Tag Archives: “Carol”

February 23 2018 – “The overreaction to Oxfam’s failings is part of a deeper, and more damaging, malaise” – The Independent – Patrick Cockburn


The overreaction to Oxfam’s failings is part of a deeper and more damaging malaise

Patrick Cockburn
The Independent
People walk past an Oxfam sign in Corail, a camp for people displaced after 2010 earthquake, on the outskirts of Port-au-Prince, Haiti: Reuters
People walk past an Oxfam sign in Corail, a camp for people displaced after 2010 earthquake, on the outskirts of Port-au-Prince, Haiti: Reuters

The news agenda is dominated by melodramatic scandals that act as simplified versions of reality in which roles are allocated to accusers, victims, perpetrators and those condemned for failing to prevent wrong-doing. A few scandals are rooted in reality, such as those focused on Harvey Weinstein or Jimmy Saville, but others are becoming ever more exaggerated or phoney.

The media knows a good story when it sees one, regardless of whether it is true or false. It is interesting how the same characteristics crop in each scandal, however different they might at first appear: the most dubious sources of information are treated as credible; these sources gain the status of “victims” whom it is forbidden to criticise; the accusations against the person or institution under attack are vague, multiple and toxic; the trivial or shaky nature of the original crime is forgotten as the scandal is spiced up with claims of a cover-up, something which can never be wholly disproved even by the most thorough going disclosure.

There is a high degree of hypocrisy in the media pretence that it is duty-bound to report the most unlikely and obviously partisan allegations. In fact, it loves these stories of gladiatorial combat between angels and devils, though the scenario has often been concocted for partisan political purposes. The aim of any PR or propaganda person is to create stories that they know the press will be unable to leave alone. Fabricating a scandal is not difficult: an example of this is Hillary Clinton, who was cumulatively damaged by a series of fake scandals: the Whitewater real estate scandal in the 1990s from which she made no money; her use of a private email account that revealed no secrets; and the absurd attempt to hold her responsible for the murder of the US ambassador in Benghazi in 2012. As with most fake scandals, the aim was to slide away from any substantive charges but create a general belief among voters that she was slippery and evasive.

In Britain most scandals have a sexual element, but allegations of a cover-up are now so prevalent that anybody is vulnerable, however innocent. Even the most bizarre accusations are taken seriously. Take two recent cases: in 2015, the Church of England announced that George Bell, one of the most distinguished Anglican bishops of the twentieth century, famous for his principled criticism of the carpet bombing of German cities in the Second World War, was denounced by his own church for sexually abusing a child some 63 years previously. Having died in 1958, he could not defend himself and the accusation came from a single woman, “Carol”, while nobody else had complained about his behaviour. Yet without any real evidence being produced, the church decided to say it believed her, paid compensation and denigrated one of its most highly regarded members.

An independent inquiry was established by Justin Welby, the Archbishop of Canterbury, which found that the original report was shoddy and ill-informed. This should have elicited an apology from Archbishop to the memory of Bishop Bell since there was no evidence that he had done anything wrong. But Welby was evidently more frightened of being accused of a “cover-up” in defending Bell and did no such thing.

Instead, the Archbishop agreed that Bell has great achievements to his name – such as looking after Jewish children in flight from the Holocaust and helping German Christians resist Hitler – but it turned out that a single unsupported allegation made 50 years after the event outweighed this. “We realise that a significant cloud is left over his name,” said the Archbishop, adding that Bell had been accused of great wickedness.

There are echoes here of the psychology and behaviour that fuelled the great witch craze in Europe of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, during which anybody who did not support the most crazed allegations of the witch-finders feared the accusation that they themselves were complicit with the witches.

The same point is made by the story of another pretended scandal even more bizarre than that of Bishop Bell. This time the accuser, called “Nick”, claimed that he had been the victim of a VIP paedophile ring operating from the Carlton Club and an apartment block called Dolphin Square in London. Members of the supposed ring included Edward Heath and Leon Britain, the former Home Secretary, along with Field Marshall Lord Bramall. The ring, according to Nick, had murdered three boys, one of whom was knifed by an MP. The Metropolitan Police opened an investigation which found these allegations “credible and true”, despite a complete lack of evidence other than from Nick himself. The police even held a press conference in 2015 outside Heath’s old home in Salisbury appealing for his victims to come forward.

Why should such obvious nonsense receive such publicity? In part, because the press and public alike enjoy stories in which members of the establishment are unmasked as child molesters. But such is the merciless nature of modern scandal generation that few dare defend those who should be very defensible such as Bishop Bell, Edward Heath or Oxfam.

Those accused in such cases are in a particularly vulnerable position because it is difficult to disprove a fantasy, particularly if the accusation is lurid and disgusting. Those targeted know that even the most convincing denial will simply give the story legs and further damage their reputations.

The Oxfam “sex scandal” is the product of much the same script that has produced fake or exaggerated scandals in the past. The media has been lapping it up because it has all the elements of the classic British scandal, including the claim that high moral issue is involved.

There is a strong defence for Oxfam which is that the offences of which a small number of their staff accused are relatively trivial and have, as far as I can tell, not increased the sum of human misery in Haiti or anywhere else. Prostitution in the island is the result of the terrible poverty, not the availability of aid workers as clients. Most of the media revelations about Oxfam’s failings in Haiti come in any case from the aid agency’s own report, but critics have used this copiously as a stick to beat Oxfam, then turn round and accuse it of a “cover-up”, though most of the contents of the report were published by the BBC in 2011.

The hypocrisy is breathtaking: had Oxfam not reacted so quickly to allegation of bad behaviour by its staff in Haiti, there would have been no report and probably no scandal. Instead, it sent an expert investigation team, identified those responsible for misbehaviour and dismissed them. It did all this in the middle of a cholera epidemic which was to kill 7,500 and which Oxfam was trying to stem. Had it not done so, and had there been no report, it would not be in such trouble now.

Senior Oxfam figures tried briefly to defend themselves on the rational grounds that they had done little wrong and much right, but such a defence is not acceptable when the public mood is one of undiluted self-righteousness. They rightly concluded that they were much better off firing off volleys of apologies and showing extreme contrition for their over-exaggerated failings. One day the Oxfam scandal, along with those that denigrated Hillary Clinton, Edward Heath and Bishop Bell, will be recognised as the fake that it is.


February 13 2018 – Letter to a Bishop – Hugh Wyatt CVO – Former Lord Lieutenant of West Sussex

Hugh Wyatt CVO

January 2018

Rt. Rev. Dr Martin Warner

Bishop of Chichester

The Palace


PO19 1PY

Thank you for sending me a copy of your statement to the Diocese on the

George Bell matter and Lord Carlile’s review.

You have plenty to say about “Carol”. You were “privileged to meet her”; you think “she is a woman of courage and integrity”; she behaved with “dignity and was not greedy”; and you had a “patient and generous conversation” with her.

But, as you admit, George Bell was found guilty by the Core Group. You also say “this was a Church matter”. You are correct – it was – and it failed to deal with the matter properly and fairly.

Many of George Bell’s supporters, some of whom including myself actually knew George Bell, think that the buck stops in Chichester and that you should be carefully considering your position.

February 7 2018 – “Archbishop of Canterbury says George Bell’s accuser is as important as late Bishop’s reputation” – Christian Today


Archbishop of Canterbury says George Bell’s accuser is as important as late bishop’s reputation

The Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, has said the woman who alleged that Bishop George Bell abused her should be ‘treated equally importantly’ as the reputation of the late bishop, and that she is ‘not an inconvenience to be overlooked’.

In an interview with the Church Times ahead of a gathering of General Synod, which is like a church parliament, Archbishop Welby defended the decision, made by the Church of England with Welby’s involvement, to publicise the £16,800 payment it made to the woman, known as ‘Carol’.

Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby
Reuters Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby has defended the Church of England’s handling of allegations against the late Bishop George Bell.

That decision and the ‘rush’ that led up to it was heavily criticised in a review published in December by Lord Carlile into the handling of the allegations made against Bishop Bell, regarded as a 20<sup>th Century giant of Anglicanism who died in 1958.

Since then, Archbishop Welby has come under growing criticism from historians and academics for insisting that a ‘significant cloud’ remains over Bell’s name.

Speaking to the Church Times, Welby acknowledged that the Carlile report ‘points out some of the quite severe weaknesses in the initial investigation of George Bell’ and he said that he ‘accepted its recommendations — all except half of one recommendation’ [the naming of those accused of abuse].

But he added: ‘Let’s just have a hypothetical situation in which Chichester diocese had not declared its payment [to Carol] two years ago. With the Independent Inquiry [into Child Sexual Abuse]…that confidentiality undertaking would certainly have become public. Now, the first question, when I give evidence, would then be asked: ‘What else are you hiding? What do you really know about George Bell that you are not telling us, because you’re so anxious to keep it secret?’ It’s a lose-lose…

Welby continued: ‘We have to treat both Bishop Bell, his reputation — we have to hold that as something really precious and valuable. But the person who has brought the complaint is not an inconvenience to be overlooked: they are a human being of immense value and dignity, to be treated equally importantly. And it is very difficult to square that circle.’

Last week, the Church of England’s national safeguarding team announced that it had received ‘fresh information concerning Bishop George Bell’ and said that Sussex police had been informed, without providing any details of the ‘new’ information about the late Bishop of Chichester. It was subsequently reported that a new complainant had come forward.

The following day, the Bell Society convened a conference at Church House in Westminster, with the keynote speaker  as Dr Jules Gomes, the controversial pastor of an independent Anglican church on the Isle of Man.

Bishop George Bell
Courtesy of Jimmy JamesBishop George Bell

This led the Bishop of Gloucester, Rachel Treweek, to attack the meeting as ‘outrageous’ when speaking to Christian Today.

The General Synod will discuss safeguarding policy at its meeting in Church House on Saturday morning.

Reflecting on the past five years in office, Archbishop Welby said that safeguarding was the hardest thing that he had to deal with. ‘It’s the hardest because you’re dealing with the Church’s sin. You’re dealing with profound human weakness. You’re dealing with the consequences in damaged people, in people who’ve been terribly, terribly hurt. And it’s heart-breaking. . .

‘I think we’ve sought to address it, both in mechanistic ways but also spiritually, in prayer, in attitude and culture. We’ve sought to address it in every way we can.’

Archbishop Welby has taken a leading role in defending the Church of England’s approach to Bishop Bell, having been involved in his name becoming public in relation to allegations. The Carlile report reveals an email from the Bishop of Durham on April 29, 2014 to the so-called ‘Core Group’ in the Church of England, which reads: ‘Dear All, At the meeting of Archbishops & Diocesans Archbishop Justin decided that he should inform those gathered of the possibility of the name of the person concerned becoming public in due course.’

The full interview with Archbishop Welby will appear in the next issue of the Church Times.

January 23 2018 – “Justin Welby under fire over refusal to say sorry over ‘trashing’ of Bishop George Bell’s name” – Daily Telegraph – Robert Mendick


Justin Welby under fire over refusal to say sorry over ‘trashing’ of Bishop George Bell’s name


The Archbishop of Canterbury has provoked a furious backlash by accusing supporters of a highly respected bishop of refusing to believe a historic child sex abuse allegation.

The Most Reverend Justin Welby has repeatedly declined  to apologise for the shredding of the reputation of Bishop George Bell over a single, uncorroborated claim made by a woman dating back more than 60 years.

Archbishop Welby has been under pressure to say sorry following the publication of an independent report which concluded Bishop Bell’s reputation had been wrongly destroyed.

Senior academics had written an open letter to the Telegraph complaining that the archbishop had shamed his office with “irresponsible and dangerous” claims that Bishop Bell may have been a paedophile.

But the Archbishop issued a statement on Monday standing by his refusal to apologise and taking a sideswipe at Bishop Bell’s supporters. In it he likened the case of Bishop Bell, the former Bishop of Chichester, to another bishop Peter Ball, a convicted sex offender.

“I cannot with integrity rescind my statement.” he said, referring to an earlier claim that Bishop Bell had a “significant cloud… over his name” and that he had been accused of “great wickedness”.

Lead Safeguarding Bishop supports Carlile recommendations

Archbishop Welby said on Monday: “As in the case of Peter Ball, and others, it is often suggested that what is being alleged could not have been true, because the person writing knew the alleged abuser and is absolutely certain that it was impossible for them to have done what is alleged.

“As with Peter Ball this sometimes turns out to be untrue, not through their own fault or deceit but because abuse is often kept very secret.

“The experience of discovering feet of clay in more than one person I held in profound respect has been personally tragic.”

Bishop Bell’s supporters reacted with fury and dismay, pointing out the claim against him is uncorroborated and made by one woman – known only as carol – decades after the alleged abuse.

Bishop George Bell
Bishop George Bell

Lord Carlile, who wrote an independent report commissioned by the archbishop, concluded that Bishop bell’s reputation was “wrongly and unnecessarily damaged by the Church”. The Church had paid Carol £16,800 damages and issued an apology in 2015.

Richard Symonds, of the Bell Society, said the archbishop should consider resigning, adding: “His stance is unforgivable.” 

Martin Sewell, a retired child protection lawyer and a member of the general synod who will demand an apology when it meets next month, said: “This makes me extraordinarily angry. This statement makes your heart sink.” 

Archbishop Welby

A well-placed source inside the Church said: “There is widespread belief that he [Welby] has not shown an appropriate Christian approach in this case. There is a head of steam in the Church of England that could end up in his resignation over this.”

Bishop Bell, who died aged 75 in 1958, was one of the towering figure of the Church of England in the 20th century and was revered for his role in rescuing Jews from Nazi Germany before the war.

The allegation was first made by ‘Carol’ in 1995 some 38 years after his death and brought to Archbishop Welby’s attention in 2013.

Professor Tony Maden, a psychiatrist who examined her, said the “delays in reporting in this case are exceptional” and added that “memory is not reliable over such long periods of time”. He said “false memory” could not be ruled out as an explanation for her claim in the absence of any corroboration.

January 20 2018 – “Justice for Bishop Bell” – Daily Telegraph – Letters – His Honour Anthony Nicholl


Daily Telegraph – Letters – 20 Jan 2018 – Press Reader


SIR – In English law, a superior court that finds the decision of a lower court fundamentally flawed has one of two courses to take. It can either quash the decision outright or remit it to the lower court to reconsider in accordance with the principles of law.

In their letter to the Archbishop of Canterbury (report, January 18), seven academics have pointed out that the Church of England prevented Lord Carlile from deciding on the guilt of George Bell, the former Bishop of Chichester. However, that behaviour does not enable it to escape the implication of Lord Carlile’s finding that the process, that led the Core Group – charged with investigating the allegation – to impugn Bishop Bell, was fundamentally flawed.

If the Church wishes to act justly it has two options. If it is to maintain that “a cloud” remains over Bishop Bell’s reputation, it must set up a fresh independent review into the truth or otherwise of the claims made by his accuser “Carol”, to be conducted in accordance with the correct principles of procedure.. It must abide by the result. However, if the Church is not prepared to go to the expense of such a review, it must accept that the Core Group’s finding of guilt cannot stand – and say so.

It seems likely that a further review would be a waste of money. The Church should therefore be glad to dispel the cloud wrongly cast upon the reputation of a great man.


His Honour Anthony Nicholl – Stratford-upon-avon, Warwickshire

January 20 2018 – “Defending the dead – The case of Bishop Bell” – The Economist [‘Erasmus’ – Religion and Public Policy]


Defending the dead

The case of Bishop George Bell

The legacy of a great clerical humanitarian is threatened by abuse allegations

GEORGE BELL, who died in 1958, was long regarded as one of the most brilliant and morally courageous representatives of the Anglican Church in the 20th century. Alone among English bishops, he opposed the indiscriminate bombing of German cities during the second world war. As a member of the House of Lords, he joined a handful of Labour members of the House of Commons in questioning the morality of annihilating German civilians.

Bishop Bell had maintained warm contacts with German Christians since the 1930s, when he supported a movement of Protestants who were standing up to Hitler. He backed his German friends in resisting efforts by Hitler to create a kind of ersatz Nazi-oriented form of Christianity. After the war, he was a strong supporter of nuclear disarmament. When the office of Archbishop of Canterbury fell vacant in 1944, he was a contender for the leadership of the English church. But Winston Churchill disliked the unruly cleric’s stance on aerial bombing and resisted the appointment.

The case of Bishop George Bell

Sixty years after his death, the bishop has once again become an apple of discord. This week seven of Britain’s leading academic historians penned an open letter to the present Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby. Their complaint is that Archbishop Welby is giving undue credence to allegations that Bishop Bell was guilty of sexually abusing children, even though it has been established that the investigation of those allegations was flimsy and deficient.

The current turn of the story goes back to 2015, when the Bishop of Chichester, Martin Warner, issued an apology to a woman known as “Carol” who said that she had been serially abused by the famous prelate during her childhood. She also received around £15,000 ($20,800) in compensation.

“Carol” alleged that she was often brought along to the Bishop’s Palace by someone who worked there, and that the bishop would gain her attention by offering to read her a bed-time story.

The church’s apparent acceptance of these allegations triggered a movement in defence of Bishop Bell’s memory. His defenders insisted that the accuser’s account did not correspond with what was known about the layout of the palace or the handful of people who lived and worked there.

To shed light on the matter, the church asked Lord Carlile, one of Britain’s top barristers, to ascertain whether the allegations had been properly investigated. He reported in December that the investigation had been hugely deficient because it did not follow a process that was fair and equitable to both sides and failed to give proper consideration to Bishop Bell’s posthumous rights. But Lord Carlile was not authorised to pronounce on whether the bishop was guilty or innocent.

Archbishop Welby responded by apologising for the sloppy investigation. But he insisted that a cloud still hung over Bishop Bell’s reputation. “No human being is entirely good or bad. Bishop Bell was in many ways a hero. He is also accused of great wickedness.”

That is what prompted the seven eminent historians to re-enter the fray and insist that “there is no credible evidence at all that Bishop Bell was a paedophile.” The professors, who include a leading authority on Nazism, Sir Ian Kershaw, added that

We believe the historical figure of George Bell is safe in the hands of historians even though, very sadly, it would appear to have been impugned from within his own Church of England.

The historians insist that they are not implying that the accuser is speaking deliberate falsehoods: merely that the things that she believes she remembers should be cross-checked against other available evidence.

On one point, at least, Sir Ian and his colleagues deserve a hearing. Bishop Bell’s record as an internationalist and humanitarian is a matter of general historical interest, not just a detail in the history of the church. It follows that the investigation of his life should be conducted outside the confines of the church, as transparently as possible, with a fair hearing for all interested parties. That has still not happened.


January 7 2018 – “The Seven Resolutions” – ‘Rebuilding Bridges’ Morning Conference – Church House Westminster – February 1 2018


Thursday February 1 2018 – Church House Westminster


The Seven Resolutions for the ‘Rebuilding Bridges’ Morning Conference at Church House Westminster on Thursday February 1

To call for:
1. Archbishop Justin Welby to apologise for his “significant cloud” comment concerning Bishop Bell. Any effective ‘rebuilding of bridges’ is almost impossible without this Apology.  
2. Bishop of Chichester Martin Warner to invite Barbara Whitley, Bishop Bell’s niece, for a “face-to-face” meeting [she has already requested such a meeting]. The Bishop of Chichester has already met ‘Carol’.
3. Chichester Cathedral’s Dean and Chapter to restore 4 Canon Lane back to George Bell House – and to invite Lord Rowan Williams to re-dedicate the new plaque at George Bell House.
4. Chichester Cathedral’s Chancellor and Canon Librarian, Revd Dr Anthony Cane, to permit the display of Bishop Bell’s Portrait (in storage within the Cathedral Library) at Church House on Feb 1.
5. Chichester Cathedral’s Dean, The Very Reverend Stephen Waine, to correct Page 37 of the Cathedral Guide “Society and Faith”:
6. General Synod to undertake a Full Debate at the earliest opportunity, regarding the serious implications arising from Lord Carlile’s report.
7. Prayer