbc-towards-legal-costs/

Sir Cliff Richard accepts £2m from BBC towards legal costs

 

Sir Cliff Richard has agreed a final settlement with the BBC and will receive around £2 million towards his legal costs.

The singer, 78, sued the broadcaster over its coverage of the police search of his Berkshire home in 2014.

The judge ruled in the singer’s favour last year, awarding him £210,000 in damages.

Sir Cliff Richard with Gloria Hunniford, during his case against the BBC
Sir Cliff Richard with Gloria Hunniford, during his case against the BBC (Dominic Lipinski/PA)

 

Sir Cliff told the trial he had spent more than £3 million on the case.

Following the final settlement, a spokesman for the singer said he was still “substantially out of pocket”.

A statement said: “Sir Cliff incurred these costs over a five-year period as a direct result of the actions of the BBC and South Yorkshire Police.

“He is of course glad that an agreement about costs has now been reached.

“Ultimately, however, Sir Cliff is substantially out of pocket (a seven figure sum), not least because there are costs that he has not sought to recover from the parties.”

Sir Cliff Richard
Sir Cliff Richard (Kirsty O’Connor)

The BBC also paid £315,000 to South Yorkshire Police for legal costs.

A BBC spokeswoman said: “We are pleased that Sir Cliff Richard, the BBC and South Yorkshire Police have reached an amicable settlement of Sir Cliff Richard’s legal costs.

“The BBC’s costs are within the scope of our legal insurance. This brings the legal process to its conclusion.”

The pop star has previously told how the trauma of BBC coverage of the police search of his home, following a claim of historical sexual assault, left him emotionally drained.

Sir Cliff was not arrested and did not face charges.

He later said: “They smeared my name around the world.”

He added: “I’ve had four terrible years and it was horrific… I would never wish that on my worst enemy. It was tumultuous, horrific, emotionally draining, traumatic.”

Earlier this year, Sir Cliff launched a petition so that those accused of sexual offences remain anonymous until charged.

July 16 2019 – “Judge slates London diocese over Timothy Storey rape case” – Church Times

16 JULY 2019

 

JOHN SALMON/COMMONS

St Michael’s, Chester Square

 

THE diocese of London has been accused of “shamefully” trying to shift the blame for safeguarding failures concerning an ordinand who raped two teenagers he got to know as a church youth worker.

The criticism came from Judge Katz QC while sentencing Timothy Storey, 35, a former ordinand who was convicted in February on three charges of rape and one of sexual assault (News, 26 February).

His two victims were under 18 when they were groomed online and then raped. The rapist met his victims while working as a children’s pastor at a church in central London.

Sentencing Mr Storey to 15 years in prison, Judge Katz said that his “insidious” behaviour warranted a further four years on licence after his custodial sentence was completed. But he also strongly criticised the diocese of London. “It seems to me that there was a wholesale failure by those responsible at that time for safeguarding,” Judge Katz said. When the diocese eventually decided to talk to Mr Storey about allegations made against him, it asked someone “clearly unsuited” to the task to confront him.

Furthermore, this official’s superior “arrogantly refused” to give a statement to prosecutors for the trial, and seemed to be most concerned about the diocese’s reputation.

But it was the statement released by the diocese at the conclusion of the trial in February which came in for the greatest criticism.

The statement said that the diocese had investigated the allegations of assault in 2009, and then passed on the information to the Metropolitan Police, who decided that no crime had been committed.

But this was a travesty of what had really happened, Judge Katz said. In fact, the police had investigated Mr Storey “diligently and sensitively, something the diocese had been incapable of”.

The diocese’s statement, which “appeared to suggest that the diocese had acted appropriately at all times”, and implied that the police were to blame, “was a shameful misrepresentation of the truth”, the judge concluded.

A spokeswoman for the diocese said that an independent review of the diocese’s handling of the case had been ordered, and Mr Storey’s victims would be contacted in due course. “We fully acknowledge the comments that have been made by the judge, and we are committed to ensuring that lessons are learned and acted upon,” the spokeswoman said.

“While, since 2010, we have made significant improvements to our safeguarding processes and greatly increased the resources available, we are constantly striving to make our Church safe for everyone. Timothy Storey carried out a series of appalling crimes, and we are profoundly sorry for what his victims endured.”

May 21 2019 – Bishop Gavin Ashenden on Bishop George Bell and The Deleted Files – Anglican Unscripted 505 [Time: 20.45 to 28.05]

img_0011

Bishop Gavin Ashenden

The implications of hiding crosses in churches. Anglican Unscripted 505.

Anglican Unscripted 505 – Bishop Gavin Ashenden on Bishop George Bell [Time: 20.45 to 28.05]

Ref: “Footprints In The Sand – tracking changes in online content” – A short report for The Bell Society by Peter Crosskey

https://richardwsymonds.wordpress.com/2019/05/20/may-20-2019-footprints-in-the-sand-tracking-changes-in-online-content-chichester-cathedral-website-a-short-report-for-the-bell-society-by-peter-crosskey/

IMG_2845

May 13 2019 – The George Bell Group Statement – May 2019 – “The history of the treatment by the Church of England of the reputation of George Bell has become a scandal” ~ Dr Andrew Chandler

George Bell House - 4 Canon Lane - Chichester Cathedral

George Bell House – 4 Canon Lane – Chichester Cathedral – before the name change [Picture: Alamy]

Home

The George Bell Group

We are an independent group whose members represent a concentration of experience in public life, in the fields of law, policing, politics, journalism, academic research and church affairs. This group began to meet in response to the 22 October 2015 statement issued by the Church of England about Bishop George Bell. See this BBC report for the original story. On 15 December 2017 the Church of England published the independent review of Lord Carlile and issued three statements made in response by the Archbishop of Canterbury, the Bishop of Chichester and the Bishop of Bath & Wells.

We warmly welcome the Report written by Timothy Briden and congratulate him on his thorough examination of the evidence which led him to the explicit conclusion that the new allegations against Bishop Bell were unfounded. There are no other allegations.

It is time to conclude a matter which has lasted altogether three and a half years. The investigative activities and processes of the church authorities themselves have been devastated by independent legal judgement. The assurances with which these authorities have justified themselves and effectively promoted a case against Bishop Bell in public have been discredited. Bishop Bell’s reputation is today vindicated and affirmed by authoritative opinion. What remains of the story is only a matter of contemporary church politics.

Read the full response of the George Bell Group (May 2019)

Statement May 2019

Since October 2015 when the Archbishops’ Council announced that they had paid compensation to the woman given the pseudonym ‘Carol’, who alleged that she had been abused by Bishop George Bell, his defenders have criticised the Church authorities for never once affording the Bishop the presumption of innocence.  Now, after the inquiries of Lord Carlile and Timothy Briden, it can be seen that the allegations against Bishop Bell were unfounded in fact.

THE CARLILE REVIEW

The Carlile report, whose conclusions (save as to publicity) the Church accepted, criticised the investigation of Carol’s allegations as a rush to judgment predicated on Bell’s guilt. It concluded that the decision to settle with Carol was indefensibly wrong and that the process completely ignored the Bishop’s reputation and the interests of his surviving family, including his very elderly niece.

The original statement by the Archbishops’ Council in October 2015 claimed that none of the expert independent reports had found reason to doubt Carol’s veracity. But Lord Carlile discovered that the only expert consulted by the Church thought it very likely that Carol’s experience of abuse in her first marriage had affected her recall, and that the possibility of false memories was a real one.

Regrettably Archbishop Welby added his authority to the destruction of Bell’s reputation: on Good Friday 2016, before the Carlile report was completed, he told BBC Radio that the investigation of Carol’s claim had been ‘very thorough’ and the finding of abuse correct on the balance of probabilities. We now know how far from the truth that was.

The Archbishop told Lord Carlile during his inquiry that if there had not been a proper investigation of Carol’s story, the Church would have to apologise. But sadly, when the Carlile report was published in December 2017, he chose not to do so. To the disappointment of Bell’s defenders, he appeared to reject the presumption of innocence; instead he commented that there was still ‘a significant cloud’ left over Bishop Bell’s name without giving any explanation of why he continued to hold that view in the face of Lord Carlile’s conclusions.

THE ‘FRESH INFORMATION’ AND THE BRIDEN PROCESS

The publicity given to the Carlile report appears to have triggered a copy-cat claim by the woman given the name Alison. The Core Safeguarding Group which had been responsible for the shambolic investigation of Carol’s claim now set about trying to substantiate that by Alison. They may well have hoped that the similar facts alleged by Alison would corroborate the discredited Carol. But within weeks the police, to whom the Core Group had reported the matter, closed their enquiries.  Next an investigation by a senior retired police officer commissioned by the Church quickly showed that Alison’s evidence was unreliable and incapable of supporting any adverse finding against the Bishop.

Mr Briden reported that her account not only had internal inconsistencies but was also contaminated by her having read Carol’s story, a contamination revealed by her repeating verbatim some of Carol’s words which had been reported in the press. He ended his report by saying that all the allegations against George Bell remitted to him were unfounded.

Many will have hoped that on reading Mr Briden’s report Archbishop Welby would have publicly acknowledged that the cloud of which he had previously spoken had been dissipated. He did not do so.

THE DUTY OF THE CHURCH NOW

The history of the treatment by the Church of England of the reputation of George Bell has become a scandal.

It is now the plain duty of the Church of England, nationally and in the Diocese of Chichester, to make amends by working to restore Bishop Bell’s reputation, not least in institutions which were once proud to adopt his name.

We welcome the decision of Canterbury Cathedral to revive a commission to create a statue of Bell and note the expression of ‘delight’ with which the Archbishop of Canterbury has responded. We acknowledge with gratitude the firmness with which the Dean and Chapter of Christ Church, Oxford have maintained and cherished the chapel there dedicated to Bell’s memory throughout the controversy. We note that the meeting room dedicated to Bishop Bell remains, as before, at the World Council of Churches in Geneva.

It is only in Chichester itself, the place in which Bishop Bell lived and worked for almost thirty years and where his ashes are interred in the cathedral, that any public adoption of his name is now suppressed.

We find the public stance of the Bishop of Chichester, Dr Martin Warner, incomprehensible and indefensible. The Bishop’s ‘Response’ to the Briden Report, published on 24 January 2019 and now promoted on the websites of the diocese and cathedral, only went as far as to acknowledge that ‘Bishop Bell cannot be proven guilty’. He added that it could not be ‘safely claimed that the original complainant [i.e. Carol] had been discredited’. This is a most regrettable insinuation that there was, or likely was, substance to Carol’s allegation and hence that Bell was to be suspected of abuse.

The Bishop emphasised the defamatory innuendo by asking ‘those who hold opposing views on this matter to recognise the strength of each other’s commitment to justice and compassion.’ There is, regrettably, no evidence in this response of the Bishop’s commitment to justice or of any compassion towards those who are wrongly accused. His words have been repeated verbatim by the Bishop at Lambeth in response to a Question at the recent session of the General Synod of the church. Indeed, the Bishop even invoked the authority of the House of Bishops in support of this view. So far as we are aware the House has never even discussed the matter.

Such words simply preserve the impression that there was, and remains, a case against Bell. A not dissimilar state of mind was revealed by the Chichester Diocesan Safeguarding Officer when he told the Child Abuse Inquiry in March 2018 that ‘all the indications we have would suggest that the simplest explanation for why someone comes forward to report abuse – because they were abused – is likely to be the correct one’.

As the High Court Judge Sir Richard Henriques has pointed out in his report to the Metropolitan Police on allegations against prominent individuals, such an assumption results in an investigation which does not challenge the complainant, tends to disbelieve the suspect and shifts onto the suspect the burden of proof, ignoring any presumption of innocence. It becomes a premise for a miscarriage of justice such as can now be seen to have been inflicted on the reputation of George Bell.

It should be sufficient to observe that like Professor Anthony Maden, Lord Carlile did interview this first complainant. We note Lord Carlile’s statement of 1 February 2019, made to the local campaigner Mr Richard Symonds: ‘The Church should now accept that my recommendations should be accepted in full, and that after due process, however delayed, George Bell should be declared by the Church to be innocent of the allegations made against him.’

We are more than conscious that this saga represents a wider pattern in the Church and across society where many other such miscarriages of justice have become notorious. Now it is surely essential that if all the many safeguarding bodies, national and diocesan, are to be retained by the Church of England their work must be placed under real legal discipline and in the hands of officers who observe fully the expectations and rule of law and act without fear or prejudice.

There must never again be any repetition of such a discreditable, indeed disgraceful, performance.

Andrew Chandler, Convenor of George Bell Group, 9 May 2019

April 18 2019 – “Church of England response to safeguarding recommendation” – Church Times – Letters – Revd Bonnie Evans-Hills

web_gargy_img20190405_20394419

https://www.churchtimes.co.uk/articles/2019/18-april/comment/letters-to-the-editor/letters-to-the-editor

 

C of E response to safeguarding recommendation

Church Times – Letters

From the Revd Bonnie Evans-Hills

Sir, — When responding to atrocity cases, for which it was set up, the International Criminal Court — like other courts, for that matter — focuses primarily on the perpetrator, seeking to call out, name, and punish criminal acts, that they never happen again. Of course, they still do. The survivor’s testimony is a means to that end, treated as tools of witness — and no more.

But when it comes to building resilience in a community, in the aftermath of atrocity, the criminal court is only the first step in any work of reconciliation. For a community to thrive, it needs to listen to the stories and the needs of survivors of any abuse, crime, or atrocity. It is not just about retribution, but about flourishing: flourishing for the survivors and for the whole community as witness.

What the Church’s National Safeguarding Steering Group has done in rejecting the recommendations of the independent reviewers (News, 12 April) is to choose a path of self-protection rather than recognise the needs of survivors and give priority to them, and to the health of the Church and society.

There is a well-documented pattern of continued structural secrecy. This is a failing common to large organisations in a position of power and influence, and is defined in the book Crime and Human Rights: Criminology of atrocity and genocide by Joachim J. Savelsberg (Sage Publishing, 2010):

“Here we benefit from the work of a scholar, who has greatly contributed to our understanding of the ‘dark side of organisations,’ the many instances of regular rule breaking behaviour that is characteristic of life even in legitimate organizations.

“Sociologist Diane Vaughan stresses that members of organizations are always exposed to structural pressures resulting from competition and gaps between goals and legitimate means. They are likely to resort to the violation of laws, rules and regulations in order to meet organizational goals.

“Such rule violations become more likely as necessary structural features of organizations such as hierarchy or specialized subunits, create ‘structural secrecy,’ meaning they provide settings intra-organizationally where risk of detection and sanctioning are minimized. In addition, organizational processes such as the ‘normalization of deviance’ (ie, acceptance of deviant behaviour as normal) provide normative support for illegality, a pattern that has been documented” (page 78).

The best means of checking ourselves and our Church is through a system of accountability, as recommended by the reviewer, with the collaboration of survivors. All of us would be better served and safeguarded, including senior leadership, by listening to these survivors’ recommendations. It is a specialist area, which takes in much more than those assumed to be one-to-one cases at a parish level.

If our rhetoric is one of “All are welcome and all are loved,” we need to live up to the love we offer — a love that demands vulnerability and a willingness to listen to the voices of those in pain. When someone is hungry for bread, we should not then hand them a stone.

BONNIE EVANS-HILLS
Address supplied