Category Archives: Lord Alex Carlile QC

December 16 2018 – Peter Hitchens on Archbishop Welby and Bishop Bell’s Niece

“Does Archbishop Welby’s pride matter more than an elderly lady’s pain?”

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


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.

img_9510 (2)

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?

~ Peter Hitchens

December 7 2017 – “Why is the C of E still messing around with the Carlile report?” – The Spectator – Letter – Peter Hitchens


Peter Hitchens

Letters: Why is the C of E still messing around with the Carlile report?

9 December 2017

9:00 AM

The Carlile report

Sir: The Bishop of Bath and Wells tells us (Letters, 2 December) that nobody is holding up publication of the Carlile report into the Church of England’s hole-in-corner kangaroo condemnation of the late George Bell. Is it then just accidental that the church is still making excuses for not publishing it, and presumably for fiddling about with it, more than eight weeks after receiving it on 7 October? The church was swift to condemn George Bell on paltry evidence. It was swifter still to denounce those who stood up for him, falsely accusing them of attacking Bell’s accuser. Yet it is miserably slow to accept just criticism of itself. Somehow, I suspect that, had Lord Carlile exonerated the apparatchiks involved, his report would long ago have been released. May I commend to the Bishop the words of Our Lord (Matthew 5:25): ‘Agree with thine adversary quickly, whiles thou art in the way with him.’
Peter Hitchens
London W8

December 7 2017 – Lord Carlile “produced a damning report calling for tougher rules” in 2011

Ex-priest Laurence Soper guilty of sexually abusing boys

  • 6 December 2017
Laurence SoperImage copyright METROPOLITAN POLICE
Image caption Laurence Soper was found guilty of 19 counts of sexual assault against boys at St Benedict’s School in Ealing, where he taught

An ex-Roman Catholic priest has been found guilty of abusing boys at a London school during the 1970s and 80s.

Laurence Soper, 74, was extradited to face 19 charges of indecent and serious sexual assault against 10 former pupils at the independent St Benedict’s School in Ealing, where he taught.

Soper fled to Kosovo with £182,000 from the Vatican bank in a bid to avoid prosecution for molesting boys.

An Old Bailey jury took 14 hours to find him guilty of all charges.

Prosecutor Gillian Etherton QC told how the victims were subjected to sadistic beatings by Soper for “fake reasons” and on many occasions “with what can only have been a sexual motive”.

They included kicking a football “in the wrong direction”, “failing to use double margins”, and “using the (wrong) staircase”, leading to a caning and a sexual assault, she said.

St Benedict's School in Ealing, west London.Image copyright GOOGLE
Image caption Laurence Soper was a senior priest at St Benedict’s School in Ealing, west London

Ms Etherton said at least one of Soper’s alleged victims suffered serious mental health problems, while another was too afraid to speak out because the abusers “were like saints to me”.

The court heard Soper quit as an abbot in 2000 and moved to Rome. He then skipped bail and spent six years living in Kosovo, with a European Arrest Warrant issued for his extradition.

Soper denied using the cane as a ruse to abuse boys who were given the choice of six lashes with trousers on, or three with them off.

He told jurors he went on the run out of “stupidity and cowardice”, fearing that his life’s work would be wrecked.

St Benedict’s: A history of abuse

PAImage copyright PA

Soper is the latest in a string of men to face allegations relating to their work at St Benedict’s.

In 2010, Abbot Shipperlee announced an independent review of safeguarding arrangements, policies and procedures.

The following year, Lord Carlile produced a damning report calling for tougher rules to protect all faith pupils and stripped monks of control at the school.

In a statement issued by Lord Carlile QC, the school apologised for the “serious wrongs of the past”.

He said: “The school regrets that Soper did not have the courage to plead guilty. The result has been that innocent victims, whom he abused when they were boys in the school, were compelled to give evidence.

“The tough lessons of the past have been learned, and the errors and crimes of the past are in the daily consciousness and conscience of the school management.”

Soper was remanded in custody to be sentenced on 19 December.

More on this story

  • Catholic school St Benedict’s sorry for sex abuse ‘legacy’
    9 November 2011
  • London priest ‘sex abuse victim’ had ‘nightmares’
    11 October 2017
  • Priest fled UK out of ‘cowardice’ after sexual assault charges
    21 November 2017
  • Ex-priest Laurence Soper in court on child sex abuse charges
    22 August 2016

December 2 2017 – Lord Carlile: “A complete loss of authority…the whole conduct of the police in this case [of Damian Green MP] is quite extraordinary”


Lord Alex Carlile QC

Tory war with Met police over ‘thousands of pornographic images on computer of Damian Green

The allegation heaped further pressure on Theresa May’s embattled deputy. However, it also left Scotland Yard in the spotlight about its handling of personal data obtained in investigations.

Lord Carlile, the former watchdog over anti-terror laws, called on Met chief Cressida Dick to exert her “authority” and take control of the force’s handling of the controversy.

He told the Standard it was “unacceptable” for former officers to dredge up old evidence to embarrass people. Ex-Cabinet minister Andrew Mitchell said it was an attempt to “blacken” Mr Green’s name.

The new allegations came from Neil Lewis, who was a Met expert in analysing computers, attached to counter-terrorism investigations. He was part of the team that raided Mr Green’s House of Commons office in 2008.

Neil Lewis said he found thousands of pornographic images on the Cabinet minister’s computer (BBC)

The operation was mounted to catch a Whitehall official leaking secrets to the Tory MP but officers made the chance discovery that Mr Green’s parliamentary computer appeared to have been used to view porn.

In an interview with the BBC, Mr Lewis said he was “shocked” at the volume of pornographic images and had “no doubt whatsoever” in his mind that these were accessed by Mr Green.

His study of the machine suggested someone spent “hours” browsing porn at Mr Green’s desk in the Commons over many weeks. However, he said the images were “legal” and not violent or extreme.

Andrew Mitchell said it was an attempt to “blacken” Mr Green’s name

“The computer was in Mr Green’s office, on his desk, logged in, his account, his name,” said Mr Lewis. “In between browsing pornography, he was sending emails from his account, his personal account, reading documents … it was ridiculous to suggest anybody else could have done it.”

He said that although “you can’t put fingers on a keyboard”, the evidence made him sure it was Mr Green who was accessing the “thumbnail” images. Similar material had also been accessed on Mr Green’s laptop, he claimed.

Mr Green, 61, the MP for Ashford in Kent, became First Secretary of State earlier this year. Experts in civil liberties were shocked by an apparent admission by Mr Lewis that the data copied from Mr Green’s computer was not permanently “deleted” but could have been recovered if needed.

Lord Carlile, a former Lib Dem MP who later served as the independent Government adviser on counter-terror laws, said he was alarmed that retired police officers appeared to be briefing against a Cabinet minister. He said there appeared to be “a complete loss of authority” at Scotland Yard.

“I would expect the Metropolitan Police Commissioner to take charge given that we are dealing with the effective deputy prime minister,” he said.

“I think the whole conduct of the police in this case is quite extraordinary.”

Two senior Tory ex-ministers also criticised the police leaks. Tim Loughton, who sits on the Commons Home Affairs Committee, said: “This whole matter stinks. The Met urgently need to investigate this leak.

“This raises questions of trust in the police if material that was fully investigated nine years ago and did not merit any action mysteriously reappears.”

Mr Mitchell told the Today programme: “Mr Green has been absolutely emphatic in what he said. He has said repeatedly that he never downloaded or viewed this material.

“I think Mr Green is entitled to be believed. I think the hounding of Mr Green over information which everyone is clear was entirely legal and which he has emphatically denied either downloading or viewing is completely wrong.”

“I think it is highly questionable whether a retired police officer should misuse this sort of material in this way and I think the police need to explain why there was any record kept of entirely legal activity.

A Labour legal figure added: “The police can’t just seize your computer for one reason and then blacken your name with what they found on it later, where no charges are brought.

“Trust in the police depends on them keeping confidential material they obtain through using their powers as police officers.”