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Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby



Dear Editor

Following the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse [IICSA] investigations, we call upon Justin Welby to consider his position as Archbishop of Canterbury.
The Archbishops of Canterbury and York said on October 2:

“As we await IICSA’s report…we continue to pray for survivors and all those the Church has failed”

Archbishop Welby has failed the wartime Bishop of Chichester George Bell [whose 62nd Anniversary fell on October 3], and will continue to do so until there is a full exoneration by the Archbishop, calling on him to withdraw his “significant cloud…great wickedness” remarks, and for 4 Canon Lane in Chichester to be renamed back to George Bell House.
Justin Welby still appears to believe there is ‘no smoke without fire’, even though the IICSA and two separate investigations by Lord Carlile QC and Timothy Briden – both commissioned by the Church – have shown there is ‘no smoke and no fire’.
The Archbishop has been given every opportunity to right this wrong against Bishop Bell, but still refuses to use his power to heal the very serious divisions caused by this miscarriage of justice.
Our endeavour is to right this wrong.

Yours sincerely

ATKINS, Revd. Forrest William

BOYS, Geoffrey

CHARMLEY, Professor John

DONALD, Revd. Steve

GOMES, Dr. Jules

INESON, Revd. Matthew


MORGAN, Dr. Gerald

MULLEN, Revd. Dr. Peter


RAVEN, Revd. Canon Charles

ROBINSON, Dr. Steven

SIMS, Kevin

SYMONDS, Richard W.

SYKES, Bishop Nicholas


WATKINS, Lindsay

For further information regarding this letter and its signatories, please contact:

Richard W. Symonds

The Bell Society

2 Lychgate Cottages

Ifield Street, Ifield Village

Crawley – Gatwick

West Sussex RH11 0NN

Tel: 07540 309592 [Text only please]


George Bell, Bishop of Chichester


  1. The Anglican Church Investigation Report
  2. Part B: The Church of England
  3. B.4: Civil claims and redress in the Church of England
  4. B.4.5: Allegations against deceased individuals

B.4.5: Allegations against deceased individuals

29. The Church does not keep records about the number of allegations made against deceased individuals.[1]

30. If a claim relates to an individual for whom there would have been a valid insurance policy were they alive, it is dealt with by the EIO and the principles and procedures set out above would apply. If the claim relates to a deceased bishop – such as Victor Whitsey, Peter Ball or George Bell – it is managed by the Church Commissioners, whose role is to ensure proper investigation before taking decisions about settlement.[2]

31. The Church Commissioners (who are responsible for payment of compensation in claims which are not insured) are considering introducing mediation as part of their process for redress.[3]

The first George Bell case and the Carlile review

32. A complainant known as Carol alleged in 1995 and again in 2013 that she was abused by the late George Bell, former Bishop of Chichester. When Carol sued the Church for damages in 2014, a core group was convened. The Church settled Carol’s claim, apologised and issued a public statement.

33. Lord Carlile of Berriew was instructed by the Church to consider its response to the allegations. In his report (dated December 2017), he was critical of the Church’s actions, particularly in making a public statement about the allegations and the settlement reached. In the Chichester/Peter Ball Investigation Report, the Inquiry expressed concern about a number of Lord Carlile’s conclusions. These included that:

  • a confidentiality clause should have been included in the settlement;
  • considerable weight” should have been given to the “high esteem” in which George Bell was held; and
  • the core group was criticised for relying on the evidence of “a single complainant”.[4]

34. Lord Carlile’s recommendations only apply to a small minority of claims, those that are uninsured or where no claim is issued.[5] There may also be claims where there was no insurance policy in place.

35. In Mr Bonehill’s view, the process suggested by Lord Carlile was not consistent with the approach that an insurer would take in insured cases, and that it was “something that certainly we would not be able to support”.[6]

35.1. Lord Carlile recommended the assistance of advice from a lawyer with practical knowledge of criminal law and procedure. Although civil claims are judged on the balance of probabilities, Lord Carlile stated that “the examination of a case of this kind against the criminal standard is a useful and instructive exercise”.[7] Mr Bonehill said that this would not be considered relevant to an insured claim because the standard of proof is the balance of probabilities.[8]

35.2. Lord Carlile stated that the core group was wrong to dismiss the defence of limitation.[9] Mr Bonehill did not agree and repeated the EIO’s position that limitation should be used very sparingly.[10]

35.3. Lord Carlile considered that where a claim was settled without admission of liability the settlement should generally include a confidentiality provision. The EIO does not and never has insisted on confidentiality provisions unless they are sought by the complainant, but there is no distinction between claims settled with liability and without.[11] In Mr Bonehill’s view:

serious consideration would need to be given to enforcing such a clause. In reality, it is difficult to imagine a situation where it would be considered ethically proper for an organisation to seek to claw back a damages and costs payment from an individual who, potentially, has been a victim/survivor of abuse”.[12]

The second George Bell case

36. Following the publication of Lord Carlile’s report, a further allegation of abuse by Bishop George Bell was made by an individual known as Alison. This second George Bell case is the most recent example of how the Church of England manages an uninsured allegation against a deceased individual.

37. The National Safeguarding Team convened a core group to oversee and manage the response to the allegation, to comply with Lord Carlile’s recommendations.[13]

38. A former detective superintendent, Raymond Galloway, was appointed to undertake an investigation. His investigation was thorough and included as many witnesses as possible.[14] An independent consultant was also appointed to represent the interests of Bishop Bell’s family, with an independent sexual and domestic violence adviser to ensure that Alison’s viewpoint was heard.[15] Both were subsequently represented by counsel during the process. A senior ecclesiastical judge, Timothy Briden, was appointed as the decision-maker in relation to the complaint.[16]

39. The core group concluded that no reasonable tribunal could find that the allegations were proven on the balance of probabilities. Mr Briden concluded that no further allegations were proven on the balance of probabilities.[17]



Richard W. Symonds 

Marion Owen:
“So this is why the Church of England was holding back from any fundamental reforms to its safeguarding policies in advance of the IICSA report: hedging its bets to see what it could get away with in terms of retaining control of its processes. Long term, this is not going to lead to a thoroughly victim and survivor focused enterprise. Doubtless, Ecclesiastical Insurance and Luther Pendragon will continue to be key players.
As a retired bishop recently remarked, when a church has to employ reputational management consultants, you know the game’s over and the emperor has no clothes”

IICSA Report – The George Bell Case – Lord Carlile QC and Mr Bonehill – Ecclesiastical Insurance Office [EIO]

33. Lord Carlile of Berriew was instructed by the Church to consider its response to the allegations. In his report (dated December 2017), he was critical of the Church’s actions…
35. In Mr Bonehill’s view, the process suggested by Lord Carlile was not consistent with the approach that an insurer would take in insured cases, and that it was “something that certainly we would not be able to support”.[6]
35.1. Lord Carlile recommended the assistance of advice from a lawyer with practical knowledge of criminal law and procedure. Although civil claims are judged on the balance of probabilities, Lord Carlile stated that “the examination of a case of this kind against the criminal standard is a useful and instructive exercise”.[7] Mr Bonehill said that this would not be considered relevant to an insured claim because the standard of proof is the balance of probabilities.[8]

39. The core group concluded that no reasonable tribunal could find that the allegations were proven on the balance of probabilities. Mr Briden concluded that no further allegations were proven on the balance of probabilities.[17]

FURTHER COVERAGE [Hat-Tip: ‘Thinking Anglicans’]

The Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse has published its long-awaited report on the Church of England and the Church in Wales. The report totals 154 pages.

Here is a link to the Recommendations section of the report. And here is a link to the Executive Summary.

Press releases:

Initial media coverage:


Archbishop of Canterbury’s Personal Statement

on Tuesday, 6 October 2020 at 5.45 pm by Simon Kershaw
categorised as Church of EnglandSafeguarding

The Archbishop of Canterbury has issued the following personal statement following the publication of the IICSA report:

To fail on safeguarding casts a profound stain across every good thing we do. I have said this before and I continue to stand by it. But I am acutely aware as we come towards the end of this year that while there is a genuine commitment for the safeguarding of children and vulnerable adults to be the highest priority of all parts of the Church, it is evident we still have not got it right.

The report published today is a stark and shocking reminder of how so many times we have failed – and continue to fail – survivors. Apologies are vital, but they are not enough. We have to listen. We have to learn. And we have to act.

In calling for the enquiry, through a letter to the then Home Secretary Theresa May in 2014, I was aware that although it would be something that survivors had demanded it would also be a deeply painful process to tell their stories. I am very grateful to them for their courage. We cannot and will not make excuses and I must again offer my sincere apologies to those to have been abused, and to their families, friends and colleagues.

There is clearly much to respond to and an in-depth consideration of today’s report is vital. IICSA has shone a light on the past and present to help us better inform our future safeguarding work. They are owed our thanks which we give wholeheartedly. I pray this report and its recommendations will result in the changes needed to make our Church a safer place for all now and for future generations.


Richard W. Symonds

The Archbishop’s all-too-familiar apologies and platitudes don’t wash with me, I’m afraid. He should consider his position as the one ‘in charge’ of his Bishops who have been stripped of their responsibility for safeguarding. This has been on his ‘watch’. Reply

Fr. Dean Henley

Fr. Dean Henley 

The Archbishop should be making an appointment with Her Majesty to offer his resignation. Reply

Jeremy Pemberton

Jeremy Pemberton 

I agree with these comments. His words come too glibly – and he has a list of people he has promised to meet and listen to and he has not done anything about it. His own knowledge of John Smythe and Jonathan Fletcher has not been fully explained and he has done all he can to avoid straight answers about the importance Iwerne had for him. There has been a very significant conspiracy of silence around evangelical misdoings, and unless he comes out with much more honesty around all of that I don’t think he is credible any more. Reply

Richard W. Symonds

Richard W. Symonds Reply to  Jeremy Pemberton

IICSA – a government-ordered inquiry – concludes that the Church of England “facilitates a culture where abusers can hide”.

The Supreme Governor of the Church of England is Her Majesty The Queen.

The Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby must now do the honourable thing and offer his resignation to Her Majesty. Reply

Helen King

Helen King 

Is it true that, as the Archbishop suggests here, he was responsible for ‘calling for this enquiry’? Reply

Nigel LLoyd

Nigel LLoyd Reply to  Helen King

I am not sure that the ABC did call for the IICSA enquiry to be set up. But I do remember that, when the enquiry was being set up, the ABC asked, as a matter of urgency, that the CofE should be at the front of the queue for investigation. Reply

Helen King

Helen King Reply to  Nigel LLoyd

Thanks for that clarification. That makes sense. Reply

Matthew Ineson

Matthew Ineson 

Justin Welby should resign immediately along with all who have ignored abuse, ignored disclosures of abuse, covered up for those who have done the above and treat victims badly. He cannot have all the privilege he has and not take responsibility. He has persistently taken ‘no action’ in complaints in order to protect bishops, refused to personally apologise on behalf of the church to victims who have suffered horrific abuse. This is on his watch. He repeatedly says he has no power, only influence. This is blatantly untrue. He has power to discipline bishops, suspend bishops and impose penalties for… Read more » Reply

Colin Coward

Colin Coward 

Why does the Church of England have a culture in which abuse is systemic?

Why is no one asking the question: What action has the church taken and is the church now taking to change the abusive institutional elements in Christian teaching and practice that are integral to the culture of abuse? Reply



If there is a “genuine commitment for the safeguarding of children and vulnerable adults to be the highest priority of all parts of the Church” why are diocesan websites, and twitter feeds silent? Take Manchester, for example, (and there will be many other examples) where a former Dean of the Cathedral was investigated. The website makes no mention whatsoever of the report, no request for prayer, no statement. The Bishop says via Twitter of all things (!) that the report was ‘pretty shameful’ (what an insensitive understatement) and then actually goes on to say as long as abusers exist, nobody… Read more » Reply

Janet Fife

Janet Fife Reply to  Dave

The Bishop of Manchester’s statement on Ch 4 news last night was awful: no compassion or concern for survivors; saying how much the Church has improved; praising Justin Welby for the great job he’s doing. Clearly. David Walker has learned absolutely nothing from the IICSA Report, and therefore his diocese can’t look for much improvement. He too should resign. Reply

Bill Broadhead

Bill Broadhead Reply to  Janet Fife

The script had probably been written for him, Janet, by EIO, Luther Pendragon and the legal office at Church House, Westminster. Bishops cannot say what they really want to say in case it ends up costing money. And don’t forget Manchester Diocese only collected 40% of parish share last year, so he won’t want to upset the Commissioners and those doling out the Strategic Development Fund money. Reply

Marise Hargreaves

Marise Hargreaves 

Less than a root and branch reform will achieve nothing. Accountability, transparency and all things safeguarding out of the hands of the church would be a start. Resignations need to happen from the top down and a recognition the institution as it now exists cannot continue. More words upon words achieve nothing. Actions speak louder and so far the actions are less than impressive. Reply

Fr John Harris-White

Fr John Harris-White 

A sad day indeed for the Anglican church. But an opportunity to turn round and face the future in the strength of the forgiveness of Our Lord. But it needs changes at the top of the Church of England, and in particularly the resignation of Archbishop Welby. I would be willing to sign such a petition, calling him to be a man, and resign. his position.

Fr John Emlyn Reply

Just Sayin'

Just Sayin’ 

All too often it seems Archbishop Justin offers himself as innocent observer. He has had plenty of opportunity to influence the culture of the C of E and the House of Bishops in his time yet has chosen not to do so.

From comments on this site and elsewhere he has, as they say ‘lost the dressing room’. If he has any shred of self worth or conscience he really should go. Reply

Richard W. Symonds

Richard W. Symonds

‘Virtue-signalling’ Archbishop refuses to stand down after scathing abuse report:


Dear Editor
All serving Anglican bishops should offer their resignations en masse to the Supreme Governor of the Church of England Her Majesty The Queen [“C of E bishops should lose responsibility for safeguarding children, says inquiry”, Guardian, Oct 7], just as all Catholic bishops in Chile offered their resignations en masse to the Pope in 2018:
They should re-apply for their jobs, be asked at interview what they would do to put things right, and have their jobs and stipends back only if they satisfy the interviewing panel. Their expressions of regret, apology, and promises they will learn lessons, might then have some credibility.

Yours sincerely

Richard W. Symonds

The Bell Society

2 Lychgate Cottages

Ifield Street, Ifield Village

Crawley – Gatwick

West Sussex RH11 0NN

Tel: 07540 309592 [Text only please]




OIP (26)





Burnett, Dr Ross – “Wrongful Allegations of Sexual Child Abuse” [OUP 2016]

F.A.C.T. – Falsely Accused Carers & Teachers

Jones, Dave – “No Smoke No Fire” [2009]

McCarthy, William – “The Conspiracy – An Innocent Priest” [Bloomington 2010]

Pierre, David F – “Catholic Priests Falsely Accused” [Mattapoisett USA 2012]

Price, David R & McDonald, James J – “The Problem of False Claims of Clergy Sexual Abuse” [Risk Management. January 2003]

RABINOWITZ, Dorothy – “No Crueler Tyrannies – Accusation, False Witness and Other Terrors of our Times…” – Wall Street Journal Books – 2003

Sipe, Richard – Clergy Sexual Abuse – Selected Sources [2006]

“Spotlight” Film – [2015]


June 3 2018 – U.S. Catholic Sex Abuse, “Spotlight” and “Catholic Priests Falsely Accused” Revisited.

June 6 2018 – “NOT ME” launched  [A Resource for Clergy Wrongfully Accused]

June 8 2018 – “The Dallas Charter” Revisited

June 8 2018 – Rights of  Accused Priests

June 9 2018 – Opus Bono

“Ruining the name of clergy is unfortunately rather easy and is even easier once the person is deceased.  Once the press picks it up and if it is outside the statute of limitations, at least in the USA, anyone can say anything.  The best way to counteract the attacks is to make sure your voice is heard and try to make it louder than the negative.  BUT the raw truth is once it starts and if it gets legs, then damage is done and cannot be undone” – PF

“Who controls the voices and the volume?” – Richard W. Symonds

June 9 2018 – From The Archives [July 20 2015 – “Vicar found hanged in woodland may have been under too much stress, say his bosses” – Daily Mail]

June 9 2018 – “The Conspiracy – An Innocent Priest” by Monsignor William McCarthy [iUniverse 2010]

“Monsignor William McCarthy paints a picture embracing a situation that is almost impossible to comprehend. Had I not stood by him throughout the years of pure hell he experienced, I would not have believed the outright calumny by a detective, and how the subsequent action of his bishop and diocesan staff could have occurred. Child abuse is a terrible thing, but equally horrible is when innocent priests are unjustly condemned and destroyed by the hierarchy of their church.”

~ Arthur N. Hoagland, M.D. [‘The Conspiracy’ back-cover]

“This book is a must read for any…who loves their Church but is concerned about its often self-destructive response to the tragedy of clerical pedophilia. It is a story about tragedy and triumph. The tragedy of the Church that Monsignor McCarthy loves deeply, and into which he has selflessly devoted his entire life, but is sometimes governed by people who have lost all sense of justice. It is a Church that betrayed him. In its attempt to protect the victims of child abuse, it established a new category of victims: its faithful priests. The triumph of Monsignor McCarthy is his faith and love of Jesus, which saw him through his terrible ordeal in spite of the evil that was perpetuated against him.”H

~ Deacon Joseph Keenan [‘The Conspiracy’ back-cover]

Justice demands that the guilty pay, but it also demands that the innocent not suffer. On June 15-18 [2011], the bishops will meet in Seattle, and one of the items they are expected to address is the issue of accused priests and fairness in dealing with them.”

Epilogue – Chapter 79 – “The Conspiracy – An Innocent Priest” – Monsignor William McCarthy

I wrote to the former Vicar General of the diocese, requesting an interview. I wanted to go face-to-face with the person who was directly responsible for my destruction … I was told he had strongly advised my former bishop to proceed with my censure.

On March 3, 2009, we both sat down in his office facing each other. I began by opening my Bible to John 7 : 51, and read: “Nicodemus spoke out, ‘Does our law condemn a person without first hearing him and knowing the facts?’”

I then asked him point blank: “Why did you condemn me without hearing me and knowing the facts?”

He replied, “Bill, we were following the system.”

“What system?” I pressed.

“Orders from Dallas,” he said, “when they hastily put together that charter.”

I looked him squarely in the eyes and stated, “That’s what they said at the Nuremberg Trials – ‘We were only following orders.’”

When he didn’t respond, I continued: “They were all convicted of crimes against humanity. In 2003, the diocese also committed a crime against humanity – me in particular. They did not lift a finger to help me. The diocese, particularly you as Vicar General, was reckless and impetuous in censuring me, and calling for my execution as a priest. You behaved badly! Instead of prudently investigating the accusation you rushed to judgement and as a result, you caused me extraordinary damage. You were reckless!”

Again he didn’t respond…

I asked him why I was not brought before the Board that was established for that very reason – why was I not given a chance to present my side of the story?

“One: You never spoke to the detective. Two: You never spoke to my accusers. Three: You never spoke to me, the accused. However, you proceeded in concert with the bishop and the promoter of justice to censure me. You put blind faith in the detective’s report…and accepted it as infallible…

“Bill,” the former Vicar General interrrupted, “we were acting in good faith.”

At that point I almost lost it…”How hypocritical!! You then published in the diocesan newspaper, over the entire front page, the whole sordid story which ruined my health, my reputation, my life. I suffered the humilation of being a censured priest for five long years until finally, through the conclusion of an ecclesiastical trial, I was unanimously declared innocent.”…

I asked the former Vicar General how he could justify his behavior.

Once again, he had no answer, except to meekly offer, “Sorry, Bill, we made a mistake.”

“I forgive you,” I said evenly, “but I will never forget. My life is irreversibly tarnished. I suffer from chronic flashbacks and panic attacks.

“So that my suffering will not be in vain, I want you to go public with an apology to the Press – and further, that you write to the apostolic delegate in Washington, D.C., Archbishop Sambi, and demand that he make a concerted effort to revise that weapon of mass destruction of our priests – that instrument known as the Dallas Charter.

The former Vicar General promised me he would do his best. I must give him credit for his calm demeanor and humility. I got the impression he was not just paying me lip service; and that he would indeed at least make the effort to correct the wrong that he had done. He not only acted like he knew he was guilty; he accepted the blame, which made me think deep down, he was doing what Jesus would want him to do.

June 11 2018 – “Hope Springs Eternal In The Priestly Breast” – ‘A Research Study on Procedural Justice for Priests’ by James Valladares [iUniverse 2012]

“The Caiaphas Principle” – ‘Bishops, who are supposed to be fathers, brothers, and friends to their priests, have instead become mere managers with institutional damage control as their top priority’ (Foreword p. xiv – Rev Michael P. Orsi)

June 11 2018 – From The Archives [July 9 2010 – “False Accusations” by John Landry – Quoted in “Hope Springs Internal in the Priestly Breast – A Research Study on Procedural Justice for Priests” by Fr. James Valladares – Page 200 – “Where is Justice for Falsely Accused Priests?”]

June 15 2018 – “These Stone Walls” – ‘Musings Of A Priest Falsely Accused’ – Father Gordon MacRae

June 15 2018 – From The Archives [Dec 10 1948 – “Everyone charged with a penal offence has the right to be presumed innocent until proven guilty according to law in a public trial at which he had all the guarantees necessary for his defence” ~ Article 11, Universal Declaration of Human Rights, General Assembly of the United Nations]

June 15 2018 – From The Archives [Sept 2001 – Nolan Report published ]

‘Guilty until proven innocent’ [Source: “Hope Springs Eternal In The Priestly Breast” – ‘A Research Study for Procedural Justice for Priests’ by Fr. James Valladares – iUniverse 2012 – Page 160-161]

In a very interesting article entitled “Guilty until Proven Innocent,” Fr. Austen Ivereigh, MA, DPhil, of Heythorpe College, Oxford, informs us of the Cumberlege Commission review of the Church’s child-protection policy [Nolan Report – Ed]. And this is his initial observation: “While treatment of the abused has improved, disturbing evidence has emerged that priests who have been accused and not charged are left in limbo, suspicion still hanging over them” [Ref 345: Austin Ivereigh, ‘Justice for Priests and Deacons’, Vol. 1, no. 1 – September 2007, 10].

Ever since a dithering Caiaphas [See ‘The Caiaphas Principle’ – June 11 2018 – Ed] succumbed to public pressure and maintained that the destruction of an innocent man was justified to save a nation, the law of Christian countries has consistently upheld the presumption of innocence, and the need for definite and incontrovertible evidence, before an accused can be convicted . In the Church’s legal tradition, this is known as ‘favor rei’ – the accused enjoys the benefit of the law and is deemed innocent until he is proved guilty. Said Pope John Paul II in 1979: “Due process and individual rights should never be sacrificed for the sake of the social order”.

In the wake of the explosive revelations of the sexual abuse of minors by members of the clergy in 2002 (exposed by the Boston Globe and highlighted in the ‘Spotlight’ film – Ed), the bishops of the world reacted with drastic measures to repair the scandal and restore justice through penal sanctions. Quasi-judicial bodies were established and duly authorised to implement their policies. In the United Kingdom, for instance, there was COPCA (the Catholic Office for the Protection of Children and Vulnerable Adults), the child-protection agency of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales, set up at Lord Nolan’s report on abuse in 2001.

Fr. Austen Ivereigh frankly confesses that Nolan was well aware of the possibility of false or malicious allegations, and the haunting danger of reputations being irreparably destroyed. Yet, continues Fr. Ivereigh, “COPCA’s policies have ridden roughshod over these qualms. ‘Nolan would be turning in his grave,’ more than one canonist has told me.” So there is a pressing need for a level playing field [Ref 348: Paul Bruxby, ‘Justice for Priests and Deacons’, Vol 1, no. 1 – September 2007, 10].

Archbishop Vincent Nichols of Birmingham, the bishop in charge of COPCA, candidly acknowledged last year that an accused priest is unlikely ever to be reinstated. Of the 40 clergy in England and Wales who had been accused by 2005, only two had been restored to ministry; four were dismissed. Of the 41 reports made in 2006, 24 resulted in no further action by the police, while 14 are still being investigated. Ivereigh adds, “And what is the fate of those whose cases have been dropped by the police? Many of them live in limbo, their reputations and vocations cast to the wolves. All too often, they leave the priesthood”. ‘So a priest is guilty until proven innocent – and this is the deplorable stance of the very ones who brazenly preach about justice in season and out of season’.

Fr. Paul Bruxby, the Brentwood canonist who defends accused priests, informs us that most of the 20 priests he is defending have been assessed as ‘low risk’; yet, five or six years later, they are unable to return to their parishes. “They feel shunned by their bishops and describe themselves as lepers. They feel hopeless, and sometimes imagine committing suicide” [Ref 348: Paul Bruxby, ‘Justice for Priests and Deacons’, Vol. 1, no. 1 – September 2007, 10]

June 11 2018 – “Clergy Suicides in Sussex 1918-2018 – An Investigation by Richard W. Symonds [currently in progress]

June 23 2018 – ITN Solicitors [for the Falsely Accused]



Pope accepts Chilean bishops’ resignation over abuse scandal

Published 11 June 2018

Bishop Juan Barros (C) attends his first religious service as people protest against him at the Osorno cathedral, south of Santiago, Chile, 21 March 2015IMAGE COPYRIGHT REUTERS Bishop Juan Barros has been accused of covering up child sexual abuse, which he denies
Pope Francis has accepted the resignation of three Chilean bishops, including the controversial Juan Barros, in the wake of a child sexual abuse scandal.
Bishop Barros was accused of covering up sexual abuse committed by a priest in the 1980s and 1990s.
Pope Francis has said that he made “grave mistakes” by originally defending Bishop Barros.
All of Chile’s 34 Roman Catholic bishops had offered their resignations.
The decision by the Pope to accept the resignation of three of the 34 was announced in a statement issued by the Vatican on Monday.
Apart from Bishop Barros of Osorno, Archbishop Cristián Caro Cordero of Puerto Montt and Bishop Gonzalo Duarte García de Cortázar of Valparaíso will now be replaced.
It was not clear if the move meant that the remaining 31 resignations would not be accepted.
Pope Francis became involved in the scandal surrounding Juan Barros when he defended the bishop during his visit to Chile in January. At the time he said that allegations against the bishop amounted to “slander”.
“The day I see proof against Bishop Barros, then I will talk. There is not a single piece of evidence against him. It is all slander. Is that clear?” the Pope had said at the time.
In this file photo taken on May 02, 2018 Chilean sexual abuse victims Jose Andres Murillo (R), James Hamilton (C) and Juan Carlos Cruz (L) pose at the end of a press conference at the Foreign Press Association in Rome on May 2, 2018.IMAGE COPYRIGHTAFP image caption Victims of sexual abuse Juan Carlos Cruz, James Hamilton and Jose Andres Murillo have spoken out in public about what happened to them
He later apologised to victims, saying: “I apologise to them if I hurt them without realising it, but it was a wound that I inflicted without meaning to.”
The installation of Juan Barros as bishop of the southern city of Osorno in 2015 met with stiff resistance.
More than 1,000 people wrote to Pope Francis asking him to review the appointment and hundreds showed up at the bishop’s installation ceremony in protest.
They accused Bishop Barros of using his position in the Church to cover up the actions of his mentor, Fr Fernando Karadima, who was found guilty by the Vatican of sexually abusing children.
Victims of Fernando Karadima said Juan Barros had been present when the priest had abused them. Bishop Barros denies any wrongdoing.
One of the victims, Juan Carlos Cruz, told Chilean radio that by accepting the resignations, Pope Francis had “sent a message to the world that this culture of abuse and cover-up won’t be tolerated any longer”.
The Pope’s move comes after he received two groups of victims of Fernando Karadima at the Vatican.
About 80 Roman Catholic priests have been reported to authorities in Chile for alleged sexual abuse over the past 18 years.
Under Pope Francis, a Vatican committee has been set up to fight sexual abuse and help victims.

More on this story




‘Gilo’ concludes his Surviving Church article:

“At what point will someone cry out on the floor of the House of Bishops: Enough of all our broken pretence. We must apologise collectively, publicly and authentically for our failure to treat so many survivors honestly; for our insistence on distancing from their stories, our disclosure denials and “no recollections”, our reliance on dysfunctional processes; and in too many instances for our behaviour worse than denial – gaslighting and really cowardly and mean behaviour. Enough. We must do real penance, seek truth and reconciliation, and must reform our episcopal culture and reform our structures right to their bones”

The Catholic Bishops of Chile did just that two years ago – May 2018 – offering their resignations en-masse to Pope Francis:

“We have put our positions in the hands of the Holy Father and will leave it to him to decide freely for each of us,” they said. “We want to ask forgiveness for the pain caused to the victims, to the pope, to God’s people and to our country for the serious errors and omissions we have committed”

Something of the same magnitude must happen here – Bishops and Archbishops – by offering their resignations to Her Majesty The Queen – The Supreme Governor of the Church of England.

Richard W. Symonds – The Bell Society

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Richard W. Symonds – The Bell Society




Charity Commission asked to intervene in CofE safeguarding

A letter has been sent to Baroness Stowell, chair of the Charity Commision,

“to ask that the Charity Commission exercise its powers of intervention to address the failures of the Archbishops’ Council of the Church of England (charity number 1074857) to devise a safe, consistent and fair system of redress to all parties engaged in safeguarding complaints…”

The letter is signed by a wide range of people including Lord Carlile of Berriew CBE, QC, Lord Lexden, His Honour Alan Pardoe QC, Sir Jonathan Phillips KCB, Prof Sir Iain Torrance KCVO, Kt and Prof Nigel Biggar. It has also been signed by many survivors of sexual abuse.

The full text of the letter and the list of signatories can be found here.

There is a petition at the Micah 6:8 Initiative, to enable others to add their names to this list. The notes at the end explain:

If you wish to support this initiative publicly please sign the petition.

Some may wish to signify support privately by sending an email to with your name/chosen signifier, any brief self description you choose, and if appropriate, your CofE Diocese so that the range of support can be seen. We shall send this list to the Charity Commission with the request that it remain private.

We link to the booklet We asked for Bread but you gave us Stones which compiled a number of survivor responses to the experiences received at the hands of the Established Church. Plus a link to the book Letters to a Broken Church which includes some of our signatories as contributing authors.

The full text of the letter also appears at Surviving ChurchLetter to Charity Commissioners over concerns about Church of England Safeguarding.

And it is also available at Archbishop Cranmer: Calls for Charity Commission to intervene in CofE safeguarding saga.

The Times has this news report: Bishops take aim at ‘unjust’ handling of abuse claims. It includes this:

..Four of the past five archbishops of Canterbury and York had been the subjects of formal complaints about their alleged failures to act against clergy accused of sexual abuse.

Lord Carey of Clifton, who was Archbishop of Canterbury from 1991 to 2002, has been prevented from performing his religious duties while the church’s national safeguarding team investigates his past conduct.

The Bishop of Lincoln, the Right Rev Christopher Lowson, has been suspended for more than a year. He has been accused of failing to respond “appropriately” to safeguarding allegations. He has said that he is bewildered by the accusations. The Archbishop of York, the Most Rev Stephen Cottrell, had apologised for failing to respond correctly when he was told about domestic violence by one of his priests when he was Bishop of Reading…

The Church Times has a news article: Charity Commission asked to tackle C of E safeguarding ‘failings’. In addition to reporting on the letter above, it also has this:

…Separately, seven survivors have written to Bishop Gibb; the director of safeguarding, Melissa Caslake; and the chair of the National Safeguarding Panel, Meg Munn, calling for the Bishop at Lambeth, the Rt Revd Tim Thornton, to resign pending further safeguarding training.

The letter refers to internal email correspondence from Bishop Thornton, who sits on the National Safeguarding Steering Group (NSSG), about one of the survivors. The letter states: “The attitude displayed here confirms what many survivors have long thought: that the adversarialism towards victims of abuse has not just extended to their litigation and insurance agents, but has its roots in the most senior members of the Church’s structure.”

Before publication of the letter, the Church of England had issued a press release, which was also sent to all members of General Synod: Charity Commission complaint – message from Lead Safeguarding Bishop, Jonathan Gibbs. It includes the following:

…I am very aware of the current criticism of our core group process and some of this seems to be based on misunderstandings about what is involved.  There has been confusion as a result of them being likened to core groups in the statutory sector which have a different purpose and follow different processes.  Revised guidance will make it very clear they are more equivalent to a statutory strategy meeting (there will also be a change of name to help make this clear), where decisions are made collaboratively about what the next steps should be. This may include an independent investigation of allegations that have been made, including that senior members of clergy have not followed due safeguarding processes.  As part of such investigations, those concerned are given details of any allegations and the opportunity to respond.  These processes are confidential while they are taking place and therefore we cannot give public explanations of everything that is happening, which of course brings its own challenges.

It is evident that about three quarters of current national cases are about senior clergy failing to act rather than a direct allegation of abuse, but that can still have serious consequences. We always try to make that difference clear, and although the current guidance does not distinguish between those accused of abuse and those accused of failing to act properly on information received, the revised guidance will address this difference.  Statistics about the number of cases involving senior clergy (currently around 30) can also be misleading as a significant number relate to concerns raised about the past conduct of now retired clergy…

Martin Sewell
Martin Sewell

I am fascinated that the Church thinks its critics do not understand how it’s core groups function.

A principal signatory of the complaint letter is Lord Alex Carlile QC engaged by the Church to review its core group procedures in the case of Bishop George Bell.
He made recommendations all but one of which were accepted but are not yet Implemented over two years later.

Today he describes our systems of investigations as the most unjust and incompetent he has ever seen.

Two other signatories are David Greenwood and Richard Scorer who have done sterling work representing multiple survivors at IICSA over many months and before that listened to their stories and collated their evidence to be presented to the Investigation Panel.

There are victim survivor signatories, named and anonymised, those who founded support organisations and of course those who have experienced injustice whilst under suspicion.

So who are you inclined to believe here?

Is it a close call?

Marise Hargreaves
Marise Hargreaves
Reply to  Martin Sewell

I know who I believe and it’s not a close call. They understand very well the way these so called core groups work. They also understand this is an exercise in hiding the truth which means justice is not seen to be done but the institution is safe. Surprisingly the people I choose to believe are not part of this discredited and shameful ecclesiastical institution.

Richard W. Symonds
Richard W. Symonds

Justin Welby should be asked to consider his position as Archbishop, in the light of these revelations.

Matthew Ineson
Matthew Ineson


Totally agree

Simon Butler
Simon Butler


As someone who has regularly complained about alleged poor legal process, Richard, I think you mean “allegations” not “revelations”.

Last edited 11 hours ago by Simon Butler


If you are the Rev Canon Simon Butler, it is disconcerting to see an Archbishops’ Council figure and senior member of the clergy continue to maintain this kind of denial. Over the past month alone, anyone observing the train of events, has been aware of the disparity of responses going on. The Archbishop of Canterbury was parachuted into relative safety with a statement following a Channel 4 news report. In that instance a survivor came forward, made a complaint about Archbishop Welby, and an investigation opened by the NST. Yet with applied news laundering the comms team removed Archbishop Welby entirely.

At the same time, the Dean of an Oxford college is dragged through a rotten hedge backwards on the strength of a complaint made by no survivor or victim. The complainant in this case are a group of self-titled ‘wily’ dons, their lawyer (Winckworth Sherwood) paid to help them oust him from his job, with the support of shadowy reputation launderers (Luther Pendragon). Between them they have carried out the most scandalous and malignant misappropriation of safeguarding process we have seen. And all under the complacent eye of Archbishops’ Council.

Going further back, your Council members, particularly in Church House, have been aware of critical questions raised about your processes by experts and reviewers. Serious voices commissioned by the Church to carry out serious investigations. Lord Carlile rightly raised major queries about the core group in the Bell case, which are accurately referenced in the letter to Baroness Stowell. Ian Elliott spoke at IICSA about his concerns at the core group he attended on my case. At that core group – there were two sets of lawyers: the CofE in-house legal team plus the insurer’s lawyer who had led the settlement only weeks before. I had no representation. In fact I didn’t even know about this core group for 18 months.

Maybe you think those are ‘allegations’.

If you are another Simon Butler, my apologies – but I am sure you will appreciate that my assumption is understandable given that this is a CofE-related site.

If you are the member of Archbishops’ Council, you bear some responsibility at a corporate and moral level for your Church, which has become frankly a hot freaky mess. The Council has learnt little by denying much. And it is depressing to observe the Canon Prolocutor defend the indefensible yet again. Almost as if sent into play on a regular basis with a broken bat by a team that remains desperate to salvage reputation. When perhaps the best course might be do accept with humility that things by dint of being unprincipled – have turned out to be strategically disastrous. And that serious refomation might now be required.

Richard W. Symonds
Richard W. Symonds


I mean both SB




I don’t think singling out one individual is just or helpful. The danger is that one is made a scapegoat but everything carries on regardless.

Richard W. Symonds
Richard W. Symonds

Kate, the position of Archbishop of Canterbury is a responsible one – performing duties on behalf of the Supreme Governor of the Church of England – Her Majesty The Queen.

The buck stops there.

Bishop Bell’s Core Group, for example [over 5 years ago], was the joint responsibility of both ++Justin Welby and +Martin Warner.

A giant ‘pig’s ear’ was made of it – which both Alex Carlile QC and Timothy Briden [and significant others] made clear…a miscarriage of justice as clear as day.

This was a supreme, obvious example in which both the Archbishop and the Bishop needed to admit mistakes and wrongdoing and publicly apologise – in other words, repent.

But they have refused to repent – for five years – while being given every opportunity to do so…and hiding behind the likes of Ecclesiatical, Winckworth Sherwood and Luther Pendragon in the hope of getting away with it.

You ask, Kate, whether “singling out one individual is just”?!

What is just is the singling out of two individuals – the Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby and the Bishop of Chichester Martin Warner [Her Majesty The Queen doesn’t count]


Richard W. Symonds
Richard W. Symonds

Safeguarding Bishop Gibbs can call the Church of England Core Groups what he likes – the present term he likes is “statutory strategy meetings”.

I prefer to call them what they have proved to be and what they are:

‘Ecclesiastical Kangaroo Courts’.






Engraving of the Prophet Micah by Gustave Doré.




He has showed you, O man, what is good

And what does the Lord require of you but to do justice

And to love kindness

And to walk humbly with your God


img_6384-1 (1)

Humanity Justice Peace – The Tilgate Park Hiroshima Plaque


Micah 6:8 Initiative

After many attempts to secure reform of the National Safeguarding Team and the secretive Core Groups of the Church of England, we reluctantly reach the conclusion that there is no alternative but to seek the outside intervention of the Charity Commission, to call the Archbishops’ Council to account for its stewardship of these structures and the manner in which it has discharged its trustee duties of oversight.

The Church has lost the trust of complainants and respondents alike, and is widely regarded to have placed the consideration of reputation management above due and transparent process, equality of treatment, ordinary standards of natural justice and human rights.

We are calling this the Micah6:8 Initiative because the Church of England fails to do justice, lacks mercy, and shows precious little humility when the problems are brought to its attention. The problems continue to the present time in acute form.

Here is our letter to the Chair of the Charity Commission with principal signatories:

The Rt Hon Baroness Stowell of Beeston, MBE
Chair of the Charity Commission
102 Petty France
London SW1H 9AJ

Tuesday 11 August 2020

Dear Baroness Stowell,

We write as interested parties to ask that the Charity Commission exercise its powers of intervention to address the failures of the Archbishops’ Council of the Church of England (charity number 1074857) to devise a safe, consistent and fair system of redress to all parties engaged in safeguarding complaints.

The structures of the Established Church are complex with responsibilities both devolved and diffuse. In addition to 42 Dioceses operating local jurisdiction, there is a National Safeguarding Team (NST), reporting to the Secretary General (William Nye) through a National Safeguarding Director (Melissa Caslake). Policy is devised and guidelines issued by the House of Bishops; there is a Lead Bishop for Safeguarding (currently the Bishop of Huddersfield, Jonathan Gibbs) working with two assistant Bishops (a relatively new innovation) and with further responsibility undertaken by the National Safeguarding Steering Group (NSSG) chaired by the Lead Bishop with its members appointed by the two Archbishops. In addition, there is a National Safeguarding Panel (NSP), “set up to provide vital reference and scrutiny from a range of voices, including survivors, on the development of policy and guidance” with an independent (external) Chair, Meg Munn. The power to suspend under the Clergy Discipline Measure is reciprocally exercised by the two archbishops in cases involving themselves.

There is now some urgency over addressing the impaired transparency and intermittent accountability of the NST. Within such a complex structure, it is extraordinarily difficult for aggrieved parties to secure redress of individual grievance, for questions to be raised, or for policy and its implementation (or lack thereof) to be challenged. We address our complaint to the Archbishops’ Council as the body with ultimate responsibility, established by the National Institutions Measure 1998. It is accountable to the General Synod but is not subordinate to it. In effect, it acts as the national executive of the Church of England.

We are writing as, despite raising significant questions over policy and practice, there is only a nominal institutional acceptance of the need for reform. True, there is now a process underway for a replacement of the widely discredited Clergy Discipline Measure 2003, and the final report of the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse (IICSA) into the Anglican Church is awaited. However, the continuing flow of cases of injustice leads us to seek early intervention from the Charity Commission. We do this with reluctance, having tried and failed to secure redress through multiple complaints across the structure.

The signatories to this letter come from a wide range of backgrounds, and all are people with interest in and experience of the current system, policies, and culture within the Church. They include aggrieved complainants, respondents, lawyers, members of the General Synod, clergy, laity and the contributing authors to the book Letters to a Broken Church (published in July 2019) which collected a range of essays exploring the many ways the current system fails all involved.

Much of the discontent centres upon the secretive world of the National Safeguarding Team (NST) core groups, which act in ways reminiscent of the Star Chamber, synonymous with the selective use of arbitrary unaccountable power, concentrating effective control of process in the hands of a very few, who exercise wide-ranging discretions afforded by guidelines devised by Church House administrators and issued by the House of Bishops.

Such discretion includes ignoring those very guidelines. Even then, these guidelines are demonstrably inadequate, and are not applied consistently, fairly, or impartially. Whilst the core groups are not independently advised by lawyers experienced in good safeguarding practice, there is the omnipresence of communications advisors, sometimes more than one. The deepest suspicion of those subjected to this process, and many taking an outside observer’s interest, is that these are bodies that function as quasi-judicial adversarial proceedings without the requisite checks and balances of due process, failing all tests of natural justice, and which prioritise the reputation of the Church above common standards of natural fairness.
This letter is prompted by the processes exposed in three current cases. We do not take a view on the individual merits or outcomes of these, but refer to them as typical, representative indicators of the arbitrariness of how the system malfunctions.

These cases have revealed the following:

1. There is an absence of a properly constituted appeal or review procedure at any stage of the process. No matter how egregious the failures to abide by the Church’s own rules or basic principles of law and good practice may be, there is no remedy.

2. There is an absence of a comprehensive conflicts of interest policy and, in its absence, an unwillingness to exercise available discretions in the selection guidance and management of the core group membership, so as to ensure a fair and unbiased process throughout their deliberations. A simple illustration suffices. A legal firm may act as advisors to a Diocese which may ultimately play a part in concluding a case, and may simultaneously act for a complainant, but not a respondent. This is currently happening with no institutional awareness of impropriety or willingness to resolve such blatant conflict of interest. The right to a fair trial and preservation of a degree of “equality of arms” are both observed in the breach.

3. When institutional jurisdiction is in question, the Church asserts jurisdiction, but does not explain its reasoning in matters of complex and obscure law. It is unfair to place responsibility for test-case litigation on an individual when the problem lies with the institution. The decision as to who is, and who is not, within the Church’s jurisdiction appears to be arbitrarily and selectively applied without the principles upon why such distinctions are drawn being convincingly advanced for scrutiny.

4. When there have been breaches of the Church’s own rules designed to ensure procedural fairness, there has been secrecy and reluctance to acknowledge error. Thus, in the Dean Percy case, the absence of proper minute-taking has been obfuscated and glossed over. A core group met on 13 March 2020, but no one was designated as a minute-taker. The complainants have received the ex post facto notes created three months later, whereas the Dean is refused even redacted copies. When a replacement Chair of the core group was appointed, she was the undisclosed professional referee for the Investigator.

5. There has been inconsistency and arbitrariness in the way persons were admitted to or excluded from presence or representation at core groups. Thus, three complainant dons from Christ Church, Oxford (none of them primary victims or witnesses of alleged abuse) attended the Dean Percy core group meeting on 13th March, whereas the victim complainant known as “Graham” was neither invited to attend nor attended the core group considering his complaint against the Archbishop of Canterbury, nor was he told it was being convened. This is perceived as selective and privileged access.

6. Having expended charitable monies on independent reports to make recommendations on safeguarding practice, for the benefit and safety of complainants and respondents alike, and having accepted the recommendations thereof, there has been a longstanding failure to make timely changes by the implementation of rule revision, protocol, or any other practical means to put right the historic failures and malpractices which have continued. Thus, all but one of the recommendations of the 2017 Carlile Review into the Bishop George Bell case were accepted, but not implemented; and the process errors are still replicated at this time in current cases. Lord Carlile has recently opined:

“I do not believe that the Church has got to grips with the fundamental principles of adversary justice, one of which is that you must disclose the evidence that you have against someone, and give them an equal opportunity to be heard as those making the accusation.
“And you cannot give them an equal opportunity if there are conflicts of interest involved. Anyone with a conflict of interest must leave the deliberations and take no further part. This is what lawyers understand as the law of apparent bias. It’s not to say that such people are biased: that’s often misunderstood. It is the appearance of bias that matters.
“Having people on a core group with a conflict of interest is simply not sustainable and is, on the face of it, unlawful.
“And to fail to allow the person accused to represent themselves, or be represented, in the full knowledge of the accusation, is not sustainable, and is, on the face of it, unlawful.”

7. There is a regime in which partiality, privilege and reputational management have taken precedence over due process and proper standards appropriate to an adversarial quasi-judicial process. Thus, the 84-year-old Lord Carey had his Permission to Officiate (‘PTO’) summarily revoked in June 2020 within days of historic information arising (relating to events over 30 years ago), and the press notified, whereas the newly-chosen Archbishop of York retained anonymity from the outset of process until a benign judgment was announced. We take no position on the justice of the outcome but highlight the contrast which brings the Church and its systems into disrepute though a perception of bias and privilege.

8. When unfairness and breaches of principles of natural justice and human rights legislation have been brought to the attention of those charged with the responsibility to manage fair and proper process, there has been a refusal to set aside bad process and a prioritisation of “saving face” rather than a willingness to rectify error and restore proper process.

Any one of the above reasons is serious to those adversely affected by the Church’s longstanding poor practice in this field. Collectively and cumulatively it is a picture of ongoing injustice. The institutional strategy persistently to ignore or deny the serious character of these deficiencies falls well below what is expected of the Established Church, and the failure of Archbishops’ Council to call those with operational responsibility to account represents an important dereliction of trustee duties.

Many of those affected or potentially affected are significantly conflicted. At the recent ‘virtual’ meeting of the General Synod (on 11 July 2020) we learnt that there are 27 extant NST core groups. We understand that they relate to complaints against senior clergy, namely bishops and cathedral deans. Some, undoubtedly, will relate to currently-serving diocesan bishops. Virtually all the CDM complaints against the episcopacy of which we are aware result in “no further action” in the cases of currently serving bishops. Those no longer in office seem less protected. It is probably fair to say that there is a powerful disincentive to speak publicly for reasons of collegiality and self-interest. Those who manage the processes within the administration defend reputation and the retention of the powers they de facto exercise. Yet, those of us who have campaigned for reform are often privately urged to “keep doing what you are doing”.

These problems need resolving and the ongoing replication of the same errors in current cases lead us to the reluctant conclusion that outside intervention is now needed, and so we come from many perspectives, many experiences, and many parts of the Church to ask that you intervene to mandate the Archbishops’ Council of the Church of England to account for its failure to rectify serious errors or manage these processes in the interests of justice towards complainants and respondents alike. The risk of not doing so is that this charity sector as a whole will suffer, and that the egregious failures of safeguarding practice and protocol, with the Archbishops’ Council over the NST, will affect churches and charities across the land, causing further and significant collateral damage.

Yours sincerely,

David Lamming  Member of General Synod; Barrister (retired)
Martin Sewell  Member of General Synod; Child Protection Solicitor (retired)
Lord Carlile of Berriew CBE, QC
Lord Lexden
His Honour Alan Pardoe QC
Sir Jonathan Phillips KCB
Prof Sir Iain Torrance KCVO, Kt   President Emeritus of Princeton Theological Seminary
Prof Nigel Biggar  Regius Professor of Moral and Pastoral Theology, University of Oxford
Prof Linda Woodhead  Lancaster University; contributor to ‘Letters to a Broken Church’
Revd Jonathan Aitken
David Pearson  Founder of thirtyone:eight – Christian Safeguarding Charity
Mike Hames  Former Detective Superintendent and Head of the Paedophile Unit at Scotland Yard
Gilo  Co-editor of ‘Letters to a Broken Church’ ; IICSA core participant; ‘victim of the NST’
Christina Rees CBE  Contributor to ‘Letters to a Broken Church’; member of General Synod 1990-2015; founding member of the Archbishops’ Council
Andrew Carey  ‘Victim of the NST’
Dr Ruth Hildebrandt Grayson  Historian and freelance writer
David Mason  Former Assistant Diocesan Secretary, Lincoln and Governance and Administration Manager, Chichester
Lizzie Taylor
Prof John Charmley  Pro Vice-Chancellor Academic Strategy & Research, St Mary’s University
Revd Simon Talbott  Member of General Synod
‘A Survivor’  Survivor of sexual assaults by the Revd Meirion Griffiths
Richard Scorer  Head of Abuse Law, Slater & Gordon, solicitors; contributor to ‘Letters to a Broken Church’
Revd Valerie Plumb  Member of General Synod
Rt Revd Alan Wilson  Bishop of Buckingham; contributor to ‘Letters to a Broken Church’
Graham Sawyer  ‘Victim of Peter Ball, the NST and the Church Establishment’
Revd Stephen Heard
Simon Barrow   Director of ‘Ekklesia’
Revd Stephen Trott  Member of General Synod
Revd Paul Benfield  Member of General Synod; synodal secretary of the Convocation of York
Margery Roberts  Secretary of the Society of the Faith
Revd Canon Angela Tilby  Canon Emeritus of Christ Church Cathedral, Oxford
Julian Whiting  Survivor
Simon Sarmiento  Editor, ‘Thinking Anglicans’ blog
Revd Janet Fife  Survivor of Rev. X and the NST, Co-editor of ‘Letters to a Broken Church’
‘Graham’  Iwerne Trust/John Smyth survivor; ‘victim of the NST’
Andrew Chandler  Professor of Modern History at Chichester University; Biographer of Bishop George Bell.
Revd Canon Rosie Harper  Member of General Synod; contributor to ‘Letters to a Broken Church’; Co-author of ‘To Heal not to Hurt’
Dr Janet Lord  Bishop Whitsey and NST survivor; contributor to ‘Letters to a Broken Church’
Rev. Mark Carey   respondent, and victim of the NST
Revd Dr WS Monkhouse
Revd Matt Ineson  Victim of the Revd Trevor Devamanikkam, CofE bishops and NST
Revd Nathan Ward
Revd Stephen Parsons  Editor, ‘Surviving Church’ blog
Kathryn Tucker  Member of General Synod
IICSA core participant ‘AN 87’  Victim of Bishop Peter Ball and the NST
Tina Ney  Member of General Synod
Andy Morse  Victim of Iwerne Trust/John Smyth QC
Revd Peter Ould
Dr Josephine Anne Stein  Contributor to ‘Letters to a Broken Church’
Dr Tom Keighley PhD, FRCN  Clergy victim of the NST
April Alexander  Member of General Synod
Dr Adrian Hilton  Chairman of the Academic Council, the Margaret Thatcher Centre
Jane Chevous  Survivor of clergy abuse by two bishops; founder of ‘Survivors Voices’ – survivor-led peer support
Dr Gavin Ashenden  Former chaplain to HM The Queen; now supporting victims of abuse and maladministration
Very Revd Michael Sadgrove  Dean Emeritus of Durham Cathedral
Philip French  Member of General Synod
Kate Andreyev  Clergy wife
Revd Andrew Foreshew-Cain  Chaplain,  Lady Margaret Hall, Oxford
Revd Dr Carrie Pemberton-Ford  Senior Fellow, Ethics and Public Life,
Margaret Beaufort Institute of Theology
David Greenwood   Head of Child Abuse Compensation Team, Switalskis Solicitors
Janet Garnon-Williams  CPS prosecutor (retired)
Richard Symonds  The Bell Society
Revd Canon Dr Robin Gibbons  Ecumenical Canon, Christ Church Cathedral, Oxford
Sue Atkinson  Writer; survivor; member of ‘Survivors’ Voice’
Rt Revd David Atkinson  Assistant Bishop in the Diocese of Southwark; supporter of ‘Survivors’ Voice’
John Tasker  Lay Worker in the Church of England
Dr Peter Owen  Member of the Church of England
A Survivor  ‘A survivor of Diocese of Chichester abuse

If you wish to support this initiative publicly please sign the petition.

Some may wish to signify support privately by sending an email to with your name/chosen signifier, any brief self description you choose, and if appropriate, your CofE Diocese so that the range of support can be seen. We shall send this list to the Charity Commission with the request that it remain private.

We link to the booklet We asked for Bread but you gave us Stones which compiled a number of survivor responses to the experiences received at the hands of the Established Church. Plus a link to the book Letters to a Broken Church which includes some of our signatories as contributing authors.

If you find these criticisms compelling, please give us your support.


Charity Commission asked to intervene in C of E abuse inquiries

Guardian article

Gilo –


Reasons for signing

See why other supporters are signing, why this petition is important to them, and share your reason for signing (this will mean a lot to the starter of the petition).


Teresa Lindeyer

False allegations are being made and because of the ‘believe the victim whatever’ attitude, due process is not being followed, hard evidence is not being considered and lives are being ruined


Cherry Egerton

Idennis Cummings

I have become acquainted with the issue to my sadness.
Am appalled at small number signing so far. Could not bishops and others arrange circulation to every churchwarden.


Susan Cook

I know several members of the clergy as well as many church members. If any complaint was made by or against any of them I would want the matter dealt with quickly, transparently, fairly and compassionately. I found reading the extracts from “I asked for bread…” very disturbing and… Read more


Sharon Jones

Of concerns around the Kafkaesque nature of the clergy discipline measure and the secretive unaccountable safeguarding empire


Susan Ward

This has been happening in my own Norwich diocese where 2 vicars have been appalling treated. Also the misappropriation of parish property by the diocese without any redress. This last was the cause of the shameful attacks on our parish clergy and church officers.


Nicholas Pnematicatos

They are bare faced liars





Richard W. Symonds





Chichester Cathedral from 4 Canon Lane [aka George Bell House]


Dear Editor

The world has gone mad and Church hierarchs along with it [‘Dismayed by closure proposal’ / ‘Closure surely not justified’, Observer Letters, June 25]

Peter Lansley is rightly “dismayed to read Chichester Cathedral may permanently close its Cloister Cafe (aka Bishop Bell Tea Rooms)…”

What’s next – the closure of 4 Canon Lane (aka George Bell House)?

Yours sincerely

Richard W. Symonds

The Bell Society

2 Lychgate Cottages

Ifield Street, Ifield Village

Crawley, West Sussex RH11 0NN

Tel: 07540 309592 [Text only – Very deaf]






Edward Colston statue – Bristol


 The December stars shine clear above the Giddings, promised light for those who dwell in darkness

The above words by Malcolm Guite are from a Sonnet for Nicholas Ferrar, who died on 2nd December 1637. It was the day after Advent Sunday, at the same hour he usually rose to pray. Ferrar died in Little Gidding and if in our minds we could go there as the sun sets, walk up the path, find the door open, and sit down in the silence what might we discover? The first is that Little Gidding is also the name of a poem by T S Eliot. In it the theme of suffering as a prerequisite to renewal is explored, influenced as it was by the destruction of Second World War. There is in Little Gidding, as a place and a poem, a reminder of knowing your history, especially and most importantly at a time of potential change.

A people without history
Is not redeemed from time, for history is a pattern
Of timeless moments. So, while the light fails
On a winter’s afternoon, in a secluded chapel
History is now and England.

How we might wonder sitting in a small church as the sun gives way to the stars can this place and Eliot’s words make sense of today? How might our fears and hopes, the darkness of uncertainty, our longing for something better, come back to this moment and this place? The poem urges us on:

We shall not cease from exploration
And the end of all our exploring
Will be to arrive where we started
And know the place for the first time.

To bring together the past, our present, and hopes for the future in one particular place can bear much fruit, and indeed hope. Why is Nicholas Ferrar remembered here especially? First pick up a little guide to his life, because his own experiences have surprising resonance.

Ferrar’s father was a London merchant and a member of the Virginia Company and Nicholas was in time to become its deputy. In 1624 the company suffered financial difficulties and were it not for this Ferrar may well today be associated with the slave trade. As it was another factor led he and his family to move to the recently purchased manor at Little Gidding. The plague. Far away from London in the Huntingtonshire countryside, today a part of Cambridgeshire, in 1625 Ferrar would have first entered a very different church by the manor house. Little Gidding already had a rich history, formed by a combination of war, religious conflict and disease. A gift to the Knights Templers an earlier plague had deprived the church of its congregation by 1348. The reformation saw the Knights Hospitallers dissolved in 1554 and the dissolution of life continued,by 1594 there were no houses left. As Nicholas Ferrar and his family unpacked he found an unused church in ruins, itself a symbol of a past we need to be aware of because it shapes our lives today more than we think. Perhaps Ferrar remembered being told stories as a boy of the arrival of the Spanish Armada, only five years before his birth. At the age of twelve he would have heard of another escape for protestant England when gunpowder was discovered under Parliament. How fragile everything was and indeed was proven to be. All that Ferrar built up and renewed would be destroyed by the English Civil wars, and the community of prayer he left behind ended at a time when there was no Church of England. To help us make sense of this is to make sense of Eliot’s words,

History is now and England

As division grows following the Coronavirus pandemic of 2020 we can appreciate better what it has revealed. We are not redeemed from time. The decisions of the past and direction of public policy can at any moment cause an explosion of anger, and as we rush for cover we might wonder where it will all end. As people take sides we might look into the fault lines of society and see what Ferrar might have seen too. The politics of identity are leading to something many call a cultural war and already sides are being taken. Churchill made much of our Island race and it was of course an image of a protestant nation (if not people) safe from the Armardas of Rome. A prime minister who was good at “channelling” Churchill, in the 75th year of victory in Europe, might have hoped of something more symbolic of his time in office than a defaced statue of his hero. How similar you would think, far away from it all in Little Gidding, are the divisions today that have been part of us for so long. Those speechless at the resurrection of identity politics, with its profoundly secular and political dividing up of human beings, might have hoped as a part of the new normal a return to what we had recently glimpsed. How long ago it seems we clapped key workers because of what they did rather than the colour of their skin or whom they loved. How quickly the rainbow flag ceased being a symbol of unity and togetherness. How sad above all that we must take a side. It is said the first casualty of the English Civil wars was a man walking along, minding his own business in that wonderful phrase, and some troops approached. “Are you for King or Parliament?” he was asked. “For both, he replied, and so they shot him. Ferrar didn’t live to see the darkness of the civil wars but he knew what was coming. What is coming next for us? Of course now like then the Church cannot be taken in isolation. The position of the Church of England is more similar to the church re-established with its 1662 prayer book than we might imagine. Divided clergy, closed buildings, the suspension of public worship, a church formed as a mean between extremes tempering its inheritance with the dynamic of reform and not enough money. It all sounds familiar.

Ferrar’s retreat to Little Gidding was natural but also instructive. To go on retreat is not the same as retreating. To go on retreat is to be renewed in some way to return to the world refreshed. Ferrar’s large family and household lived a Christian life together, the domestic church, but one which saw the need for the beauty of holiness in a church building, one which they restored. ‘It is the right, good old way you are in,’ Nicholas Ferrar said to his brother, shortly before his death: ‘keep in it.’

If I were sitting in Little Gidding church as the light fades contemplating events around us and the history that is somehow “now” what would think?

I would reflect on the pulling down of statues and the need of the powerful to divert attention from their mistakes by pointing to the mistakes of the long dead.

More importantly as I thought about the Church of England forged after the civil war to unite the catholic and reformed understanding of belief would be a realisation. Are there those in the Church of England who were happy to see churches closed and are seemingly unhappy as they reopen who really want to finally rid the church of what is catholic? Are churches with their war memorials and celebrations of community and civic events, the marking of the seasons and the round of human life, simply for them like statues of which they are ashamed, and better they be closed quickly than engage in a debate about their future? Perhaps so. If so there is hope, and it comes from someone we owe Nicholas Ferrar a debt of gratitude for introducing us to. He will be explored in the next reflection and is a reminder of how we can keep in the right, good old way, many still cherish.

David Ackerman

10th June 2020