Tag Archives: Bishop George Bell of Chichester

OCTOBER 8 2020 – “CHURCH OF ENGLAND CHILD SEX ABUSE: SUSSEX FAILINGS FOUND” / “CHURCH ‘FAILED TO PROTECT CHILDREN FROM ABUSERS, INQUIRY FINDS” – THE BRIGHTON ARGUS – OCTOBER 8 2020

Church of England child sex abuse: Sussex failings found / “Church ‘failed to protect children from abusers’, inquiry finds”

By Aidan Barlow  @ArgusAidan Crime Reporter

Professor Alexis Jay has chaired an inquiry into child sex abuse in the Church of England, including against former Bishop of Lewes Peter Ball

THE Church of England failed to protect children from sexual abusers in Sussex, an inquiry has found.

An independent inquiry into child sex abuse within the Church looked at the conduct of former Bishop of Lewes Peter Ball and former Bishop of Chichester George Bell.

It found the Church fostered a culture where sexual predators could “hide” – and got more support than victims of sexual abuse.

The inquiry found that 390 clergy have been convicted since 1940.

Last year there were 2,500 safeguarding concerns raised and 449 allegations reported.

Photo: Former Bishop of Lewes Peter Ball

It had investigated claims against figures in Sussex, which is part of the Diocese of Chichester.

Victim Philip Johnson, from Eastbourne, was a victim of Bishop Peter Ball in 1978.

Ball admitted abusing 18 young men between 1977 and 1992 and was jailed in 2015. He died last year aged 87.

Mr Johnson previously agreed to waive his right to anonymity and said the inquiry has taken a step in the right direction.

He said there is a need for more independent oversight and safeguarding and a need for more thorough support for victims and survivors.

Photo: Philip Johnson has spoken out about the abuse

In 2015, following Ball’s conviction, the then Detective Chief Inspector Carywn Hughes described how Bishop Ball had abused 12 victims at his home in Litlington near Lewes over many years.

The DCI said: “It became clear that under the guise of his status as a Bishop, Ball had systematically abused the trust of the victims, many of whom were aspiring priests, while others were simply seeking to explore their spirituality.

“He abused that trust and used religion, through his Give A Year For Christ scheme, as a cloak behind which to carry out his grooming activity, the principal aim of which was to satisfy his sexual interest in and desire for young men.”

Ball was guilty of misconduct in a public office and sexual assault.

He admitted misusing his position in authority between 1977 and 1992 “to manipulate and prevail upon others for his own sexual gratification” in relation to 16 young men.

He also admitted indecently assaulting two men in their late teens between 1980 and 1983 and between 1990 and 1991.

Ball was Bishop of Lewes between 1977 and 1992 and Bishop of Gloucester from 1992 until his resignation the following year.

Read more on this story:

The inquiry found that public support was often given to clergy like Ball by the Church of England, regardless of the evidence against them.

Bishop George Bell was the wartime Bishop of Chichester.

A victim, who The Argus previously referred to as Carol to protect her identity, said she was five years old when he molested her.

She also explained she had informed the Church of the abuse in 1995, and again in 2012, and again in 2013 – at which time Archbishop Justin Welby saw to it her complaint was fully investigated.

In October 2015, the Church issued a £16,000 payout and an apology for the way the complaint had been dealt with.

Inquiry chairwoman Professor Alexis Jay said: “Over many decades, the Church of England failed to protect children and young people from sexual abusers, instead facilitating a culture where perpetrators could hide and victims faced barriers to disclosure that many could not overcome.

Photo: Professor Alexis Jay chaired the inquiry

“To ensure the right action is taken in future, it’s essential that the importance of protecting children from abhorrent sexual abuse is continuously reinforced.

“If real and lasting changes are to be made, it’s vital that the Church improves the way it responds to allegations from victims and survivors, and provides proper support for those victims over time.

“The panel and I hope that this report and its recommendations will support these changes to ensure these failures never happen again.”

Photo: Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby

The current Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby apologised for church failings and said he felt “ashamed”.

He said the failings revealed were “profoundly and deeply shocking”.

LETTER TO THE ARGUS – OCTOBER 8 2020

Dear Aidan Barlow

As the Argus crime reporter, would you please maintain your journalistic integrity by amending your surprisingly sloppy piece of journalism [“Church ‘failed to protect children from abusers’, inquiry found”, Argus, Oct 8].

There is a distortion of facts, and therefore truth, if the case of the wartime Bishop of Chichester George Bell is confused – deliberately or otherwise – with the case of ex-Bishop Peter Ball.

Peter Ball was found guilty in a criminal court of law. 

George Bell was found not guilty by two separate investigations by Lord Alex Carlile QC and Timothy Briden – both commissioned by the Church.
I would urge you to amend your article accordingly.

Yours sincerely

Richard W. Symonds

The Bell Society

2 Lychgate Cottages Ifield Street, Ifield Village Crawley, West Sussex RH11 0NN
Tel: 07540 309592 [Text only – Very deaf] Email: richardsy5@aol.com

RWS COMMENT

Here is an example of sloppy journalism which damages truth and justice for those victims and survivors of abuse, and those victims and survivors falsely accused of abuse.

When reading the Argus article, be aware that ex-Bishop Peter Ball was found guilty in a criminal court of law, while wartime Bishop of Chichester was found not guilty by two separate investigations by Lord Alex Carlile QC and Timothy Briden – both commissioned by the Church.

I look forward to the Church of England Comms correcting this media sloppiness – just as I look forward to flying pigs getting landing rights here at Gatwick.

Dear Richard, 

I agree with you that Aidan Barlow’s report is sloppy.  It is more than that: it is reprehensible and Bishop Bell would have grounds to sue the Argus for damages for defamation were he still alive. 

The report does not say in terms that Bell was guilty of abusing ‘Carol’, but that is the clear inference from referring to her as a ‘victim’ (rather than as complainant or claimant) and the £16,000 ‘payout’ by the Church, without making any reference to the subsequent investigation and Review by Lord Carlile.  

The article contains a link (Read more on this story: Fresh material given to police in Bishop of Chichester George Bell case) to the report by Joel Adams in the Argus on 31 January 2018 referring to the ‘information’ received following publication of the Carlile Review in December 2017.  At least that report includes an accurate summary of the conclusions of Lord Carlile QC (though wrongly elevating his status by calling him a ‘Law Lord’!) and refers to Carol as ‘the alleged victim’ (emphasis added), but this does little to correct the position when there is no reference in the current report to the subsequent Sussex police statement (in March 2018) “The matter is now closed as far as Sussex Police are concerned and the Church of England have been informed of this” (https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2018/04/22/bishop-george-bell-abuse-investigation-dropped-sussex-police/amp/https://virtueonline.org/uk-bishop-george-bell-investigation-dropped-sussex-police) nor to the Briden report, dated 17 January 2019, finding the new allegations to be “unfounded”: https://www.churchtimes.co.uk/articles/2019/1-february/news/uk/archbishop-welby-apologises-for-mistakes-in-case-of-george-bell.  

The IICSA report published on 6 October 2020 does refer to the Bell case on pages 70-71, but (I would suggest) in a disingenuous way, leaving the innuendo that Bell might have been guilty of the abuse alleged. 

First, on page 70, it records criticisms of Lord Carlile’s report voiced in evidence by Ecclesiastical (EIO) claims director David Bonehill (a witness who had to be recalled on 12 July 2019 to correct misleading evidence given earlier).  The report makes no comment on those criticisms and, so far as I am aware, Lord Carlile was not asked for his response to them.  

Second, at page 71, para 39, the IICSA report states simply in respect of ‘the second George Bell case’: “Mr Briden concluded that no further allegations were proven on the balance of probabilities.”  The footnote reference (footnote 578) is not a reference to Mr Briden’s report but to inquiry document ACE027643_138-142. |This is pages 138 to 142 of Graham Tilby’s witness statement dated 14 June 2019 in which (at para 348) he purports to summarise Timothy Briden’s conclusions.  His first bullet point states simply, “Alison’s complaint was not considered to be proved on the balance of probabilities”, omitting Mr Briden’s reason, namely “her evidence being unverified by independent sources and her account unreliable.”  Likewise, Mr Tilby’s second bullet point states “The incident described by witness K was not considered proved on the balance of probabilities”, omitting Mr Briden’s reason, “the hearsay account being inherently unconvincing and without corroboration.” (See Appendix III).  Further, Mr Tilby makes no reference to Mr Briden’s overarching conclusion at his para 43: “Concentrating exclusively on the allegations remitted to me, I have decided that they are unfounded.” (emphasis added). 

I should add, for the sake of accuracy, that Lord Carlile did not find Bishop Bell ‘not guilty’ of the abuse alleged by Carol as his terms of reference precluded him from doing so (see paras 9, 10 and 258 of his Review), but reading between the lines of his criticisms of the flawed core group investigation, it is pretty clear that that is his (unstated) view. 

In view of what I have set out above, I am copying this e-mail, inter alios, to Alex Carlile. 

Kind regards, 

David.  

David Lamming – General Synod member

RWS NOTE

General Synod member David Lamming has called this sloppy piece of journalism by the Brighton Argus as “reprehensible” – but it represents a part of the media which is beyond ignorant – and dangerously distorts the truth – deliberately or otherwise.

There needs to be pastoral care and support, not just for the victims and survivors of abuse, but also the victims and survivors of those falsely accused of abuse.

COMPLAINT TO ARRON HENDY – ARGUS EDITOR

Dear Arron Hendy
Please register this as a formal complaint – one of accuracy [lack of] due to poor research by a professional journalist.
If this complaint is not dealt with by the end of today (Friday October 9 2020), I will formally complain to IPSO.

1. Accuracy

i) The Press must take care not to publish inaccurate, misleading or distorted information or images, including headlines not supported by the text.

ii) A significant inaccuracy, misleading statement or distortion must be corrected, promptly and with due prominence, and — where appropriate — an apology published.

Yours sincerely 

Richard W. Symonds
2 Lychgate Cottages Ifield Street Ifield Village Crawley West Sussex RH11 0NN
Tel: 07540 309592 (Text only please) Email: richardsy5@aol.com

IPSO COMPLAINT

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The Argus (Brighton) (Newsquest Media Group)

“Church’s child sex abuse shame” [Hard Copy] + Church of England child sex abuse: Sussex failings found / “Church ‘failed to protect children from abusers’, inquiry finds” [Online], date of article 08/10/2020

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https://richardwsymonds.wordpress.com/2020/10/08/october-8-2020-church-of-england-child-sex-abuse-sussex-failings-found-the-argus-october-8-2020/

Clause(s) breached:

1 Accuracy

The integrity of the professional journalist concerned is questioned with an inaccurate, poorly researched and sloppy piece of journalism.
There is a distortion of facts, and therefore truth and justice, if the case of the wartime Bishop of Chichester George Bell is confused – deliberately or otherwise – with the case of ex-Bishop Peter Ball.
Peter Ball was found guilty in a criminal court of law. George Bell was found not guilty by two separate investigations by Lord Alex Carlile QC and Timothy Briden – both commissioned by the Church.

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Mr

Richard W. Symonds

richardsy5@aol.com

2 LYCHGATE
IFIELD STREET
CRAWLEY
RH11 0NN

07540309592 [Text only – Very deaf]

AUGUST 2 2020 – “WELBY IS SUCH A PATHETIC PRELATE” – PETER HITCHENS – MAIL ON SUNDAY

Peter Hitchens

Peter Hitchens

AUGUST 2 2020 – “WELBY IS SUCH A PATHETIC PRELATE” – PETER HITCHENS – MAIL ON SUNDAY

Welby is such a pathetic prelate

The Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, is, in my view, prissy, pathetic and political. He has utterly failed to stand up for his church against its first compulsory shutdown since the days of Bad King John eight centuries back.

Not long ago Welby supported the disgraceful smearing of a man whose mitre he would not have been fit to carry, the courageous and selfless Bishop George Bell of Chichester (please, please do not confuse Bell with the revolting criminal Bishop Peter Ball, with whom he is not remotely connected). 

Bell, long after his death, was wrongly labelled as a child abuser by a secret kangaroo court of the Church of England, which did not even bother to look for living witnesses for the defence.

When this outrage was met with a wave of fury from the many who had known and loved Bell, an independent inquiry tore the case against him to shreds. But even after Bell was cleared to the satisfaction of all open-minded people, Welby (like many weak men reluctant to admit an error) continued to insist that a ‘significant cloud’ still hung over Bell.

Am I now entitled to see a spot of divine retribution in the revelation last week that the C of E is investigating how Welby dealt with complaints of serial abuse of young men at Christian holiday camps? Well, I do. One of those affected has now written to the Church with a formal complaint against the Archbishop, once a dormitory officer at the camps, saying Welby did not do enough when he learned of the abuse.

The man claims Welby failed to refer the abuse directly to social services and the police, in breach of church guidelines.

Welby has always said he knew nothing of the allegations until 2013, when the Church referred them to the police. Well, no doubt Welby will be cleared of all this. But will he then proclaim that a ‘significant cloud’ still hangs over himself? Or will he learn that if you desire justice for yourself, you have to desire it for others?

 

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PETER HITCHENS ON LIBERTY, JUSTICE AND THE DECLINE OF THE JURY – AND THE PRESUMPTION OF INNOCENCE

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https://hitchensblog.mailonsunday.co.uk/2020/04/i-used-to-think-juries-were-a-safeguard-for-liberty-and-justice-now-i-am-not-so-sure.html

Am I going to have to fall out of love with juries? For decades I have defended these curious committees, which can ruin a man’s life in an afternoon. It has been a romance as much as it has been a reasoned position. Most people get their best lesson in jury trials from the 1957 movie Twelve Angry Men. In that version, a single determined juror, played by Henry Fonda, gradually wins the rest of the panel round to an acquittal, at great cost in emotion and patience. But what really won my heart was Thomas Macaulay’s account of the Trial of the Seven Bishops, in which a London jury defied the wishes of the would-be autocrat King James II in 1688. It was an astonishing event, a monarch’s authority challenged by—of all unlikely things—a collection of Anglican prelates. Their acquittal, perhaps more than anything else, led to James’s fall a few months later. It was the beginning of true constitutional monarchy in Europe, the genesis of the English Bill of Rights and the forerunner of the very similar American document of the same name. It could not have happened without a jury.  

For without a jury, any trial is simply a process by which the state reassures itself that it has got the right man. A group of state employees, none of them especially distinguished, are asked to confirm the views of other state employees. With a jury, the government cannot know the outcome and must prove its case. And so the faint, phantasmal ideal of the presumption of innocence takes on actual flesh and bones and stands in the path of power. Juries grew up in England almost entirely by happy accident, and no government would nowadays willingly create them where they do not already operate. A brief fashion for them in 19th-century Europe was swiftly stamped out by governments that understood all too well how much they limited their power. I believe the last true Continental juries, sitting in the absence of a judge, were abolished in France in 1940 by the German occupation authorities. People in Anglosphere countries, unaware that true independent juries rarely exist outside the English-speaking world, have no idea what a precious possession they are. 

I remember actually pounding the arm of my chair with delight as I read Macaulay’s account of the response of the bishops’ attorney, Francis Pemberton, when threatened by the chief Crown prosecutor, the solicitor general: “Record what you will. I am not afraid of you, Mister Solicitor!” So this was England after all, and even the majesty of the Stuart Crown could not overawe the defense. This was wholly thanks to the fact that the trial took place before a jury—which duly acquitted the bishops of “seditious libel,” the ludicrous charge by which James had hoped to crush opposition to his plans to reverse the Reformation. Without a jury, the king would of course have won his case, and England would have gone down the road to absolutism (already followed in France, Prussia, Russia, and the Habsburg dominions) with incalculable consequences for the whole world. Instead we had what came to be called the Glorious (or Bloodless) Revolution.  

And my blood still runs faster when I recall this and other moments at which the mere existence of juries has made us all more free. Yet I also have terrible doubts. Is the independence of juries possible in the modern world, in which the English Bill of Rights is all but forgotten and a new dispensation reigns? All too often, I read reports of trials in my own country that fill me with doubt. I did my fair share of court reporting as an apprentice journalist many years ago, and I have a good understanding of how these things used to work and ought to work.

Something has changed. There is a worrying number of sex cases now coming before the courts in which clear forensic proof of guilt is often unobtainable. 

The alleged crimes themselves are repulsive, and the mere accusation is enough to nurture prejudice. The defendants have often been arrested in the scorching light of total publicity, in spectacular dawn raids totally unjustified by any immediate danger they present. Pre-trial media reporting has further undermined the presumption of innocence. In England there is still officially a strong rule against the media taking sides before the jury delivers its verdict. But this is not enforced as it once was. The prosecutions are frequently as emotional as they are unforensic, the opposite of the proper arrangement. Yet the defendants are often convicted even so (sometimes by majority verdicts, which in my view violate the whole jury principle). The state seems somehow to have turned the jury—often swayed by emotion—into its own weapon. And it is worse than the alternative. A wrongfully-convicted defendant, pronounced culpable by a jury of his peers, must feel a far deeper despair than one cast into prison by a mere panel of judges. 

I had been concerned about this for some time. I knew that, since the introduction of majority verdicts in 1966, and the abolition of the old property qualification in 1974, English juries had not been what they were. Majority verdicts effectively made impossible the stand by the Henry Fonda character in Twelve Angry Men. The judge would simply have accepted the guilty verdict of the majority. The property qualification—which required jurors to be householders—tended to ensure that they were older and more experienced. But it also meant they were mostly male, and mostly well-off, and it is easy to see why it was removed. The problem was that it was replaced by nothing at all. Nobody, it seemed, could devise an educational or age qualification that did not violate some principle of the new egalitarianism. This means that anyone on the voters’ roll may now be a juryperson, and your whole future could in theory be decided by a room full of 18-year-olds who have never worked, paid taxes, been abroad, broken a bone, or raised a child. I do not find this reassuring. 

In 1907, when the English Court of Criminal Appeal was first set up, there were warnings that it would undermine the authority of the jury, since it could overturn a guilty verdict (though not an acquittal). And it is easy to see why some defenders of juries were worried. A principle can be undermined from more than one direction. But as it happened, the danger to juries came from a different source—from the increasing egalitarianism of society itself, and the resulting politicization of so many trials. Judges became less elitist and more political, as did prosecutors. The sexual revolution created a whole new class of crimes, and created a whole new set of procedures to try them. It granted anonymity to accusers, a change that met with surprisingly weak opposition. 

I did not really understand the force of this until I found myself unexpectedly defending the long-dead Bishop George Bell against ancient charges of child sex abuse. Bishop Bell could not be tried because he was deceased. But the Church of England’s treatment of his case very much reflected the new arrangements. He was more or less presumed guilty. His unnamed accuser was designated a victim and a “survivor,” not an alleged victim, before any inquiry began. The procedure that adjudged him guilty, in private, did not follow the presumption of innocence and made no serious effort to discover if there was a defense (there was). I found to my shock that an inaccurate claim—that he would have been arrested if alive—persuaded many apparently fair-minded, educated, and intelligent people of his guilt, though an arrest is evidence of nothing at all. Thanks to some truly dedicated and determined work by many selfless people, and some very good legal work as well, the thing was more or less set right. But a grudging Church of England has yet to make full restitution. 

So when I saw the case in Australia against Cardinal George Pell, it was not just the similar name that aroused my interest. I knew from a recent visit to Sydney that Australia had undergone an anti-religious revolution. I knew very well how powerful allegations of child abuse had been in weakening the Church. My instincts were to believe that George Pell, who behaved like an innocent man, had been wrongly accused. But what if this was just bias? I sought to keep an open mind. I would presume the cardinal was innocent, but would not let my Christian sympathy close my mind to serious evidence against him. I had taken the same view in the Bell case. I resolved at the beginning never to be afraid of the truth. If the evidence against George Bell was convincing beyond reasonable doubt, then I would have to change my view of a man whose brave and selfless actions I had much admired. I would have to accept that the world was a bleaker, worse place than even I had feared. I knew well enough that there were pedophile priests. The same had to apply to Cardinal Pell. 

And then a strange silence fell over the trial. I know that there were valid legal reasons for this silence, but it still seems to me that some way should have been found for a case of such moment to be heard openly and reported openly, while it was going on. When Pell was convicted, I felt I had to accept the verdict because I was in no position to dispute it, and had not heard what the jury had heard. But the whole sky darkened at the news. If such a man was guilty of such a filthy thing, and a jury had agreed upon this after a fair trial, then the forces of goodness were in rapid and frightening retreat.   

And then, amid the dismal suppression of freedom and the economic lunacy now gripping the world, came a sudden shaft of light. The High Court of Australia overturned the verdict and freed Cardinal Pell. And then I read what they had said. It was startling and disturbing, not because there was any ambiguity in it, but because of something else. A court statement declared, 

The High Court found that the jury, acting rationally on the whole of the evidence, ought to have entertained a doubt as to the applicant’s guilt with respect to each of the offences for which he was convicted, and ordered that the convictions be quashed and that verdicts of acquittal be entered in their place.

 The judges ruled: 

On the assumption that the jury had assessed the complainant’s evidence as thoroughly credible and reliable, the evidence of the opportunity witnesses nonetheless required the jury, acting rationally, to have entertained a reasonable doubt as to the applicant’s guilt in relation to the offences involved in both alleged incidents. 

This seems to me to be a very polite way of suggesting that the jury did not entertain that reasonable doubt. I may be very grateful that the High Court took this view, because it seems to me that justice was done when George Pell was freed. But will there always be such High Courts, and will most people be able to reach them? In this egalitarian world, in which a series of inglorious revolutions has wholly changed the nature of justice, I am not sure that the old English jury is much of a defense anymore. And I cannot begin to say how sad this makes me.

Peter Hitchens is a columnist for the Mail on Sunday.

“CARDINAL PELL: NATURAL AND INALIENABLE RIGHTS” – ‘Philosophical Investigations’ – April 20 2020

“The legal cases of Cardinal George Pell and Bishop George Bell are very different, but there are parallels which cannot be ignored – such as the critical importance of Presumption of Innocence in the endless quest for justice and fairness”

~ Richard W. Symonds

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http://www.philosophical-investigations.org/2020/04/cardinal-pell-natural-and-inalienable.html

Monday, 20 April 2020

Cardinal Pell: Natural and Inalienable Rights

by Richard W. Symonds

The Church of St Cyriac, Lacock, by GB_1984

The principle of the presumption of innocence is of extreme importance, and the case of Cardinal George Pell has implications for the respect for—and security of—this principle.That one is considered innocent until proven guilty is a vital pre-condition for our survival and well-being within a civilised society. Undermining such jurisprudence can lead to catastrophic miscarriages of justice which ultimately threaten our humanity—in fact, yours and mine.

The accused is not required to defend or prove their innocence—it is for the accuser to prove guilt—beyond reasonable doubt. It is one of the foundational legal principles—a bedrock of our civilisation: ‘The burden of proof is on the one who declares, not on one who denies’. Or Ei incumbit probatio qui dicit, non qui negat in the ancient Latin.

Presumption of innocence is a legal right of the accused in a criminal trial, and an international human right embodied under Article 11 of the UN Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

A just law must be a fair law, which punishes the guilty, not the innocent. Presumption of innocence is an immunity against unjust accusations.

In the case of Cardinal George Pell, a disturbing and dislocating miscarriage of justice has been exposed within Australia’s justice system—and presumption of innocence was almost lethally compromised and undermined.

A basic history of events—a timelined chronology if you will—would help:

• July 16 1996 — Bishop George Pell is appointed Archbishop of Melbourne. A former choirboy later testifies that the bishop molested him and his friend—both aged 13—in the vestry of St. Patrick’s Cathedral in Melbourne that year, after Mass.
• March 26 2001 — Archbishop Pell becomes Archbishop of Sydney.
• October 21 2003 — Pope John Paul II makes Archbishop Pell a Cardinal.
• February 25 2014 — Pope Francis appoints Cardinal Pell as his Finance Minister — Prefect of the Secretariat for the Economy.
• April 8 2014 — One of the choirboys dies aged 31, of a heroin overdose, without alleging the molestation by Pell, in fact telling his mother he had not been abused by Pell.
• August 5 2014 — Victoria police establish a task force to investigate how religious and other non-government organizations [NGO’s] deal with abuse accusations.
• June 18 2015 — The surviving choirboy gives his first statement to the police, claiming sexual abuse by Cardinal Pell.
• December 23 2015 — The Victoria Police task force appeals publicly for information relating to allegations of sexual abuse while Cardinal George Pell was Archbishop fo Melbourne.
• March 1 2016 — Cardinal Pell testifies by video link from Rome, to the Australian child abuse inquiry. Pell is critical on how the Church has dealt with paedophile priests in the past, but *denies he had been aware of the extent of the problem.
• October 19 2016 — Victoria police go to Rome to question Cardinal Pell, who hears details of the choirboy’s abuse allegations against him for the first time.
• June 29 2017 — Police charge Cardinal Pell with multiple counts of historical sexual abuse. This makes him the most senior Catholic cleric to be charged in the Church’s abuse crisis. Pell denies the accusations and takes leave of absence from the Vatican to return to Australia to defend himself.
• July 26 2017 — Cardinal Pell makes his first court appearance on charges that he sexually abused multiple children in Victoria decades earlier. Details of the allegations are not made public. Pell vows to fight the allegations.
• May 1 2018 — A Magistrate commits Cardinal Pell to stand trial. He pleads not guilty to all charges.
• May 2 2018 — A Judge separates the charges into two trials; the first dating to his tenure as Archbishop of Melbourne, and the other when he was a young priest in Ballarat during the 1970’s.
• December 11 2018 — The jury unanimously convicts Cardinal Pell on all charges in the Melbourne case.
• February 26 2019 — A suppression order forbidding publication of any details about the trial is lifted. Prosecutors abandon trial on the Ballarat charges.
• March 13 2019 — The judge sentences Cardinal Pell to six years in prison, on five sex abuse convictions, in which he must serve 3 years and 8 months before he is eligible for parole.
• August 21 2019 — Victoria Court of Appeal rules 2–1 to uphold the convictions, but there is ‘stinging dissent’ by that Court’s leading criminal law expert.
• The High Court, Australia’s top court, in an unusual procedural move, agrees to hear Cardinal Pell’s leave to appeal, and his actual substantive appeal, concurrently.
• April 7 2020 — All seven judges of the High Court of the Australian Court of Appeal quash the conviction of Cardinal George Pell. In a volte-face, they unanimously agree the appeal has succeeded, dismiss all convictions, and release Cardinal Pell immediately—after he spent 13 months in high-security prisons. 

In overturning the jury’s decision of December 2018, the seven High Court judges said the jury, ‘acting rationally on the whole of the evidence, ought to have entertained a doubt as to the applicant’s guilt with respect to each of the offences for which he was convicted’.There was ‘a significant possibility that an innocent person has been convicted, because the evidence did not establish guilt to the requisite standard of proof’. The High Court referred to what it called ‘the unchallenged evidence of the opportunity witnesses’ at the 2018 trial, which suggested there was cause for doubt.

This case has attracted world-wide attention for good reason.

What lies at the heart of our justice system is Lord Sankey’s ‘golden thread’ which runs through criminal and common law: Guilt must be proved by the accuser’s prosecution beyond any reasonable doubt. This undoubtedly did not take place in before the High Court judges intervened this April 2020 to make just the injustice.

It is better many guilty go free rather than one innocent is wrongly convicted and jailed for a crime they did not commit.

The Cardinal is entitled to be presumed innocent because that is what the Presumption of Innocence is all about—innocent until proven guilty.

Beware the spirit of the age. Alan Ryan, a professor of politics at Princeton University, sounded the alert thirty-two years ago: ‘Natural and inalienable rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness have fallen into disrepute, along with a faith in reason and reason’s dictates.’

COMMENTS

Keith said…
The essay focuses on the underlying legal principle of the ‘presumption of innocence’. Fair enough; that’s a just guiding rule; and my understanding is that the Australian legal system abides by that.

However, in looking down the chronology, as an impartial reader with no dog in the fight I see nothing that explicitly proves that the presumption of innocence was denied the defendant when the jury arrived at its verdict in December 2018.

Without categorical evidence to the contrary, I have to assume the empanelled jurors — a ‘jury of one’s peers’, as they say, with preemptory strikes by both sides — went into the trial and into their deliberations honoring the defendant’s presumed innocence.

Likewise regarding the presumption of innocence by the appeals court that apparently upheld the verdict, by a split decision, in August 2019.

I have no opinion whether the defendant was or was not guilty; that’s not appropriate for me to weigh in on, particularly given the dearth of evidence here. I defer to Australia’s legal system.

But, again, what’s important is I see nothing in either the chronology or surrounding narrative that supports the charge that, as the post says, ‘the presumption of innocence was almost lethally compromised and undermined’. The material proof of that assertion is omitted.

“In overturning the jury’s decision of December 2018, the seven High Court judges said the jury, ‘acting rationally on the whole of the evidence, ought to have entertained a doubt as to the applicant’s guilt with respect to each of the offences for which he was convicted’”

The Hight Court judges ruled that “the jury ‘ought to have entertained a doubt as to the applicant’s guilt”.

That means the jury “entertained” a Presumption of Guilt, which is why I assert “the presumption of innocence was almost lethally compromised and undermined”.

Martin Cohen said…I think the presumption of innocence is particularly important with events so far off and subject to distorted memories and recall. In particular, witness evidence is even more prone to confused recollections than shortly after the event, while someone who is accused will have great difficulty defending themselves with regard to what “they did” when (if innocent) they can hardly be expected to remember much. Ironically, a guilty person has much more reason to remember events and be able to produce a coherent but false narrative…20 April 2020 at 13:24

Richard W. Symonds said…

Indeed, “the presumption of innocence is particularly important with events so far off and subject to distorted memories and recall…”. And now there is a fresh abuse allegation against Cardinal Pell which has come just after his acquittal – alleged to have taken place over 40 years ago “back in the 1970s”.

20 April 2020 at 14:51 

In our complex societies, we ‘prioritise the principles of social life’, as Yves Simon put it. Together with procedures which support those principles, this removes passions and prejudices as the basis for the system — rather artificially, one might add.

I asked myself how plausible it is that someone should bring false charges against a Cardinal. Does that really happen? Indeed it does, and it has been proved. See The Australian, ‘Cardinal George Pell convicted for a lacklustre display of empathy,’ by Angela Shanahan. Which is not to say that all charges are false, including those where there is acquittal.

This past week, my neighbour was taken from his home and jailed. When we checked, the police had failed to follow Standard Operating Procedure. For instance, they failed to ask him for a statement, and it looks as though there wasn’t a valid statement against him. Here is an example of what happens where passions and prejudices are allowed any room.

20 April 2020 at 16:50

Richard W. Symonds said…

“I asked myself how plausible it is that someone should bring false charges against a Cardinal. Does that really happen? Indeed it does…”

Yes, indeed it does. In the case of the Southampton football manager Dave Jones, falsely accused of abusing his children [recounted in his autobiography ‘No Smoke, No Fire’ – 2009], the police were forced to ‘trawl’ in prisons to find inmates to come forward to back up the accuser’s story. The presiding judge – Judge David Clarke – concluded: “No doubt there will be people who are going to think there is no smoke without fire. I can do nothing about that except to say such an attitude would be wrong”

20 April 2020 at 18:55 

OCT 14 2020 – FIRST VATICAN PAEDOPHILE TRIAL BEGINNING – CARDINAL GEORGE PELL MEETS POPE

“CARDINAL PELL AND THE PRESUMPTION OF INNOCENCE” BY RICHARD W. SYMONDS

Cardinal George Pell released from Australia’s Geelong prison – April 7, 2020. 
 (James Ross/AAP Image via AP)

 

I have been prompted to write this article because of the close parallels with the Bishop Bell case. [See ‘Afternote’ at end of article].

Richard W. Symonds

CARDINAL PELL AND THE PRESUMPTION OF INNOCENCE” BY RICHARD W. SYMONDS OF THE BELL SOCIETY – 

The principle of the presumption of innocence is of extreme importance, and the case of Cardinal George Pell has implications for the respect for – and security of – this principle. 

That one is considered innocent until proven guilty is a vital pre-condition for our survival and well-being within a civilised society. Undermining such jurisprudence can lead to catastrophic miscarriages of justice which ultimately threaten our humanity.

‘Ei incumbit probatio qui dicit, non qui negat’ is one of the foundational legal principles – a bedrock of our civilization: ‘the burden of proof is on the one who declares, not on one who denies’. The accused is not required to defend or prove their innocence; it is for the accuser to prove guilt – beyond reasonable doubt. 
Presumption of innocence is a legal right of the accused in a criminal trial and an international human right embodied under Article 11 of the UN Universal Declaration of Human Rights. 
A just law must be a fair law which punishes the guilty, not the innocent. Presumption of innocence is an immunity against unjust accusations.
In the case of Cardinal George Pell, a disturbing and dislocating miscarriage of justice has been exposed within Australia’s justice system – and presumption of innocence has been lethally compromised and undermined.
A basic history of events – a timelined chronology if you will – might help:
July 16 1996 – Bishop George Pell is appointed Archbishop of Melbourne. A former choirboy later testifies Bishop Pell molested him and his friend – both aged 13 – in the vestry of St. Patrick’s Cathedral in Melbourne that year, after Mass.

March 26 2001 – Archbishop Pell becomes Archbishop of Sydney.

October 21 2003 – Pope John Paul II makes Archbishop Pell a Cardinal.

February 25 2014 – Pope Francis appoints Cardinal Pell as his Finance Minister – Prefect of the Secretariat for the Economy.

April 8 2014 – One of the choirboys dies aged 31 of a heroin overdose, without alleging the molestation by Pell and telling his mother he had not been abused by Pell.

August 5 2014 – Victoria police establish a Task Force to investigate how religious and other non-government organizations [NGO’s] deal with abuse accusations.

June 18 2015 – The surviving choirboy gives his first statement to the police, claiming sexual abuse by Cardinal Pell.

December 23 2015 – The Victoria Police Task Force appeals publicly for information relating to allegations of sexual abuse while Cardinal George Pell was Melbourne Archbishop.

March 1 2016 – Cardinal Pell testifies by video link from Rome to the Australian child abuse inquiry. Pell was critical on how the Church had dealt with paedophile priests in the past, but denied he had been aware of the extent of the problem.

October 19 2016 – Victoria police go to Rome to question Cardinal Pell who hears details of the choirboy’s abuse allegations against him for the first time.

June 29 2017 – Police charge Pell with multiple counts of historical sexual abuse. This made him the most senior Catholic cleric to be charged in the Church’s abuse crisis. Pell denied the accusations and took leave of absence from the Vatican to return to Australia to defend himself.

July 26 2017 – Cardinal Pell makes his first court appearance on charges that he sexually abused multiple children in Victoria decades earlier. Details of the allegations were not made public. Pell vows to fight the allegations.

May 1 2018 – A Magistrate commits Cardinal Pell to stand trial. He pleads not guilty to all charges.

May 2 2018 – A Judge separates the charges into two trials; the first dating to his tenure as Melbourne Archbishop and the other when he was a young priest in Ballarat during the 1970’s.

December 11 2018 – Jury unanimously convicts Cardinal Pell on all charges in the Melbourne case.

February 26 2019 – Suppression order forbidding publication of any details about the trial is lifted. Prosecutors abandon trial on the Ballarat charges.

March 13 2019 – Judge sentences Cardinal Pell to six years in prison on five sex abuse convictions in which he must serve 3 years and 8 months before he is eligible for parole.

August 21 2019 – Victoria Court of Appeal rules 2-1 to uphold the convictions, but there is “stinging dissent” by that Court’s leading criminal law expert.

The High Court, Australia’s top court, in an unusual procedural move, agrees to hear Cardinal Pell’s leave to appeal, and his actual substantive appeal, concurrently.

April 7 2020 – All seven judges of the High Court of the Australian Court of Appeal quash the conviction of Cardinal George Pell. In a volte-face, they unanimously agree the appeal has succeeded, dismiss all convictions, and release Cardinal Pell immediately – after he spent 13 months in high-security prisons. 

In overturning the jury’s decision of December 2018, the seven High Court judges said the jury, “acting rationally on the whole of the evidence, ought to have entertained a doubt as to the applicant’s guilt with respect to each of the offences for which he was convicted”. There was “a significant possibility that an innocent person has been convicted because the evidence did not establish guilt to the requisite standard of proof”. The High Court referred to what it called “the unchallenged evidence of the opportunity witnesses” at the 2018 trial, which suggested there was cause for doubt.

This case has attracted world-wide attention for good reason.

It is clear Cardinal George Pell should never have been convicted. It is clear he should never have spent 13 months incarcerated behind bars. It is clear there was a miscarriage of justice in the December 2018 jury conviction. It is clear Victoria’s Court of Appeal upholding the judge’s March 2019 conviction was wrong.

What lies at the heart of our justice system is Lord Sankey’s ‘golden thread’ which runs through criminal and common law: Guilt must be proved by the accuser’s prosecution beyond any reasonable doubt. This undoubtedly did not take place in the case of Cardinal Pell, before the High Court judges intervened this April to make just the injustice.

It is better many guilty go free rather than one innocent is wrongly convicted and jailed for a crime they did not commit.

The unanimous High Court judgement makes explicit the standard of reasonable doubt and makes implicit criticisms of the Victoria Court of Appeal for not understanding what that means. There was a presumption of guilt on their part, but he has now been found ‘not guilty’ beyond reasonable doubt.The Cardinal is therefore entitled to be presumed innocent because that is what  the Presumption of Innocence is all about – innocent until proven guilty.

AFTERNOTE

Yesterday’s Daily Telegraph carried an item about a new abuse allegation having just been made against Cardinal Pell, following his recent acquittal [“New child abuse police inquiry into cardinal”, DT, April 14 2020 – Page 15].

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This reminds me particularly of the events of Jan/Feb 2018, immediately following the Carlile Review (see Chronology below) – and has prompted the “Cardinal Pell and the Presumption of Innocence” piece.

PELL, BELL AND JUSTICE – CHURCH TIMES [UNPUBLISHED LETTER]

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Dear Editor

The Church of England hierarchy would be advised to familiarise itself with the unanimous decision of seven High Court judges of the Australian Court of Appeal to quash the conviction of Cardinal George Pell (“Cardinal Pell’s conviction quashed by High Court”, CT, April 7). 
 
The jury, “acting rationally on the whole of the evidence, ought to have entertained a doubt as to the applicant’s guilt with respect to each of the offences for which he was convicted”. There was “a significant possibility that an innocent person has been convicted because the evidence did not establish guilt to the requisite standard of proof”.
 
In the case of the character assassination of Bishop George Bell, the evidence used by the Church of England hierarchy – which includes Archbishop Welby and Bishop Warner – was even more flimsy.

Let truth and justice speak above the shameful, ecclesiastical silence.

 

Yours sincerely

Richard W. Symonds

The Bell Society

TIM HUDSON LETTER SUBMISSION TO THE TIMES – FEBRUARY 2020

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Sir,

So the Archbishops of Canterbury and York “have issued a rare joint apology” for the Church of England’s misguided declaration that those in civil partnerships should not have sex. (“Archbishops ‘very sorry’ for sex advice”, Jan 31).  This, they now acknowledge, “has jeopardised trust” among the general public.

Apologies from clergy, especially senior ones, are rare indeed in my experience.

The Archbishops have one further apology to make while they are in the mood – to admirers and relatives of Bishop George Bell of Chichester (died 1958).  The saintly bishop was accused a few years ago of paedophilia on extremely uncertain grounds given his previously entirely blameless reputation.  Against all reason Archbishop Welby still considers Bell to be ‘under a cloud’.  This unjustified slur has been long overdue for removal, and the present moment would be a good time to achieve that.

Tim Hudson

Chichester
West Sussex,

‘BISHOP BELL – DRESDEN’ LETTER SUBMITTED BY THE REVD DR BARRY A. ORFORD TO THE DAILY TELEGRAPH

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Image copyright GETTY IMAGES The bombing of Dresden created a firestorm that destroyed the centre of the city

‘DRESDEN – BISHOP BELL’ LETTER SUBMITTED BY THE REVD DR BARRY A. ORFORD TO THE DAILY TELEGRAPH

 

The Editor

The Daily Telegraph

London

SW1W 0DT

February 13th, 2020

 

Sir,

The article by Sinclair McKay (February 13th) on the 1945 bombing of Dresden was timely and welcome. What a pity, though, that he did not mention the most prominent wartime challenge to the British policy of Obliteration Bombing, which came from Bishop George Bell of Chichester.

In 1944, when Hamburg had been devastated the previous year and Dresden was still to suffer, Bishop Bell, a fervent anti-Nazi, questioned in the House of Lords the morality of such bombing of targets which were not primarily military. Few of his fellow bishops supported him, and he earned himself both widespread abuse but also agreement. The bravery of his stand is undeniable.

Recently, there have been shameful (and now discredited) attempts in Bell’s diocese to tarnish his reputation. Since an apology for this behaviour is still not forthcoming, it is more than ever necessary that we are reminded of George Bell’s courage and integrity, both in wartime and beyond it.

 

Barry A. Orford

barry_orford
The Revd Dr Barry  A. Orford

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Dear Editor

Earlier this month, at Westminster Abbey, there was a Service of Thanksgiving for the politician and diplomat Lord ‘Paddy’ Ashdown who died last year.

In the Epilogue of his last book – “Nein! Standing Up To Hitler 1935-1944” – Lord Ashdown concludes:

“There are also, as Dietrich Bonhoeffer and Bishop Bell argued, moral questions to be addressed here”

Later next month, in Chichester Cathedral*, some of those questions will be addressed at the Coburg Conference which “will focus on Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s and George Bell’s work, and what it can teach us in the light of today’s political situation”. 

Yours sincerely 

Richard W. Symonds

The Bell Society

 

* October 10th to 14th. Venue: 4 Canon Lane (formerly George Bell House), Chichester Cathedral