Tag Archives: ‘Alison’

“Three Days of Hell for Church of England” – IICSA [July 10, 11 & 12 2019]

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REVD MATTHEW INESON – IICSA – JULY 10 2019
‏@InquiryCSA

https://www.iicsa.org.uk/key-documents/12767/view/public-hearing-transcript-10-july-2019.pdf

“I cannot see the face of Jesus in the Archbishop of Canterbury or York. I see hypocrites and I see pharisees. I see the people that Jesus stood up against.

“I’m sorry to be so direct, I’m a Yorkshire man. I don’t think those people are fit for office.”

“Bishops sit on thrones. They live in fine palaces and houses, they wear the finest robes and garments.

“People literally kneel down and kiss the ring on their finger.”

“That’s why they are protecting themselves.”

“Why would I want an apology?”

“It’s recognition of what happened and how I’ve been treated.”

Matthew Ineson tells the #AnglicanHearing he was promised an apology multiple times but it never materialised.

A fringe meeting at last year’s general synod allowed clerics including the Archbishop of York, John Sentamu to meet sexual abuse survivors.

Rev. Matthew Ineson says John Sentamu physically grabbed and challenged him – “he’s arrogant, he’s rude and he’s a bully”.

 

Ms Scolding QC asks Archbishop Sentamu if his wife, who was recently ordained, had undergone relevant training and vetting.

He states that she has been vetted, and her training will begin in September.

He (Archbishop Sentamu) states that the only way to change the culture within the church is through training, and to ensure that this is consistent. (3/3)

IICSA Hearings and Seminars

Archbishop Sentamu Replying to @InquiryCSA

“I hope the way I carry out my ministry people realise I’m a vulnerable person like anybody else. I am not a saint. I am capable of doing something wrong.”

 

He (Archbishop Sentamu) agrees that instead, the church should have held higher standards given its moral position.

Ms Scolding QC asks Archbishop Sentamu whether believes he has made a personal mistake in the course of responding to disclosures of clerical abuse during his career.

“Hand on heart, I don’t think so.”

 

“He’s arrogant, he’s rude, and he’s a bully” – Revd Matthew Ineson of Archbishop Welby’s fellow Archbishop John Sentamu [IICSA – 10/07/2019] – “Now that’s what I call a ‘significant cloud'” ~ Richard W. Symonds

MS SHARPLING: Thank you, Archbishop Sentamu. Could you
10 just clarify something for me: we heard evidence from
11 Mr Ineson today, and if the church accept that he was
12 abused as a young lad whilst under the care of
13 the church, is there now any impediment for an apology
14 to be given for that abuse? Leaving aside anything that
15 might have happened subsequently, is there any
16 impediment in the collective church mind that prevents
17 an apology to Mr Ineson for that original abuse?

18 A. I think the real problem comes because the evidence is
19 contested.

20 MS SHARPLING: I see.
21 A. And the review hasn’t happened. And I’m hoping that
22 that review will be swift and quick. It’s still,
23 I think, waiting on Mr Ineson agreeing the terms of
24 reference for this particular review. So hopefully, it
25 will be swift. I hope it will happen. I actually think that, I mean, it is a very difficult one, because you do not want to either be flippant about what kind of apology [‘confetti apologies’] you are giving. For it to be substantive, actually, you have got to get all the facts out, and the review should take place, I hope as soon as possible, because on one CDM my understanding is that the evidence was completely contested”

 

Q. And to ask you whether you had any contact with the
17 Archbishop John Sentamu —
18 A. I did.
19 Q. — at that event?
20 A. I did. I’d never seen John Sentamu before and, if
21 I never see him again, it will be too soon, in my
22 opinion. It was a fringe meeting arranged so that
23 General Synod members could meet with victims of abuse.
24 And there were many victims — 40, I don’t know the
25 exact number, but there were many, and members of the
Page 55
1 problems himself”. I said, “You were disclosed to five
2 years ago. You did nothing. So, go on, say you’re
3 sorry”. And he answered, “Apologies mean different
4 things to different people”. And then he said to me,
5 and I didn’t get this, “There is a boulder between you
6 and I”. He said, “You have put a boulder between you
7 and I”. And I said to him, “The only thing in front of
8 you, Mr Sentamu, is the possibility you will now have to
9 answer for your actions and you don’t like being
10 answerable to anybody”. And his answer was, “One day,
11 we will talk”, and he took his hand off my shoulder and
12 walked away.
13 I went outside and I saw a lady from the NST — I’m
14 sure it’s Heather, but I’m — I told her what happened,
15 “I’ll make you a cup of tea. Are you all right?” When
16 I look back now, you do not, whoever you are, walk in
17 a room full of victims of abuse and physically get hold
18 of them and challenge them. But it’s who he thinks he
19 is. He’s arrogant. He’s rude. He’s a bully.
20 Q. This, I understand that you’re talking about happened at
21 the fringe event at General Synod last year?
22 A. It did.
23 Q. I understand that you were part of the event together
24 with Sheila Fish, from —
25 A. Yes.
Page 54
1 General Synod, and Justin Welby and John Sentamu were
2 there. At the end of the meeting, people milling about,
3 John Sentamu came over to me. The whole meeting,
4 I could feel his eyes in the back of my head — do you
5 know what I mean? But he came up to me, and he came
6 really in my face, too close, and he grabbed me by the
7 shoulder and he held me by the shoulder, and he said to
8 me, “One day, you and I will talk”. So I said, “Well,
9 I only live half an hour away. You put the kettle on,
10 I’ll come over and we’ll talk”. And the look was, “Who
11 do you think you’re speaking to?”. And then he said,
12 “One day we will pray together”. And I said, “That will
13 never happen, but I will talk to you”. And he said to
14 me — and he was holding me the whole time, and he said,
15 “What do you want? What do you want?” I said, “I want
16 you to apologise and I want Steven Croft and all the
17 others to apologise”. I said, “You ignored my
18 disclosure of abuse. You left my abuser five years to
19 potentially abuse again”.
20 As part of the police investigations, they
21 discovered that Trevor Devanamanikkam was looking for
22 rent boys online.
23 I said, “And then he’s charged with very serious
24 charges against me. He then climbs in a bath and stabs
25 himself to death and then it’s discovered that he had
Page 56
1 Q. — whom we have already heard, from SCIE?
2 A. Yes.
3 Q. One of the things that she said — chair, you might
4 remember — was that the victims and survivors had
5 spoken to her about the change and the practical changes
6 they would like in the church and that, largely, she had
7 considered those to be practical, sensible changes. So
8 my final question for you is, building on that, what
9 practical recommendations or changes do you think would
10 help the church to respond better to allegations of
11 child sexual abuse?
12 A. I have no desire to damage the church at all or bring
13 the church down. That’s not my thing. The overriding
14 motive for me is to help prevent that abuse happens
15 again, and I think there are people in position in the
16 church who shouldn’t be there who have repeatedly made
17 mistakes, shall we say, if we’re kind, about
18 safeguarding.
19 I think safeguarding should be totally out of
20 the hands of the Church of England.
21 Q. So managed outside of the church?
22 A. Totally. You can’t do your own work. You can’t
23 investigate yourself. There’s too much bias there.
24 There’s too much conflict of interest.
25 I also believe, personally, in mandatory reporting
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Page 57
1 because I — the church don’t seem to really, in their
2 heart, want to do that. They talk about it, but they
3 don’t do it. I can’t understand, if you discover that
4 abuse is possibly happening, or you receive
5 a disclosure, you pick the phone up to the police. It’s
6 as simple as that. It doesn’t have to go through all
7 the different layers of the Church of England, and if
8 I thought a little girl or boy was being abused, I would
9 pick the phone up to the police then, and that is
10 mandatory reporting, as far as I see. I’m simple.
11 Simple thinking.
12 Q. No, not at all. That concludes the questions I have for
13 you, unless we have missed something very key that you
14 wanted to raise that might assist the chair and panel in
15 their conclusions and recommendations?
16 A. No, there is just one thing I would say. There’s
17 a couple of things. You were talking before about
18 apology, why would I want apology.
19 Q. Yes.
20 A. Firstly, it is recognition. It is recognition of what
21 happened and it is recognition of the way that I have
22 been tret. I was told, in July 2017, by Graham Tilby
23 that I would — had I had an apology? I said “No”. He
24 said, “I can sort that out for you”. That was two years
25 ago. I have never had it.
Page 59
1 I have even in the church been called “a common
2 northerner” before now, at a safeguarding thing. I want
3 to say — I really want to say thank you to David
4 because I wouldn’t be here without David, and to people
5 like Richard who represent victims of abuse. Without
6 that support, I would still be not knowing what to do.
7 I also want to thank my MP, who is here today.
8 Yeah. Her staff and her get it, and she has been
9 totally, totally supportive, and I understand she’s
10 written to the Archbishop of Canterbury and asked on
11 more than one occasion to meet with him to discuss my
12 case. A letter of 17 January 2018 has still not had
13 a formal response. Over a year.
14 I want to say thank you to the many victims, and
15 I’ve met many now, who really are courageous people.
16 Some of them are here today, a lot of them will be
17 watching. I don’t actually even want to be here today.
18 This is something I never in my life wanted to do. But
19 I am. But the truth is, none of us ever asked for it to
20 happen, the abuse to happen, and the re-abuse, and
21 I want to say thank you to this inquiry for all you’re
22 doing, and I just hope that — I believe the church will
23 nod at the end of this and say, “Thank you very much.
24 We will take note”, and they will just revert to form.
25 They are not going to change unless they are made to.
Page 58
1 Moira Murray told me that I would get a formal
2 apology from the church when the legal case against
3 Trevor Devanamanikkam was over. That was two years ago
4 since he died, and I have never had an apology.
5 I was then told by Moira I would get a formal
6 apology when the civil case was settled. That was
7 a year next month. I have never had a formal apology.
8 Justin Welby was interviewed by a journalist student
9 in Canterbury and the first question was, “Why hasn’t
10 Matthew had an apology?” He promised to chase that up.
11 That was last year, I think. I have never had the
12 apology.
13 I have never had a formal apology at all, but
14 I think there’s an obvious reason for that: because they
15 would have to admit the bishops’ failings if they
16 apologised for it. I have never even had a formal
17 apology for the abuse from Trevor Devanamanikkam — the
18 abuse by Trevor Devanamanikkam.
19 Can I just finally say a scenario I want to share
20 with you: I am a Yorkshireman, as you’ve probably
21 gathered. David Greenwood always says, “You’re straight
22 talking”, that’s how it comes. I don’t think the church
23 can cope with that. That’s been my experience. They
24 want to go around the houses and through the layers and
25 do all that. Straight talking, they can’t cope with.
Page 60
1 They can’t be trusted.
2 And I say that as a clergyman. I am still a priest
3 of the Church of England and I don’t believe the
4 hierarchy can be trusted. Justin Welby sat in this very
5 room a few weeks ago, with tears in his eyes, and said
6 he’d learned to become ashamed of the church. I do not
7 understand why that is the case, because the vast
8 majority of the Church of England, clergy and lay, would
9 never abuse anybody, and would report it, and they would
10 be horrified by the abuse. It isn’t the vast majority.
11 It is a small amount of people. And then it’s the
12 re-abuse by the bishops and the archbishops themselves,
13 and I think, if any shame wants applying, it needs to be
14 applied to the Archbishop of Canterbury and the
15 Archbishop of York and the House of Bishops, and not all
16 the bishops, but the vast majority of them. What
17 they’re — and the NST and William Nye and all that lot
18 at Church House. I think they are cruel, and that’s the
19 word.
20 What would Jesus do in this situation? He wouldn’t
21 do what they’re doing. And I just think this comes down
22 to — it’s the old story: abuse is about power.
23 Devanamanikkam’s power over me, he used. John Smyth did
24 the same over his victims. Peter Ball. All of them.
25 That abuse of power is used again, and again, and again
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Page 61
1 by the bishops of the Church of England without — they
2 ignore disclosures. They leave the abuser to carry on.
3 Then, when you complain about those bishops, the
4 Archbishop of Canterbury just takes no further action,
5 no further action, no further action. It’s a complete
6 cycle. That’s what the problem with the Clergy
7 Discipline Measure is, because they’re investigating
8 themselves, and it destroys people. It really does.
9 And why? Because bishops sit on thrones. They live
10 in fine houses and palaces, they wear the finest robes
11 and garments, which cost the earth. I know, because
12 I’ve sat I sell ’em them?in them. They bully people.
13 Yeah? People literally kneel down and kiss the ring on
14 their finger. Who would give that up? They don’t want
15 to, and that’s why they’re protecting themselves. It
16 really does drive people to distraction. And I say no
17 more. I really say no more. Enough is enough. And
18 I think the victims are far tougher and stronger people
19 than the archbishops and the bishops of
20 the Church of England, and, as a priest, I can tell
21 you — and I say this as a priest — I cannot see the
22 face of Jesus in the Archbishops of Canterbury or York.
23 I see hypocrites and I see Pharisees, the people who
24 Jesus stood up against.
25 I’m sorry to be so direct. I’m a Yorkshireman. But
Page 63
1 any reason. Just raise your hand or indicate to me that
2 you wish to do so. Next, there are two bundles in front
3 of you which have the vast majority of the relevant
4 documents I am going to take you to, but exhibits will
5 also be got up on screen. If, like me, you find reading
6 things difficult unless it is in slightly larger font,
7 please do indicate and we can blow the font up as large
8 as you need it.
9 We have two witness statements from you, Mr Iles:
10 one dated 9 November 2017, which has already been
11 published on this investigation’s website; and one dated
12 1 May 2019 at ACE026967. Chair and panel, behind tab A1
13 of your bundle.
14 Now, I’m not going to — I am going to assume that
15 you signed both of those witness statements, your
16 signature, however, being subject to a cover. Did you
17 sign both of those witness statements?
18 A. Yes.
19 Q. Have you had an opportunity to read them recently?
20 A. Yes.
21 Q. Are the matters set out there true, to the best of your
22 knowledge and belief?
23 A. Yes.
24 Q. Mr Iles, just to identify, you are a barrister employed
25 by the Church of England legal office since 2004, and
Page 62
1 I don’t think these people are fit for office. Thank
2 you. I’m sorry I have gone on.
3 MS McNEILL: No, no, thank you, Mr Ineson. Chair, do you or
4 the panel have any questions for this witness?

 

IICSA Transcript – 10/07/2019 – Revd Matthew Ineson & Archbishop John Sentamu

https://www.iicsa.org.uk/key-documents/12767/view/public-hearing-transcript-10-july-2019.pdf

 

“If we can’t admit to being wrong or making a mistake, we can’t genuinely say sorry or apologise because we don’t think we’ve done anything wrong. That moral denial of human fallibility will breed an arrogance which most people see but to which the arrogant person is blind” ~ Richard W. Symonds

~ Richard W. Symonds – on reading Archbishop John Sentamu’s answer when Fiona Scolding QC asks him [at the IICSA 10/07/2019] whether he believes he has made a personal mistake, in the course of responding to disclosures of clerical abuse, during his career: “Hand on heart, I don’t think so”, the Archbishop replies.

 

“He’s arrogant, he’s rude, and he’s a bully” – Revd Matthew Ineson of Archbishop Welby’s fellow Archbishop John Sentamu [IICSA – 10/07/2019] 

IICSA – July 11 2019 –

Fiona Scolding QC: “Do you think the Church needs to be more willing to admit past mistakes?”

Justin Welby, Archbishop of Canterbury: “The history of the Church does not encourage accountability…Accountability is structural [aka ‘The System’]

Fiona Scolding QC [in questioning Graham Tilby]: “The issue here surrounds the fact that, with the greatest respect to diocesan bishops, they have all the power and no accountability” 

July 11 2019 – IICSA Thursday 

– Page 50

Q. = Fiona Scolding QC

A. = Graham Tilby [National Safeguarding Advisor]

 

Q. Once Mr Galloway had reported, I think the decision was made that the decision as to whether or not the allegation was substantiated or not should be made by somebody independent of the core group?

A. Yes.

“So I understand you commissioned an analysis, shall we say, of whether or not, on the balance of probabilities, this complaint was met or not from a Mr Briden, who is a senior ecclesiastical lawyer. His case — his report is ACE026752, B81. There’s a summary of his report at paragraph 348 of your witness statement, but, essentially, what he identifies is that there is no realistic prospect of bringing a claim, and describes the evidence as unfounded” 

A. Yes. 

Q. But as part of that process, as I understand it, both Bishop Bell’s family were represented by Desmond Browne QC

A. That’s right. 

Q. — acting on a pro bono basis? 

A. Yes. 

Q. And Alison was represented by Mr Chapman [ @Switalskis ?] as I understand it 

A. Yes, indeed. 

Q. — who is sitting in this room here today? 

A. Yes. 

Q. And they made various submissions, because we have got various orders that were made in the case?

 

Archbishop Justin Welby – IICSA – July 11 2019

“We have got to learn to put actions behind the words, because ‘Sorry’ is pretty cheap”

IICSA – Friday –

MR CHAPMAN: Chair and panel, we act for ten victims of Anglican clerical sexual abuse and the survivors support group, MACSAS.
May I deal with one matter immediately, which is Archbishop Welby’s letter produced yesterday in which he purported to apologise to Mr Ineson in 2017. That letter was provided to the inquiry yesterday, and to us only a few minutes before you came in at 2.00 pm. So Mr Ineson has not had an opportunity to formally respond to it. But the archbishop relied on that letter as suggesting that he gave an apology in 2017, and the words he relied upon were in the final paragraph, and
I read: 

“… deeply sorry, yes, for the abuse, from your description of how this has been dealt with by the church.”

Mr Ineson roundly rejects that as an apology for how he has been treated in the church. It is mealy-mouthed. It does not frankly accept that the church treated him badly in the words of Bishop Hancock, “shabbily and shambolic”. Yesterday was an opportunity for the archbishop to say before Mr Ineson in public, “I accept and I apologise for the way you were treated in that shabby and shambolic manner and for my part in it”. That was not just a discourtesy to Mr Ineson; it shows that the archbishop, in his own words, still doesn’t get it.

 

IICSA – Friday – 12/07/2019

Mr O’Donnell [Slater & Gordon] – “Bishop Selby’s answers to Mr Frank [IICSA] indicated that the Anglican Church might just be trying to run down the clock, might be making all the right noises whilst this Inquiry is ongoing, and then getting back to business as usual once these hearings are finished”

InquiryCSA – Friday – 12/07/2019

Q. = Nikiti McNeill [IICSA]
A.1 = John Titchener [Group Compliance Director for the Ecclesiastical Insurance]
A.2 = David Bonehill [UK Claims Director for the Ecclesiastical Insurance Group]

Q. – Do you think that as the victim, should have had to wait or fight as long as he has in order for this to be clarified on the record?

A.1 – No
Q. – Ms McNeill reads from the guiding principles of Ecclesiastical, focusing on the fact that treatment of survivors should not be negative or worsen their well being. She asks, in their handling of the A4 issue, does he consider Ecclesiastical to have lived up to these principles?

A.1 – The witness acknowledges that they have not.

 

@InquiryCSA – Friday – 12/07/2019

Mr. Rory Philips QC [Counsel for the Ecclesiastical Insurance Office – EIO] 

“Where the Inquiry has not sought a specific answer to criticisms made, then as a matter of basic fairness, it is not possible for you to arrive at a conclusion as to whether these criticisms are well founded….
“Because that would offend the guiding principle if I can use that phrase again, which must inform all of the work of this, as of any inquiry, namely fairness….

“EIO is an insurer. It is a commercial organisation. And perhaps some of the difficulties for claimants here arise because they expect EIO to behave towards them rather more as if it was the church”

 

“IICSA reprimands Ecclesiastical over earlier advice to C of E and evidence to Inquiry” – Church Times – 12/07/2019

 

bonehillsmiling-20190712120653085_web

IICSA Anglican Church hearing day 10

Today, the final Friday,  was originally intended to be used only for closing statements from the lawyers representing the various parties. However, it was announced at the end of Thursday that an additional witness would be called first on Friday morning. This turned out to be David Bonehill, Claims Director of EIG and and John Titchener, Group Compliance Director of EIO.

The Church Times has a report of what happened: IICSA reprimands Ecclesiastical over earlier advice to C of E and evidence to Inquiry

Transcript of day 10 hearing.

List of documents adduced on day 10 (but none have as yet been published)

“The sex abuse that was perpetrated upon me by Peter Ball pales into insignificance when compared to the entirely cruel and sadistic treatment that has been meted out to me by officials, both lay and ordained. I know from the testimony of other people who have got in touch with me over the last five or 10 years that what I have experienced is not dissimilar to the experience of so many others and I use these words cruel and sadistic because I think that is how they behave. It is an ecclesiastical protection racket and [the attitude is that] anyone who seeks to in any way threaten the reputation of the church as an institution has to be destroyed”

~ Reverend Graham Sawyer – IICSA – July 2018

“The truths about Matt’s ‘shabby and shambolic’ treatment by the church after his original assault thirty + years ago will probably never be completely known.  What we have seen is at best incompetent treatment but at worst dangerously cruel”
The words of Revd Graham Sawyer are not to be forgotten – said at the IICSA Inquiry last year – July 2018:
“The sex abuse that was perpetrated upon me by Peter Ball pales into insignificance when compared to the entirely cruel and sadistic treatment that has been meted out to me by officials, both lay and ordained. I know from the testimony of other people who have got in touch with me over the last five or 10 years that what I have experienced is not dissimilar to the experience of so many others and I use these words cruel and sadistic because I think that is how they behave. It is an ecclesiastical protection racket and [the attitude is that] anyone who seeks to in any way threaten the reputation of the church as an institution has to be destroyed”

 

May 14 2019 – “George Bell Group issues new statement” – ‘Thinking Anglicans’ – Simon Sarmiento

George Bell House - 4 Canon Lane - Chichester Cathedral

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

George Bell Group issues new statement

George Bell Group issues new statement

The George Bell Group has issued this: Statement May 2019.

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

THE CARLILE REVIEW

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

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

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

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

THE ‘FRESH INFORMATION’ AND THE BRIDEN PROCESS

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

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

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

THE DUTY OF THE CHURCH NOW

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

COMMENTS
Susannah Clark

“it can be seen that the allegations against Bishop Bell were unfounded in fact.”

What does that precisely mean? If the group is saying that the case is ‘unproven’ then I’d agree, because it is impossible to prove one way or the other whether her allegations against the Bishop are true or untrue. If it is saying that ‘Carol’s allegations about George Bell can be proved to be untrue, then that is a slur on a woman whose narrative they have repeatedly said is false. To say that George Bell *is* innocent (except in legal terms) is a false claim.

What I read in this statement is the use of insinuation.

“The possibility of false memories was a real one.” Yes. But ‘possibility’ means just that. It’s also possible her recall of who abused her was not false. Possibility either way is not the same as fact.

“They may well have hoped that the similar facts alleged by Alison would corroborate the discredited Carol.” Setting Alison aside, why is Carol described as “the discredited Carol”. That is offensive to a woman whose claims remain unproven one way or the other. It is slur.

As Dr Martin Warner correctly acknowledges: “Bishop Bell cannot be proven guilty.” But he is also right to add that it could not be “safely claimed that the original complainant [i.e. Carol] had been discredited.” That is not insinuation. It is fact. The fact remains that Carol may or may not have been abused by George Bell.

Process was faulty, and reform in the Church’s safeguarding procedures is overdue, but at the same time, this campaign group has created an incredibly hostile and partisan environment for an abuse victim herself. ‘Carol’ in all likelihood has indeed suffered abuse. It may have been committed by George Bell. With the passage of time we shall probably never know. However, assertions that – as a matter of fact – Carol’s claims are false… that is a disgraceful shutting down of an abuse victim’s experience and allegation.

Yes, the accused need safeguarding protection too… few deny process needs improvement… but no, it CANNOT “be seen that the allegations against Bishop Bell were unfounded in fact.”

That is a falsehood, a false assertion. If we create a virulent and hostile environment for people with the courage to come forward to accuse abusers – and it takes incredible courage – then we should be ashamed, because what it will do is drive victims back into secrecy and silence.

In addition, we must never lionise powerful men, even good men of known courage, to the extent that hagiography silences those who – in some cases – are nevertheless victims of the very dark side of human character. Great men can be flawed. We cannot simply disbelieve women because of their abuser’s reputation. That cannot wash. What we need is process that is discreet, measured, and factually very precise with its language. And non-partisan.

We do not, factually, know if George Bell was innocent or guilty. I doubt we ever will. Carol may be right.

T Pott
“We do not know, factually, if George Bell was innocent or guilty.” If that were so, it would put him in exactly the same position as everybody else who has ever lived. So, perhaps, we should simply remember people for what we do know about them.
Susannah, if you make an allegation I raped you when you were 5-years-old, the onus is on you to provide evidence that I raped you. The onus is not on me to prove I am innocent.

If you cannot provide that evidence in a court of law, then however convinced you are that it was me who raped you, I am to be presumed innocent. That’s the law.

After two investigations (Carlile & Briden), ‘Carol’ – who has had the benefit of anonymity and been paid nearly £30,000 (?) in compensation – has provided zero evidence that it was Bishop Bell who abused her.

Therefore, Bishop Bell is to be presumed innocent. That’s the law.

But the Church seems to consider itself above the law by presuming Bishop Bell’s guilt and presuming the innocence of ‘Carol’.

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

George Bell House - 4 Canon Lane - Chichester Cathedral

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

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The George Bell Group

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

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

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

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

Statement May 2019

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

THE CARLILE REVIEW

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

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

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

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

THE ‘FRESH INFORMATION’ AND THE BRIDEN PROCESS

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

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

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

THE DUTY OF THE CHURCH NOW

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Jan 31 2019 – “Bishop Bell claims found not proven” – Chichester Observer – Michael Drummond

img_9510 (2)

‘Bishop Bell’ Portrait Photograph by Howard Coster 1953 [stored by the Canon Librarian in Chichester Cathedral’s Private Library]

https://www.chichester.co.uk/news/crime/new-allegations-against-bishop-george-bell-cannot-be-proven-church-report-finds-1-8788128

New allegations of sexual abuse against Bishop George Bell cannot be proven on the balance of probabilities, a new report from the Church has concluded. Current Bishop of Chichester Dr Martin Warner issued an apology and said that the 70 years since Bishop Bell’s death have ‘defeated the quest for certainty’. Chichester Cathedral The report by Timothy Briden was conducted at the request of Bishop Warner and examined allegations of misconduct against the late Bishop Bell.

However the Church-sponsored inquiry did not include the original allegations made by a woman known as Carol. Highlighted in the report was a claim by a woman known as Alison that Bishop Bell abused her and told her: “This is our secret.” She recalled feeling uncomfortable afterwards and being told that it would be ‘impossible to have the bishop up’ because nobody would believe her.

Mr Briden concluded that her account was ‘not proved on the balance of probabilities’ and said her account was unreliable. Witness evidence from as many as 12 witnesses were examined in the new report. Bishop of Chichester Dr Martin Warner said: “We recognise how damaging and painful this has been. “Bishop Bell cannot be proven guilty, nor can it be safely claimed that the original complainant has been discredited.

PHOTOGRAPH: Bishop of Chichester Martin Warner “There is an uncertainty which cannot be resolved.”

The report can be read in full on the Church of England’s website. Any allegations relating to a woman known as Carol were excluded from the report and were not discussed.

Bishop Warner said: “The judgement from Tim Briden on the new information about Bishop George Bell which came to light at the end of 2017 brings to an end a lengthy examination that has drawn on the recommendations by Lord Alex Carlile in his report on the Church of England’s handling of this matter from the outset.

“The diocese of Chichester has rightly been called to account for its safeguarding failures of the past – shocking and shaming as they were.

READ MORE: ‘Wilful blindness’ existed towards Church child abuse in Chichester diocese, inquiry hears

“We hope that the culture of the diocese has changed. We believe that it has been essential to demonstrate a capacity to respond appropriately to any allegation of sexual abuse by a member of the clergy, no matter how senior, or by any person who holds office in the church. We remain committed to this.

“The Carlile report, and this subsequent investigation, have however shown how much we have had to learn about dealing with cases from the distant past.

“In particular, we have learned that the boundaries of doubt and certainty have to be stated with great care, that the dead and those who are related to them have a right to be represented, and that there must be a balanced assessment of the extent to which it would be in the public interest to announce the details of any allegation.

“We recognise the hurt that has been done to all who have been directly involved, including the family of George Bell and those who continue to respect his achievements, as a result of the areas where we have fallen short. We apologise profoundly and sincerely for our shortcomings in this regard. The responsibility for this is a shared one, as are the lessons learnt from it.

“For the future, we recognise how damaging and painful this has been. We have all been diminished by this case. The legitimate quest for certainty has been defeated by the nature of the case and the passage of time.

“Bishop Bell cannot be proven guilty, nor can it be safely claimed that the original complainant has been discredited. There is an uncertainty which cannot be resolved. We ask those who hold opposing views on this matter to recognize the strength of each other’s commitment to justice and compassion.

“Moreover, we continue to believe that the good things that George Bell did in his life will stand the test of time.

“His prophetic work for peace and his relationship with Dietrich Bonhoeffer are only two of the many ways in which his legacy will go on being of great significance to us in the Church and we hope and pray we can go on learning from what he has given to us.”

 

READ MORE: Revealed: How former Bishop of Lewes failed to report paedophile priests