“…I do so hope that you will find a way to finish off that statement that ‘George Bell cannot be proven guilty’ with the corresponding conclusion, ‘therefore he must be considered entirely innocent'”
Former Archbishop of Canterbury George Carey to the Bishop of Chichester Martin Warner – at the end of a Letter dated March 13 2019.
Wednesday Feb 20 – 17.45-19.00 – Questions – David Lamming
“Has the House of Bishops considered encouraging the Archbishop of Canterbury to revisit the judgement he expressed on 15 December 2017 (on publication of the Carlile Review) that ‘a significant cloud is left over [Bishop Bell’s] name’, particularly in view of the Briden Report dated 17 January 2019 and the recent statement by Lord Carlile that ‘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’?”
40. The decision of the Right Worshipful Timothy Briden (acting in his capacity as
commissary to the Bishop of Chichester) was published by the Bishop of Chichester
and the Archbishops’ Council on 24 January 2019. The decision related to ‘fresh
information’ brought to the attention of the Church following publication of Lord Carlile’s independent review into the Church’s original handling of allegations against the late Bishop George Bell. The terms of reference for the independent investigation and independent ‘decision-making body’ (Timothy Briden) did not involve re-investigating the allegations made by ‘Carol’, for which a civil settlement had already be made.
“With Lord Carlile QC and Timothy Briden upholding the moral and legal principle of the presumption of innocence and justly declaring Bishop Bell innocent in law, should Archbishop Welby and Bishop Warner be allowed to defy this principle by refusing to declare Bishop Bell innocent?”
~ Richard W. Symonds
George Bell ‘should not have been named’ in Church’s settlement of sex abuse allegation
08 FEBRUARY 2019
A confidentiality clause should have governed the payment made to “Carol”, the Bishop of Chichester, Dr Martin Warner, has said
The house at 4 Canon Lane, Chichester, once called Bishop Bell House
THE blackening of George Bell’s name would not have happened had there been a confidentiality clause governing the payment made to “Carol”, who accused him of sexual abuse, the Bishop of Chichester, Dr Martin Warner, said on Monday.
Dr Warner was addressing supporters of Bishop Bell at the Rebuilding Bridges conference, held at 4 Canon Lane, Chichester, to which supporters wish to see the name “George Bell House” restored.
The naming was up to the Dean and Chapter, the Bishop reiterated (News, 1 February), but he indicated that the cathedral should make more of the Sisters of the Cross, who had donated the house.
“I don’t think simply renaming it ‘George Bell House’ will just do the job. We cannot rewrite history, but we must do better.”
More generally, he suggested that the Church of England must “speak of the achievements, the good things that Bishop Bell did” to restore his reputation. It was “report that makes a person famous for their good deeds. . . So, it seems that for us in the diocese and the Church of England at large, it is important that we are able to speak of the achievements, the good things that Bishop Bell did.”
This had been done on “a number of occasions”, he said, one of which had been his address at a commemoration of the Reformation, in Coburg in 2017. “I believe history will tell the good deeds of Bishop Bell, and I believe they will stand the test of time.”
Dr Warner resisted calls to pronounce Bishop Bell innocent, prompting one speaker to explain that “most here are troubled because the idea of innocence until proven guilty touches everyone.”
He did, though, indicate his acceptance of a key recommendation by Lord Carlile of Berwick, who conducted a review of the Church’s handling of the accusation against Bishop Bell, that the dealings with Carol should have been confidential. “The fault lies with us as the institution, and it is clearly identified in Lord Carlile’s report, as having gone public. We have to own up to that and face it. I’m very clear about that. I take part of the responsibility.
“If you want to know about justice, it’s not about guilty or innocent, but what is made public. Had we said nothing about a settlement with Carol, had there been a confidentiality clause, none of this would have reached the public domain. . .
“We are clear on how wrong we were on publicising the process.”
A statement by Lord Carlile was read at the conference: “The Church should accept that my recommendations should be accepted in full, and Bishop Bell should be declared by the Church to be innocent of the allegations made against him.”
His review had not been asked to determine whether Bishop Bell was innocent, but he had concluded that the case was not strong enough even to be brought to court (News, 22 December 2017).
Among the resolutions carried at the conference was one calling for an apology by the Archbishop of Canterbury, and another asking for a debate in the General Synod.