Tag Archives: Carlile Review

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]

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The George Bell Group

We are an independent group whose members represent a concentration of experience in public life, in the fields of law, policing, politics, journalism, academic research and church affairs. This group began to meet in response to the 22 October 2015 statement issued by the Church of England about Bishop George Bell. See this BBC report for the original story. On 15 December 2017 the Church of England published the independent review of Lord Carlile and issued three statements made in response by the Archbishop of Canterbury, the Bishop of Chichester and the Bishop of Bath & Wells.

We warmly welcome the Report written by Timothy Briden and congratulate him on his thorough examination of the evidence which led him to the explicit conclusion that the new allegations against Bishop Bell were unfounded. There are no other allegations.

It is time to conclude a matter which has lasted altogether three and a half years. The investigative activities and processes of the church authorities themselves have been devastated by independent legal judgement. The assurances with which these authorities have justified themselves and effectively promoted a case against Bishop Bell in public have been discredited. Bishop Bell’s reputation is today vindicated and affirmed by authoritative opinion. What remains of the story is only a matter of contemporary church politics.

Read the full response of the George Bell Group (May 2019)

Statement May 2019

Since October 2015 when the Archbishops’ Council announced that they had paid compensation to the woman given the pseudonym ‘Carol’, who alleged that she had been abused by Bishop George Bell, his defenders have criticised the Church authorities for never once affording the Bishop the presumption of innocence.  Now, after the inquiries of Lord Carlile and Timothy Briden, it can be seen that the allegations against Bishop Bell were unfounded in fact.

THE CARLILE REVIEW

The Carlile report, whose conclusions (save as to publicity) the Church accepted, criticised the investigation of Carol’s allegations as a rush to judgment predicated on Bell’s guilt. It concluded that the decision to settle with Carol was indefensibly wrong and that the process completely ignored the Bishop’s reputation and the interests of his surviving family, including his very elderly niece.

The original statement by the Archbishops’ Council in October 2015 claimed that none of the expert independent reports had found reason to doubt Carol’s veracity. But Lord Carlile discovered that the only expert consulted by the Church thought it very likely that Carol’s experience of abuse in her first marriage had affected her recall, and that the possibility of false memories was a real one.

Regrettably Archbishop Welby added his authority to the destruction of Bell’s reputation: on Good Friday 2016, before the Carlile report was completed, he told BBC Radio that the investigation of Carol’s claim had been ‘very thorough’ and the finding of abuse correct on the balance of probabilities. We now know how far from the truth that was.

The Archbishop told Lord Carlile during his inquiry that if there had not been a proper investigation of Carol’s story, the Church would have to apologise. But sadly, when the Carlile report was published in December 2017, he chose not to do so. To the disappointment of Bell’s defenders, he appeared to reject the presumption of innocence; instead he commented that there was still ‘a significant cloud’ left over Bishop Bell’s name without giving any explanation of why he continued to hold that view in the face of Lord Carlile’s conclusions.

THE ‘FRESH INFORMATION’ AND THE BRIDEN PROCESS

The publicity given to the Carlile report appears to have triggered a copy-cat claim by the woman given the name Alison. The Core Safeguarding Group which had been responsible for the shambolic investigation of Carol’s claim now set about trying to substantiate that by Alison. They may well have hoped that the similar facts alleged by Alison would corroborate the discredited Carol. But within weeks the police, to whom the Core Group had reported the matter, closed their enquiries.  Next an investigation by a senior retired police officer commissioned by the Church quickly showed that Alison’s evidence was unreliable and incapable of supporting any adverse finding against the Bishop.

Mr Briden reported that her account not only had internal inconsistencies but was also contaminated by her having read Carol’s story, a contamination revealed by her repeating verbatim some of Carol’s words which had been reported in the press. He ended his report by saying that all the allegations against George Bell remitted to him were unfounded.

Many will have hoped that on reading Mr Briden’s report Archbishop Welby would have publicly acknowledged that the cloud of which he had previously spoken had been dissipated. He did not do so.

THE DUTY OF THE CHURCH NOW

The history of the treatment by the Church of England of the reputation of George Bell has become a scandal.

It is now the plain duty of the Church of England, nationally and in the Diocese of Chichester, to make amends by working to restore Bishop Bell’s reputation, not least in institutions which were once proud to adopt his name.

We welcome the decision of Canterbury Cathedral to revive a commission to create a statue of Bell and note the expression of ‘delight’ with which the Archbishop of Canterbury has responded. We acknowledge with gratitude the firmness with which the Dean and Chapter of Christ Church, Oxford have maintained and cherished the chapel there dedicated to Bell’s memory throughout the controversy. We note that the meeting room dedicated to Bishop Bell remains, as before, at the World Council of Churches in Geneva.

It is only in Chichester itself, the place in which Bishop Bell lived and worked for almost thirty years and where his ashes are interred in the cathedral, that any public adoption of his name is now suppressed.

We find the public stance of the Bishop of Chichester, Dr Martin Warner, incomprehensible and indefensible. The Bishop’s ‘Response’ to the Briden Report, published on 24 January 2019 and now promoted on the websites of the diocese and cathedral, only went as far as to acknowledge that ‘Bishop Bell cannot be proven guilty’. He added that it could not be ‘safely claimed that the original complainant [i.e. Carol] had been discredited’. This is a most regrettable insinuation that there was, or likely was, substance to Carol’s allegation and hence that Bell was to be suspected of abuse.

The Bishop emphasised the defamatory innuendo by asking ‘those who hold opposing views on this matter to recognise the strength of each other’s commitment to justice and compassion.’ There is, regrettably, no evidence in this response of the Bishop’s commitment to justice or of any compassion towards those who are wrongly accused. His words have been repeated verbatim by the Bishop at Lambeth in response to a Question at the recent session of the General Synod of the church. Indeed, the Bishop even invoked the authority of the House of Bishops in support of this view. So far as we are aware the House has never even discussed the matter.

Such words simply preserve the impression that there was, and remains, a case against Bell. A not dissimilar state of mind was revealed by the Chichester Diocesan Safeguarding Officer when he told the Child Abuse Inquiry in March 2018 that ‘all the indications we have would suggest that the simplest explanation for why someone comes forward to report abuse – because they were abused – is likely to be the correct one’.

As the High Court Judge Sir Richard Henriques has pointed out in his report to the Metropolitan Police on allegations against prominent individuals, such an assumption results in an investigation which does not challenge the complainant, tends to disbelieve the suspect and shifts onto the suspect the burden of proof, ignoring any presumption of innocence. It becomes a premise for a miscarriage of justice such as can now be seen to have been inflicted on the reputation of George Bell.

It should be sufficient to observe that like Professor Anthony Maden, Lord Carlile did interview this first complainant. We note Lord Carlile’s statement of 1 February 2019, made to the local campaigner Mr Richard Symonds: ‘The Church should now accept that my recommendations should be accepted in full, and that after due process, however delayed, George Bell should be declared by the Church to be innocent of the allegations made against him.’

We are more than conscious that this saga represents a wider pattern in the Church and across society where many other such miscarriages of justice have become notorious. Now it is surely essential that if all the many safeguarding bodies, national and diocesan, are to be retained by the Church of England their work must be placed under real legal discipline and in the hands of officers who observe fully the expectations and rule of law and act without fear or prejudice.

There must never again be any repetition of such a discreditable, indeed disgraceful, performance.

Andrew Chandler, Convenor of George Bell Group, 9 May 2019

January 21 2018 – “Imagine…….” – Peter Hitchens – The Mail on Sunday

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/debate/article-5293283/Peter-Hitchens-misses-town-clerks-men-peaked-caps.html

Imagine what would have happened if, after the Appeal Court had found (say) the Birmingham Six innocent, the Home Secretary had said: ‘I still think there’s a significant cloud over their names. I’m not letting them go.’

Well, this is how the Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, is behaving over Bishop George Bell, wrongly accused of child abuse and cleared last month by a devastating report.

Lord Carlile QC, who reviewed the case, says that had Bishop Bell been alive when the accusations were made, ‘there would have been absolutely no chance… of him being convicted’.

This is how the Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby (pictured), is behaving over Bishop George Bell, wrongly accused of child abuse and cleared last month by a devastating report

This is how the Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby (pictured), is behaving over Bishop George Bell, wrongly accused of child abuse and cleared last month by a devastating report

 

But the Archbishop refuses to accept that his Church was mistaken when it publicly condemned Bishop Bell.

Now a group of powerful historians and another group of international church leaders have written sternly to Mr Welby, telling him to accept the verdict.

Is he big enough to climb down? We shall see. But if not, is he big enough for his throne?

 

December 15 2017 – “The Church has lost its sense of truth and morality in the Bishop Bell case” – Charles Moore – Daily Telegraph

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2017/12/15/church-has-lost-sense-truth-morality-bishop-bell-case/

n October 2015, the Church of England announced that George Bell, Bishop of Chichester from 1928-58, had committed serious sexual abuse of a child roughly 65 years ago. It paid money to the “victim”. This was sad news to me because, like thousands, I admired Bell for his support for German Christians resisting Hitler and for Jewish refugees from the Nazis. I respected his courage in criticising the “blanket” Allied bombing of Germany.

I assumed, however, that the Church would not lightly condemn one of its most revered figures. Past revelations about other clergy had inoculated me against the idea that seemingly holy bishops are incapable of evil. I inclined to believe what I heard.

But although Bell had been dead since 1958, his memory burnt bright enough for people to question the means by which he had been condemned. Though talking of “transparency”, the Church was most reluctant to give…

December 23 2017 – “Acquitted and Vindicated – but his Reputation is Still in Prison. The Church’s Duty to George Bell” – Peter Hitchens’s Blog – MailOnline

http://hitchensblog.mailonsunday.co.uk/2017/12/acquitted-and-vindicated-but-his-reputation-is-still-in-prison-the-churchs-duty-to-george-bell.html

20 December 2017 11:15 AM

Acquitted and Vindicated – but his Reputation is Still in Prison. The Church’s Duty to George Bell

Firstly may I thank contributors for their kind words about the George Bell issue, and the outcome (so far) of the campaign to clear this great man’s name of the unproven accusations so vigorously spread about him, as if they were proven facts,  by the Church of England.  I hope readers will forgive me for this further posting on the subject. As I said at the press conference at which George Bell’s name was cleared, matters are by no means finished. It is as if Captain Dreyfus’s wife had been summoned to a press conference given by the French Army, which had there admitted that it had condemned her husband on paltry evidence after an incompetent and prejudiced court martial, and that the case against him could not stand – but that he would have to remain indefinitely imprisoned on Devil’s Island because the Commander in Chief still felt there was a ‘cloud’ over his name.

George Bell’s reputation is still on Devil’s Island. No formal action has been taken to reverse the Stalinoid process by which his name was removed from buildings, institutions and guide books. These are: George Bell House, a guest house in Chichester cathedral close donated to the Cathedral in his memory by Anglican nuns who loved Bell greatly, and opened by Rowan Williams, then Archbishop of Canterbury; a hall of residence at the University of Chichester;  the house named after Bishop Bell at Bishop Luffa School, Chichester; the school formerly named after him at Eastbourne, now renamed St Catherine’s College, to which he travelled shortly before his death to bless, though extremely frail, dying very soon afterwards; the Chichester cathedral souvenir guide book, from which many references to the Bishop have been removed in the latest edition. I still possess the former guide, is anyone should need to check it for purposes of comparison.  A statue of George Bell also sits unfinished in the stoneyard of Canterbury Cathedral, where he was a very distinguished Dean. The statue was abandoned when the claims against George Bell were first publicised.

These are in a way small matters – in themselves. But their restoration now become hugely important as a sign that the presumption of innocence once more prevails.  Yet no plaques or names have been restored. Work has not resumed on the statue. All the bodies involved mumble that they are ‘considering ‘ the matter, with the exception of the Eastbourne School which, for unconnected  reasons, has a strong desire to change its name which predated the accusations against George Bell, and says firmly it will not reverse the decision. If this is really so, perhaps Bishop Luffa school in Chichester could expiate its former action, in expunging George Bell’s name from one of its houses,  by naming itself after Bishop Bell, who one might think has more relevance to modern Christian education than the mediaeval Luffa.

But in any case, what is there to discuss. An injustice has been done, one of the most distinguished public lawyers in the country has said it is an injustice after a thorough investigation, and so it must be corrected. Imagine if, after the Appeal Court had ruled that (say) the convictions of the Birmingham Six could not stand, the governors of the prisons involved said they would be ‘considering’ the matter, and might or might not release them at some stage depending on what they felt about it. What would be the response to that? If those involved have yet to read the Carlile Report (it takes about 90 minutes), the link to it and the (fascinating) annexe are displayed below. Once they have done so, they will find there is nothing left to discuss.

I might add that, the last time I checked with her, no formal apology form the Bishop of Chichester or the Archbishop of Canterbury had been received by Mrs Barbara Whitley, George Bell’s surviving niece, who woke one morning to find, without any warning, that her beloved uncle’s name had been smeared all over the media by the ‘strident voices’ of the Church of England. These prelates unceasingly proclaim their concern for the complainant, similarly an elderly woman deserving courtesy and consideration. But the complainant has always been (and will always remain) anonymous. Mrs Whitley has had to endure this in the blazing light of total publicity.

The Church’s statements, the review and the fascinating annexe can all be found here :   

 

https://www.churchofengland.org/more/media-centre/news/publication-bishop-george-bell-independent-review

As my contribution to the continuing campaign for justice to be done in full, I sent the letter below to the Bishop of Chichester, the Right Reverend Dr Martin Warner, on Monday, saying I intended to publish it here as an open letter. Now that he has had time to read, mark, learn and inwardly digest its contents, I commend it to you to:

Dear Bishop,

I wonder if I could resume our correspondence (terminated by you on 19th January 2017), now that the Carlile Report has been published and considered by you. In this case, however, I propose to publish this letter on my Mail on Sunday blog, so that my readers are aware of the questions I have long raised with you, and the new ones I must now raise with you following the Carlile review.

I am still mainly concerned with your attack on supposedly ‘strident voices’ raised in defence of Bishop Bell, which you suggested had distressed the anonymous complainant. May I draw your attention to my article on the subject in the Spectator of 17th November 2015? It can be read with ease here: https://www.spectator.co.uk/2015/11/the-church-of-englands-shameful-betrayal-of-bishop-george-bell/ .

In it I was extremely careful to accept the possibility of Bishop Bell’s guilt, and to say specifically ‘By all means comfort and assuage the accuser, and compensate him or her’. This was a conscious act of charity towards the accuser, whom I have never blamed for the mistreatment of George Bell’s memory. I understood from the start that any examination of this case should not become an attack upon the accuser, nor (except in the minds of the Church) has it ever been such an attack. Please contrast the Church’s treatment of Bishop Bell’s surviving niece, Mrs Barbara Whitley (see p.33 of the Carlile review, para 142). She had to endure the ‘strident voices’ of the Church of England publicly parading deeply painful allegations against her beloved uncle, presented as fact, and quite without the shield of anonymity rightly given to Carol. You had not even bothered to find out if Mrs Whitley existed. Matthew VII, 3-5 comes to mind.

I suspect that the Bishop of Chelmsford’s false accusation that George Bell’s supporters had made ‘hurtful remarks’ about Carol, made in the House of Lords when the poor man was expected to respond to the long-planned debate there after an inadequate briefing, resulted from this original accusation by you. The false accusation has still not been formally retracted in the Lords, though the Bishop of Chelmsford did after some hesitation eventually apologise to me personally, allowing me to forgive him as Our Lord urges us to do in Luke XVII, 3-4.

I’d add to this attempt to use the complainant as a shield against accusations of wrongdoing in the Church’s part your needless call for all to respect the ‘right to privacy’ of Carol made at the Church House press conference on Friday. What was the purpose of this call? When was any attempt ever made to invade her privacy? I still think you need to regret this accusation.

You have also asserted that the original statement issued on 22nd October 2015 did not state George Bell’s guilt, and you blame the media involved for presuming this.  In response to this I raise several points. The first is that all media given the statement concluded that you were asserting Bishop Bell’s guilt. How did this happen? Partly to blame must be the unwarranted use of the prejudicial word ‘survivor’ and a generally incautious use of language which (had Bishop Bell been alive and a court case pending or in progress) would have put those involved at risk of action for contempt of court. We must also wonder what confidential briefings may have been given to the media by persons speaking for the Church, to the journalists involved, who those persons were, what instructions and advice they had been given by the Church and what they said. I cannot know this, though as a journalist of many years’ experience I find it hard to believe that no such briefings took place. Did they? What was said by whom and to whom?

Also at fault is the claim in the statement that the Bishop, had he been alive, would have been arrested (Annex to the Carlile report, Page 36, paragraph 23; see also the main report, paras 132 and 133 on page 31, and para 167 on page 44). There was in fact no real police inquiry (see para 139 on p.32).We now know from the Sussex police that this statement was solicited by the Diocese from them, and not made on their own initiative. Please see the words of Det Supt J.D. Graves, in his response to my complaint to them on behalf of Mrs Whitley ‘My understanding….’, wrote Detective Superintendent Graves:

‘….is that the Diocese of Chichester notified Sussex Police that they planned to release a statement to the media. It was never our intention to be proactive (my emphasis); in other words, there was no intention to release a police statement about the alleged criminality of Bishop Bell (my emphasis). However, we were asked by the Diocese to make a statement (my emphasis) as they had decided to make this information public and so we provided them with a statement for inclusion in their press release on the basis that once the Diocese published their statement a natural consequence would be a media request to the police for comment’.

Did you not expect this misleading detail in the statement, which had been actively sought by you, to impute guilt to George Bell? In dozens of conversations with fellow-journalists and others about this matter, every single one of them has pointed (unprompted by me)  to the claim that George Bell would have been arrested as being the thing which persuaded him or her that the case against him was serious. If it was not intended to insinuate this, what is it doing there at all?

You said on Friday, and yet again in your Radio 4 interview on Sunday that you had never proclaimed George Bell’s guilt. On Radio 4, you said ‘What we did not do and have not ever done is to make a clear statement which says “We have found George Bell guilty”. We have never done that’.

I must ask, in that case, why you did not write to The Times, the Guardian, the Daily Telegraph, the BBC, the Argus of Brighton or the Chichester Observer, correcting their reports of your statement, reports which proclaimed that George Bell was guilty?  Is it possible that you did so and they ignored your letters?  Or did you choose to leave the impression of guilt which your statement had created, which you now insist you had not intended to create? Had you written to complain, it would have been very helpful to my own unending efforts to get these media to change their tune. Only one, the BBC, which had inaccurately used the specific term ‘proven abuse’ in a TV report and so gone further than the others, ever admitted that it had wrongly stated Bishop Bell’s guilt. All the others used your statement, and above all the claim that Bishop Bell would have been arrested, to argue that they were right to treat the statement as a declaration of guilt.  The Independent Press Standards Organisation (IPSO) took the same view when I and others took the matter to them. I should also remind you of what happened when I drew attention to the Bishop of Durham’s statement in the House of Lords on 28thJanuary 2016, in which he said ‘that there has been no declaration that we are convinced that this [alleged abuse by Bishop Bell] took place’. As the Bishop was then in charge of ‘safeguarding’, this seemed to me to be a highly significant development and perhaps a retreat from the original claim of 22nd October. I thought it might be the basis of a revision of the Church’s original position.

However, after Charles Moore and I had both drawn attention to it in early February 2016, Church House issued this statement on behalf of the Bishop of Durham http://cofecomms.tumblr.com/post/138915810902/statement-from-bishop-of-durham-on-george-bell . It contained these unequivocal words. ‘The church therefore, having evaluated the evidence before them, accepted the veracity of the claims before them.’  In case there was any doubt, it added:

‘But in this case, as in others, the overriding goal was to search out the truth and issues of reputation cannot take priority over that.’ (both emphases are mine).

I am unable to square the words ‘The church therefore, having evaluated the evidence before them, accepted the veracity of the claims before them.’ with your statements exemplified by the one you made on Sunday 17th December ‘What we did not do and have not ever done is to make a clear statement which says “We have found George Bell guilty”. We have never done that’.

Since it is clear that the Church *has* stated that it ‘accepted the veracity’ of the claims made against George Bell’; since it publicised inaccurate claims that he would have been arrested, now shown to be wrong; since (para 17, p.5) Lord Carlile states that the CPS evidential charging standard would not have been met and stated at the press conference that, on this evidence, he would have lost the case had he prosecuted it;  since the claim made in the October 2015 statement that there had been a ‘thorough pre-litigation process’ has been shown in detail to be a nonsense; likewise the Bishop of Chelmsford’s assertion in the House of Lords (30th June 2106) that this had been a ‘prayerful, careful, sensitive and serious investigation’ now looks embarrassing, though it should be said there is at least no reason to dispute his characterisation of it as ‘prayerful’

And peerhsa most shocking of all, since the publication of Professor Maden’s report shows that the October 2015 statement’s assertion that ‘none of these reports found any reason to doubt the veracity of the claim’ is simply, straightforwardly untrue….

…In the light of all these matters, it seems to me that the issue is very far from closed. A great deal of restitution still needs to be done, and it was not even attempted on Friday. It would help if the Church admitted in detail just how wrong it had in fact been, instead of trying to change the subject or to pretend that it has not done things that it has done.

By the way, you also stated in your Sunday BBC interview that ‘no plaques that I am aware of have been blanked out’. This is most odd. During a visit to Chichester in November 2015, my wife and I walked down Canon Lane and there saw that the plaque saying ‘George Bell House’ was covered by some sort of industrial plastic material, similar to that used in bin bags. I am pleased to learn that this Stalinist action was done without your knowledge or consent. But I must assure you that it was done. The plaque itself, as you must know, was later entirely removed, as was the one inside George Bell House commemorating the fact that Archbishop Rowan Williams had opened George Bell House. The interior plaque has now been replaced by one which pretends that the Archbishop opened ‘4 Canon Lane’, which is not true. Likewise (as you were not asked about in the interview) many mentions of George Bell have been excised from the Cathedral guide book, his name has been removed from the House which used to bear it at Bishop Luffa school where I should think you might have some influence, and also from a hall of residence at the University of Chichester. I pointed out to you last Friday that even the Soviet Union had eventually rehabilitated those whom it had unjustly condemned in unfair show trials (whose memories, names and pictures were likewise removed from buildings, streets, photographs, encyclopaedias and so forth).  The Church of England is surely judged by (and should regulate itself by) a higher standard than an atheist secret police state.

Sincerely,

Peter Hitchens

 

December 17 2017 – “If a saintly man can be branded a sex abuser, none of us is safe” – Peter Hitchens’s Blog – Mail on Sunday Column

http://hitchensblog.mailonsunday.co.uk/2017/12/if-a-saintly-man-can-be-branded-a-sex-abuser-none-of-us-is-safe.html

17 December 2017 1:20 AM

If a saintly man can be branded a sex abuser, none of us is safe

This is Peter Hitchens’s Mail On Sunday column

Lord bishop of Chichester

If we won’t fight injustice wherever we see it, then we are not safe from suffering injustice ourselves. If a man’s reputation can be destroyed in an afternoon by a secret kangaroo court, then we too can one day be propelled into a pit of everlasting shame by the same process.
If it can happen to anyone, it can happen to you. And it does happen. Accusations of long-ago sexual crime have become a sort of industry in this country. People are so horrified by them that they almost always believe them.
Because the crime is so foul, we stop thinking. To their shame, police and prosecutors use our horror to get easy convictions, when they must know that their cases are weak. The less actual evidence they have, the more they stress the disgusting nature of the alleged crime. And they forget to remind us that it is alleged, not proved.
Equally shamefully, judges do not stop these trials and juries leave their brains at the door. They convict not because they are sure the case has been proved beyond reasonable doubt, but because they are angry and revolted.
I am miserably sure there are disturbing numbers of people in British prisons now, prosecuted on such charges, who are innocent of the accusations against them. It is our fault, because we have forgotten what justice is supposed to be like, and that, if we do not guard it in our hearts, it will perish in the country.
This is why I have spent a shockingly large part of my life in the past two years trying to rescue the reputation of a dead bishop, George Bell of Chichester. I had known of him for many years and thought him a man of saintly courage. I had also spent a very sunny part of an extraordinarily happy childhood in and around Chichester. I learned to be an Englishman, in many ways, in that beautiful, ancient city. Even so, when the Church of England publicly denounced him as a child abuser, I was astonished by the instinctive, molten fury that I then experienced. This was not just an opinion. It kept me awake at night.
Fortunately, I found allies who felt the same. At first slowly and then with gathering strength and confidence, we assembled the evidence which showed that grave wrong had been done. The Church of England, whose senior figures are astonishingly unimpressive and tricky, tried to smear us with false claims that we had attacked the complainant. But they failed, and at last grudgingly agreed to review the case.
When the review told them that they had run an incompetent, miserable kangaroo court and that they had condemned a great man on evidence too weak to hang a hamster, they sat sulkily on that report for nearly ten weeks, until they were jeered into releasing it.
Even then, when it came out on Friday, a Church which supposedly believes in penitence was still wriggling like a basket of embarrassed eels. The distinguished and impartial lawyer who conducted the review, Lord Carlile QC, made it quite plain that no court would have found George Bell guilty on the evidence (indeed, the Crown Prosecution Service would not even have brought it to court).
He concluded the Church had hung one of its greatest figures ‘out to dry’. He even said ‘if I had been prosecuting this case, I would have lost it’, which is as near as such a person could come to saying George Bell is innocent.
And what of the Church, supposedly the guardian of moral good? The Archbishop of Canterbury petulantly persisted in claiming, despite all the evidence, that there was still a ‘cloud’ over George Bell’s name. Lord Carlile remarked that this statement was ‘less than fully adroit’, which is QC-speak for something much ruder. 
I will go further. Archbishop Welby had a chance to stand for moral courage against the easy, popular thing. And he did the easy, popular thing. George Bell, facing much sterner tests in much tougher times, repeatedly chose moral courage over popularity. And that is why Justin Welby is not fit to lace up George Bell’s shoes, and why his pretensions to be a moral leader of this country are taken less and less seriously by thinking people.

 

December 21 2017 – “Welby ‘should resign’ over Bishop George Bell abuse claims” – BBC

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-42415659

Welby ‘should resign’ over Bishop George Bell abuse claims

  • 20 December 2017
Bishop George BellImage copyright GETTY IMAGES
Image caption George Bell was Bishop of Chichester from 1929 until his death in 1958

The only surviving relative of a former senior Bishop accused of abusing a young girl has called on the Archbishop of Canterbury to resign.

Last week an independent inquiry criticised the Church over its handling of child abuse allegations made against George Bell after his death.

It said the Church was too quick to accept the claims “without serious investigation or inquiry”.

Barbara Whitley, 93, said she wanted the reputation of her uncle restored.

She told the BBC that she wanted Justin Welby to stand down, and a face-to-face apology from the Church of England.

“I’m determined to clear his name before I die,” she said.

George Bell was the Bishop of Chichester from 1929 until his death in October 1958. He was alleged to have repeatedly abused a young girl.

The victim, known as “Carol”, made a formal complaint in 1995 and, 10 years later, won an apology and compensation from the Church.

She said he began abusing her when she was five and molested her in Chichester Cathedral as she sat listening to stories, with the abuse continuing for about four years.

Barbara Whitley
Image caption Barbara Whitley, 93, said she wanted the reputation of her uncle restored

In his report, Lord Carlile of Berriew criticised the Church’s response to the claims as “deficient” in a number of respects, and said the most significant was that “it failed to follow a process that was fair and equitable to both sides”.

“For Bishop Bell’s reputation to be catastrophically affected in the way that occurred was just wrong,” he concluded.

In a statement following its publication, the Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby said the bishop was “one of the great Anglican heroes of the 20th Century”, but he had been “accused of great wickedness”.

He said the decision to publish his name was taken “with immense reluctance” and the Church apologised for the failures of its processes.

Ms Whitley has always maintained that the allegations against her uncle were untrue.

“He just wasn’t that sort. He wasn’t a touchy-feely man,” she said.

She said she had not received an apology from the Church over its handling of the case, but would like to have one face-to-face.

In a statement, the Diocese of Chichester said its National Safeguarding Advisor had emailed her on Friday, reiterating the Church’s apology for the pain caused.

Related Topics

More on this story

  • Church apology over Bishop George Bell abuse inquiry
    15 December 2017
  • Bishop George Bell case: Lord Carlile to lead review
    23 November 2016
  • Petition seeks ‘justice’ for ‘abuse’ Bishop George Bell
    19 October 2016
  • Sussex Police apology over Bishop George Bell affair
    5 August 2016
  • Bishop George Bell: Review to look at ‘abuse’ case
    28 June 2016
  • George Bell: The battle for a bishop’s reputation
    5 May 2016
  • Bishop George Bell: Archbishop defends abuse claim payout
    25 March 2016
  • Challenge to Bishop George Bell abuse claim
    20 March 2016
  • Carey’s support for abuse accused Bishop George Bell ‘distressing’
    7 March 2016

Around the BBC

Related Internet links

  • Church of England
  • Diocese of Chichester
  • George Bell Group
  • The Archbishop of Canterbury

December 20 2017 – A Call for the Archbishop of Canterbury to “carefully consider his position” – Letter Submission – The Guardian – Richard W. Symonds [The Bell Society] – Dec 18 2017

Dear Editor

So, a representative of the current Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby says: “the independent review of the (Bishop) Ball case spoke for itself” (‘Carey lambasts Welby over church sexual abuse case’, Guardian. Dec 18).

As a result, a former Archbishop George Carey was forced to resign after the current Archbishop requested he should “carefully consider his position”.

An independent review of the Bishop Bell case also spoke for itself last week, through Lord Alex Carlile QC, severely criticising the Church for destroying the reputation of the respected wartime Bishop of Chichester.

Perhaps the current Archbishop himself should now “carefully consider his position”, after failing to apologise for the Church’s unjust trashing of Bishop Bell’s reputation.

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

URGENT NEWS UPDATE – TODAY – DECEMBER 20 2017

https://richardwsymonds.wordpress.com/2017/12/20/december-20-2017-why-the-churchs-response-to-the-george-bell-inquiry-is-so-shocking-the-very-revd-professor-martyn-percy-dean-of-christ-church-oxford/

http://archbishopcranmer.com/long-dead-archbishop-justin-welby-accused-child-abuse/