“If Archbishop Justin Welby and Bishop Martin Warner had been unequivocal in clearing the name of Bishop George Bell, such articles would never have been written”
Richard W. Symonds – The Bell Society
“If Archbishop Justin Welby and Bishop Martin Warner had been unequivocal in clearing the name of Bishop George Bell, such articles would never have been written”
Richard W. Symonds – The Bell Society
Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby
FROM THE ARCHIVES – ARCHBISHOP WELBY REFUSES TO PUBLICLY CLEAR BISHOP BELL, REFUSES TO RETRACT “SIGNIFICANT CLOUD” REMARKS AND REFUSES TO WITHDRAW “GREAT WICKEDNESS” COMMENTS – DAILY TELEGRAPH – JANUARY 24 2019
24 JANUARY 2019 • 2:51PMFollow
The Archbishop of Canterbury was accused yesterday of persisting with a “malign” attack on Bishop George Bell after he refused to exonerate him following a “copycat” allegation of historic child sex abuse.
An official report published yesterday concluded that a 70-year-old allegation against Bishop Bell was unfounded. It found that the evidence of the complainant – a woman named only as “Alison” – was “unreliable” and “inconsistent”.
Alison had written to the Church of England, claiming she had been sexually assaulted by the bishop in 1949 when she was aged nine.
The letter was sent a week after the Church of England was found to have wrongly besmirched Bishop Bell in its handling of a previous complaint brought by a woman known only as “Carol”.
The latest report suggested that Carol’s allegation had “prompted a false recollection in Alison’s mind”.
Yesterday, the Most Rev Justin Welby “apologised unreservedly for the mistakes” in the handling of the complaint made by Carol. But he declined to publicly clear the former Bishop of Chichester of any wrongdoing or retract a statement that he had a “significant cloud … over his name” and that he had been accused of “great wickedness”.
In a private letter, however, sent to Bishop Bell’s closest surviving relative, his niece Barbara Whitley, he wrote: “Once again I offer my sincerest apologies both personally and on behalf of the Church. We did wrong to you and before God.”
Bishop Bell, one of the towering figures of the Church in the 20th century, has been unable to defend himself, having died in 1958. But his supporters urged the Church to restore his reputation after two reports exonerated him.
Ms Whitley, 94, said yesterday: “I would like to see my uncle’s name cleared before I die.”
Desmond Browne QC, a leading barrister who acted for the bishop’s family and who was christened by him in 1949, said: “What is now clear is that the investigations by two experienced lawyers [have established] George Bell’s innocence. But not once [has] the Archbishop of Canterbury offered Bell the presumption of innocence.”
Alison had alleged that Bell, the former bishop of Chichester, had sat her on his lap and “fondled her”.
But the report by Timothy Briden, an ecclesiastical lawyer and vicar general of Canterbury, concluded that in her oral evidence “her attempts to repeat what had been written in the letter displayed, however, a disturbing degree of inconsistency”.
Alison had alleged in the letter the abuse had taken place indoors in front of her mother but in oral testimony thought she had been assaulted outdoors. He concluded that her claim was “unfounded”.
The existence of Alison’s complaint made in December 2017 was made public by the Church of England at a time when it was facing increasing criticism for its handling of the earlier allegation by Carol. Alison’s claim was passed in January 2018 to police, who then dropped the case.
Mr Briden also investigated a separate complaint made by an 80-year-old witness – known only as K in the report – that his mother had told him that she had seen Bishop Bell “carrying out a sexual act with a man over his Rolls-Royce” in 1967.
Bishop Bell died in 1958 and did not have a Rolls-Royce. The report said: “The longer that the statement from K’s mother is analysed, the more implausible it appears.”
Lord Carlile, the QC who carried out the damning inquiry into the handling of Carol’s claim, was scathing of the Church of England’s decision to make public the police inquiry into Alison’s complaint.
Lord Carlile said: “I am astonished that the Church [made] public the further complaint against Bishop Bell and the error has been proved by the conclusion of this latest inquiry.”
Prof Andrew Chandler, Bishop Bell’s biographer and spokesman for the George Bell Group, said “the claim by Alison appeared a copycat of Carol’s complaint”. Carol was paid £15,000 compensation in a legal settlement in October 2015.
In his statement yesterday, Archbishop Welby described Bishop Bell as a “remarkable role model”, adding: “I apologise unreservedly for the mistakes made in the process surrounding the handling of the original allegation against Bishop George Bell.”
But he went on: “It is still the case that there is a woman who came forward with a serious allegation … and this cannot be ignored or swept under the carpet.”
The current Bishop of Chichester, Martin Warner, also declined yesterday to exonerate his predecessor. But he accepted that a public statement he made signifying Bishop Bell’s guilt and released in 2015 after Carol’s claim was settled was probably now an error.
“Knowing what we now do [we] would want to re-examine that and I don’t think we would [make that statement].”
By Richard W. Symonds
September 28, 2020
The Archbishops of Canterbury and York stated last week [“New scheme ‘marks turning point’ in Church’s treatment of survivors”, Church Times, Sept 25]:
“As we await IICSA’s report…we continue to pray for survivors and all those the Church has failed”
The Church has failed the wartime Bishop of Chichester George Bell, and will continue to do so until there is a public retraction of the “significant cloud” remark by Archbishop Justin Welby, and the name of George Bell House is restored by the Bishop of Chichester Martin Warner.
Archbishop Welby and Bishop Warner still appear to believe there is ‘no smoke without fire’ regarding the Bishop Bell abuse allegations, even though the two separate investigations by Lord Carlile QC and Timothy Briden – commissioned by the Church – have clearly shown there is ‘no smoke and no fire’.
Both have the power to heal serious divisions within a Cathedral community – and beyond it.
It is also within their power to commission another investigation into ‘mistaken identity’. ‘Carol’ was clearly abused when she was 8 years old — and she should be fully believed and supported — but there is now clear evidence her abuser was not Bishop Bell.
Richard W. Symonds
The Bell Society
2 Lychgate Cottages
Ifield Street, Ifield Village
Crawley – Gatwick
West Sussex RH11 0NN
Tel: 07540 309592 [Text only please]
Below is the Church Times article.
New scheme ‘marks turning point’ in Church’s treatment of survivors
By PAUL HANDLEY
The Church Times
26 SEPTEMBER 2020
THE Archbishops’ Council has approved an interim pilot scheme for survivors of abuse in the C of E, as part of what the Archbishops of Canterbury and York describe as “a turning point” in the Church’s treatment of survivors.
The sum available has not been disclosed, but is believed to be in six figures. Survivors campaigning for redress had argued in the past that anything less than £250,000 would not be worth offering.
The announcement of the fund on Friday was accompanied by a commitment by the Archbishops’ Council “to urgently pursue the principle of independent safeguarding recognising the need for greater independence and transparency of safeguarding”.
The Church’s hierarchy has long accepted the need to address the question of redress for survivors of church-based sexual abuse, but survivors have been frustrated by the time it has taken to come up with a scheme.
The issue has gained fresh impetus with the appointment of the Bishop of Huddersfield, Dr Jonathan Gibbs, as the Church’s lead bishop of safeguarding, and the imminence of the final report on the Church of England from the Independent Inquiry on Child Sexual Abuse (IICSA), due to be published on 6 October.
Five weeks ago, the Archbishop of Canterbury released emergency funds for “VB”, whose business was in danger of going under because of a severe bout of depression linked with his abuse (News, 21 August). It is understood that VB has been offered further sums from the new pilot scheme.
The pilot scheme is geared to those survivors’ cases which are already known to the Church, “where the survivor is known to be in seriously distressed circumstances, and the Church has a heightened responsibility because of the way the survivor was responded to following disclosure”, a statement said on Friday.
Lessons learnt from the pilot will inform the creation of a full redress scheme.
A statement from the Archbishops of Canterbury and York, joint chairs of the Archbishops’ Council, spoke of “a long, honest, and soberingly frank discussion. . .
“The issue of independence is something we have taken a personal lead on and are very committed to. We are glad that the Church is now going to make this happen. Along with providing redress for victims and survivors, this is the next step we must take.
“Today’s meeting and these decisions feel like a turning point. As we await IICSA’s report into the Church of England, we continue to pray for survivors and all those the Church has failed. We are profoundly sorry for our failings, but today our words of sorrow are matched by actions that we believe will lead to real change. We hope that this will provide some hope for the future.”
Dr Gibbs described the move as “an endorsement by the Archbishops’ Council of General Synod’s unanimous vote in February for a more fully survivor-centred approach to safeguarding, including arrangements for redress”.
The interim scheme is expected to help between five and ten survivors initially, although any survivor of church-based abuse “who is in dire straits” can request help. This can be at any stage of their case management, even if they have already accepted a settlement with an insurer.
If it is a recent case, the diocese would be expected to support the application, but a survivor unwilling to engage with the diocese can apply direct. The presumption is that the survivor’s present difficulties are wholly or partially a consequence of past abuse “and/or the re-abuse through the Church’s actions in response to their report of abuse”.
The scheme will be able to offer cash sums, but the emphasis will be on funding support such as financial/debt counselling, therapeutic support, seed funding to help with employment. Help with housing is also a possibility, but is expected to be offered rarely.
Andrew Graystone, who has worked as advocate for victims of abuse, said on Friday: “It is good that the Council seems to have acknowledged — I think for the first time — that the Church cannot deal with safeguarding failures in-house.
“Victims have said for a long time that independent scrutiny and management of safeguarding is the only way to make the church safer. I’m glad that the Archbishops are both now committed to this. I fully expect that IICSA will demand nothing less.”
He said that survivors remained sceptical that a full redress system would be in place in 12 to 15 months, a suggestion from the safeguarding bishops. The interim pilot support scheme was therefore welcome.
He warned, though, that it had to be properly funded. “If the fund runs out in three months, victims will be further damaged.”
And he reminded the Church of the severity of the need. “The Church shouldn’t look at this as an act of generosity, but as the very beginnings of paying its debt to survivors of abuse. The lead bishops know that this fund will do nothing more than rescue a few survivors from the cliff edge. It’s not a repair fund, but a suicide-prevention budget.”
In the view of survivors, the Church should restore them to the place they were when they disclosed their abuse. “No one should be worse off because they have disclosed what was done to them,” Mr Graystone said.
“Beyond that, the needs of survivors are very varied and lifelong. They may include housing, counselling, information, and apology, as well as financial support for lost income. It’s never just a matter of writing a cheque to make things better. I’m glad that the Lead Bishops recognise this, and are committed to designing bespoke packages for individual survivors.”
The Bell Society is asking concerned Christians to endorse their open letter to the Archbishop of Canterbury asking him to step down over his handling of the George Bell affair. Please contact Richard W. Symonds of The Bell Society to add your name to the letter. firstname.lastname@example.org
The evidence against Bishop George Bell has been gathered and thoroughly examined. Lord Alex Carlile QC and Timothy Briden have declared the allegations are unfounded and there is no case to answer . It follows, therefore, that no “significant cloud remains” over Bishop Bell’s head.
But Archbishop Justin Welby and Bishop Martin Warner continue to perpetuate this injustice against the wartime Bishop of Chichester by wilfully and arrogantly refusing to admit they were wrong. There is no willingness on their part to right that wrong. They display no humility in acknowledging that wrong. They have no intention to lift that “significant cloud”.
As Stephen Parsons says in ‘Surviving Church’: “Incompetence whether caused by ignorance, conceit or malevolence, is a particularly important matter when the individual refuses to admit to it and own up to it”.
After Archbishop Welby’s comment last year: “It is still the case that there is a woman who came forward with a serious allegation and this cannot be ignored or swept under the carpet” – a few of us did not ignore or sweep under the carpet those allegations against Bishop Bell. We fully investigated the clear likelihood of ‘mistaken identity’ – especially after the IICSA brought to light the “bonfire” of John Treadgold Dean of Chichester. Our findings are one reason why we are so critical of the Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby, Bishop of Chichester Martin Warner – especially relating to excising the memory of Bishop Bell in Chichester.
Therefore, we, the undersigned, call for the resignation of the Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby and the Bishop of Chichester Martin Warner, unless an immediate and full public apology is forthcoming regarding Bishop Bell and the name of George Bell House in Chichester is restored.
Yours sincerelyBOYS, GeoffreyCHARMLEY, Professor JohnGOMES, Dr JulesINESON, Rev MatthewMARTIN, TerryMORGAN, Dr GeraldMULLEN, Rev Dr PeterOSBORNE, NoelRAVEN, Rev Canon CharlesSIMS, KevinSYMONDS, Richard WWATKINS, Lindsay
For more articles of this kind, please visit: https://revpetermullen.com
Channel 4 News reported on Monday evening: Church launches investigation into how Welby dealt with complaints about an alleged serial abuse
This programme can reveal that the Church of England has launched an investigation into how the Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, dealt with complaints about a serial abuser of young men.
John Smyth was alleged to have beaten dozens of young men in the 1970s and 1980s.
One of those abused has now written to the Church of England, launching a formal complaint against Mr Welby, saying he failed to act properly when he learnt of the abuse.
More details are in the video (3 minutes).
The Church of England has responded with this statement:
It is in the public domain that when Lambeth was contacted in 2013 about an allegation against Smyth it liaised with the relevant diocese. This was to ensure that the survivor was being supported, police had been informed and that the bishop had contacted the Bishop of Cape Town, where Smyth was then living. However, since a formal complaint has now been received by the National Safeguarding Team, it is reviewing information and will obviously respond on this to the person who brought the complaint and take any further action if needed.
These issues will all be considered by the Makin Review which the Church commissioned last year into the Smyth case and is expected to publish into 2021.
The Telegraph has also reported on this: Church of England investigating complaint over how Archbishop of Canterbury dealt with abuse claims at Christian camps.
Several developments relating to safeguarding in the Church of England.
The Insurance Post reports that Ecclesiastical Insurance had an apologetically-worded statement in its annual report, published not long after its appearance at the IICSA hearings: Briefing: Ecclesiastical’s child abuse claims shame – CEO Hews’ admission too little too late? Scroll down in the article for the full text of the EIO statement.
The Church Times reports: Two members are removed from core group in Percy case, owing to conflict of interest
TWO members of the core group set up to examine accusations of safeguarding breaches by the Dean of Christ Church, Oxford, the Very Revd Dr Martyn Percy, have been removed after they were deemed to have a conflict of interest in the case, the National Safeguarding Team (NST) has confirmed…
…In May, Private Eye reported that the core group established by the NST of the Church of England earlier this year included two members of the college who had supported complaints against Dean Percy, including the Senior Censor, Professor Geraldine Johnson (News 29 May). The Dean is not represented on the core group, although one of the two college members was reportedly asked to represent him and declined. It is assumed that these are the two members removed from the core group…
The article goes on to report the question asked by Martin Sewell (and answered by the Bishop of Huddersfield) at the General Synod meeting on 11 July about whether, by including complainants in the core group, the Church had “embraced the concept of ‘unconscious bias’”.
Martin Sewell also had a letter in the Church Times last week Anonymity and representation in safeguarding (scroll down)
Sir, — The inauguration of the ministry of the new Archbishop of York, the Most Revd Stephen Cottrell, was a great joy to many in the Church who know his writings and enthusiasm for spreading the gospel. It is a shame that, for reasons outside his control, it occurred under the shadow of the suspicion that he enjoyed the privilege of anonymity while a safeguarding complaint was considered against him, whereas Lord Carey found the fact of his investigation in the hands of the press within three hours of his being notified.
This was wholly unnecessary. Had the recommendations of the Carlile report been accepted and implemented in full, everyone under inquiry would have enjoyed anonymity pending investigation and there would have been a level playing field for both men.
Furthermore, Lord Carlile recommended that the respondent be given representation at the core group table: a recommendation that, had it been implemented, would have avoided the current débâcle over Dean Percy. In his report on Bishop Bell, Lord Carlile wrote: “There was no discussion whatsoever of the need to ensure the justice of the case by examining the facts from Bishop Bell’s standpoint. This issue seems to have been totally abandoned.”
One suspects that this is equally true in the Percy case, but we cannot know, as the Dean is refused access to the minutes.
Finally, the House Bishops Guidelines have not been updated over two years after they accepted the Carlile recommendations — except the one about anonymity –though they have applied that one in favour of someone they wish to advance.
I hope and believe that Archbishop Cottrell has the commitment to justice to drive forward the necessary change, by implementing all review recommendations, from the office to which he has now been called.
Stephen Parsons at Surviving Church has a detailed further analysis of the NST’s Core Groups and the Carlisle recommendations in Revisiting the Carlile Review: A Critique of Church Core Groups? This deserves reading in full, but he concludes thus:
…Can we detect in any way that the Core Group was being ‘managed’ to satisfy the needs of the Church communications department and its desire for good PR? Were the Archbishop and Bishop of Chichester making statements suggested to them by their highly remunerated reputation managers? If Carlile’s critical Review is pointing us in this direction, then it follows that similar pressures will also be at work in the 2020 Percy Group. Are Core Groups, in other words, subject to being managed to suit the purposes of the reputation launderers working for the Church? In the comments I made about Bishop Jonathan’s responses to questions at the recent Synod, I suggested that the management of safeguarding issues was being handed over to a team of lawyers. Such lawyers would be the ones seeking to defend the Church and protect its good name. Now, after reading the Carlile report again, I am left wondering whether it is in fact the power of reputation managers and communication departments that we see operating behind the scenes and making the decisions for our Church. If that is the case, then our Church will not be taking too seriously the cause of transparency, justice and truth. These and other Christian values like honesty and right dealing may only ever be paraded in public when they can serve the purposes of good PR!
This rereading of the Carlile report and the way that it revealed rampant ‘unconscious bias’, to quote from Martin Sewell’s question at last Synod, allows us to point once again to our ongoing concerns over the Percy Core Group. Conflicts of interest still abound there. Quite apart from the inappropriate placing of two complainants in the Group, there are the collusions we have pointed to before between firms of lawyers, reputation managers and those at Christ Church who have manipulated the Church and the NST to operate in their interests. If the incompetence of the Bell Core Group was a scandal, the sheer apparent malevolence at work in this present Percy Group is one which is driving out all pretensions to ethical behaviour and Christian values. We seem to be witnessing evil and corruption on a grand scale. Will the Church at the national level be able to rescue this situation and allow it to come through this appalling crisis?