Category Archives: Sexual Abuse

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STEPHEN PARSONS

http://survivingchurch.org/2019/02/19/elephant-at-general-synod/  (Stephen Parsons – ‘Surviving Church’)

ANDREW GRAYSTONE

“You cannot preach repentance until you have repented” [Booklet “We Asked For Bread But You Gave Us Stones – One Tear (sorry, Year) On” by Andrew Graystone]

MARTIN SEWELL
“…this is not simply an issue of attitude but of competence too. This is a point which has been made powerfully by Martin Sewell, who is both a lay member of the General Synod and a retired child protection lawyer. He points out that diocesan staff are typically trained in theology and Canon law, not in safeguarding or child protection law. As a result, he says, many of those making a decision about safeguarding in the Church of England have no credible claim to expertise in this increasingly complex situation. Interestingly, Mr Sewell makes that point both in relation to the treatment of complainants of abuse, but also in regard to the mishandling, in his view, of the George Bell case. He sees the failings on both of those aspects as two sides of the same coin, a fundamental problem, in his view, being a lack of competence and specialist knowledge, particularly legal knowledge and experience gained in a practical safeguarding context”
[Source: Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse [IICSA] – Monday March 5 2018 – Page 129 – Paras. 2-19 – Richard Scorer – Counsel for the complainants, victims and survivors represented by Slater & Gordon]
MARTIN SEWELL

 

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Feb 8 2019 – “George Bell ‘should not have been named’ in Church’s settlement of sex abuse allegation” – Church Times – Madeleine Davies

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https://www.churchtimes.co.uk/articles/2019/8-february/news/uk/george-bell-should-not-have-been-named-in-church-s-settlement-of-sex-abuse-allegation

George Bell ‘should not have been named’ in Church’s settlement of sex abuse allegation

08 FEBRUARY 2019

A confidentiality clause should have governed the payment made to “Carol”, the Bishop of Chichester, Dr Martin Warner, has said

The house at 4 Canon Lane, Chichester, once called Bishop Bell House

 

THE blackening of George Bell’s name would not have happened had there been a confidentiality clause governing the payment made to “Carol”, who accused him of sexual abuse, the Bishop of Chichester, Dr Martin Warner, said on Monday.

Dr Warner was addressing supporters of Bishop Bell at the Rebuilding Bridges conference, held at 4 Canon Lane, Chichester, to which supporters wish to see the name “George Bell House” restored.

The naming was up to the Dean and Chapter, the Bishop reiterated (News, 1 February), but he indicated that the cathedral should make more of the Sisters of the Cross, who had donated the house.

“I don’t think simply renaming it ‘George Bell House’ will just do the job. We cannot rewrite history, but we must do better.”

More generally, he suggested that the Church of England must “speak of the achievements, the good things that Bishop Bell did” to restore his reputation. It was “report that makes a person famous for their good deeds. . . So, it seems that for us in the diocese and the Church of England at large, it is important that we are able to speak of the achievements, the good things that Bishop Bell did.”

This had been done on “a number of occasions”, he said, one of which had been his address at a commemoration of the Reformation, in Coburg in 2017. “I believe history will tell the good deeds of Bishop Bell, and I believe they will stand the test of time.”

Dr Warner resisted calls to pronounce Bishop Bell innocent, prompting one speaker to explain that “most here are troubled because the idea of innocence until proven guilty touches everyone.”

He did, though, indicate his acceptance of a key recommendation by Lord Carlile of Berwick, who conducted a review of the Church’s handling of the accusation against Bishop Bell, that the dealings with Carol should have been confidential. “The fault lies with us as the institution, and it is clearly identified in Lord Carlile’s report, as having gone public. We have to own up to that and face it. I’m very clear about that. I take part of the responsibility.

“If you want to know about justice, it’s not about guilty or innocent, but what is made public. Had we said nothing about a settlement with Carol, had there been a confidentiality clause, none of this would have reached the public domain. . .

“We are clear on how wrong we were on publicising the process.”

A statement by Lord Carlile was read at the conference: “The Church should accept that my recommendations should be accepted in full, and Bishop Bell should be declared by the Church to be innocent of the allegations made against him.”

His review had not been asked to determine whether Bishop Bell was innocent, but he had concluded that the case was not strong enough even to be brought to court (News, 22 December 2017).

Among the resolutions carried at the conference was one calling for an apology by the Archbishop of Canterbury, and another asking for a debate in the General Synod.

 

 

October 10 2017 – “Bishop George Bell review to criticise Church’s handling – reports” – Christian Today

https://www.christiantoday.com/article/bishop.george.bell.review.to.criticise.churchs.handling.reports/115579.htm

Bishop George Bell review to criticise Church’s handling – reports

Bishop George Bell’s reputation could be restored after an official review in the Church’s handling of abuse allegations is expected to be critical of how the CofE handled the case.

The wartime Bishop of Chichester, a celebrated Anglican figure who was given the equivalent of a Saints’ Day, was accused of historic abuse in 2015.

Bishop George Bell was a celebrated theologian who was praised for his staunch opposition to Hitler’s Nazi regime. Courtesy of Jimmy James

A Church inquiry two years ago found ‘on the balance of probabilities’ he had abused a child in the late 1940s and 1950s. The Church awarded his alleged victim, known only as ‘Carol’, compensation of £15,000 after experts said they had ‘no reason to doubt’ the claims.

The case is hotly debated both within the Church and across the wider establishment with Bell’s accusers saying the compensation is long overdue. But a George Bell support group was launched last year to argue his positive reputation and legacy is being tarnished by unsubstantiated claims.

recent debate on historical child sex abuse in the House of Lords reflected the growing concerns among leading establishment figures about the George Bell case.

It is expected to be critical of the Church’s initial investigation, although it does not rule on the bishop’s guilt or innocence, according to the Mail on Sunday.

October 9 2017 – “Church of England’s handling of allegations against Bishop Bell ‘flawed and unfair'” – The Justice Gap – Jon Robins

http://thejusticegap.com/2017/10/church-englands-handling-allegations-bishop-bell-flawed-unfair/

Church of England’s handling of allegations against Bishop Bell ‘flawed and unfair’

A review into historic abuse allegations against a celebrated bishop is expected to criticise the Church of England’s handling of the case as ‘flawed and unfair’.

As reported on the Justice Gap (here), 37 years after the death of former Bishop of Chichester a woman known as ‘Carol’ made complaints that he had abused her when she was a young girl in the late 1940 and early 1950s. Bell has been described as ‘the most significant English clergyman of the 20th century’ and who spoke out against the Allies’ carpet-bombing of German cities such as Dresden.

The allegations first arose in 1995. In October 2015 a claim was settled by the Church of England and compensation reported to be £15,000 was paid out. The current Bishop of Chichester Dr Martin Warner issued a formal apology in October 2015.

In July 2016 two members of the General Synod, Martin Sewell and David Lamming, both retired lawyers, proposed a motion of ‘no confidence’ in the investigation. Speaking to the Justice Gap, Sewell said that the case was ‘almost unique’ insofar as its review was conducted in ‘complete purdah’. ‘You can’t get anything out of the Church and that is what raised our hackles. It must deal with these matters with transparency and accountability,’ he said.

The Bell case represents the perfect storm from which injustice emerges. We had a Church fearful and sensitive to allegations that it might be covering up abuse, a plausible complainant, a long dead Bishop with no living heirs, and a culture which had abandoned the presumption of innocence in favour of asserting that all complainants are entitled to be believed.’
Martin Sewell

Lord Carey, the former Archbishop of Canterbury, has spoken in parliament about his ‘distress’ at the Church’s treatment of Bishop Bell and claimed that its procedures ‘had the character of a kangaroo court and not a just, compassionate and balanced investigation of the facts’. The George Bell Group was set up in response to the perceived unfairness at the late Bishop’s treatment. The campaign – supported by former chairman of the Bar Desmond Browne QC, historian Andrew Chandler, Frank Field MP and the Conservative Peer and historian Lord Lexden – calls the wording of the October statement ‘(at best) reprehensibly equivocal, and (at worst) positively misleading’.

The Mail on Sunday reported that Lord Carlile handed his report to the Archbishop of Canterbury last week. You can read Peter Hitchens in the Mail on Sunday on the George Bell case (The spirit of justice seems to be dead in many parts of this country).


This article was first published on October 9, 2017

 

Profile photo of Jon RobinsAbout Jon Robins
Jon is editor of the Justice Gap. He is a freelance journalist. Jon’s books include The First Miscarriage of Justice (Waterside Press, 2014), The Justice Gap (LAG, 2009) and People Power (Daily Telegraph/LawPack, 2008). Jon is a journalism lecturer at Winchester University and a visiting senior fellow in access to justice at the University of Lincoln. He is twice winner of the Bar Council’s journalism award (2015 and 2005) and is shortlisted for this year’s Criminal Justice Alliance’s journalism award

October 8 2017 – “It’s never ‘tough’ to pick on the dead” – Mail on Sunday – Peter Hitchens

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This Portrait is in storage within the Cathedral Library [September 9 2017] – No Public Access [except on Heritage Open Days eg September 9 2017] – “Bishop Bell has a worldwide reputation for his tireless work for international reconciliation, the arts, education, and church unity. The House that bears his name provides a place where work in these areas can continue and prosper. The generosity of an Anglican Order, the Community of the Servants of the Cross (CSC) has enabled the purchase of the House. Canon Peter Kefford (Treasurer of Chichester Cathedral 2003-2009) was the prime initiator in establishing George Bell House as a centre for Education, Vocation and Reconciliation” Photograph: Howard Coster, 1953. It is the last portrait photograph of Bishop Bell.

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-4959468/Peter-Hitchens-says-Theresa-deserved-conference-saga.html

It’s never ‘tough’ to pick on the dead 

The spirit of justice seems to be dead in many parts of this country. I always disliked Ted Heath but I am revolted by the police treatment of him, and by some public reaction to it.

The police do not decide guilt or innocence. No man should be condemned without a hearing and we are all innocent until proven guilty.

Have we forgotten these ancient British rules? I hope not. Now I gather that the Church of England’s hierarchy are trembling in their cassocks about a report (soon to be published) into their disgraceful smearing of the late Bishop George Bell, a man of real courage and principle who makes them look like pygmies.

To appear as if they were tough on today’s real paedophiles (which they aren’t), these prelates condemned Bishop Bell on the basis of a solitary uncorroborated allegation made decades after the alleged crime. Blackening the names of dead men to boost your own reputation is a pretty wretched thing to do.

We can only punish it with contempt. But we should punish it all the same, or nobody is safe.

 

October 3 2017 – “Justin Welby telling off the BBC over sex abuse was the pot calling the kettle black” – i News – Simon Kelner

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Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby

https://inews.co.uk/uncategorized/justin-welby-telling-off-bbc-sex-abuse-pot-calling-kettle-black/

Justin Welby telling off the BBC over sex abuse was the pot calling the kettle black

Photo: Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby. (Photo: Getty)

Simon Kelner Tuesday October 3rd 2017

So there is the pot, as black as night, scorched by the depredations of everyday life, tarnished by hard times and rough usage. And suddenly, without warning or provocation, the pot turns round to the kettle, similarly battered and bruised, and says: “It’s not me that’s black. It’s you!”

This was the essential nature of an implausible exchange on Radio 4’s Today Programme when the Archbishop of Canterbury excoriated the BBC for their lack of integrity over dealing with sex abuse in its organisation. I am sure I heard it right. The head of the Anglican church, which has a long and horrible history of the sexual abuse of vulnerable young people, was complaining that the BBC hadn’t acted responsibly when the scale of Jimmy Savile’s offences became known.

Savile may have been protected by the blithe, blind, egregiously liberal mores of the age, but he was something of a one-off. Sex abuse was not endemic or systemic within the precincts of Broadcasting House, and the BBC’s reaction to his unmasking was swift and authoritative. The corporation launched an independent investigation by a high court judge, and accepted all its recommendations. They apologised to Savile’s victims, and have established new safeguards for children.

So what was the Archbishop on about? Why did he take on the BBC on grounds that he must have realised would be very problematic for the Church?

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He knew, of course, that he would get support from the inveterate Beeb bashers among the national press, but notwithstanding that, it’s hard to credit his intervention. It is true that Archbishop Welby has been on the front foot regarding sex abuse scandals in the Church, insisting there will be no cover-up of historic allegations and saying that “the rule is survivors come first, not our own interests”.

‘I am deeply resistant to a religious leader who uses his pulpit to attack one of our most admirable institutions‘ At this point, it’s too tempting not to resort to scripture. Let he who is without sin cast the first stone, according to the Gospel of St John. And an independent review of the Church of England’s handling of a particular sex abuse case in 2016 concluded that Welby’s office failed “to respond meaningfully to repeated efforts by the survivor… to bring his case to the Church leader’s attention”.

It is a shame that Welby took to the airwaves armed with a pocketful of stones, a fact not lost on a welter of Twitter respondents, including a number of victims of abuse. Both the Anglican Church and the BBC, representing two of the four estates of a democracy, are all too prone to introspection and self-absorption, and Welby’s comments were part of a bigger interview, not yet aired, to mark the 60th birthday of the Today programme. Within it, he discussed ways in which society has changed in that period. We have become kinder and more considerate, he said, but the flip side is the cult of individualism, or a “radical autonomy”, in his own words.

I found myself applauding this analysis. But I am deeply resistant to the moralising tones of a religious leader who uses his pulpit to attack one of our most admirable institutions, respected and envied throughout the world. That’s not to say the BBC is without sin either, by the way. But this was an unmerited and unjustified attack, which, taken with the Archbishop of York’s willingness to pocket the Murdoch shilling, might lead conspiracy theorists to think that the Anglican Church was pursuing an agenda against the Beeb.

@Simon_Kelner

October 5 2017 – “Did Church keep abuse secret?” – The Argus

http://www.theargus.co.uk/news/local/15577806.Did_Church_keep_abuse_secret_/

Did Church keep abuse secret?

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Former Bishop of Lewes Peter Ball

Former Bishop of Lewes Peter Ball

THE Anglican Church will be probed for potentially harbouring a “culture of secrecy” surrounding sexual abuse which allowed predators to offend unchallenged, an inquiry has heard.

The public inquiry into child sexual abuse is preparing to scrutinise the response of religious institutions to allegations of exploitation by the clergy.

This will include the disgraced former Bishop of Lewes Peter Ball.

Ball was jailed for 32 months in October 2015 after pleading guilty to a string of historical offences, including two counts of indecent assault.

Attitudes to sexuality will form part of the investigation into the Anglican Church, due to begin next March, a preliminary hearing of the inquiry was told.

It comes after the Archbishop of Canterbury, the Most Rev Justin Welby, provoked debate by accusing the BBC of not handling reports of longstanding abuse with the same “integrity” as the Church.

Speaking at the new headquarters of the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse in central London, counsel to the inquiry Fiona Scolding QC said: “Culture is important because it shapes everything about the way that things are done within the organisation and it is both deeply embedded within an organisation and often difficult to change.”

Outlining the aims of the Anglican Church investigation, she said: “This will involve examining how far was there or is there a culture of secrecy within the Church.

“How far the Church’s approach to sex and sexuality contributed or contributes to difficulties with cultural change.

“How far does the hierarchical nature of the Church create a power imbalance which could inhibit the reporting of abuse.”

Ms Scolding said this would not only stretch to attitudes of the past, but also cover the current practices of the Church and any future reforms it has planned.

The preliminary hearing also heard 184,020 pages of evidence had been received for examination.

Around 100,000 have so far been reviewed by inquiry officials with 22,000 of these found to be duplicates and 35,000 deemed irrelevant.

Article of Faith, an independent review of how the Church handled Ball’s case, was published earlier this year.

Chaired by Dame Moira Gibb, the review found “Ball’s conduct has caused serious and enduring damage to the lives of many men”.