December 15 2017 – “Traducing George Bell’s name was ‘just wrong’ says Carlile review” – Church Times – Tim Wyatt

Traducing George Bell’s name was ‘just wrong’ says Carlile review

15 DECEMBER 2017

Portrait: George Bell, painted in 1955


CHURCH of England officials “rushed to judgement” when they concluded that a former Bishop of Chichester, George Bell, had sexually abused a young girl in the 1950s, an independent review has concluded.

The committee that investigated the allegations, made by a woman known only as “Carol”, “failed to follow a process that was fair and equitable to both sides”, Lord Carlile, the independent reviewer, found.

“As a result, it concluded all too easily that Carol was telling the truth and Bishop Bell was responsible for serious abuse,” he said.

Although the Church “acted throughout in good faith”, it was overly fearful of once again failing to listen to survivors of abuse. As a result, it over-corrected by rushing to judgement against the long-dead Bishop.

Lord Carlile also notes in his review that, besides unsubstantiated references in a local-newspaper article, “no one other than Carol has come forward to make allegations against Bishop Bell. This is despite the widespread publicity which the case has received.”

Although Lord Carlile’s brief did not included determining whether Bishop Bell was innocent of the charges, he concludes in his review: “For Bishop Bell’s reputation to be catastrophically affected in the way that occurred was just wrong.”

Responding to Lord Carlile’s criticism of the Church’s handling of the case, the Bishop of Bath & Wells, the Rt Revd Peter Hancock, who leads the Church’s safeguarding work, acknowledged that the surviving relatives of Bishop Bell had suffered as a result of the child-abuse accusation. But so had Carol, he said. He apologised to both: “We are sorry that the Church has added to that pain through its handling of this case.”

There was no apology, however, from the Archbishop of Canterbury, who said in a statement that the decision to publish Bishop Bell’s name in the context of Carol’s allegations had been “taken with immense reluctance”.

He continued: “We realise that a significant cloud is left over his name. Bishop Bell was in many ways a hero. He is also accused of great wickedness. No human being is entirely good or bad.”

Questioned about Archbishop Welby’s statement, Lord Carlile described it as “less than fully adroit”.

THE news about Bishop Bell broke in a C of E press release in October 2015, which announced without warning that the diocese of Chichester had apologised and reached a settlement with Carol after her allegations against Bishop Bell (News, 22 October 2015).

Bell has been regarded as one of the Church’s outstanding clerics of the 20th century, for, among other things, his public stand against the saturation bombing of Germany cities during the Second World War and his active support for the Kindertransport movement.

The review, commissioned last year after a fierce campaign by defenders of Bell (News, 25 November 2016), was published on Friday morning. Its terms of reference did not include determining Bishop Bell’s guilt or innocence: its purpose was to examine the procedures used by the C of E’s safeguarding team to reach their conclusion.

While the Church’s fears of repeating past mistakes and ignoring the victims of clerical abuse were valid, Bell’s right to a fair process was not “extinguished on death”, Lord Carlile concluded.

The C of E should never have publicised Carol’s allegations, and thereby “wrongly and unnecessarily damaged” Bishop Bell’s reputation.

The advice given to the Church was that, if Carol’s case had come to court, it would have been proved on the balance of probabilities. But Lord Carlile writes that, if the “core group” brought together to devise the Church’s response to the allegations had seen the evidence that his review had managed to uncover without great difficulty, the case would not have been thought strong enough even to be tested in court.

Lord Carlile’s report makes a series of recommendations about how future safeguarding inquiries should be conducted. The most significant is that alleged abusers, whether alive or dead, must not be named publicly unless an investigating core group finds a “proper basis of evidence” for the claims.

When a case results in a financial settlement without an admission of liability, as in the Bishop Bell case, there should be a confidentiality clause in the settlement to stop the accused’s name ever being published.

Speaking at a press conference on Friday after the publication of the report, Bishiop Hancock said that, while the national safeguarding team had accepted that its processes were “deficient”, it none the less rejected this recommendation, because of its commitment to transparency.


Review of George Bell child abuse case will be rigorous, Lord Carlile insists

LORD CARLILE, who is to review the Church of England’s handling of the George Bell child-abuse allegations, insists that his inquiry will deliver a robust and independent verdict

“We would look at each case on its merits, but generally would seek to avoid confidentiality clauses,” he said. “The Church has always affirmed and treasured Bishop Bell’s principled stand in the Second World War, and his contribution to peace remains extraordinary.

“At the same time, we have a duty and commitment to listen to those reporting abuse and to protect their interests.”

The Bishop of Chichester, Dr Martin Warner, said that Bishop Bell’s good deeds would “stand the test of time”. “In every other respect, we have all been diminished by the case that Lord Carlile has reviewed.”

In a press conference after the review was published, Lord Carlile criticised the original 2015 statement for “hanging [Bishop Bell] out to dry”. Although this was not their intention, the statement left a clear impression that the C of E had found Bishop Bell guilty, he said.

Despite being pressed by reporters, Lord Carlile, a former Liberal Democrat MP and experienced barrister, declined to say whether he believed Bishop Bell to have been innocent. He did admit, however, that, had he been asked to prosecute Bell over Carol’s allegations, he would have lost the case.

The core group’s inquiries were “very weak”, he said, and failed even to speak to witnesses or find material that his own review had come across quickly and easily. It was “premature” for the C of E to come to a conclusion about Bishop Bell “before actively seeking the widest available evidence about what had happened at the time”.

The Church’s safeguarding team had believed Carol’s accusations to be true, and, therefore, “obvious lines of investigation were not followed,” Lord Carlile said. This led to “over-steering”: where the Church allowed its preconceptions to drive the outcome.

Bishop Hancock said that Lord Carlile rightly condemned the Church for this “over-steering”. But he insisted that changes had been made, with new guidelines and funding for the national safeguarding team, which was now better equipped to tackle similar cases.

Dr Warner conceded, none the less, that there was no guarantee that this would be the last review of safeguarding failures. There was more work to be done, but “the climate and character of the [safeguarding] work has changed for the better.”

The full review can be read here.

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December 15 2017 – BBC 1 – South East Today – News – 6.30pm

“For Bishop Bell’s reputation to be catastrophically affected in the way that occurred was just wrong” ~ Lord Carlile

“I am appalled by the Church’s behaviour, particularly by the Archbishop of Canterbury’s statement ‘there is still a cloud over George Bell’s name’. They should admit entirely what they did was wrong. They dragged his reputation through the dirt, and they should now ‘make of penitential efforts’ – to use a term they will be familiar with – to put right what they have done” ~ Peter Hitchens

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November 26 2017 – “What good is a church without justice?” – Peter Hitchens on Bishop Bell – Mail on Sunday

Peter Hitchens

What good is a church without justice?

As Mrs Merton might have asked: ‘So, Archbishop Welby, why have you now sat for 50 whole days on a report which says the Church of England did a wrong and unjust thing?’

I am repeatedly disgusted by the way in which our country has forgotten the basic rules of English justice. And I have written before here about the case of George Bell, the saintly and brave Bishop of Chichester who repeatedly risked unpopularity rather than remain silent about wrongdoing. If only there were more like him. He died in 1958, much mourned. Yet two years ago, on the basis of a single uncorroborated accusation made many decades after the alleged crime, the Church of England publicly denounced him as a child abuser.

Somehow, the allegation became a conviction and was blazed abroad on the BBC and in several newspapers which should have known better. Despite huge publicity nationally and locally, no other accusation has been made in the years since.

I had long revered Bell’s memory, and, with several allies, sought to get justice for him. We found that he had been convicted by a slapdash and inconsiderate kangaroo court.

They made no serious effort to consult Bell’s huge archive (or his biographer, who knew his way around it) to check the claims against it. They never found or warned Bell’s living niece, Barbara Whitley, who was astonished and appalled to see her uncle suddenly smeared in public, and is still livid.

They never looked for or consulted Adrian Carey, Bell’s personal chaplain, who lived in the Bishop’s Palace at the time of the supposed crimes. We did. Until the day he died, Canon Carey rejected the charges as baseless and impossible.

The Church’s main response was to accuse us, quite falsely, of attacking the complainant, which we never did. Then, very grudgingly, it announced a review. Then, with glacial slowness, it appointed a QC, Lord Carlile, to undertake it. Lord Carlile delivered his report on October 7. You can imagine what it says. The C of E is still making excuses for not publishing it. How quick they were to condemn another. How slow they are to admit their own fault.

Publish it now.

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November 23 2017 – “This delay is intolerable” – Midhurst and Petworth Observer – Letter – Meriel Wilmot-Wright of Chichester

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LETTER: Bell report wait is intolerable


Published: 01:00 Thursday 23 November 2017

It is now eight weeks since the eminent QC Lord Carlile delivered to Archbishop Justin Welby the report of his investigations into the unproven allegations against the late Bishop George Bell. Eight weeks – and the report is still unpublished. This delay is intolerable and there is now a large body of people nationwide calling for its immediate publication – one hopes, without redactions.

Read more at:

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November 23 2017 – “This delay is intolerable” – Chichester Observer – Letter – Meriel Wilmot-Wright of Chichester



Published: 01:00 Thursday 23 November 2017

It is now eight weeks since the eminent QC Lord Carlile delivered to Archbishop Justin Welby the report of his investigations into the unproven allegations against the late Bishop George Bell. Eight weeks – and the report is still unpublished. This delay is intolerable and there is now a large body of people nationwide calling for its immediate publication – one hopes, without redactions. 

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October 15 2017 – “Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby apologises to sexual abuse survivor ‘Gilo’ for C of E failings”

Justin Welby apologises to sexual abuse survivor for C of E failings

Archbishop of Canterbury writes personal letter to survivor known as Gilo for his office’s failure to respond to 17 letters

Justin Welby
 Justin Welby’s letter of apology came after a mediation session between Gilo and two senior bishops. Photograph: Victoria Jones/PA

The Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, has personally apologised to a sexual abuse survivor for his office’s failure to respond to 17 letters seeking help and redress.

Three bishops have also urged the Church of England’s insurance company to review its settlement with the survivor, saying they are “very concerned about the way in which the claim was handled at the time”.

In a letter to the Ecclesiastical Insurance Group (EIG), the bishops expressed disquiet that “horse-trading” between lawyers over settlements has had “little concern for the impact” on survivors.

The two letters are the latest developments in a long struggle by Gilo – who is also known as Joe, and whose surname is withheld at his request – to force the C of E to acknowledge both the abuse he experienced as a teenager at the hands of a senior church figure and its failure to respond properly to his disclosures.

Gilo told dozens of C of E figures, including three bishops and a senior clergyman later ordained as a bishop, of his abuse over a period of almost four decades. A highly critical independent report commissioned by the C of E into Gilo’s case said last year that the failure of those in senior positions to record or take action on his disclosures was “deeply disturbing”.

Welby’s letter to Gilo says: “I am writing to say how profoundly sorry I am for all the abuse you have suffered … I am shocked to hear of what has happened to you and the impact over so many years.”

The archbishop wrote that he was aware that Gilo had been “in communication with me here at Lambeth Palace over a period of time. I am sorry that the way your correspondence was handled has not been helpful to you, and has not been to the standard you would expect”.

Gilo received only one response to his letters to Welby, from a correspondence clerk offering prayers.

Welby wrote that he had asked for a review of processes. “There are lessons to learn and I am keen that we learn them and make any changes necessary.”

The archbishop’s letter of apology arose from a mediation session between Gilo and two bishops: Tim Thornton, to whom Gilo says he disclosed details of his abuse in 2003 and who is now bishop at Lambeth; and Paul Butler, the bishop of Durham and the C of E’s lead bishop on safeguarding at the time of the independent review of the case.

In a statement issued on Sunday, the two bishops said they “recognise that the church continues to face serious challenges through its response to survivors” and “these matters need to be faced honestly and squarely”.

Butler and Thornton, along with Alan Wilson, the bishop of Buckingham, also wrote to the EIG to raise concerns. They called on the insurance company to revisit cases “where past practice may have reached a settlement that did not truly match the significance of the impact of the abuse”.

They wrote: “In particular we have been very concerned to hear how ‘horse trading’ around the level of settlements has occurred between lawyers with little concern for the impact such an approach has had on the survivor.”

The bishops suggest the EIG should review the settlement it reached with Gilo. He received £35,000 after the church agreed it was at fault, but pastoral care was cut off following the agreement.

The bishops’ letter said they were “very concerned about the way in which [the case] was handled at the time”. The impact of abuse on Gilo “has been lifelong and continues. It has seriously impacted his health and wellbeing. This in turn has affected his work and finances.”

Gilo has repeatedly criticised the C of E’s close relationship with the EIG and the presence of senior clergy on its board of directors. He has claimed the insurers advised the church to cut off emotional and psychological support in a move that “directly conflicted” with the church’s pastoral and compassionate responsibilities.

He told the Guardian: “It’s a courageous and bold move by these bishops to finally grasp a powerful corporate nettle in such a clear way.

“They are right. The settlement process is a degrading, demeaning horse trade in which the insurer holds all the cards, and can effectively hold a gun against the heads of survivors and our own lawyers. It is a skewered and broken system that doesn’t serve justice.

“The church is finally recognising the cost of impact. And cost, too, for many survivors who have campaigned for change against a silent and discrediting church, and both former and current bishops who have covered up. All those survivors, and the ones who’ve fallen away bitter and angry and left unhealed, need recognition of the cost in their lives and real justice.”

In its reply to the bishops’ letter, the EIG said there was no basis to revisit the settlement agreed with Gilo. It had responded to his complaints about EIG’s handling of his case “with patience and sensitivity”, it said.

The company sought to “see all survivors treated with sensitivity, fairness, compassion and respect, and to achieve reconciliation”.

In a statement, the EIG said: “As independent insurers, we are not responsible for the abuse perpetrated by those for whom the church is accountable. Our role is to handle insured claims for financial compensation fairly for these acts of abuse.

“We and other insurers are bound by comprehensive, industry-wide regulation that oversees the way we operate and handle claims, and by the civil justice system.

“It is not in our gift to change civil law, which defines the claims process. Negotiations between lawyers – characterised in the bishops’ letter as ‘horse trading’ – are a normal part of that process. So are full and final settlements, which bring certainty to all parties within the civil justice system.

“It is, however, in the Church of England’s gift to provide further compensation as well as ongoing pastoral care to victims and survivors of clergy abuse if it so wishes.”

 This article was amended on 22 October 2017 because an earlier version said Gilo had disclosed details to Tim Thornton. This has been corrected to say Gilo says he disclosed details to Thornton.


June 29 2017 – “The Safeguarding Industry has become a Witch Hunt” – ‘Rebel Priest’ – Jules Gomes

The Safeguarding Industry has become a Witch Hunt

June 29, 2017

Rebel Priest

Jules Gomes

My blood ran cold the day I watched The Crucible. It was a “reality show” vividly depicting how the vindictive hysterics and histrionics of a young woman infatuated with a married man could destroy an entire community. The Crucible is a partially fictionalised portrayal of the infamous Salem witch trials that took place in the Massachusetts Bay Colony in the spring of 1692.

What freaked me out was the realisation that justice was now at the mercy of hysteria. The Salem witch trials are back in the form of the new ‘safeguarding’ hysteria in the Church of England.

Anxious to wash the blood of his hands while the mob bays for blood, Archbishop Justin Welby has thrown one of his predecessors to the wolves and is determined to put an end to the global ministry of Archbishop George Carey.

How did safeguarding, which rightly exists to protect the vulnerable, get turned on its head to punish the victimised innocent?  Now the powers that be have decided to pursue anyone they believe to be guilty. But guilty of what? They treat a sin of omission as if it was the sin of commission. If a person is deemed not to have fulfilled their responsibility in adequate safeguarding, albeit many years previously when no such concept existed, that person is now going to be held responsible, penalised and punished. The media frenzy that follows effectively destroys the reputation of the person.

The Church of England and its hierarchical structures have chosen to take safeguarding into a new stratosphere.

They have weaponised it in order to protect themselves.

The hysteria began with Jimmy Savile. Savile’s acts were an abomination.  So are all who perpetrate such dreadful acts on innocent children and adults. But where does responsibility start or end for those caught up in it?  For example, if a sergeant has misbehaved, should the general be sacked?  Of course, if his captain or major knew and did nothing, they should be dismissed, but should the colonel and the general also take full responsibility and be removed? What of the politician?

We are now in a Kafkaesque situation where it is impossible to satisfy all the authorities’ requirements.  Equally we are in an Orwellian society, where anyone who does not spy on the rest and report any real or imagined faults is held guilty.  Justin Welby is becoming a new Borgia in relation to Savonarola, where the planning of a person’s destruction becomes paramount because they do not agree with then. He may argue that he is simply allowing the safeguarding process to take place unimpeded. But by his actions he has shown the opposite.

The Church of England and its hierarchical structures have chosen to take safeguarding into a new stratosphere. They have weaponised it in order to protect themselves. This weapon has now become not only defensive but also offensive. In its offensive form it is immensely destructive. With no lower limit on the time since the event or the smallness of the omission, this weapon could be used selectively to remove from ministry anyone the hierarchy may have taken against.

Whether offensive or defensive, the weaponisation of safeguarding will ultimately alienate anyone from entering the priesthood or from taking any role within the church, whether choir member, lay preacher or archbishop. Yet, this ticking time bomb is not recognised.  Truth has been turned on its head. Truth is now kicking its legs, calling for the world’s attention, and everyone is silent.

Everyone lives in fear. No one knows who will be next. The witches are watching. Soon they will be pointing. Then they will start screaming. And the next head will be strung up on the gallows.

(Originally published in The Conservative Woman)

September 30 2017 – “Archbishop of Canterbury accuses BBC of failing to show same ‘integrity’ over child abuse as the Church” – Christian Today [Ruth Gledhill]

Archbishop of Canterbury accuses BBC of failing to show same ‘integrity’ over child abuse as the Church

The Archbishop of Canterbury has criticised the BBC over its response to Jimmy Savile

The BBC has defended itself against criticism from the Archbishop of Canterbury that it lacked ‘integrity’ in its response to the Jimmy Savile child abuse scandal.

Archbishop Justin Welby said on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme that the corporation had not shown the same integrity the Anglican and Catholic churches had.

Invited to reflect on the programmes 60th anniversary of being on air, he said: ‘I think we are a kinder society more concerned with our own failures, more willing to be honest where we go wrong in most of our institutions.’ But there were still ‘dark areas’. 

He continued: ‘If I’m really honest, I’d say the BBC is one. I haven’t seen the same integrity over the BBC’s failures over Savile as I’ve seen in the Roman Catholic Church, in the Church of England, in other public institutions over abuse. We may be proved wrong about that but you know that’s one area.’

The Archbishop also referred to the dispute over the pay gap between men and women at the BBC, and said that in the church, male and female bishops received exactly the same stipends.

Archbishop Welby was speaking just weeks before Lord Carlile publishes his review into how the Church of England handled a claim by ‘Carol’ into allegations of abuse by the late Bishop George Bell of Chichester, who died in 1958.

In Australia, where the Anglican and Roman Catholic churches have been under investigation by a royal commission into institutional child sex abuse, and the Catholic Cardinal George Pell is facing multiple historic child sex abuse charges, only yesterday it emerged that one victim was forced to take the Anglican Church to court over failure to pay a $1.5 million settlement.

The BBC, Church of England and Roman Catholic Church will all be examined soon in the UK’s own version of the Australian commission, chaired by Professor Alexis Jay.  This December, the UK inquiry will look at the English Benedectines and next March, at the Church of England’s Chichester diocese.

Meanwhile six church sex abuse survivors silence condemned the Archbishop’s attack on the BBC.

In a statement they said: ‘Speaking from our own bitter experience, we do not recognise Archbishop Welby’s description of the integrity with which the Church of England handles cases of abuse in a church context.

‘Far from the ‘rigorous response and self-examination’ he claims, our experience of the church, and specifically the archbishop, is of long years of silence, denial and evasion. The Church of England needs to confront its own darkness in relation to abuse before confronting the darkness of others.’

Matthew Ineson, who as a teen was raped by a C of E vicar, Trevor Devamanikkam, who killed himself just before he was due to appear in court to answer to the charges, told The Guardian: ‘I know from my own experience, and the experience of others, that safeguarding within the C of E is appalling.

‘The church has colluded with the cover-up of abuse and has obstructed justice for those whose lives have been ruined by the actions of its clergy. I have been fighting for five years for the church to recognise its responsibilities and I’m still being met with attempts to bully me into dropping my case.’

A BBC spokesman defended the corporation. He said: ‘This isn’t a characterisation we recognise. When the Savile allegations became known we established an independent investigation by a High Court judge. In the interests of transparency, this was published in full. We apologised and accepted all the recommendations.

‘And while today’s BBC is a different place, we set out very clear actions to ensure the highest possible standards of child safeguarding.’

Regarding the Archbishop’s comments on the gender pay gap, the BBC added: ‘Gender pay is a challenge for all organisations not just the BBC. The national gender pay gap is 18 percent. The BBC’s is under ten percent and we have committed to closing it in 2020. We know we have to go further and faster. We are not unique in this. The Church of England’s own published pay gap for non-office holders is 41 percent. We all collectively have more work to do, to sort an issue that is a problem across the vast majority of organisations.’

Lambeth Palace said: ‘We fully accept the failures of the Church of England in the area of safeguarding.

‘Since the Archbishop took up his role, he has been very clear that the safeguarding of children and vulnerable adults should be the highest priority of all parts of the Church and was one of the first to call for the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse (IICSA).

‘The Church’s National Safeguarding Team was created in 2015 and there are now robust House of Bishops safeguarding policies in place along with independent audits for all dioceses and dedicated training on hearing disclosures for all senior clergy.

‘The Archbishop fully supports the Church’s commitment to develop a stronger national approach to safeguarding to improve its response to protecting the vulnerable.

‘The Archbishop believes this level of rigorous response and self-examination needs to extend to all institutions, including the BBC.’

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