Tag Archives: Bishop Peter Hancock

July 7 2019 – “Bishop Hancock challenges the Synod on safeguarding” – Church Times

Bishop Hancock challenges the Synod on safeguarding

07 JULY 2019


The Bishop of Bath and Wells, the Rt Revd Peter Hancock (centre) with Meg Munn and Phil Johnson




VAGUE and evasive talk of culture change” over safeguarding is “not enough”, the Bishop of Bath & Wells, the Rt Revd Peter Hancock, told the General Synod on Sunday.

In a presentation, the Bishop said that the Church’s approach to survivors had been “inadequate”, and that all had a part to play in improving safeguarding practice.

“Vague and evasive talk of culture change is not enough,” he said. “It is driven by structures, appointments, and decisions. . .

“My challenge to Synod is that, if you are concerned about safeguarding in the Church, now is the time up to stand up, be counted, and get involved.”

A survivor who formed part of the presentation group, Phil Johnson, was one of the first to come forward, in 1996, with allegations of sexual abuse by a former Bishop of Gloucester and Lewes, Peter Ball. Mr Johnson is a member of the National Safeguarding Panel.

Mr Johnson told the Synod that safeguarding should be simple. “It is about vigilance, protection, and compassion,” he said. “It is not about endless bureaucracy.”

He said that the Church should not think that its safeguarding was necessarily better simply because it was spending more money on it.

Mr Johnson went on to say that the work to create a survivors’ reference group was very difficult, largely because so many victims had an “immense lack of trust” in the Church and the National Safeguarding Team (NST).

He was glad that the Safe Spaces project was close to completion, although he noted that he had first proposed it nearly six years ago, and, although money had been allocated for it, not a single penny had yet been spent on survivors. “This typifies how the Church does things,” he said. “We all need to come together to make things simpler, more efficient, quicker, and more cost-effective.”

The session began with a period of silence, and the Bishop said a prayer that had been written by a survivor of abuse: “Teach us to thirst for justice and righteousness in our Church . . . We lament the safeguarding failures of our Church. . . Helps us to repair broken lives so that those our Church has harmed may no longer survive but thrive.”

Safeguarding questions had been split from the rest of the questions, which were heard on Friday, to allow proper space for them. Bishop Hancock thanked the Business Committee for this approach; a presentation on safeguarding was given by the bishop, Mr Johnson, and Meg Munn, the chair of the National Safeguarding Panel.

In response to a question from Carolyn Graham (Guildford) about safeguarding cases’ being “passed around from diocese to diocese”, Bishop Hancock said that work was under way on an information-sharing system. A national case-management system would mean wider access to information lodged centrally. This would bring rigour. Asked by Canon Gavin Kirk (Lincoln) about survivors whose experience had led them to distrust the diocese where they lived, Bishop Hancock said that the voices of survivors must be heard in the process of redrafting safeguarding guidance.

He told Canon Rosie Harper (Oxford), who asked about the “moral imperative to restore and heal”, going further than “bare minimum legal redress”, that one part of the answer was to have a “standards-based approach to safeguarding”, and another was a charter “to provide survivors with confidence there is going to be consistency across dioceses”.

Some responses to safeguarding issues had been “woefully inadequate”, he said. He also reported that there had been attempts to establish mediation between survivors and the NST and some work had recently been commissioned on “restorative justice”.

In his presentation, Bishop Hancock said that the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse (IICSA) hearings had not been an easy experience for the Church. Some “justifiably difficult questions are being asked of us”, he said. But the inquiry had shone a “helpful light” on the C of E’s safeguarding procedures and failings.

He strongly urged every member of the Synod to read the two interim reports already released by IICSA: one on the case study of Chichester diocese and Peter Ball, and one on child sexual abuse in the context of religious institutions. The key findings in both reports, which were “harrowing and difficult to read”, were that clericalism and deference were causing “significant harm” (News, 9 May

A new case-management system for both national and diocesan safeguarding teams, which had been “sorely lacking”, was finally almost ready and would be rolled out next year, he reported.

He also said there would be three new lessons-learned reviews of the cases of John Smyth, the Revd Trevor Devamanikkam, and the late former Bishop of Chester, Victor Whitsey (News, 10 February 201716 June 201724 May).

A working group had been convened to examine whether the Clergy Disicpline Measure (CDM) was fit for its purpose in relation to safeguarding, he said. The group would have its first meeting in October (News, 31 May).

Ms Munn paid tribute to the three survivor representatives on the panel, who, despite being so damaged by their experiences of abuse, were still able and willing to help the Church become a safer place.

“The Church is late to this work: it needs to catch up; it has a lot to do,” she said. “I see a lot of people with good intentions, but you all need to do more, and do more, more quickly.”


Mr Johnson praised the leadership of Ms Munn and said that he was hopeful that this increased level of scrutiny would bear fruit. In particular, he was convinced that the CDM procedure was inadequate and needed reform.

The proposed redress scheme was very important for survivors and would need to be well funded, Mr Johnson said. It must include all cases of abuse, including those that had already come to financial settlements; many of these were agreed out of fear that the survivor might be landed with the Church’s “astronomical” legal costs.

He also supported the introduction of mandatory reporting of abuse allegations, along the lines developed by the pressure group Mandate Now. Two-thirds of current safeguarding cases were still dealt with exclusively in-house, he noted. Without actual sanctions for people who failed to pass on disclosures, the culture would never change.

In the questions following the presentations, the Archbishop of York, Dr Sentamu, on a point of order, asked the view of the Synod on mandatory reporting, to which a majority raised their hands in favour. It was one of the recommendations of the IICSA report on Chichester diocese.

The Bishop of London, the Rt Revd Sarah Mullally, asked whether the Church still had a problem with clericalism, and whether it hindered good safeguarding practice.

Mr Johnson said that there had been a lot of deference, but that this was not a problem only for the Church. He gave the example of football clubs, where coaches had a great deal of authority. This was evident in the conviction of Barry Bennell, a former coach at Manchester City and Crewe Alexandra, and the conviction of Bob Higgins, the former Southampton coach, both for child sexual abuse.

The natural tendency to keep things in-house was a problem, Mr Johnson said. “Watching IICSA this last week, there’s clearly evidence that this remains,” he said. It was everyone’s responsibility to address this, and to make these subjects non-taboo. “Things should be recorded in a routine manner,” he argued.

He received a standing ovation for his words during the Synod debate.

There was criticism that there was not a full Synod debate on safeguarding. Last week, Martin Sewell, a representative from Rochester diocese, called the Synod “lazy and incurious” (News, 5 July).

Matthew Ineson, a survivor, who was handing out leaflets outside York Minster on Sunday morning, said: “The Archbishops blocked the debate [on safeguarding]: they are manipulating the Synod.

“There is a cover-up going on from the very highest parts of the Church; Archbishop Welby has persistently taken no further action. The way victims are treated is just diabolical.”

At the end of the service, before the blessing was given, Dr Sentamu led the congregation in prayer for those who were part of IICSA, and for survivors.

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]


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 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 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 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

May 3 2019 – “Panorama on C/E. Further reflections” – Stephen Parsons – ‘Surviving Church’

Panorama on C/E. Further reflections

Panorama on C/E. Further reflections


It is perhaps unfortunate for the Church of England and other public bodies that iPlayer was ever invented.  It allows the curious and those obsessed by detail to go back and watch small sections of a programme over and over again.  The Panorama episode on the Church of England last Monday was a case in point.  Certain things within it jarred for me and I needed to check out what had really been said as well as the demeanour of the person uttering the words.

This blog piece has to assume that the reader saw the programme (or at least read my previous blog) as space does not allow me to run through the things said.  Three people were especially prominent in the programme, in addition to the valiant survivors who appeared.  One was the investigating Lincolnshire Superintendent, Rick Hatton.  The other two were Bishop Alan Wilson and Bishop Peter Hancock.  All three came over as having individual sincerity and honesty.  Each, in different ways, conveyed emotion and this drew the viewer in to feel with them the sentiments of sorrow they were experiencing.  The emotional connection between Superintendent Hatton and the viewer in particular was unexpected, but it made for powerful television.  The other two individuals mentioned also drew us into their personal emotional world.  We felt caught up in the way they had reacted as human beings to the horrors of sexual abuse by clergy.

However, this spell of identification was partly broken in the final few moments of the programme.  One of the bishops showed himself to be unable to answer a straightforward question about the statistics of abuse.  Suddenly the good rapport that Bishop Hancock had built up with the viewer over the programme was shattered.  His evasive response to the interviewer changed the way we related to everything he had previously said in the earlier parts of the interview.  Instead of being a man of feelings and integrity, Bishop Hancock suddenly showed himself as someone who was there to perform in front of an audience.  He was there not to speak for himself but on behalf of others. 

On the Twittersphere this question has been asked by several people.  Who was Bishop Hancock representing and who was he speaking for?  The evasiveness of the final moments of the programme showed that all his earlier answers were in all likelihood rehearsed and controlled by other unseen people.  Unlike all the other people in the programme, the Bishop’s words came to be revealed as the words of a corporate entity.  We were, in other words, hearing from, not a live independent human being but rather we were witnessing a stage-managed, damage limiting show.   The story of the Wizard of Oz immediately comes to mind.

Whenever an individual has the task of standing up on stage and presenting views for someone else, particularly when they are likely to be challenged at a later date, one can feel sorry for that person.  I felt sorry for Bishop Hancock on Panorama just as I had felt for Archbishop Welby when he spouted out nonsense about the Smyth scandal to Channel 4 barely three weeks ago.

Whoever are the hidden forces who pull strings behind the scenes, one feels an atmosphere of desperation in the system when half-truths and palpably false information are fed to the public.  In this age of Twitter, Facebook and email, information travels as fast as light.  How anyone can expect to hide truth in 2019 is a mystery?  The story of spiritual/sexual abuse in the Church is far too big to be buried in a flurry of misleading statistics.

The revelation in 2010 that there were only 13 cases of serious abuse to be examined in the entire C/E was palpably false information but it had the effect of damping down criticism of the institution for a period.  Control of information was then power for those in charge of the Church and they used it effectively to delay the day of reckoning that seems now to be very close.

The truth of the full extent of the abuse scandal within the Church of England is, for the moment, hidden from most of us.  The IICSA hearings did prise open numerous cans of worms and give us a glimpse of what appear to be outrageous manipulations of information which were used to protect the institution.  I am still haunted by what was revealed at the hearing about Chichester when a detective investigating the crimes of Bishop Ball was actively obstructed in the course of his duties by the then Bishop of the Diocese.  The IICSA hearings of last year lead us to suspect that next Monday’s reports and conclusions on the Diocese of Chichester and Peter Ball are likely to be fairly dire. 

Somehow the horror of what churchmen (it does seem to be men) will do to try to protect the church from scandal and malfeasance has now limited power to shock.  It is a bit like the situation in the States where presidential lies have become so much the norm that no one expresses any shock at a new one.  But even the negative conclusions of IICSA towards the Church may be survivable if the Church finally comes to the realisation that it cannot prosper when information in this area is suppressed or manipulated. 

The interviewer on Panorama upset Bishop Hancock (and presumably his minders) when she scratched at potentially the greatest scandal of all – the statistics of abuse across the whole Church. What was being discussed was sensitive information about the full extent of abuse in the Church. Not being ready to share that information suggests that Church authorities know that it cannot yet be revealed without a great deal of spin and preparation.  The need for the application of extensive communication skills suggests that the news in this area is very bad indeed.  Some months ago, it was suggested to me by someone ‘in the know’ that the Church dealing with abuse scandals was a bit like fighting forest fires which keep erupting all over the place.

Panorama indicated to us that control of information is a tactic of power still actively employed by the central Church authorities.  The originators of this tactic do not appear to be the bishops themselves but the highly paid Church House officials at the centre of things.   Unfortunately for them, their control of the levers of power was all too easy to spot in both the recent television interviews. 

The interview of Archbishop Welby on Channel 4 was, like that of Bishop Hancock, unconvincing and somewhat contrived.  The bishops themselves both had personal integrity and human warmth but nothing could disguise the fact that they were speaking for someone other than themselves.  The Church cannot continue to go down a path of fielding individuals to act as spokesmen for the institution.

The public want, as far as possible, to encounter real human beings who can speak for the church.  The people of England relate to real people, people who, like them, are living lives of joy mixed with pain.  They will never want to identify with a group when they suspect that the information put out is being manipulated and managed before it is shared with them.  In short, let bishops be bishops, shepherds of the flock, not puppets being controlled by forces that are invisible and are not necessarily working for the good of all.

Wow. Thanks, Stephen. There’s an article in the Church Times about safeguarding where Bishop Stephen Cottrell says the Church now has “Marvellous guidelines and policies”. No comment.

February 8 2018 – General Synod – Questions 40 to 60 – Bishop George Bell and the Carlile Report

Click to access Questions%20Notice%20Paper%20February%202018%20%2807.02.18%29.pdf

The Revd Wyn Beynon (Worcester) to ask the Chair of the House of
Q40 In the light of the Carlile Report and the letter of several eminent
historians to the Church Times about the failures in investigating
claims of past historical abuse against Bishop George Bell and the
response from the Archbishop of Canterbury in December, that a
“cloud still hung over the memory of Bishop George Bell”; what weight
will be given to the value of fair historical judgement in assessing the
lives of the saints for inclusion in the Sanctorale at its next revision
and in particular the continued presence of George Bell in the
The Bishop of Exeter to reply on behalf of the Chair of the House of Bishops:
A All liturgical business, including any future review of the Calendar, is
only carried out by the Liturgical Commission at the invitation of the
House of Bishops. If such a request were made, any proposed
amendments to the Calendar would require a full synodical process
and at that stage the Commission would seek advice from the House
about the parameters of the review. It

Mr Carl Hughes (Southwark) to ask the Chair of the House of Bishops:
Q41 What is the role of General Synod with regard to safeguarding,
particularly in terms of policy, oversight and review?
The Bishop of Bath & Wells to reply on behalf of the Chair of the House of
A Under Article 6 of its Constitution, the Synod’s functions are legislative
(6 (a)) and deliberative (6 (b)). Under 6 (a) the Synod considers and
enacts legislation on safeguarding. In exercise of its deliberative
function it can debate motions on matters of safeguarding policy,
oversight and review.
Additionally, the Standing Orders relating to Questions allow members
to put questions to the Chair of the House of Bishops relating to those
aspects of its business that concern safeguarding, including the
formulation of safeguarding policy and the guidance it produces on
safeguarding (to which bishops and others are legally required to have
due regard).
The Synod’s safeguarding role is set out in House of Bishops practice
guidance which may be viewed on the Church of England website.
Mr Carl Hughes (Southwark) to ask the Chair of the House of Bishops:
Q42 What is the role of bishops with regard to safeguarding and to whom
are they accountable on safeguarding matters?
The Bishop of Bath & Wells to reply on behalf of the Chair of the House of
A The Bishops’ role with regards to Safeguarding is twofold.
Firstly, as Diocesan Bishops, they have overall responsibility for
Safeguarding within their diocese as outlined in House of Bishops
Practice Guidance.
Secondly, as members of the House of Bishops, they have a collective
national responsibility as leaders of the Church of England to ensure
that the whole of the Church is a safe place for children and
vulnerable adults and that survivors are treated fairly.
Bishops are accountable to the Archbishop of their Province for all
matters including Safeguarding. They are offered support and
challenge by the Independent Chair of the Diocesan Safeguarding
Board. As trustees of their Diocesan Board of Finance they are also
accountable to the Charity Commission.

The Revd Christopher Robinson (St Edmundsbury & Ipswich) to ask
the Chair of the House of Bishops:
Under the Disclosure and Barring service eligibility guidelines, leading
regular Sunday worship is not defined as a regulated activity. In rural
areas lay people often lead Morning or Evening Prayer on a Sunday
where there is no priest present (under Canon B 11(1)), and will
sometimes robe for the purpose, and some dioceses have authorised
lay worship leader schemes for such ministries. At present, these
people are not eligible for a DBS check for this ministry alone, and yet
leading worship and robing puts them in a perceived position of
trustworthiness and authority in a congregation or community. Will the
church of England take active steps to address this issue with the
Government, to ensure the safety of children and vulnerable adults in
our churches?
The Bishop of Bath & Wells to reply on behalf of the Chair of the House of
A It is not clear that any change in the current position is called for.
Lay people leading worship are already eligible for basic DBS checks.
Enhanced DBS checks are only for those individuals who work, or
have substantial contact, with children or vulnerable adults. So lay
worship leaders of the kind described will be eligible for enhanced
checks if they lead services exclusively for children or vulnerable
adults or where they are members of a PCC, which qualifies as a
children’s or vulnerable adults’ charity.
In any event, it needs to be borne in mind that only a tiny percentage
of individuals who abuse are convicted. DBS checks can only ever
therefore be one element of the safer recruitment process and
organisations must never rely solely on DBS checks when recruiting.
Further guidance on best practice can be found in the Safer
Recruitment Practice Guidance on the Church of England website.
The Revd Canon Simon Butler (Southwark) to ask the Chair of the
House of Bishops:
Q44 Has any consideration been given to the value to the Church of the
process of Neutral Notification whereby an individual, concerned that
their actions, however minor, towards a child or vulnerable adult might
be misconstrued or misinterpreted, can make their own report to a
responsible person without fear or detriment or stigma?

The Bishop of Bath & Wells to reply on behalf of the Chair of the House of
A The current guidance in relation to responding to an individual who
may have concerns about their own behaviour in relation to a child or
vulnerable adult is outlined in the House of Bishops guidance
responding to safeguarding concerns or allegations against Church
officers. This is based on the Children Act 2004 (section 11)
requirements for faith organisations. This expects that any information
received about concerning behaviour needs to be shared with a
safeguarding professional, in the Church’s case the DSA, for
consideration. If an offence is indicted and/or there is a potential
current risk to a child and/or adult this information will also be shared
with statutory agencies.
DSAs are currently available for advice and support in relation to
appropriate behaviour around vulnerable people.
Outside of statutory organisational requirements, there is more
flexibility to offer such a service, for instance ‘Stop it Now’
The Revd Canon Dr Judith Maltby (Universities & TEIs) to ask the Chair
of the House of Bishops:
Q45 Given the Church of England’s commitment to becoming a safe
church, what consideration is being given to removing the one-year
rule in the Clergy Discipline Measure in relation to cases where
bishops and other office holders fail to respond appropriately to
disclosures of abuse that are made to them?
The Bishop of Bath & Wells to reply on behalf of the Chair of the House of
A The one-year limitation period generally serves a useful purpose,
recognising that justice needs to be administered without delay.
Where there is good reason for a complaint not having been made
within one year, the President of Tribunals can nonetheless give
permission for the complaint to be made out of time. However, the
limitation period has now, for good reason, been removed in cases
where the alleged misconduct is of a sexual nature towards children or
vulnerable adults; and when considering the responses to the NST’s
recent consultation on the CDM we shall consider whether there is a
case for removing it in other safeguarding contexts.
Mr Carl Fender (Lincoln) to ask the Chair of the House of Bishops:
Q46 Given Lord Carlile’s recommendation (at paragraph 49) for a
published standard of proof that applies to complainants can the
Church of England’s safeguarding arrangements continue to describe
those alleging abuse as ‘victims’ or ‘survivors’?

The Bishop of Bath & Wells to reply on behalf of the Chair of the House of
A Whilst paragraph 49 is not a recommendation by Lord Carlile, the
response to safeguarding concerns or allegations against Church
officers is outlined in House of Bishops guidance, which was agreed
by the National Safeguarding Steering Group. The guidance is clear
that the use of the expression ‘victim/survivors’ does not presuppose
that any allegation will be substantiated. The guidance states, “This
guidance will usually be needed before there have been any findings
in criminal, civil or disciplinary proceedings. At this stage there will be
people who have made complaints (referred to as safeguarding
concerns or allegations in this guidance) and people against whom
complaints have been made. Both victims/survivors and respondents
will at this stage be alleged victims/survivors and alleged respondents.
For ease of reference this guidance will use the terms
‘victims/survivor’’ and ‘respondent’ without presupposing the accuracy
of the complaint. These should be regarded as neutral terms that do
not imply the innocence or guilt of either party.”
Mrs Kat Alldread (Derby) to ask the Chair of the House of Bishops:
Q47 Given that many General Synod members may be unaware of the
scale of safeguarding casework, please could you state the number of
open safeguarding cases in the Church of England as a whole in
2017? Of those cases, how many involved an allegation of some form
of abuse?
The Bishop of Bath & Wells to reply on behalf of the Chair of the House of
A Each diocese is asked to complete an annual self-assessment
circulated and collated by the National Safeguarding Team for the
previous year’s activity. Our current data therefore relates to 2016
activity. In 2016, dioceses reported that they were dealing with around
3300 safeguarding concerns or allegations, the vast majority of which
related to children, young people and vulnerable adults within church
communities. Around 18% related to safeguarding
concerns/allegations against church officers. These figures do not
distinguish between previously open and new cases that started
during the year.
During 2016, 338 risk assessments were completed by dioceses, of
which 19 (6%) were in respect of members of clergy. During 2016,
there were 867 Safeguarding Agreements in place of which 682 (79%)
related to known offenders. A small number of complex and highprofile
cases are managed by the National Safeguarding Team in
collaboration with relevant dioceses.

The Very Revd David Ison (Deans) to ask the Chair of the House of
Q48 The Elliott Review of a safeguarding case which reported in March
2016 included in its recommendations two key statements about
structurally changing how the Church of England approaches
safeguarding: that ‘The National Safeguarding Team should be given
the power and the responsibility to monitor practice and to intervene
where it is thought necessary to do so’ and ‘Safeguarding decisions
as they occur across the Church, should be subject to review by an
independent body within the Church, which has the skills, knowledge
and expertise to do this. The role of the National Safeguarding Team
should be looked at again to enable it to possibly fulfil this
requirement.’ What progress has been made in implementing these
The Bishop of Bath & Wells  \sdreto reply on behalf of the Chair of the House of
A Since the publication of the Elliott Review in March 2016, the role of
the NST has been defined within House of Bishops practice
guidance, ‘Key Roles and Responsibilities of Church Office Holders
and Bodies’, October 2017. The independent Peter Ball Review
recommends that ‘the role and responsibilities of the National
Safeguarding Team should clearly reflect an emphasis on planning
and supporting continuous improvement in diocesan safeguarding
services’. The NST is taking an increasing role in quality assurance
work having commissioned independent diocesan safeguarding
audits and ‘Safeguarding Progress Reviews’ with all dioceses, where
it will take a ‘critical friend’ role. The House of Bishops session on
safeguarding in December 2017 also agreed that further work be
undertaken this year in respect of ways to strengthen independent
oversight and scrutiny of safeguarding practice, and this will include
how the role of the NST can be strengthened in relation to its
monitoring and powers of intervention.
Miss Prudence Dailey (Oxford) to ask the Chair of the House of
Q49 In the light of the Carlile Report, what actions are the House of
Bishops planning to take to restore the reputation of Bishop George
The Bishop of Bath & Wells to reply on behalf of the Chair of the House of
A I refer to the media statement that I made on Wednesday 31 January
and my reference to the statement made by the National
Safeguarding Team on the same day. I am unable to say anything
else at this stage until such matters have been concluded.

The Ven Julie Conalty (Rochester) to ask the Chair of the House of
Q50 For the record and the benefit of members of General Synod who
have not read the Carlile Report, could you please summarise the
principal errors of law and good practice identified therein, and
outline what measures are being taken to avoid those mistakes in
future by way of retraining, amending procedures, recruiting a
specialist safeguarding lawyer, or otherwise?
The Bishop of Bath & Wells to reply on behalf of the Chair of the House of
A It would not do justice to Lord Carlile’s review to attempt to
summarise the key points of learning and I would encourage
members of Synod to read the report for themselves. However, the
National Safeguarding Steering Group is working through its
consideration of how to give effect to the recommendations of Lord
Carlile’s independent review into the case of George Bell. I have
made it clear in previous statements t

against church officers’ which includes further clarity with regards to
its membership and function. I am confident that collectively the core
groups have the right spread of skills and expertise they need to
perform this role. It is, however, accepted that further guidance is
now required with regards to posthumous allegations, which will give
consideration to Lord Carlile’s specific recommendation concerning
the presence of someone assigned to the core group to represent the
interests of the accused person and his or her descendants.
Fr Thomas Seville (Religious Communities) to ask the Chair of the
House of Bishops:
Q52 (i) What fees and expenses have been paid (or agreed to be paid)
to Lord Carlile for his Review, published on 15 December 2017,
into the way in which the Church of England dealt with a
complaint of sexual abuse made by a woman known as ‘Carol’
against the late Bishop George Bell;
(ii) What other costs were incurred by the church (including by the
Diocese of Chichester) in relation to Lord Carlile’s review; and
(iii) Who, or what church body, has paid, or will be paying, all such
fees, expenses and costs?
The Bishop of Bath & Wells to reply on behalf of the Chair of the House of
A (i) Having consulted Lord Carlile, I can confirm that the costs of
the review were £35,000 plus an additional £3,000 for
administrative support;
(ii) I am not able to identify the costs of incurred by the church in
relation to Lord Carlile’s review as this would involve extensive
work and have an unreasonable impact on the work of the
(iii) The costs of the independent review were met jointly by the
Archbishops’ Council and Church Commissioners.
Mr Philip French (Rochester) to ask the Chair of the House of Bishops:
Q53 Which individuals and/or groups were provided with Lord Carlile’s
draft report (in whole or in part) for comment, between the receipt of
the draft in October 2017 and publication of the final version on 15
December 2017?
Mr Philip French (Rochester) to ask the Chair of the House of Bishops:
Q54 Were any significant amendments or redactions made to the draft
Carlile report (as received in October 2017), before the final report
was published?

The Bishop of Bath & Wells to reply on behalf of the Chair of the House of
A With permission I will answer questions 53 and 54 together.
Upon receipt of the first draft of his report, the NST agreed with Lord
Carlile the key areas on which comments might be offered, which
• factual points
• general substantive points not affecting the recommendations
• matters affecting the possible jigsaw identification of ‘Carol’
• typographical errors
The above criteria informed decisions as to who to circulate the
report to for comment. Upon receipt of a range of comments relating
to the above areas, Lord Carlile accepted some changes and
rejected others. For the most part, the amendments made were in
respect of matters of factual accuracy and possible identification of
‘Carol’. No changes were made to the recommendations of the
The Revd Paul Benfield (Blackburn) to ask the Chair of the House of
Q55 In order to clarify the role intended to be undertaken by the external
lawyer who attended meetings of the Core Group, can the standard
client care letter (which all solicitors must deliver on receipt of
instructions) provided by her be made public, so as to make clear her
understanding of the role she was asked to perform?
The Bishop of Bath & Wells to reply on behalf of the Chair of the House of
A The external lawyer involved in the core group was given clear
instructions well within her professional expertise. The Carlile Report
recognised that the external lawyer offered advice, including in
respect of the civil burden of proof and expert evidence. This would
be consistent standard practice in such cases. The release of any
standard client care letter would be a matter for consideration by the
Bishop of Chichester.

The Revd Paul Benfield (Blackburn) to ask the Chair of the House of
Q56 On what basis did the Press Statement of 22 October 2015 [Carlile
Report Annex A, pages 3-4]:
(a)state that “expert independent reports” had found “[no] reason to
doubt the veracity” of the allegation made against Bishop George
Bell when the psychiatric report commissioned by the Core Group
referred expressly to the possibility of false memories and said
unambiguously that that could not be excluded; and
(b)give the impression that a “thorough pre-litigation process” had
taken place when no serious attempt had been made to seek
testimony from important living witnesses?
The Bishop of Bath & Wells to reply on behalf of the Chair of the House of
A I understand that Professor Maden routinely makes reference to the
‘possibility of false memories’ in his reports. Their inclusion does not
therefore suggest that this was more or less likely in this case.
The Carlile Report offers a chronology of the work that was
undertaken by the core group including the use of an external,
experienced lawyer and consideration of two external experts’
reports. However, I accept that a number of aspects of the process
could have been much better, as pointed out in Lord Carlile’s report. I
have apologised for these failings, and we are seeking to learn the
lessons of this review.
We are now examining in detail how best to give effect to the
recommendations, taking account of Lord Carlile’s analysis.
Mr David Lamming (St Edmundsbury & Ipswich) to ask the Chair of the
House of Bishops:
Q57 In the light of the statement on 15 December 2017 by the Archbishop
of Canterbury in his response to the Carlile Review into the way in
which the Church of England dealt with a complaint of sexual abuse
made by a woman known as ‘Carol’ against the late Bishop George
Bell, “We realise that a significant cloud is left over his name … no
human being is entirely good or bad. Bishop Bell was in many ways a
hero. He is also accused of great wickedness. Good acts do not
diminish evil ones, nor do evil ones make it right to forget the good,”
is there considered to be any evidence or other information that
would support or corroborate the claim by ‘Carol’ that she was
sexually abused as a child by Bishop Bell?

The Bishop of Bath & Wells to reply on behalf of the Chair of the House of
A I refer to the media statement that I made on Wednesday 31 January
and my reference to the statement made by the National
Safeguarding Team on the same day. I am unable to say anything
else at this stage until such matters have been concluded.
Mr David Lamming (St Edmundsbury & Ipswich) to ask the Chair of the
House of Bishops:
Q58 Since Lord Carlile, in the report of his review into the way the Church
of England dealt with a complaint of sexual abuse made by a woman
known as ‘Carol’ against the late Bishop George Bell [GS Misc 1173],
has effectively found the process of the Core Group that investigated
the complaint to be fundamentally flawed, is it accepted that, if the
Church of England wishes to act justly, it has two options: if it is to
maintain that “a significant cloud” remains over Bishop Bell’s name, it
must either (i) set up a fresh independent review into the truth or
otherwise of Carol’s allegation, to be conducted in accordance with
correct procedural principles, to include ensuring representation of
the interests of the late bishop, and abide by the outcome, or (ii) if it
is not prepared to go to the expense of such a review, it must accept
that the Core Group’s effective finding of Bell’s guilt [see Carlile
report para 237] cannot stand, and say so?
The Bishop of Bath & Wells to reply on behalf of the Chair of the House of
A I refer to the media statement that I made on Wednesday 31 January
and my reference to the statement made by the National
Safeguarding Team on the same day. I am unable to say anything
else at this stage until such matters have been concluded.
Mr Martin Sewell (Rochester) to ask the Chair of the House of Bishops:
Q59 Is it unambiguously accepted that the prejudging of a case through
the legal heresy that “the victim must be believed” must play no part
in the Church’s processes in determining whether a case of alleged
sexual abuse is or is not made out?
The Bishop of Bath & Wells to reply on behalf of the Chair of the House of
A It has never been the case that the ‘victim must be believed’ in
determining a case.
The determination in any case whether an allegation is made or not
made has always been in accordance with a civil standard of proof,
i.e. the balance of probabilities. The process determining this is
outlined in the House of Bishops guidance ‘responding to
safeguarding concerns or allegations against Church officers’. This
was agreed by the National Safeguarding Steering Group. The
guidance uses the term ‘taken seriously’ in responding to such
concerns. Section 2.2 clearly states that the response should not
prejudice any statutory investigation that may be required but should
be compassionate.
Mr Martin Sewell (Rochester) to ask the Chair of the House of Bishops:
Q60 Before the Statement issued on 28 June 2016 that there was to be
an independent review, commissioned by the Church of England’s
National Safeguarding Team, on the recommendation of the Bishop
of Chichester, “to see what lessons can be learned from how the
[George Bell] case was handled”, the Church of England refused to
disclose any information, beyond that set out in the 22 October 2015
statement, on which the civil claim by ‘Carol’ was settled, claiming
that it was precluded in law from doing so by the need to protect the
“survivor’s” privacy. It was indicated that this was in accordance with
legal advice. Given the comprehensive explanations set out by Lord
Carlile without in any way compromising the complainant’s proper
claim for anonymity, is it now conceded that a transparent
explanation of process is desirable, lawful, and not at all problematic?
The Bishop of Bath & Wells to reply on behalf of the Chair of the House of
A The purpose of commissioning an independent review was to ensure
that there was a transparent explanation of the processes that led to
the decisions made in respect of this case. In doing so, a judgement
was made that it was in the best interest of all concerned that this be
explained by someone independent of those processes.
The National Safeguarding Steering Group is working through its
consideration of how to give effect to the recommendations of Lord
Carlile’s independent review into the case of George Bell. I have
made it clear in previous statements that the NSSG accepts the main
thrust of the recommendations, though respectfully differing on one
part of one of them. I have apologised for any failings in the process
and we are now considering how best to make improvements in light
of the review. The NSSG will report to the House of Bishops as soon
as this process is complete.

January 18 2018 – “Bishop Bell: more criticism of response to Carlile report” – Thinking Anglicans

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Thursday, 18 January 2018

Bishop Bell: more criticism of response to Carlile report

First, Dr Irene Lancaster wrote in Christian Today Bishop George Bell was a hero who saved Jewish children. It is time his reputation was restored.

Then, Bishop Peter Hancock replied to this with Why the Church insisted on transparency with the George Bell case.

Meanwhile, the Telegraph reports that a letter has been sent to the Archbishop of Canterbury from seven academic historians criticising his comments in response to the Carlile report: Archbishop’s claims against Bishop George Bell ‘irresponsible and dangerous’.

The full text of the letter is copied below the fold.

Earlier criticism was reported here, here, and here. and there is another item not previously linked.

Continue reading “Bishop Bell: more criticism of response to Carlile report”

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Thursday, 18 January 2018 at 3:06pm GMT