Tag Archives: Christopher Hill

April 13 2019 – “Cloud Cuckoo Archbishop” – ‘Bats in the Belfry’ – Christopher Hill




Cloud Cuckoo Archbishop

Archbishop Justin Welby this evening on Channel 4 News urged the country to reunite post-Brexit.

Could he not make a start by promoting unity in his own backyard?

After two exhaustive reports on allegations against Bishop George Bell found that the church’s procedures had been shambolic and the allegations without any legal merit, the Archbishop should have gratefully jumped at the opportunity to close the whole sad affair.

Instead he said that there remained a cloud over Bell’s name, and has since refused to withdraw or apologise for the remark. This has upset many church men and women, some of them influential, and unnecessarily caused angry disunity.

It is never too late. Could he not now concentrate on his immediate responsibilities and help his church to reunite by abandoning stubbornness and issuing a recantation of his ‘cloud’ remark?

Jan 14 2019 – “Bishop George Bell: the dithering C of E” – ‘Bats in the Belfrey’ – Christopher Hill


stop burying your heads in the sand, colleges - education reform now on Ostrich With Head In Sand Cartoon

Broxtern Wallpaper and Pictures Collection

Bishop George Bell: the dithering C of E

The #ChurchofEngland has been purposefully dithering for the best part of a year over its reaction to the second batch of “information” about #BishopGeorgeBell, and has throughout withheld with great determination any hint of what that information may be.

Several months were spent finding former @SuperintendentRayGalloway to assess whatever it was that the church had received and to make such further enquiries as he saw fit. His name, too, was closely guarded, (no one knows why) but found out by private enterprise and first published in this column on 29th May 2018.

After quite some time, but exactly when is another church secret, Galloway presented his report. It was then announced that his assessment was itself to be assessed by #TimBriden, a barrister who specialises in church law and is”Diocesan Chancellor and Vicat-General of the Province of Canterbury.”

Briden’s assessment has been delayed (again, no one knows why) and the latest news from the church is that the decision whether or not to publish it will be made, probably this month or in a February, by an individual with the wonderfully appropriate designation of, wait for it, the Deciding Officer. I do not yet know whether this is Mr Briden wearing another hat, or whether the Deciding Officer represents yet another source of delay on top of Galloway and Briden.

It will be a nice matter of judgement whether to publish before or after the forthcoming #Synod (20-23 February). To publish before the Synod risks giving ammunition to unco-operative clergy and laity. To delay would allow those same divisive elements to complain that they had been denied the opportunity to discuss the report.

We can only wait and see.

Follow me on Twitter: @ChristoHill3

December 26 2017 – “Bishop George Bell: the saga continues (1)” – ‘Bats in the Belfry’ – Christopher Hill


Bishop George Bell: the saga continues (1)

At this hopeful time of year it is a pleasure to congratulate @LordCarlile QC on his review of the procedures followed by the @ChurchofEngland in dealing with sexual allegations against @BishopGeorgeBell of Chichester, who died in 1958. The allegations were first made in 1995 by a woman known only as ‘Carol’, and renewed in 2012 and 2013.

Carlile had not been asked to pronounce on Bell’s guilt or innocence, and he did not do so. What he did was to expose the startling deficiencies in the conduct and administration of the “ Core Group” set up by the Chichester diocese and the national church to look into the whole question. The Group was chaired by members of the diocesan Safeguarding Team, with the current @BishopofChichester , @DrMartinWarner, as a member, though he only attended three (or perhaps fewer) of its five meetings. It came to the conclusion that Bell was probably guilty, whereupon Warner publicly apologised and paid off the complainant.

The Core Group’s deficiencies, identified by Carlile, provide a lesson in how not to run an enquiry which might well be included in university courses. There was unacceptable discontinuity of attendance and chairmanship, papers were not always distributed in the same format to all members, no Advocatus Diaboli was appointed to watch Bell’s interests, the complainant was regarded as a ‘survivor’ or ‘victim’ rather than as a complainant, no attempt was made to find any relations of Bell, nor his chaplain, who was still alive and well, though very old, and it seems that no serious attempt was made to test Carol’s allegations, nor to find any corroborative evidence. Carlile tartly says that he had to accept what he was told, that several Group members had extensive experience of the criminal justice system, but that unfortunately there was no evidence that they had shared it.

One of the.most shocking details is that the Group seems to have been determined to believe that Bell must have abused more than one child. Having discovered that he had been in close touch with the German Kindertransport, and had put up young British evacuees at the Palace, it apparently convinced itself that these opportunities for wrongdoing strengthened the case for believing in Bell’s guilt. In fact they strengthen the opposite case, for no whiff of complaint from anyone except Carol had ever been detected. The opportunities were there, but there is no evidence that Bell took them.

Carlile’s devastating review does not explicitly assign responsibility, but it is hard to avoid the conclusion that it rests with Dr Warner, and with the @ArchbishopofCanterbury himself, who was kept intermittently informed.

Tomorrow I hope to compare with Lord Carlile’s findings some statements made by Dr Warner in November 2015.

Follow me on Twitter: @ChristoHill3

December 30 2017 – “Bishop George Bell (3)” – ‘Bats in the Belfry’ – Christopher Hill


Christopher Hill


Bishop George Bell (3)

When the Church published @LordCarlile’s review on 15 December it was accompanied by statements by three prelates, Hancock, the “#LeadSafeguardingBishop”, @Warner (#Chichester) and @Welby, (#Canterbury). All three managed to play down Carlile’s adverse findings and adopted a tone of half-hearted contrition, whilst evading or weakening Carlile’s main points.

Carlile’s findings were often biting, terse and trenchantly expressed. He can hardly be pleased with the gloss that has been put on them.

Carlile found that the Church’s procedures in arriving at its guilty verdict on @BishopBell, and in deciding to publish his name,had been very far from best practice. To the careful reader of his review the Core Group sounds amateurish and verging on the shambolic.

It is clear that a consensus, confirmed by majority vote, grew up within the Group, but the arguments that led its members to commit themselves are not stated. There seems to have been little effort to find facts, beyond the allegations made by the complainant, ‘Carol’, whom the Church’s spokesmen insist on describing as “the survivor”.

Against this background the prelates’ task was not easy. The first apologist, Hancock, did his best:

“At the heart of this case was a judgement, on the balance of probabilities, as to whether, in the event that her claim for compensation reached trial, a court would have concluded that Carol was abused by Bishop Bell. The Church decided to compensate Carol, to apologise and to be open about the case.”

Hancock says nothing about how or why the Church reached these decisions, but went on to admit “It is clear from the report, however, that our processes were deficient in a number of respects, in particular the process for seeking to establish what may have happened. For that we apologise”

Since the whole point of the Core Group was “to establish what may have have happened” this admission is crucial, though Hancock seems not to realise how fundamental it is.

He went on: “The Bishop Bell case is a complex one and it is clear from the report and minutes of Core Group meetings that much professional care and discussion were taken over both agreeing the settlement with Carol and the decision to make this public. As Lord Carlile’s report makes clear, we acted in good faith throughout with no calculated intention to damage George Bell’s reputation.”

The reader of Carlile’s review will not have gained an impression of “much professional care and discussion”. Nor does the case see particularly complex, resting, as it does, on uncorroborated allegations. As for the damage to Bell’s reputation, could the Group have done more damage if it had acted in BAD faith?

Hancock concludes with proper genuflection to Bell’s wartime record, but adds: “ At the same time, we have a duty and commitment to listen to those reporting abuse, to guard their confidentiality, and to protect their interests.

“We recognise that Carol has suffered pain, as have surviving relatives of Bishop Bell. We are sorry that the Church has added to that pain through its handling of this case.”

It is fair to comment that the Church did not ADD TO Bell’s relations’ pain: it created it.

Hancock’s statement is well drafted, but is unlikely it to satisfy anyone, for the overall impression that it leaves is of studied reluctance to say anything that would tend to exonerate Bishop Bell, whatever the evidence, or lack of it.

Follow me on Twitter: @ChristoHill3