Tag Archives: Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby

July 24 2019 – “Professional Bullies” and the Church of England

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“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”
~ Revd Graham Sawyer – IICSA Inquiry – July 2018

1. “An ethically challenged Church? Bullying and threats” – ‘Surviving Church’ – Stephen Parsons

Among the many documents attached to the recent IICSA hearings was an email correspondence dating back to 2015 between a survivors’ group and the Archbishop of Canterbury.  I would not have picked up on this exchange but for an alarming article last Friday in the Church of England Newspaper by Sheik Muhammad Al-Husseini.  Al-Husseini has core status in the IICSA hearings and although he is not directly involved in the Anglican side of the hearings, he seems remarkably well-informed about the detail of what is going on in our church.  He has also spoken to several survivors and their lawyers.

The correspondence, to which Al-Husseini refers, mentions that in 2015 one of the things that survivors were complaining about to the Archbishop was the use by some dioceses of a particular company to protect their interests, Luther Pendragon, a specialist in crisis management.  Without knowing anything further about this firm, one is immediately concerned to discover that at least two dioceses are spending considerable sums of money on this kind of advice.  If any institution brings in professional help to protect its interests then it means that this institution has decided that it needs to ‘circle the wagons’ to protect itself against a perceived enemy.  Who is this enemy?  The enemy is evidently none other than the survivors themselves.  These are the same people, whose interests the Archbishop of Canterbury has promised to put right at the centre of the Church’s concerns.

The letter addressed to the Archbishop on the 12 June 2015 claims that ‘scandal management companies like Luther Pendragon Limited  .. are known to have acted to obstruct, apply pressure and threaten survivors, whistleblowers and others who have spoken out about Anglican clergy abuse’.  Even without reading the letter detailing the techniques used by this firm, we seem to be entering a very dark place. A diocese of the Church of England (two are mentioned, London and Winchester) has felt it right to use the services of what can only be described as professional bullies to protect its reputation.  The victims of this bullying are among the most vulnerable group in society – the sexually and spiritually abused.  How can this be ethical, let alone Christian?  One survivor I know was informed that it was normal practice for the Church or its agents to collect personal information about complainants to assist in the potential legal defence processes which might lessen the potential liability of the Church.  A particularly nasty attack that survivors have had to face is the suggestion that, before their abuse, they were in some way already mentally fragile.  Thus, any symptoms of post-traumatic stress they may now be suffering, were already present.

Al-Husseini’s article also mentions the fact that the Church of England nationally employs one particularly aggressive law firm to protect its interests.  A particular lawyer in this firm has acquired from survivors the nickname the Pitbull on account of her techniques of intimidation and merciless interrogation of survivors.   The article overall gives us some insight into a thoroughly unpleasant culture.  On the outside there are pleasing soft words, tears of remorse and apology.  Inside we find a ruthless machine full of hard-headed professional reputation people aligned to aggressive lawyers desperate to defend, at all costs, the institution.

It is to be hoped that this inclusion by IICSA of the 2015 document naming, and hopefully shaming, the underhand methods of Luther Pendragon, shows that the Inquiry is fully aware of hypocritical goings-on in the Church.  A further area of injustice remains to be resolved.  This is the way that the Church has tried, through its professionals, to discredit a highly respected international expert on safeguarding, Ian Elliott.  In 2015 Ian produced a comprehensive report about the treatment of one particular survivor, known to IICSA as A4.  In his report which has not been published in full, Ian criticised the advice given to the Church by lawyers and others to withdraw pastoral and other support from A4.  The Church, after initially enthusiastically receiving the report and promising to implement its findings in full, started to draw back from this support.  We do not know of course what was said behind closed doors at meetings of strategists and advisers but evidently senior people desperately wanted to discredit the report’s recommendations.  Within six to nine months it became just another report to be shelved and forgotten.  By that time the bishop who had been asked by the House of Bishops to oversee its implementation, Sarah Mullally, had been promoted from Crediton to London.  Here her new responsibilities made the task of overseeing the implementation of the Elliott report impossible to fulfil.  The criticism that Elliott had made in his report about the withdrawal of pastoral care for A4 was not picked up by the Church or responded to.  Nevertheless, there were enough denials and rumours around to suggest that this was not a true record of what had happened and this allowed the Church to wriggle out of any obligation to implement any part of the report.  No one in the leadership of the Church attacked Elliott, but neither did they, in the end, do anything to support him or put his recommendations into practice.

The doubts which had been cast over the Elliott report were finally confronted as the result of detective work presented to the IICSA enquiry.  Documents were uncovered which showed that there was, as he had claimed, written advice in circulation which gave clear advice to dioceses that A4 and other survivors were to be cut off from all communication with the Church if they made civil claims against it.  This included the withdrawal of pastoral support just as Ian Elliott had accurately reported.  This whole story was explored in the BBC Sunday programme on July 21st.

When we take an overall view of the way the Church has been behaving in regard to the survivors of sexual abuse it is hard not to use a series of adjectives which would include the words murky, disreputable and dishonest.  The gall needed to spend the Churches’ money on a company such as Luther Pendragon, which has made its name on defending tobacco companies and the nuclear waste industry, suggests that there are a considerable number of senior clergy who are in danger of losing their moral compass.

Every time a lie is told to a survivor, or a committee listens to ethically doubtful advice from an expensive lawyer, corruption enters in.  Individuals may have arrived at a meeting decent and honourable.  By the end of a meeting when they may have colluded in a blatant piece of expedient management of a survivor, there has been a slippage into colluding with evil activity.  This makes them participants in the evil themselves.

The saga of Jonathan Fletcher rumbles on.  Many people are asking how an individual with a history of doubtful behaviour and no PTO was able to access many pulpits in Britain and abroad over the past 2 ½ years.  Every such invitation involved another person in authority defying the rules of the Church.   Were these invitations made in conscious defiance of church rules or is it a case of information not being shared?  Then there is the deliberate ‘cleansing’ of mentions of Fletcher on various websites.  Who had the authority to perform such an act?  One author of a piece which had mentioned Fletcher in his original piece, only to see the name disappear, protested to me personally about this underhand and unauthorised editing.  The censorship shows every sign of being coordinated.  Thankfully no one has access to my blog posts so that my, no doubt provocative, posts on the topic remain up for anyone to read.

The Church at the institutional level and through its non-official manifestations seems to be going through a crisis of morality.  In spite of thousands of sermons preached each Sunday, the response to abuse survivors is apparently sometimes mired in shady, often shameful activity.  At the heart of this activity, as we have said many times before, is the need to preserve the good name of the structure.  How long will it be before this reputation polishing exercise collapses in total failure and the questionably ethical behaviour of so many church people becomes manifest?  That will be possibly the beginning of the end for our national Church.

COMMENTS

  1. Rowland Wateridge

Quoting what you say about survivors’ pre-existing conditions (if any) “A particularly nasty attack that survivors have had to face is the suggestion that, before their abuse, they were in some way already mentally fragile. Thus, any symptoms of post-traumatic stress they may now be suffering, were already present.”

That goes entirely against the long-standing legal concept that “you take your victim as you find him” (the word ‘victim’ may seem unfortunate in this context) also known as the “Egg-shell Skull Rule . This is a legal principle that the frailty, weakness, sensitivity, or feebleness of a victim cannot be used as a defence to a civil claim by the victim. In other words, put as simply as possible, it doesn’t avail an assailant, an abuser or a negligent car driver that they have injured someone who might be pre-disposed to injury due an existing condition. If someone has brittle bones, the law treats a broken leg as a broken leg regardless of the existing condition.

I’m sure others will have views on the wider topic here.

  1. But if the vicar/Archdeacon/bishop thinks it is a defence, it will work. And the survivor will still recognise they have been reabused. And I’ve been lied to and lied about. Corruption is not an unreasonable word. Brilliant post Stephen.

  1. No vicar, archdeacon or bishop may disregard the law of the land (the ‘Eggshell-skull Rule’ is equally the law in some other jurisdictions), and if they ‘think’ differently, that is immaterial. I have to say there is a question mark in my mind whether the Church itself has adequate legal advice sometimes, or if it is even sought, when matters of this kind arise.

    The point you make really goes to the question of proper and adequate representation and assistance to the survivor. If he or she had automatic access to legal advice, this spurious talk about pre-existing conditions would be knocked on the head very quickly.

    Luther Pendragon are not solicitors, although it is possible that they might have staff lawyers. If so, they, in turn, will know the Eggshell-skull Rule.

2. 02/03/2018 – Church of England faces ‘deep shame’ at child abuse inquiry” – The Guardian – Harriet Sherwood

 

3. 13/07/2019 Ecclesiastical Insurance – The Church of England and the IICSA

Photo John Titchener (left) – Ecclesiastical Insurance Office [EIO]. David Bonehill (right) – Ecclesiastical Insurance Group [EIG]

InquiryCSA – Friday – 12/07/2019 – Page 29 & 30

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

MS McNEILL: Do you think…A4, 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?

MR BONEHILL: No.

MS McNEILL: Finally, I want to read directly…the guiding principles that you told us about last week from Ecclesiastical. The first of those guiding principles is that policyholders…should respond to victims and survivors in such a way that it is not experienced or seen as negative, resistant or unhelpful, because this can create relationship difficulties and may worsen their well-being. Do you think that in managing this entire issue, Ecclesiastical has lived up to that guiding principle?

MR BONEHILL: Could we have done it better? Yes, I accept that point.

MS McNEILL: …as a statement of principle, it is a good one, isn’t it?

MR BONEHILL: Yes, it is. I agree entirely.

MS McNEILL: Do you think that you lived up to that principle?

MR BONEHILL: I think we could have done better 

MS McNEILL: Thank you.

 

Above in summary form by #AnglicanHearing

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. – 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. – 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 – Hattie Williams

 

“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”

~ Revd Graham Sawyer – IICSA – July 2018

 

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)

 

July 13 2019 – “The Matt Ineson Story – Archbishops challenged” – ‘Surviving Church’ – Stephen Parsons

“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”

July 28 2018 – IICSA Transcript – Final Day – July 27 2018

Mr William Chapman, counsel for complainants, victims and survivors represented by Switalskis and also who represents MACSAS:

Page 135-136: “He [George Carey], in the words of Andrew Nunn, did try to sweep it under the carpet. If George Carey thought by doing so he served the reputation of the church, it was a gross misjudgment. The tactics deployed by the church were at the very edge of lawfulness. We heard how Bishop Kemp attempted to compromise Mr Murdock. We heard how several bishops telephoned Ros Hunt to ask her to tell the young men who had made complaints not to speak to the police or the press. We heard how Michael Ball, Bishop of Truro, had been contacting witnesses and, in Mr Murdock’s view, trying to influence them. We do encourage the police to review whether any of these matters, in particular the actions of the bishops who contacted Ros Hunt, disclose offences of perverting the course of justice”

Mrs Kate Wood

Page 89-92

Q. How would you characterise the emails you received from Neil Todd? You received a number I think at this time?

A. I did. He, I think, was surprised this was being raised again. He was very calm about it, I felt. He wanted information, and why wouldn’t he? I wanted to give him as much information as I could, but, for the reasons you have outlined, I had to be a bit careful. I didn’t have any emails from him that showed any great distress at that point. He was obviously anxious, and he wanted information. But he was very calm and composed with his emails. I could tell he was also very angry at the church, and, again, why wouldn’t he be? So I tried to support him through that.

Q. In your witness statement at paragraph 149 you refer to the fact that in his later emails in particular he was clearly angry with the church —

A. Yes.

Q. — and was feeling anxious. You refer to an email — I think the reference is wrong, but the correct reference is ACE001870. This is an email to Jeremy Pryor. Why is it that you have this email, Mrs Wood?

A. I can only think that Jez, Jeremy, copied me in on it, I think.

Q. You think Jeremy copied you in or did Neil Todd copy you in? The reason I say that is in your summary you seem to think that Neil copied you in when he wrote this to Jeremy?

A. I don’t know, sorry.

Q. That’s all right. Don’t worry about that. If we can go down to the fifth paragraph of the long email that begins, “So the difficulty”. I think this is the email you are referring to in your witness statement:

Neil Todd’s Email to Mrs Kate Wood/Jeremy Pryor

“So the difficulty of the black-and-white events of Peter Ball’s behaviour are not in the acts themselves — but the fact that he corrupted my genuine search for something good with acts which were obviously intentional for his own sexual gratification in the guise of a wise teacher nurturing and caring of a young seeker, aspiring to good intentions.

“When he denied his behaviour, this struck at my deepest conscience — it was then that the reality of what I allowed him to do — was not moral. The reality that his behaviour was not for my good or inspirational guidance.

“He only had to admit that what he did — actually occurred — this would then have made some sense to me. If he could admit that lying on top of me naked, his ejaculations, the naked showers under his instruction, the threat of physical beatings was all part of his unique path to spiritual guidance, was normal, then maybe we could have accepted that his intentions were good, just unusual. But his denial of all that occurred resulted in deep disillusionment. I personally felt ashamed for allowing this behaviour to occur, for allowing myself to be so gullible and not question or seek guidance earlier. This could have redirected my path. I could have joined a true community and been guided appropriately. The church should also have showed a greater deal of support but to dismiss me after the incident with no due care, simply resulted in full disillusionment with the institution as a whole. I genuinely felt the church was covering up, but at the worst it affected my personal relationship with God and my genuine search in faith. When Peter accepted a caution, he stated with penitence and sorrow he was accepting the police caution, but, again, the church was saddened by his resignation.

“All I want is the truth to be known without suspicion. I want Peter to admit in black and white that the events that took place did take place — that none of this was my imagination — nor my fault. I want the black-and-white questions to be answered.

“I would also request that the church take responsibility for not acknowledging nor supporting nor investigating my concerns.

“I heard that Peter had a new candidate when I was based in London — I wonder if he too experienced similar behaviour.

“I have survived all this, led a normal life — I changed direction after a few years of rebellion, to say the least, and commenced training as a registered nurse. I have been qualified since 1999 and have been working as director of nursing for indigenous communities in Australia. I have a loving and supportive partner of 18 years and am generally considered normal.

“Unfortunately, I never had counselling to deal with nor work through the emotions that occur after such a personal incident — but, yes, I can accept that Peter Ball’s behaviour has left its mark. I am not a vindictive person — I only wish for an acknowledgement that my experience was a reality and that all Church of England hierarchical parties take a share in the responsibility of their inaction.

“Regards, Neil.”

Closing remarks by Fiona Scolding QC

Page 175-176

Chair and panel, obviously it is not the role of counsel to the inquiry to sum up. I just have a very few brief remarks. I would like to thank everybody — in particular the legal teams and all the witnesses who have attended — for their patience and cooperation. I would also like to thank everyone for the courteous and respectful way in which this hearing has been conducted and in their approach and role towards us as counsel to the inquiry.
Just a few statistics, so that everyone can feel that they have earned their fees: 108,000 pages of documents were received by the inquiry during this investigation, and 53,244 pages were disclosed; 118 witness statements were obtained from 23 97 individuals; we have heard 14 live witnesses and three read witnesses.
Last, but by no means least, we want to hold and remember Neil Todd and his family and hope that they are able to find peace and solace after what must have been a painful reawakening of their memories.
We also wish to thank all the other victims and survivors, whose courage in speaking to us and whose insight, wisdom and understanding is both central and essential to the work of this inquiry. We apologise for any distress and upset that this week may have caused to them. Thank you very much

 

July 19 2019 – Charles Moore on Bishop George Bell and a Special Commemoration Service at Christ Church, Oxford – Friday evening – 19/07/2019

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Charles Moore

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“The Spectator’s Notes” – Charles Moore – ‘The Spectator’ – 20 July 2019 – Page 9

Seventy-five years ago on Saturday, the July plot failed. Claus Schenk Graf von Stauffenberg placed a bomb in a briefcase next to Hitler in the conference room of the Wolf’s Lair, but someone moved the briefcase a little. When the bomb detonated, the heavy conference table shielded Hitler from the blast. Stauffenberg and many other conspirators were caught. He was executed early the next morning.

This Friday, in Christ Church, Oxford, a special service will commemorate the plot [Stauffenberg’s failed attempt to kill Hitler 75 years ago], and all those who resisted Nazism in Germany. It will centre on the altar dedicated to George Bell, Bishop of Chichester, and the main external supporter of German Christian resistance to Hitler.

In Sweden in May 1942, Bell met a young German pastor called Hans Schoünfeld [Schonfeld] and the famous theologian Dietrich Bonhoeffer, who would later be executed in Flossenbürg concentration camp. The former disclosed to him the extent of the resisters’ plot to overthrow Hitler, giving him many of the key names. Charged with this information, Bell went to see Anthony Eden, the foreign secretary. Could the Allies help, with assurances that they would negotiate a settlement with a new German state that renounced aggression and embraced Christian principles? Writing to Eden afterwards, Bell asked: ‘If there are men in Germany also ready to wage war against the monstrous tyranny of the Nazis from within, is it right to discourage or ignore them?’ Eden was suspicious that the moves by the churchmen might be untrustworthy ‘peace-feelers’, which Hitler’s spies were bound to know about. Besides, the Allies were edging towards the doctrine of unconditional surrender. Bell’s efforts came to nothing. The July plotters acted without exterior help. They failed, and died horribly.

Controversy about this will never cease. It is easy to sympathise both with the pleading of the Bishop and with the scepticism of the foreign secretary. But one has to be impressed by Bell’s striking way of putting it: ‘Germany was the first country in Europe to be occupied by the Nazis’, and so its people needed liberation as much as any other. At the service will be read out the words of Helmuth James von Moltke, a resister to the Nazis who opposed the assassination of Hitler on the grounds that this would make him a martyr, but was executed for treason all the same. In his farewell letter to his wife, von Moltke wrote: ‘In the last analysis, the dramatic thing about the trial was this … what we had discussed were questions of the practical-ethical demands of Christianity. Nothing more; it is for this, and this alone, that we have been condemned …Your husband … stood … not as a Protestant, not as a landed proprietor, not as a nobleman, not as a Prussian, not as a German — but as a Christian and as nothing else…’

Faithful readers will know that this column has defended Bishop Bell from a charge of child abuse which the Church of England chose to accept as true 70 years after the alleged acts. A full inquiry by Lord Carlile proved that the processes used to investigate this claim had been worthless. The Church was forced to accept this. It refused, however, to pursue the logic of Carlile’s finding and declare Bell innocent until proved guilty. The Archbishop of Canterbury stated that a ‘significant cloud’ still hangs over Bell; but the cloud is not evidenced. By chance, I was in Chichester for a family gathering last weekend. We stayed at 4 Canon Lane, a guesthouse which was, until the accusation, called George Bell House. His name was then painted out. I was sorely tempted to paint it back again, but realised this would upset the blameless staff, so contented myself with expressing my thoughts in the visitors’ book. I also reminded myself of the geography of the Bishop’s Palace. ‘Carol’, Bell’s accuser, alleged that Bell would collect her from his kitchen and take her upstairs to his study, where he abused her. In fact, the kitchen she mentioned belonged to the theological college next door, and Bell had no access. His study was elsewhere.

On the crenellations which surround the cathedral’s impressive Victorian spire, we spotted three peregrines looking dramatic against the evening sun. The return of birds of prey is an attractive feature of modern times. The downside is that more raptors means fewer songbirds.

~ Charles Moore

May 21 2019 – Bishop Gavin Ashenden on Bishop George Bell and The Deleted Files – Anglican Unscripted 505 [Time: 20.45 to 28.05]

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Bishop Gavin Ashenden

The implications of hiding crosses in churches. Anglican Unscripted 505.

Anglican Unscripted 505 – Bishop Gavin Ashenden on Bishop George Bell [Time: 20.45 to 28.05]

Ref: “Footprints In The Sand – tracking changes in online content” – A short report for The Bell Society by Peter Crosskey

https://richardwsymonds.wordpress.com/2019/05/20/may-20-2019-footprints-in-the-sand-tracking-changes-in-online-content-chichester-cathedral-website-a-short-report-for-the-bell-society-by-peter-crosskey/

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May 19 2019 – Peter Hitchens on Bishop Bell – What is at Stake and Why is it Important?

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Peter Hitchens

https://hitchensblog.mailonsunday.co.uk/2019/05/please-sign-this-petition-for-truth-and-justice.html

15 May 2019

Please Sign This Petition for Truth and Justice

I hesitate to ask readers one again to support a petition, but my good friend Peter Billingham, a long-standing and dedicated fighter in the cause of truth, and justice for the late George Bell, needs your support in a good enterprise.

There is now no serious question that the late Bishop Bell has emerged with his reputation unstained after allegations made against him. Regular readers will know of the case, but for new readers, or those wishing to refresh their memories, the best summary of the long saga may be read here http://www.georgebellgroup.org/statement-may-2019/

The distinguished QC Lord Carlile of Berriew  reviewed the case in a report which showed that the investigation of the allegations against the late Bishop bell was a one-sided, sloppy kangaroo court. But the Archbishop of Canterbury, who commissioned that report, debarred him from stating a conclusion about George Bell’s guilt or innocence. Lord Carlile made it clear, when questioned at the time of publication, that he thought the case against George bell was extraordinarily weak.  He has since said clearly that he believes that Bishop Bell *was* innocent of the charges,

Lord Carlile declared on 1 February 2019,  ‘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.’

But while the Church has plainly retreated from its earlier attitude, and the media which joined hastily in the Church’s hasty, unfair condemnation are now licking their wounds, relieved that the dead have no redress in such situations, there is still a failure in some quarters to admit error. In a Stalinist frenzy after the first accusations were made, George Bell’s name was hurriedly and shamefully stripped from a number of buildings and institutions, by people who failed to understand the most basic principles of English justice.

The most important of these was the handsome and tranquil guest house in Chichester Cathedral precincts, called George Bell House. This building was originally the gift of an order of Anglican nuns who had loved George Bell when he was alive and wanted to honour him after his death. Yet despite the vindication of George Bell by the Carlile review, his name has still not been restored to it. This is small-minded and petty, and putting it right would go a long way towards the penitence the Chichester authorities, and the Church of England as a whole, ought to show.

So, in the names of Truth and Justice, I ask you please to take a moment to add your names to this petition:

https://www.change.org/p/the-dean-chapter-of-chichester-cathedral-justice-for-george-bell-479a626f-47aa-400d-8fc3-61b19fcc5d98?recruiter=834778373&utm_source=share_petition&utm_medium=email

 

 

 

There are many things going on in this world but this is also an important issue one should not ignore, if one cares for truth and justice in everyday life.

However, I was wrong to believe that I could not sign this petition. This one does *not* require the residence address/postal code. There are many readers who do not live in the UK but really care for this subject.

I hope more people, even those who living outside of the UK, would sign this petition now.

 

 

The petition claims:

Two major reports in 2017 and 2019 established that allegations of abuse made against Bishop Bell sixty years after his death were unfounded.

Which is just a way of browbeating the original complainant into withdrawing – so back to the dark ages of the C of E – when everyone knew that htis sort of thing was rife but nobody spoke out – not even those who were happy to speak out against the war effort.

The facts have not changed.

An allegation was made. The C of E had it checked and concluded that in a civil case they would lose (with the facts judged on the balance of probabilities) and so they settled – about GBP16,000 plus a similar amount of costs.

In the absence of corroboration it was widely assumed that a criminal case against Bell (had he still been alive) would not get up if judged beyond reasonable doubt.

After the settlement the Cof E (and various elements of the media) reported the situation so as to give the impression that Bell had been found guilty. That is the only thing that was handled wrongly.

The difficulty still remains for the C of E (and any other organisation finding itself in a similar situation) that they have a lauded hero but htere is an uncorroborated allegation against him. What to do about statues and other celebratory artefacts relating to that person.

That a tough nut to crack.

No amount of further pontification changes the original facts.

Clearly there are those who would like the original complaint to be withdrawn and are applying pressure in manners such as this and Spacely-Trellis type reports which waffle around before eventually putting the boot in.

Disgraceful.

The original point (about the church’s (and media’s) misreporting of the original settlement) was won long ago.

Time to let it drop was long ago.

The only way you can get the original uncorroborated allegation to be withdrawn is by pressuring the complainant to do that – of which this is clearly a part.

***PH remarks: This contributor plainly has not read the two reports on the allegations against Bishop Bell. I suggest he goes to the website of the George Bell Group and studies the issue. Both sets of charges were shown in detail to be ( I put this politely) hopelessly weak. ****

 

 

 

adbob | 18 May 2019 at 01:14 AM

-“The facts have not changed.”-

The facts have changed.

-“An allegation was made. The C of E had it checked and concluded that in a civil case they would lose (with the facts judged on the balance of probabilities) and so they settled – about GBP16,000 plus a similar amount of costs.”-

As a previous thread post pointed out:

Yes, maybe a “legal process” had begun – but there was no trial. 
“Presumption of innocence”, “reasonable doubt”, “balance of probabilities”, etc. all apply only *during a legal or civil trial*. – Phil W | 29 January 2018 at 09:42 AM

-“No amount of further pontification changes the original facts.”-

The “original facts” did not include the facts which came to light since.

 

Signed and donated. In order for evil to prosper it is only necessary for good men to do nothing.

 

 

Signed. Mr Hitchens deserves great credit for his campaign to ensure that justice is done.
I wrote to Canterbury and Chichester to complain about what had been done. I received unsatisfactory replies. It would be interesting to see what they gave to say now.

 

 

 

Thank you for continuing to pursue this.

Is it worth asking how this happened, so that it might be prevented from reoccurring? My guess is that the Establishment (George Carey, the Prince of Wales, etc) was so stung by its worryingly misguided defence of Peter Ball, the convicted sex offender and ex Bishop of Lewes, that it swung too far the other way when faced with an unsubstantiated allegation.

 

 

Signed.
Yes, well done Mr Hitchens for keeping this up.

 

signed.

 

 

I signed. I don’t live in Chichester but do visit occasionally and these visits always include the Cathedral. It has been associated with some very notable people. I noticed that Gustav Holst’s remains are interred there, but my favourite is Thomas Weelkes, who was the Cathedral’s organist about 400 years ago. I do love his music and wondered why he never became a Gentleman of The Chapel Royal. Then I found out that he was rather too fond of the bottle and was often in trouble, even behaving badly enough to be dismissed but being able enough to be re-instated! His greatest/lowest moment must surely have been urinating on the Dean of the cathedral from the organ loft during Evensong. If the Cathedral authorities then were much like those now then perhaps he had a point.

 

Done

Signed. What a shame it has come to this. Welby and his ilk have no honour and integrity and should be ashamed to call themselves Christian, let alone purport to lead and represent a Christian institution.

 

Signed and shared on Facebook in the hope that others might sign it too…

 

 

PH is unwittingly beginning to sound like the defenders of Michael Jackson and Bill Cosby, it is extremely rare for people to completely fabricate allegations of sexual abuse, so I think it is right that someone’s reputation is at least tarnished by such an an accusation.

Of course if they were alive the law would presume innocence as it should, the alleged victims and the defendant could provide testimony and be subject to rigorous, persistent cross-examination, alas, this was never done and now cannot be done.

However, given that we are not talking about taking away Mr Bell’s liberty,, and given how rare it is for people to fabricate sexual abuse,, is it not absolutely correct that the CofE distances itself from this man?

 

 

Thomas O’Thornton | 15 May 2019 at 04:48 PM:-“it is extremely rare for people to completely fabricate allegations of sexual abuse […] and given how rare it is for people to fabricate sexual abuse”-

If only that were so.

 

 

Just signed it now. Thank you for keeping up interest in this matter Mr. Hitchens, I hope Justice is served.

Jan 24 2019 – “A report by Timothy Briden relating to Bishop George Bell” – Chichester Cathedral

170461775

Chichester Cathedral [from 4 Canon Lane – formerly George Bell House]

Chichester Cathedral Enterprises Ltd

https://www.chichestercathedral.org.uk/news/report-timothy-briden-relating-bishop-george-bell

A report by Timothy Briden, relating to Bishop George Bell

24th Jan 2019

A report by Timothy Briden, a senior ecclesiastical lawyer, relating to fresh information received about the late Bishop George Bell, has been published today. Mr Briden was appointed by the Bishop of Chichester to make an independent assessment of the evidence.

The Cathedral Chapter welcomes Timothy Briden’s report and the accompanying statements by the Church of England’s National Safeguarding Team, the Bishop of Chichester and the Archbishop of Canterbury.

The full report and statements can be found here: https://www.churchofengland.org/more/safeguarding/safeguarding-news-statements/national-safeguarding-team-statement-bishop-bell

The Bishop of Chichester’s statement refers to the difficulty of this complex 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.’

The Archbishop of Canterbury also notes:

‘The Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse (IICSA) has already questioned the Church of England over its response to the Bishop Bell case and the review by Lord Carlile. We expect that their report on our hearings will address further the complex issues that have been raised and will result in a more informed, confident, just and sensitive handling of allegations of abuse by the church in the future. We have apologised, and will continue to do so, for our poor response to those brave enough to come forward, while acknowledging that this will not take away the effects of the abuse.

This very difficult issue therefore leaves the church with an impossible dilemma which I hope people with different perspectives on it will try to understand.’

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]

Home

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