December 7 2017 – “Why is the C of E still messing around with the Carlile report?” – The Spectator – Letter – Peter Hitchens

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Peter Hitchens

https://www.spectator.co.uk/2017/12/letters-why-is-the-c-of-e-still-messing-around-with-the-carlile-report/

Letters: Why is the C of E still messing around with the Carlile report?

9 December 2017

9:00 AM

The Carlile report

Sir: The Bishop of Bath and Wells tells us (Letters, 2 December) that nobody is holding up publication of the Carlile report into the Church of England’s hole-in-corner kangaroo condemnation of the late George Bell. Is it then just accidental that the church is still making excuses for not publishing it, and presumably for fiddling about with it, more than eight weeks after receiving it on 7 October? The church was swift to condemn George Bell on paltry evidence. It was swifter still to denounce those who stood up for him, falsely accusing them of attacking Bell’s accuser. Yet it is miserably slow to accept just criticism of itself. Somehow, I suspect that, had Lord Carlile exonerated the apparatchiks involved, his report would long ago have been released. May I commend to the Bishop the words of Our Lord (Matthew 5:25): ‘Agree with thine adversary quickly, whiles thou art in the way with him.’
Peter Hitchens
London W8

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November 16 2017 – “As the C of E still sits on the report into his unfair trial – the story of how George Bell’s reputation was ruined” – Peter Hitchens’s Blog – MailOnline

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Peter Hitchens

http://hitchensblog.mailonsunday.co.uk/2017/11/as-the-c-of-e-still-sits-on-the-report-into-his-unfair-trial-the-story-of-how-george-bells-reputatio.html

16 November 2017 10:24 AM

As the C of E still sits on the report into his unfair trial – the story of how George Bell’s reputation was ruined

‘Murder in the cathedral’

We could call this affair ‘Murder in the Cathedral’, for it is about the ruthless murder of a great reputation, and it took place in and around the ancient cloisters of Chichester Cathedral in Sussex. The attack was made in broad daylight by respectable Englishmen. It is a detective story, and like all the best such stories it is set in beautiful English surroundings, the lovely Bishop’s Palace, in the serene and tranquil close in that ancient walled Roman city.

A disgusting charge

What we are led to believe is that among these dappled gardens and old stone walls, a seemingly holy, white-haired old man, revered around the world for his moral courage and apparent saintliness, repeatedly did disgusting things to an innocent little girl left in his care.

The charge has been made by one person. Since it was made, in both national and local media, neither the Sussex police nor the NSPCC which advertised a helpline, have heard of any further accusations of the same type against George Bell, though criminals of this type seldom restrict themselves to one victim. The charge remains solitary, ancient and uncorroborated, yet an astonishing number of people and media have chosen to believe it, and treat it as if it were true.

All or nothing

To me, it is all or nothing. If this charge is true, with its horrible selfish, lying exploitation of a defenceless child, with the name of God greasily profaned (in the alleged words allegedly said to the alleged victim ‘This is just our little secret, because God loves you’), none of George Bell’s reputation as pastor, statesman, scholar or man survives. Good and evil are ultimately done in minute particulars. I had the impression from some study of his life that George Bell was a man of great personal kindness, loved by all who knew him, and it was this goodness and honesty which impelled him to take the unpopular and difficult stands he did take.

 

‘A millstone hanged about his neck, and he cast into the sea’

 

If he betrayed a small child while pretending to look after her, a supreme act of selfish dishonesty, then ‘It were better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and he cast into the sea, than that he should offend one of these little ones.’ But his goodness is so important to me that I cannot believe this accusation, unless and until it is proven beyond reasonable doubt. And it has not been. And now there is more doubt than before. I seek only permission to disbelieve this charge, and ask that others – who do believe it – recognise that it is legitimate for people like me to disbelieve it, that it is an allegation, not a proven charge,  and that they stop trying to wipe George Bell’s name from the record, or to equivocate ludicrously about how he could still have been a great man as well as a revolting, unctuous paedophile. He couldn’t have been. One or the other. Not both.

Happily married

 

George Kennedy Allen Bell, by the time of these alleged events, was a man of 65, apparently happily married. He was the son of a vicar. He had won scholarships to Westminster School and then to Oxford, where he had also won a major poetry prize. Two of his beloved brothers had died in the trenches, in the final months of the First World War. Another became a senior officer in British occupation forces in post-1918 Germany before taking up teaching and becoming head of a Public School, ending his life as a keen spokesman for the Moral Rearmament movement. His sister married a bishop. Their child, Barbara Whitley, is George Bell’s niece, now aged 92, his only surviving close relative.

A shy man who stammered

I have heard suggestions, not easily confirmed, that a bout of mumps in adolescence may have made George Bell sterile, hence the childlessness. The marriage appears to have been contented and companionable by all accounts. Choirboys who sang in the Cathedral remember the Bishop with affection as a shy man who stammered, deeply devout and an ‘upright, entirely moral figure who meant a great deal to us as children’,  as one of them, Tom Sutcliffe, recently recalled. He died ten years later, much-honoured and loved, and at the time no breath of scandal ever came near him.

Blackballed by Churchill, jeered at by Noel Coward

He was renowned for several things. He had persuaded the great poet T.S.Eliot to write the play ‘Murder in the Cathedral’ for its first performance in Canterbury (where Bell was once Dean). Eliot greatly respected him, as did many others in the spheres of the arts and music to whom he was kind, helpful and generous. But he was also an early opponent of the Nazis and a loyal friend to the German resistance to Hitler, much beloved by the refugees he saved and by that great hero of Christian resistance to National Socialist terror, Dietrich Bonhoeffer. He was an unvarying and powerful support to refugees from Hitler’s tyranny, when this was not popular. He is believed to have saved many lives through using his influence to win asylum for them. He was particularly concerned for for the fate of German Jews who had converted to Christianity.  His private life was austere and filled with hard work. Despite making a fair amount of money from successful books, he left little in his Will and is believed to have given much of the money away. T.S. Eliot, on first meeting him, was pleased and surprised to find a Prince of the Church who travelled by rail in a third-class carriage. Later, he became known and disliked by some, for having spoken publicly against the RAF bombing of German civilians in their homes – a stand that very probably caused Winston Churchill to prevent his appointment as Archbishop of Canterbury. It is also said to have inspired Noel Coward’s sarcastic little song ‘Don’t let’s be beastly to the Germans’ (which now sounds embarrassingly triumphal given the ultimate outcome of events and our subservience to a revived Germany through membership of the EU). The line ‘We might send them out some bishops as a form of lease and lend’ is pretty certainly a reference to George Bell’s unpopular insistence, even in the depths of war, that we should not regard all Germans as Nazis.

 

A good time to expose him?

 

Had anyone wished to air any private misdeeds by Bishop Bell, and expect a ready audience, this wartime and postwar unpopularity (still in evidence at the time of the alleged offences) would have been a good moment to do so. And in fact this means he was probably rather less protected from exposure (had anything been there to be exposed) than most public figures of his age.

After he died in 1958, reverence superseded controversy and schools and other buildings were named after him. An elegant but modest memorial to him was placed in the Cathedral, not far from the famous Arundel Tomb made famous by the great poet Philip Larkin, where a mediaeval knight and his wife, in effigy, hold each other’s hands – demonstrating, as Larkin wrote, that ‘what will survive of us is love’.

‘Carol’ won’t speak to me

Not in this case. The little girl in the story, having kept silent for more than 40 years and become a middle-aged woman with children of her own, complained in 1995 that George Bell had sexually abused her. Her identity is a secret, but she uses the name ‘Carol’. I have sought to meet her and ask her about her story, but she has declined, though she has given three interviews to other reporters. ‘Carol’ said that a member of the Palace staff, a relative of hers, had brought her into the Palace. We know that this person, almost certainly a woman, existed. But she is long dead. The Church authorities refuse to say (there are a lot of such refusals in this story) whether they interviewed her before she died. Carol alleged that the Bishop had repeatedly interfered with her under the pretext of reading her stories while she sat on his knee, between the ages of five and nine, on many occasions. She said her protests had been ignored in the deferential society of those days.

The Chauffeur investigates

 

In 1995, when she first made her complaint, child abuse did not attract the attention it now does. She was offered counselling, and refused it. The Bishop of the time, the late Eric Kemp, asked around the older Palace servants, especially Charles Monk, who had been George Bell’s driver, and who had lived (with his wife and daughter) next door to the Palace. Mr and Mrs Monk, like so many people in this story, are now dead.  He said he knew of no evidence that any such thing had been going on. Silence descended again until 2012 when Carol complained again, first to Archbishop Rowan Williams, who by then had left office and never received her letter, and then to Archbishop Justin Welby. There was a mix-up about her complaint to Rowan Williams, which seems to have been nobody’s fault. What is certain is that another Archbishop, George Carey, was not involved, and Carol has apologised for claiming wrongly that Lord Carey (as he now is) had ignored a letter from her.

A very clever lawyer

 

This time the Church acted. We do not know very much about what they did, as Lambeth Palace and the Chichester Diocese mostly refuse to say. We know that they supplied ‘Carol’ with a counsellor, of whom more later, and an intermediary who put her in touch with the Bedford law firm Emmott Snell whose senior partner, Tracey Emmott, has been extremely successful in pursuing abuse cases against the Church and achieved a major change in the law, making churches responsible (as they were not before) for the actions of their clergy.

In her interview with the Brighton ‘Argus’, ‘Carol’ cites the Church’s decision to pay her compensation out of court as evidence in her favour. ‘Then why did the Church pay me?’, she asked . ‘They must have believed me, I assume’. She may be right. But belief in such matters is a complex thing, understood, alas, by fewer and fewer people. English law does not make an all-or-nothing distinction between believing an allegation and disbelieving it, or witnesses for the losing side in any case would be open to prosecutions for perjury. It asks for proof beyond reasonable doubt.

A short lesson in the Law of England

By rejecting a criminal allegation, it does not classify the accuser as a liar (though some in the Church, involved in this case, seem to think so). It classifies him or her as someone whose claim may (or may not) be true, but is not proven to this standard.

And by paying a plaintiff in a civil claim, a defendant is not necessarily saying that he or she believes or accepts the claim. Going to trial is expensive and unpredictable. Both sides usually seek to avoid it, especially now that lawyers (working on a no-win, no-fee basis, as they usually do) have much more limited rights to extract their fees from the courts.

Who’s going to care about a dead Bishop?

By 2013, a number of court cases had put the Church in a weak position. Many abuse cases had been proven. The Church’s liability for the actions of all clergy was (see above) established. It’s quite possible the Church’s insurers advised that the best thing to do was to settle – a rather modest payment of £15,000 reflected the long time between alleged crime and accusation. You can see the thinking. Chichester ( see especially the case of Bishop Peter Ball),  had a bad reputation for child abuse, and for not doing enough about it. It was a good moment for a decisive action. The only person who would suffer was a long-dead Bishop, who had nobody present to speak for his interests. Who would object? As far as anyone knew,  George Bell had no living relatives, and he was, surely, a forgotten figure.

A statement was issued saying that a payment had been made and an apology (whose full text was never published) was issued. We still don’t know exactly what the apology (in the name of the current Chichester Bishop Martin Warner) was for. It may have been for the failure of his forerunner, Eric Kemp, to handle the case properly in 1995.

An odd thing to say

The Sussex police proclaimed that if George Bell had been alive, they would have arrested him. They now say that the Chichester Diocese involved them in the matter, and this was not their initiative.  This was an odd thing to say, since identities of arrested persons aren’t revealed when they’re alive, and, as the Church would repeatedly say, it wasn’t a criminal matter, just a civil case. Also, only about 25 per cent of people arrested in such cases are ever charged, so it is not the indication of guilt it seemed to many people to be. In many conversations I have had about this, discussing the credibility of the charge, the police statement has been cited by almost everyone who has chosen to believe the allegations. They have seen it as strong evidence that they are true. Actually, it is nothing of the sort, but it looks as if it is, and this is what counts in an increasingly uneducated society.

The police’s only lawful duty if the alleged perpetrator is dead (I have checked this) was to record the alleged crime. They refuse to say what enquiries they made beyond interviewing Carol, or indeed if they made any other enquiries at all. But it may well have been that police statement which made many people think there was no doubt about it, and another paedophile priest had been got bang to rights. Whatever it was, though the Church never said Bishop Bell was guilty, local and national media all said he was.

Dead men have no protection. Three major national newspapers, two local ones and the regional BBC all reported the case as if George Bell had been tried and found guilty. ‘Revered Bishop was paedophile’ they said. ‘Proven Abuse’, they asserted. In fact they had no basis for saying so. The BBC has partly withdrawn some of what it said, though no newspaper yet has. The Church’s statement – on which they based these reports – did not say he was guilty. The Bishop of Durham told the House of Lords some weeks later on the 28th January ‘In fact, if noble Lords read very carefully the statements that have been put out, they will see that there has been no declaration that we are convinced that this (the abuse) took place.’

The Man in Black

It would be hard for anyone to have been sure. ‘Carol’ did not make her charge until 37 years after George Bell’s death, and nearly 45 years after the events she alleged. The things she seemed to know about George Bell, how he dressed, that he had a book-lined study, were known by anyone who had ever seen photographs of him. The one thing she knew that was not commonly known, the existence of a staircase behind the private kitchen in the Bishop’s Palace, leading up to a corridor which led eventually to his study, could have been given to her by the relative who had once worked there. There are serious doubts about the location of the alleged events.  Not surprisingly for a lady in her 70s recalling events in her childhood, there were problems of detail. The abuse is supposed to have gone until she was nine, but it is hard to see how a man in his late 60s, or anyone else, could have perched a nine-year-old girl on his lap as Carol says he did. The most fascinating is this: ‘Carol’ was taken by a church-supplied ‘counsellor’ to revisit the scene of the alleged crime.

The Wrong Kitchen?

She explained, in her interview with the Brighton ‘Argus’ ‘The lady who was giving me counselling actually took me to the Bishop’s kitchen. The Cathedral had some sort of pottery exhibition on there and she said “we’ll go, and see how you feel.”

‘Well, I got in there and I said “Can we leave now?”.We had to leave’

The interviewer recorded:  ‘Carol’s voice only broke once in the course of a three hour interview, when she recalled how it felt to stand back in that room, at the foot of those stairs. Hoarsely, slowly, she said “It was horrible. You start to feel all jelly inside. It’s not nice; believe me”.

‘Perhaps, having bravely chosen to break the silence to which she was entitled, Carol has helped ensure that she will not have to revisit that Cathedral kitchen- in her mind or in person – ever again’.

There is one difficulty with this account. The mediaeval Palace kitchen (the scene of a recent pottery exhibition, often open to the public, and so presumably the one described in the interview) is a two-storey historic survival from the past. It is not the kitchen in which the relative who supposedly took ‘Carol’ to the Palace) would have worked. This was the private kitchen, in the Bishop’s private quarters. The staircase leading up to the study is from the private kitchen, a wholly different room.

A surprise witness appears

 

We know this because there was, seemingly unknown to the Church of England authorities, another eyewitness to George Bell’s life and work in the early 1950s, the period of the alleged abuse. Carol has said of those who have defended George Bell’s reputation ‘They weren’t there’.

But Canon Adrian Carey was there. For two years from September 1950, he worked and lived and ate and slept in the private part of the Bishop’s Palace at the time, performing his duties as Bishop’s Chaplain. He guarded the door to the private apartments and was constantly in the company of the Bishop, who worked incessantly (generally under the eyes of his secretary, of his wife and of his chaplain) and would have been highly unlikely to have ceased to do so to lessen the burden of work on a cleaner or a cook, let alone to abuse a child. He can recall all the servants who worked in the palace at that time. He washed dishes in the private kitchen, and helped serve meals. He never during his two years in the job (which coincided with the period of Carol’s alleged abuse) once saw a child in the private apartments, except during the annual Christmas party for the children of the clergy (not the children of the Palace staff).

Mr Valiant-for-Truth

Canon Carey to the end of his life loved and admired George Bell ‘To me, he was Mr Valiant-for Truth (a heroic figure in John Bunyan’s great story ‘the Pilgrim’s Progress’) And he still is!’, he said to me. He says George Bell’s regard for truth, his fierce Christian purpose and austere morals make it extraordinarily unlikely that he could have done such a cruel and dishonest thing. And his closely-observed daily routine, when he was seldom alone and even more seldom unobserved, made it practically nigh-impossible.

Not some gullible parson

Canon Carey is not to be lightly dismissed. Though he lived to be 94, he remained tough-minded and his memory was astonishing. He could quote at will great chunks of Greek and Latin verse, learned at Eton and King’s College Cambridge in the days of much more rigorous education. Nor is he some unworldly, gullible parson, easily fooled.

Mentioned in Despatches

Before joining the priesthood he served in the wartime Navy, firstly as an ordinary seaman, then as a sub-Lieutenant in the Royal Naval Volunteer Reserve (RNVR). He was aboard HMS Liverpool when she was torpedoed in the Mediterranean on a Malta convoy, and in the destroyer HMS Onslaught during many perilous voyages to and from North Russia, on the convoys which Winston Churchill described as ‘the worst journey in the world’. He has Russian and British medals for this. In the summer of 1944 he was mentioned in despatches for his part in a skirmish with the Germans off the Channel Islands.

Meeting (and mistrusting) Jimmy Savile

Later, he worked for the BBC religious broadcasting department, where he met and mistrusted Jimmy Savile.

He describes the Church’s treatment of his old friend George Bell as ‘nauseating’, and has taken great trouble and much time to ensure that his rebuttal of these charges should be published. I spent some hours with him and was greatly impressed by his recall and his precision. He was there by day and by night for much of the period of the alleged abuse. And he does not accept the charges.

Yet he was never approached for his version of events by the Church of England, which claims to have conducted ‘a thorough pre-litigation process during which further investigations into the claim took place including the commissioning of expert independent reports.’ It also says ‘None of those reports found any reason to doubt the veracity of the claim.’

How odd. Any Englishman always has a reason to doubt any charge. It is a principle of liberty. English law requires all involved in investigating alleged crimes to doubt the accusation. The presumption of innocence demands that no man be convicted of anything until a jury of his peers has heard both sides of the case and is convinced beyond reasonable doubt that the accused is guilty.

How come they never looked?

Surely, that would involve searching for witnesses. Is it possible that Chichester Cathedral has no record, anywhere, of who worked for George Bell as his chaplain in the late 1940s and early 1950s? Is it possible that it was incapable of looking up Crockford’s Clerical Directory, now searchable online, which lists all living clergy, and identifies Adrian Carey as such a chaplain, conveniently providing his address.

A ‘thorough pre-litigation process’ would surely have found Canon Carey. Since he was not found, or asked, can it really be called thorough? What else did it not do, and what else did it not ask? We don’t know, since the whole thing is hidden by a shield of confidentiality which ‘Carol’ herself has not observed all that much. There’s no sign that George Bell’s extensive archive , detailing his many appointments and journeys, was matched against any dates which ‘Carol’ came up with . His biographer, Andrew Chandler, wasn’t asked his opinion, even though he lives in Chichester. A priest involved in handling the 1995 allegation, still very much alive, wasn’t asked about that either.

A nasty shock for the Bishop’s niece

The Sussex police, who said they would have arrested the Bishop had he been alive won’t say if they interviewed anyone apart from ‘Carol’ before reaching this conclusion. Nobody found or warned Barbara Whitley, the Bishop’s 92-year-old niece. She thinks the charges are preposterous, is much distressed by them and officially complained to the police about their part in blackening her uncle’s name. This resulted in their revelation that the Diocese involved them in the matter.

Soviet-style process

Meanwhile, a Soviet-style process goes on, in which George Bell’s name is removed from schools and other places that were once named after him. The world proceeds as if this is proven, defying the ancient principles of English law. In which case, this not just about the reputation of a great Englishman, forever besmirched and diminished by accusations of an especially filthy and callous crime.

It is about a personal example of selfless goodness, rare in our times, reduced without proof or due process to ashes and dirt.

Who is not vulnerable now?

And it is a threat to every one of us. Who is not vulnerable to an accusation, made after his or her death when no defence is possible? Come to that, as Field Marshal Lord Bramall recently found, it is a threat to the living as police officials, with brains seemingly made of wood, treat even the most honoured person as a suspect criminal on the basis of a single uncorroborated accusation.

One place where the accusations are still treated with proper English scepticism is Oxford, where Christ Church Cathedral (also the chapel of George Bell’s old college) stands. There, in a serene part of the ancient building, there is an unedited, uncensored memorial to the late Bishop. A small altar of black oak, out of which a rough but powerful cross has been carved, stands in front of a slab on which the following rather interesting words are incised, along with George Bell’s name, dates and titles:

‘No nation, no church, no individual is guiltless without repentance, and without forgiveness there can be no regeneration’.

The words are, of course, George Bell’s own, as he contemplated the post-war world. Certainly, nobody is guiltless. But who now most needs to repent, and who to forgive? I said this was a detective story, but most such stories are in fact based on the belief that a trial, and justice, will follow the investigation and the uncovering of the truth by the sleuth.

Not on this occasion. There is no earthly place where this question can be settled. There can be no trial and no final verdict, just a trial in the hearts of those men and women who have long valued the story of George Bell’s life as a rare example of human goodness, and seek to continue to do so. How do you find the defendant? Guilty, or not guilty?

 

***Since I wrote these words, the Church has commissioned and received a review of its handling of the case by the distinguished lawyer, Lord Carlile of Berriew. It received the report,which I understand from several sources to be severely critical of its behaviour, on the 7th October. It is now the middle of November. Why has it not been published?

 

Comments

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Michael Wood writes ** I believe we each must make our journey to the ‘celestial city’ alone, as that brave and goodly man, Bunyan, described .
Christ is our focal point – not Rome, its Pope nor anyone else. **

Thanks Michael and Pilgrim’s Progress is a truly inspirational work but the Church thinkers like Saint Augustine and Thomas Aquinas through Greek philosophy (Logos) have much more to say. It’s all about salvation and confirming the law as the Christ said he came to Earth to do. The Church is in crisis but that’s thanks to globalism and its sickness which is progressive liberalism where War is necessary for “human rights” and the relatively wealthy are “refugees fleeing War and in need to free housing”. Genuine charity and good works are combined with sacred rites.
Read “Confessions” Saint Augustine and come home brother

 

This is probably the most comprehensive and persuasive blog post (or at the least the most well summarised) from our host in defence of George Bell’s posthumous reputation, and indeed as he’s repeatedly and correctly stated, the defence of the right to be presumed innocent until proven guilty, whether deceased or living.

It is clear to me from the evidence and information we have presented here that guilt has been far from established. Quite the opposite, in fact. I know Mr Hitchens isn’t doing this for any personal recognition from anybody, and I know he hasn’t been alone in fighting Bishop Bell’s corner, but he should be very proud of his stalwart and dogged defence of the accused and of English liberty and justice. I can only imagine, from what I’ve read about George Bell character and reputation, that he’d be very proud as well. Those in the church responsible for creating this mess should hang their heads in shame for their blithe conduct in this matter.

 

JohnMack, I understand and agree with your views on the CofE but having jumped that pan into cool refreshing streams of Gospel truth and integrity I’m not about to roast on the heat of Papal fallibility.

I know and admire the RC’s adherence to many Christian principles that others, like the CofE, miserably fail to do, but there are many other denominations that also show varying degrees of integrity.
However, I have yet to find one that faithfully adheres to Christ’s living example or that relies on the teachings of His Spirit as opposed to the interpretations of others.

Humanity finds it difficult to abandon the false principle of ‘safety in numbers’ and consequently is easily led astray.
I believe we each must make our journey to the ‘celestial city’ alone, as that brave and goodly man, Bunyan, described .
Christ is our focal point – not Rome, its Pope nor anyone else.

 

To Michael Wood and Robert Duncan
Who is speaking up against Welby’s anti Christian bullying guidelines?
Brothers come and convert to Catholicism. The Anglican Church always was an Oligarch’s church which rooted itself in comfort and weakness. It’s not a progressive liberal globalist elite’s Church because that is how the head of it behaves. How come the so called Church Of England commentators haven’t made this outrage a priority? Think about comfort and discomfort and the lack of materialistic and temporal reward for not conforming which we are called to do for Jesus Christ. Who does that in the Church of England?

 

It seems to me that Mr Hitchens is rather cleverly having his cake and eating it. Of course he did not use the phrase ‘squawking women’. But the natural assumption of most people reading his piece would assume that it is women who are doing the squawking. If that was not the impression he wished to give, he could have phrased it otherwise.

 

Does Mr Hitchens know ‘Carol’s’ real name, and if not, why not? I’d be amazed if no-one in Mr Hitchens’s office knew who she was. Can’t her identity be revealed in the papers? Why should a person be able to make allegations of this type and remain hidden? Why is her name a secret anyway? I hope someone within the rich press buys a copy of the report and leaks it, or someone in the C of E leaks it. No doubt the name on her cheque was her real one.

 

@Thucydides:
***The accusations made against him are unproven and will remain so for ever more, as he will never stand trial. The issue is rather one of fairness, about which people need to come to their own conclusions.***

Lewis Carroll gets pretty much the same treatment. Being dead, there’s nothing he can do about it, and the sad fact remains that some people simply *will* accuse him in their own minds despite the lack of tangible evidence that he ever did anything amiss.

 

There are those within the C of E that are as hostile and anti-Christ as its worst enemies without. The saga of Bishop Bell is a classic example of those elements of treachery within.
From top to bottom this cancer has all but destroyed its ability to think or act in a right and proper manner.
I have said many times here and elsewhere that the ‘organised’ churches are not representative of Christ’s message to mankind and are certainly not The Church that He referred to as being indomitable and invincible against man’s attempts to ‘pull it down’.
Christians who seek edification and suckle on such toxic sustenance are fooling themselves and supporting the enemies of Christ. They must get themselves back into the spirit of and reliance on His Word alone.

 

“It is about a personal example of selfless goodness, rare in our times, reduced without proof or due process to ashes and dirt.”

And that’s the point. As you said yourself, a society which believes in nothing will believe in anything. The traducing of our institutions is inextricably bound up with the end of deference. A decent holy man who stood against the tide of opinion at the time must be destroyed lest his example shows us what we have become.

 

It would be good to hear more of Mr Hitchens’ thoughts on the Church of England. For my part, if it were not for a profound love of England’s old churches and cathedrals, I would have turned Catholic long since. The C of E, in my view, has become a cowardly, purblind, politically correct institution, afraid to assert itself, devoid of beliefs, and desperately trying to ‘keep up with the times’: a policy that will destroy it.

Consider carefully Archbishop Welby’s weasel words, on children and gender, as reported the other day:

‘Children should grow up free of expectations of permanence.’

Don’t fret, Your Grace. The Church long ago delivered us of that.

 

Does presumption innocence exist anymore in any real form? It seems likely that it doesn’t, what is now published prior to and during a trial would seem to flout all the rules of sub judice and, not that long ago, many editors and journalists would have found themselves in contempt of court if they’d dared to publish some of the things they do today. We now have majority verdicts, the replacement of the objective and unambiguous double jeopardy rules with ‘new and compelling evidence’ which could mean anything, and the ‘victims’ allowed anonymity whilst the accused is not. All this is supposed to ensure ‘the conviction of the guilty’ whilst general crime rates increase and Chief Constables are allowed to say the they would have arrested those long since dead on the flimsiest of evidence

 

Mr Hitchens writes:

‘I seek only permission to disbelieve this charge, and ask that others – who do believe it – recognise that it is legitimate for people like me to disbelieve it’

As far as I’m aware, he needs no such permission: he, like everybody else, can believe what he wants. Mr Hitchens refers to English law, but Bishop Bell is dead, and so has no protection from libel or slander in law. The accusations made against him are unproven and will remain so for ever more, as he will never stand trial. The issue is rather one of fairness, about which people need to come to their own conclusions.

 

Not Guilty, without a doubt ; apart from that, how can Bishop George Bell be found guilty? He would have to be tried in a court by a judge and jury and the case proved against him, until then he is presumed to be innocent. How does anybody be put on trial posthumously? (I say the same for the late Prime Minister, Edward Heath).

 

Thank you again, Mr Hitchens, for a clear explanation of this case and its implications. Let’s hope the church will release the report. Perhaps they will need to be shamed into doing so – assuming enough people cared sufficiently to do so – but one hopes it shouldn’t have to come to that.

 

I am a long-time reader of (but first-time commenter to) this blog, and I have followed the Bell matter with interest since our host first took it up. In my view as a solicitor, the case against Bishop Bell is unpersuasive and I would return a verdict of “not guilty” in a hypothetical trial.

We must always be quick and ready to listen to the ‘Carols’ who bring forth accusations, but their veracity must be weighed against the evidence—abandoning the presumption of ‘innocent until proven guilty’ will only lead to ruin. I also feel that it is important to stand and be counted on matters such as this, since silence on issues of moral wrong can have subtle, but far-reaching, effects. To paraphrase Martin Niemöller’s poem, “First they came for Bishop Bell’s reputation, and I did not speak out…”

My suspicion is that someone within the CoE probably made a cost-benefit analysis that it would be easier to make a small payment to dispose of any potential claim than to risk greater financial (and reputational) damage by contesting the accusations, and they are now embarrassed to have been found to have ignored basic due process and natural justice in doing so (hence the reticence in publishing the report). For many large organisations, it is simply more efficient to settle some claims (meritorious or not) than to spend time and resources responding to them. When you combine that approach with an organisation that was previously lax in handling other accusations, it is easy to imagine how someone could have decided that ‘for the good of the church’, Bishop Bell’s reputation must be thrown under the bus (evidence against the accusation notwithstanding) so that the world could see that ‘something was being done’. This, of course, is an injustice and our host demonstrates moral courage in fighting to rectify it.

 

Yesterday – it was 40 days since Lord Carlile’s report was received by Lambeth Palace. It only took 40 days in the wilderness for Our Blessed Lord to prepare for His world changing ministry. Yet, we still wait for the report on the handling of Bishop Bell’s case to be published. The only excuse for this hiatus is that the report has yet to be “finalised”.

 

Mr Hitchens is still overly charitable to the Church of England, being at pains to point out that one of its representatives said that the Church had never claimed Bell to have been guilty.

I challenge anyone to read the Church of England statement of 20th October 2015, still on its website, and not to conclude from what it chose to include in it, that the inference of Bell’s guilt was clearly intended. Here is an excerpt:

“Following settlement of the claim the serving Bishop of Chichester, the Right Reverend Dr. Martin Warner, wrote to the survivor formally apologising and expressing his “deep sorrow” acknowledging that “the abuse of children is a criminal act and a devastating betrayal of trust that should never occur in any situation, particularly the church.”

Bishop Warner paid tribute to the survivor’s courage in coming forward to report the abuse and notes that “along with my colleagues throughout the church, I am committed to ensuring that the past is handled with honesty and transparency.”

Tracey Emmott, the solicitor for the survivor, today issued the following statement on behalf of her client:

“The new culture of openness in the Church of England is genuinely refreshing and seems to represent a proper recognition of the dark secrets of its past, many of which may still not have come to light. While my client is glad this case is over, they remain bitter that their 1995 complaint was not properly listened to or dealt with until my client made contact with Archbishop Justin Welby’s office in 2013. That failure to respond properly was very damaging, and combined with the abuse that was suffered has had a profound effect on my client’s life. For my client, the compensation finally received does not change anything. How could any amount of money possibly compensate for childhood abuse? However, my client recognises that it represents a token of apology. What mattered to my client most and has brought more closure than anything was the personal letter my client has recently received from the Bishop of Chichester.””

Featured post

November 17 2017 – “Publish the Carlile Report Now! We have waited long enough” – Peter Hitchens – Mail Online

Peter_Hitchens_at_SidneySussex
Peter Hitchens

http://hitchensblog.mailonsunday.co.uk/2017/11/publish-the-carlile-report-now-we-have-waited-long-enough.html

17 November 2017 4:24 PM

Publish the Carlile Report Now! We have waited long enough

I intend to ask, every day until it is published, why the report which the Church of England commissioned into its handling of an allegation against the late Bishop George Bell, has not been published. The report, which is highly critical of Church behaviour, was delivered to the Archbishop of Canterbury on Saturday 7th October 2017. Once again, I must explain why I am devoting so much of my life to clearing the name of a long-dead Bishop. Here goes.

The matter is strikingly similar in some ways to that of Lord Bramall, disgracefully accused in conditions of total publicity of appalling offences on the basis of scanty evidence. But Lord Bramall, being still alive,  was eventually able to secure a proper retraction (thoihgh his wife did not live to see it). George Bell, a man (in my view) of comparable integrity   only has us to stand up for him.

Those who wish to know why Bell, a rare courageous voice in this or any time, matters, might wish to read this full account of the case.

http://hitchensblog.mailonsunday.co.uk/2017/11/as-the-c-of-e-still-sits-on-the-report-into-his-unfair-trial-the-story-of-how-george-bells-reputatio.html

Much more, including a detailed and professional review of the case by experts, can be found here

http://www.georgebellgroup.org/

Many weeks ago, the distinguished lawyer Lord Carlile of Berriew delivered a report to the Archbishop of Canterbury. This report has still not been published, and the Church can give no adequate explanation as to why it has not been.

I have good reason to believe that the report is pretty severe on the Church’s procedures. This is English understatement. I have little doubt that George Bell was publicly condemned on the basis of a procedure that would have shamed a banana republic.

Many people are affected by this, perhaps most shockingly  the Guardian newspaper, which reported the allegations against Bishop Bell as if they were proven charges and has never made any attempt to put this right, though I have pressed them to do so through their own internal procedures (the Guardian does not belong to any outside regulatory body). The Times did so slightly less prominently. A reasonable summary of the coverage is here http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/magazine-35971308

My attempts to get the Independent Press Standards Organisation (IPSO) to condemn their reporting also failed. I maintain that these reports would have been considered gravely inaccurate had Bishop Bell been alive. Why then were they not inaccurate just because he is dead? The BBC, surprisingly, did admit they had been wrong to accuse George Bell of ‘proven abuse’ and publicly regretted it, though they made no on-air correction.

The ‘Argus’ of Brighton and the Chichester Observer, while they have given me space in which to plead George Bell’s case, have continued to treat the matter as settled and George Bell as guilty.  Horrible, Stalinoid things have followed – a school and a school school house have been renamed, portraits have been taken down (and in one casae eventually restored) and flowers removed form Bell’s memorial in Chichester Cathedral (though this has now ceased, and the monument, once defaced by a nasty little notice about ‘safeguarding’,  is now rarely without flowers at its base). In some ways worst, George Bell House, given to the Church in his memory by a group of Anglican nuns who loved George Bell, and named in his honour by the former Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams, has had Bell’s name stripped from it. Mentions of him have also been removed from a guidebook to Chichester cathedral.

The Carlile report was the result of many months of work. It is a review into the process which led to the public condemnation, as a child-molester, of the late Bishop of Chichester, George Bell.

George Bell is not to be confused with Bishop Peter Ball of Lewes, convicted of serious sexual offences a short time ago. I mention this because I have received more than one letter from persons who have made this confusion. I sometimes wonder if those who condemned George Bell realised that this confusion would be made.

Trying to clear George Bell’s name was difficult. The Church had recruited the Sussex Police to say that they would have arrested the Bishop had he been alive. Many ignorant people thought this was evidence of his guilt, though it is no such thing, and their foolish conclusions only show how poorly we are now taught the rules of our own liberty.

This was an absurdity. He had been dead since 1958 and the alleged offences supposedly dated from even earlier than that.  The only evidence they had was a single uncorroborated accusation.

It is interesting that this is all it takes to get Sussex Police to arrest someone, when he has been dead for 57 years and there is no conceivable action they can take against him. For Sussex Police are among those many forces which claim they already have far too much to do.

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-5079547/Now-police-force-gives-solving-minor-crimes.html

But the Police have since explained that it was the Church which out them up to this. Did the Church realise that so many people would be persuaded by this ‘arrest’ of a corpse that George Bell was guilty as charged? I wonder.

The same Church was very hard on anyone who criticised its action. The Bishop of Chichester, the Rt Revd Martin Warner, complained : ‘The presence of strident voices in the public arena which have sought to undermine the survivor’s claims has added in this case to the suffering of the survivor and her family.’

Apart from being prejudicial, by using the term ‘survivor’ instead of the neutral expression ‘complainant’, this seeks to use the complainant as a sort of human shield.  It would be ridiculous if no objections to an allegation could be voiced lest the upset the person making the allegations. Justice of all kinds would cease, and every defendant, criminal and civil, would be guilty as charged.

One of his episcopal colleagues (who has since apologised after I engaged in a long struggle to explain to him that this was his Christian duty) actually claimed in the House of Lords that supporters of George Bell had said ‘hurtful things’ about his accuser, a flat untruth. For reasons which escape me, nothing has been done to amend the record of the House of Lords itself. Where there’s a will, there’s a way and I intend to return to this once the Carlile Report is eventually published. It is one of many unfinished tasks, which will be easier once this whole matter is in the light of day. There is no good excuse for further delay in publication.

 

Comments

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Following this matter, I am becoming increasingly vexed and disgusted with the established Church and some of its members, which have shown themselves to be of dubious moral character – or at the least, poorly educated in both their Christian faith and duty, as well as traditional English law – despite their fancy titles. Many of us have known for years, even those like myself who aren’t and have never been CofE, that the Church of England is generally a progressive left-wing institution with barely a shred, if even that, of Christian conservatism or integrity remaining. But this case indubitably displays how far from grace this institution has fallen, when it so utterly failed to come to the aid of a revered Bishop, and one of its own, who, as far as we know and understand, was (at least) ten times the moral, wise, Christian man many of his modern day successors are, especially those who sought to blacken his name for one reason or other. Parts of the media and police have also been a disgrace. In our secular and generally anti-religious and poorly educated age, this comes as no shock or surprise, even though this doesn’t make it any less wrong. But the handling by the CofE in this matter has been utterly inexcusable and unacceptable. As you’ve rightly and repeatedly stated, nobody is safe if this is allowed to stand. And so full public apologies and retractions must be made by all those within the Church involved here. The media and police should also do the same, though I imagine the chances of this happening are even more remote.

 

I posted the following text yesterday.

However, I wonder if this part of the text that Mr Hitchens read aloud at some kind of the memorial service or meeting for Bishop Bell in the last winter?

I find interesting that there are some words quite ’relevant’ today in November.

Yes, we have been *waiting*.

***
Murder In The Cathedral by T.S.Eliot

Part I

Chorus

Here let us stand, close by the cathedral. Here let us wait.
Are we drawn by danger? Is it the knowledge of safety, that draws our feet
Towards the cathedral? What danger can be
For us, the poor, the poor women of Canterbury ? what tribulation
With which we are not already familiar? There is no danger
For us, and there is no safety in the cathedral. Some presage of an act
Which our eyes are compelled to witness, has forced our feet
Towards the cathedral. We are forced to bear witness.

Since golden October declined into sombre November
And the apples were gathered and stored, and the land became
brown sharp points of death in a waste of water and mud,
The New Year waits, breathes, waits, whispers in darkness.
While the labourer kicks off a muddy boot and stretches his hand to the fire,
The New Year waits, destiny waits for the coming.
Who has stretched out his hand to the fire and remembered the
Saints at All Hallows,

Remembered the martyrs and saints who wait? and who shall
Stretch out his hand to the fire, and deny his master? who shall be warm
By the fire, and deny his master?

 

Thanking you for fighting the good fight. The CoE has indeed become ‘the Labour Party at prayer’

 

I was not surprised by the actions of the Church of England.

Eighteen years ago in Ireland, during a sustained bout of anticlericalism (or rather Anti-Catholicism), which continues even today, Nora Wall, a nun in the Sisters of Mercy order, was convicted of rape (the first such conviction for a woman in this country) and gaoled for life (another first for a woman). A homeless man was also convicted of the offences, presumably to lend credence to the accusations. This man, Pablo McCabe, was actually in prison on the date of one of the offences.

Her religious order did not defend her. Journalist Kevin Myers (who was born in Leicester as far as I remember) quipped once that the Sisters of Mercy showed no charity and the Sisters of Charity showed no mercy. This was untrue of course but it did apply in the case of Wall. (Myers lost his job with the Sunday Times a few months ago for offences against political correctness.)

The judge when sentencing spoke of Wall’s “betrayal” of the young girl.

The Sisters of Mercy said they were “devastated by the revolting crimes”. “Our hearts go out to this young woman who, as a young child, was placed in our care. Her courage in coming forward was heroic.” Even after Wall was cleared they did not withdraw their statement of support for the accuser and did not apologize to their own nun.

The Dublin Rape Crisis Centre welcomed the verdict.

As for the press, Wall had been describes as “Vile Nun”, “Pervert Nun” and “Mercy Devil”. One headline was “I Was Raped By Anti-Christ”. The Sunday World newspaper let its imagination run wild and had to pay 175,000 euros in damages after her name was cleared. (The late Richard Webster noted that it is the serious papers which are in general more susceptible to losing their sense in witch hunts.) Myers was one of the very few journalists to stand up for Wall and to point to the witch hunt. The media in Ireland, including the state broadcaster, are with few exceptions, stridently critical of the Church, of course, in particular its surviving traditionalist members who are unwilling to accept the radical re-writing of history based on lies.

Wall was released from prison after the accuser and the witness unwisely gave a press interview and relinquished anonymity. The witness was recognized by a businessman who had earlier been falsely accused himself. It turned out the she had been declared unreliable as a witness then and should not have been allowed to testify afterwards. This detail was overlooked and is typical of witch hunts.

When Bishop Bell’s accuser made her first allegation there was already a climate of press hysteria about child abuse, centred on the infamous Bryn Estyn case (which Webster investigated in a lengthy book). She repeated her allegation a year after the death of the man who shall not be named, when hysteria had reached unprecedented levels.

 

I have read all the material about Bishop George Bell on the Chichester Observer and Brighton Argus websites and the conclusion I drew was shame on both publications and the Church of England and Sussex Police ; it all smacks of taking the easy option of finding a man who is long dead, guilty of highly questionable allegations.

 

Is the C of E bound by Freedom of Information requests? That might be a way to oblige them to furnish you with a copy of the report.

***PH : Thank you, but no, and this not the way FoI works anyway. ***

 

Mr. Hitchens, your cause and your tenacity in pursuing it are admirable. On the face of it, the Church of England has behaved abominably, and deserves to be hounded until this wrong is righted.

 

It is not so long ago the sense of proportion was mentioned in this blog.
I think there is a huge contrast between the cases of Bishop Bell and of ’Squawking’.

In October 2015 the Guardian and other newspapers had published articles on Bishop Bell with shamelessly thoughtless headlines with clear statement that he *was* a pedophile or he *abused* a child as if they knew it as a proven truth.

Although many people among others Mr Hitchens have been protesting, the articles are sadly still there on the internet and anyone would read them and misunderstand the falsehood as the truth.

The Guardian openly says in their PR;
”We will give people the facts, because they want and need the information they can trust, and we will stick to the facts.”

I have also noticed that the BBC changed a little bit, through inserting the word ’alleged’ in the sentences. This little word ’alleged’ is important but many other journalists do not care – probably because Bishop Bell is not with us and cannot protest.

I see here a parallel with the abortion of unborn babies – they cannot protest or escape.

And now we see so many people are reacting strongly against Mr Hitchens’s article and its headline as if it were wrong – although they really do not have any firm, reasonable basis. I think it is totally out of proportion – or selective sense of justice.

So many people are suddenly interested in truth and the meaning and intention of a text & its headline – where were they on 22 October 2015?

 

Absolutely right, the church and much of the media’s handling of this affair has been an absolute disgrace. Any decent fair minded person would applaud your stance. Is there anything practical we can do to help?

 

In visiting the Carlile Review website, there are two items of interest about the report. The Terms of Reference state that ‘The Church of England will determine whether the full report can be sufficiently redacted or otherwise anonymised to enable its publication without risking disclosure of the complainant’s identity.’ Under the Frequently Asked Questions, however, it states that ‘The report will first be presented to the Church of England, National Safeguarding Steering Group. It will then be published in full.’

If we overlook this apparent clash (‘published in full’ vs. published ‘without risking disclosure’) and accept the narrower Terms of Reference as the controlling standard, it seems that the only permissible reason for the delay would be to redact any material that could somehow reveal ‘Carol’s’ identity. Are we to believe that it has taken over forty days to do this? Once asked, the question seems to answer itself, doesn’t it?

 

Along with the sly and weasily statement of October 2015, the statement of the Bishop of Durham (8th February 2016) still resides on the Church of England website, in which he says:

“Almost three years ago a civil claim was made, raising allegations of abuse by George Bell, the former Bishop of Chichester.
In response to the claim independent legal and medical reports were commissioned and duly considered. The evidence available was interrogated and evaluated. This led to a decision to settle the claim and to offer a formal apology to the survivor. This decision was taken on the balance of probabilities – the legal test applicable in civil claims.
The church therefore, having evaluated the evidence before them, accepted the veracity of the claims before them.”

It will be fascinating to learn the nature of the independent legal and medical reports mentioned, and the reasons why “the evidence available” was so limited – perhaps because it was not looked for?

Also keenly anticipated is the detail of what measures the Church undertook to test the assertions of the claimant, as any half decent employer would on behalf of an employee unable to defend himself.

Featured post

November 29 2017 – “If you like justice and loathe injustice, please sign this petition” – Peter Hitchens

peter-hitchens_877_1871668c
Peter Hitchens

http://hitchensblog.mailonsunday.co.uk/2017/11/if-you-like-justice-and-loathe-injustice-please-sign-this-petition-now.html

29 November 2017 2:29 PM

If you like Justice and loathe Injustice, please sign this Petition now

Please sign this petition

https://you.38degrees.org.uk/petitions/publish-the-carlile-review-on-bishop-bell-now

By signing it you strike a blow for justice in general and for the presumption of innocence in particular, and also against the mentality (very much on show in today’s Church of England) that is swift to condemn, and slow to admit mistakes, which is common and dangerous in o07r society.

It was not my idea and I’m not sure what the bit about building bridges is for (though who can be against it?), but it is a great opportunity to pursue and obtain justice.

 

Swift to condemn. Slow to admit their own mistakes

As of today, 29th November 2017, the Church of England have been sitting on the Carlile Report into the unfair hole-in-corner wrecking of the great George Bell’s reputation for 53 (53!) days. That is almost six weeks. They have no real excuse for this.

See here

http://hitchensblog.mailonsunday.co.uk/2017/11/c-of-e-tries-to-defend-its-delay-over-publishing-the-carlile-report-which-severely-criticises-its-ha.html

Lord Carlile is a highly skilled QC and was without doubt extremely careful in his gathering and presentation of evidence, It is hard to believe that the C of E, which made such a mess of the Bell case, really needs months more to tweak and twiddle it into perfection.

Those of you unfamiliar with this shocking case may read the details here http://hitchensblog.mailonsunday.co.uk/2017/11/publish-the-carlile-report-now-we-have-waited-long-enough.html

(links are provided to in depth analysis), and also here

http://hitchensblog.mailonsunday.co.uk/2017/11/as-the-c-of-e-still-sits-on-the-report-into-his-unfair-trial-the-story-of-how-george-bells-reputatio.html

Featured post

November 29 2017 – New Bell Petition – “Publish the Carlile Review on Bishop Bell – Now!”

https://you.38degrees.org.uk/petitions/publish-the-carlile-review-on-bishop-bell-now

To: The Archbishop of Canterbury

PUBLISH THE CARLILE REVIEW ON BISHOP BELL – NOW!

Campaign created by
Richard W. Symonds
PUBLISH THE CARLILE REVIEW ON BISHOP BELL - NOW!

(1) To call on the Church of England to release the Carlile Review.

(2) To ‘re-build bridges’.

Why is this important?

The Church has a responsibility to ensure justice is done.

How it will be delivered

Deliver the Petition to the Archbishop of Canterbury at Lambeth Palace


Reasons for signing

  • The report should be released.

  • Justice is meant to be blind not in favour of kangaroo courts and witch hunts of dead men

  • Transparency and humility is key.


    • Justice and the Presumption of Innocence need to be defended in these intolerant times

    • Justice must not only be done, but be seen to be done. For the National church to be failing in this respect does not give the example Christians should be giving to the world.

    • A dreadful injustice compounded by the unnecessary delay in the release of the Carlile Report.

Featured post

November 26 2017 – “C of E tries to defend its delay over publishing the Carlile Report, which severely criticises its handling of the Bell case” ~ Peter Hitchens – Nov 20 2017

peter-hitchens_877_1871668c
Peter Hitchens

http://hitchensblog.mailonsunday.co.uk/2017/11/c-of-e-tries-to-defend-its-delay-over-publishing-the-carlile-report-which-severely-criticises-its-ha.html

20 November 2017 1:16 PM

C of E tries to defend its delay over publishing the Carlile Report, which severely criticises its handling of the Bell case.

 

The Church of England today published this statement, seeking to defend the 44 day (and counting) delay since it received the Carlile Report into its handling of abuse allegations against the late Bishop of Chichester, George Bell (see many posts here)

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

Nobody wants to risk identifying the complainant and it would, I think, be easy to ensure that the report was redacted to ensure that this risk was removed. It would certainly not take more than six weeks to achieve this. More than six weeks also seems more than enough to consult those criticised, though this is now more or less obligatory under the ‘Maxwellisation’ rules instituted after that businessman was once criticised in a report. 

For what I care, those responsible for this nasty episode can remain anonymous with their shame, and be left to seek forgiveness in private,  through contrition. All I want to see is an admission that the procedure was (as it was) quite unjust, and immediate steps taken to re-establish the good name of George Bell, including the restoration of his name where it has been expunged from buildings, schools and guidebooks. And the recognition by several media organisations that they treated an allegation as a proven charge and were wrong to do so. It took quite long enough to persuade a reluctant church even to admit there was anything to worry about.

But if they are so keen on delay and caution, why did they not pause for a little longer before publicising the original claims, as they so energetically did?

 

 

 

 

Mr Hitchens writes,

”All I want to see is an admission that the procedure was (as it was) quite unjust, and immediate steps taken to re-establish the good name of George Bell, including the restoration of his name where it has been expunged from buildings, schools and guidebooks.”

When my husband and I visited Chichester Cathedral this Summer, we checked for a short time the Cathedral’s bookshop if there was anything about Bishop Bell left. There was not much, or rather, nothing. My husband only bought a beautiful booklet of ’Saint Richard’ because he wanted to know more about the saint.

Later, at home he found something in the booklet and showed it me:

”Bishop George Bell was Bishop of Chichester at the time of the 700th anniversary of St Richard’s death, in 1953, and he issued a spiritual call ’to every priest and every parish in the diocese to renew their discipleship, and to pray to God for a fresh outpouring of the Holy Spirit’.

During the year the bishops visited each deanery, and in Chichester there were lectures and special services, including a celebration of the Eucharist by the Archbishop of Canterbury. There was also a pageant in which The Acts of Saint Richard were performed in the palace forecourt. Each performance ended with a procession of clergy, actors and audience to the shrine.

Bishop Bell also created a Guild of St Richard for the newly confirmed.

Since 1953 the shrine of St Richard has been further enriched. The ’Anglo-German Tapestry’, which includes references to the saint’s life, was commissioned to mark the centenary of Bishop Bell’s birth in 1983.”

We later also found in a pamphlet in Japanese (not mentioned in English one) that Bishop Bell’s ashes rest at the shrine in the Cathedral.

We left *a small posy of flowers* with a card at the memorial to Bishop George Bell (I wrongly thought I had to hide the flowers under my cardigan at the entrance) and there were already two more bunches of beautiful flowers there.

 

I have realised now that I should have writen the C *of* E.

 

@John Vernau

Thank you for your comment. I have probably given you an impression that I am very optimistic about the effect of the Carlile Report.

I think this would be an opportunity for the leaders of the C o E to show if they have enough conscience and courage (left) to admit that they have made several serious mistakes under the procedure and wronged the good name of Bishop Bell without any irrefutable foundation. And very importantly, this should not be mixed with the credibility of ’Carol’. I do not think it is the heart of the matter.

She has to accept the fact that there is no witness beside her and we have to accept the fact that there is no proof that can 100% prove that the Bishop was innocent. But then again we have the important principle of the presumption of the innocence. The C o E, the Police and many journalists have failed to respect that important principle. I think the Report should be able to establish this point.

You quoted:

“To provide the Church of England with a review which, having examined relevant documents and interviewed all relevant people, ensures that:

1. Lessons are learnt from past practice:

– As Mr Hitchens and others have shown that the alleged investigation done by the C o E was not thorough and orderly and caused distress not least to the Bishop’s niece. This failure has to be learnt and documented and they have to apologise her. (Have they done it already?)

2. Survivors are listened to and taken seriously, and are supported:

– They failed to take and support ’Carol’ seriously in the beginning. They failed to take the truth seriously too.

3. Good practice is identified and disseminated:

– The way the Church dealt with Police and the media on this issue cannot be called ’good’.

4. Recommendations are made to help the Church embed best practice in safeguarding children and adults in the future.”

– They have to think about safeguarding people from defamation too.

 

Re Ky | 22 November 2017 at 09:42 AM

“Mr Hitchens and many other more, myself included, want to see:
1) An admission that the procedure was (as it was) quite unjust.
2) Immediate steps taken to re-establish the good name of George Bell, including the restoration of his name where it has been expunged from buildings, schools and guidebooks.”

That would be wonderful, Ky, but I’m not hopeful. In fact I’m not sure that we’ll see an un-redacted version, or any version at all, of what the Church calls the ‘draft’ of the ‘lessons learned review’. Their statement of 22/11/2016, “The reviewer [Lord Carlile] will produce an executive summary, which will be published to support the dissemination of learning” implies that the summary, at least, may see the light of day as written, but I wouldn’t count on it. I think Lord Carlile has reported to the Church and the Church will, in the fullness of time, report to us. The independent part of the review is over, but reviewing continues.

The same (2016) statement provides the terms of reference for the review, which in my opinion provide little solace for those interested in justice. The objectives of the review are identified as:
“To provide the Church of England with a review which, having examined relevant documents and interviewed all relevant people, ensures that:
1. Lessons are learnt from past practice
2. Survivors are listened to and taken seriously, and are supported
3. Good practice is identified and disseminated
4. Recommendations are made to help the Church embed best practice in safeguarding children and adults in the future.”

Also, the “scope of the review” goes no further back in time than 1995. I suspect the current delay is to needed to masticate the ‘draft’ report into a familiar CofE mixture of pious pabulum and corporate gibberish, in which it will be held that much disseminating of many valuable best-practice safeguarding lessons learned has occurred. I very much hope that I’m wrong, but the rehabilitation of Bishop Bell’s reputation may have to wait until the ‘survivor’ in this case can no longer be so described.

 

The Cof E hierarchy who are responsible for enabling the unjust and official smearing of Bishop Bell’s good name and reputation have, through lack of proof and witnesses, collectively broken the 9th commandment.
What, in Heaven’s name, does that make them!?

 

Mr Hitchens and many other more, myself included, want to see:

1) An admission that the procedure was (as it was) quite unjust.

2) Immediate steps taken to re-establish the good name of George Bell, including the restoration of his name where it has been expunged from buildings, schools and guidebooks.

3) The recognition by several media organisations that they treated an allegation as a proven charge and were wrong to do so.
What do we need in order to be able to step forward?

An impartial, objective and well-researched report written by a thoughtful and highly respected lawyer:

I have heard such a report exists in this world – but it is still firmly locked and kept secret from public. There are reasons why we have to wait, they say. But the question is whether 46-days is a reasonable length of time or not.

Does the C o E really care for Bishop Bell’s 92-year-old niece, Ms. Barbara Whitley, who has been distressed by this treatment of the good name of her beloved uncle? I am sure that the restoring of Bishop Bell’s impaired reputation would meant a lot for her, as well as for other both young and old people.

 

I fear that those hoping for a takedown of the church’s actions will be disappointed: the report and its remit have been controlled by the CoE from the off; and they chose Lord Carlile, a lawyer who’s preciously defended draconian anti-terrorism powers.

Traditional English liberties aren’t sacred here, but just one factor that can be “balanced” against other considerations like public order and victims’ rights.

After the obligatory refusal to assign any personal blame, the best we can hope for is probably some recommendations urging restraint in the publishing of future accusations.

 

‘note how they have slipped in “a few months” as the normal period of delay’ (Mr Rob)

Yes, they must have seen your claim to write about this issue every day until it is published and thought that if the let you know it will take a few months you might desist. It is weaselly from them. This is an organisation thinking in self-preservation mode, thinking only about PR. For a church this is outrageous, a complete dereliction of its stated purpose. When put under pressure by ‘Carol’s’ lawyer the church deals with the issue immediately, but when dealing with the issue immediately is not in their benefit they stall.

I applaud you for your determination.

 

All of this is to confuse the wheat with the chaff. Who cares about this old stickler Bell and his hangups about Nazis in the 1930s or carpet bombing in the 1940s?

Is somebody seriously saying that there was something wrong about our revered Archbishop Welby believing all that the victim or survivor has had to say about the cruel treatment she suffered at the hands of that wicked Bell (so cruel and upsetting that she could only bring herself to speak about that treatment when she was certain that the villain was well dead) or is someone saying that his Lordship might have been tempted to sacrifice even that old geezer from history, for the sake of promoting his modern image as an administrative investigator of unimpeachable credentials?

Is it not enough of a burden that his Lordship has the thoroughly unpleasant task of having to constantly apologise for the shortcomings of others in the Church, as though it did not pain him beyond endurance to have to point his finger at those lesser mortals who have sinned by act or omission?

 

“….. issues over factual accuracy and identification of ‘Carol’.”
I can understand they they still feel constrained to keep her identity secret, but ‘factual accuracy’ rather suggests that they’re not even sure now if she really exists – interesting.

 

“Nobody wants to risk identifying the complainant …” says PH.

I strongly disagree.

If someone is claiming money by way of “compensation”, I don’t give tuppence for their credibility if they remain anonymous and act via solicitors.

 

Please keep at them. Please contact the CoE every day.

 

I venture to predict that the report is so damning of their actions that it will never see the light of day. That’s how the system “works”.

 

The statement doesn’t really say anything at all, does it? They’re playing for time (note how they have slipped in “a few months” as the normal period of delay…).

Keep up the pressure, Mr H, I am sure that more and more people are through your efforts becoming acquainted with this case and the lamentable actions of the Church of England.

 

One can only contrast the Bishop’s bravery for standing against British terror bombing of Germany in WW2 with the timidity of the C of E in publishing a report that might show they acted wrongly in this case.

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November 25 2017 – Charles Moore on Bishop Bell – The Spectator

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Charles Moore

https://www.spectator.co.uk/2017/11/the-queen-and-prince-philips-70th-anniversary-party-sounds-glorious/


“Just over two years ago, the Church of England authorities hurriedly condemned George Bell because of claims that he had abused a child nearly 70 years ago. They paid money to the alleged victim. Bell, Bishop of Chichester and the leading British supporter of Christian resistance to Hitler, died in 1958. Many protested at the process by which Bell had been condemned. No contemporary documents seemed to have been studied and no surviving witnesses, such as his domestic chaplain, had been asked for their testimony. The mere accusation carried all before it. So great was the anger that the Archbishop of Canterbury courageously decided to review the decision to which he had been party and called in Lord Carlile QC to review the process which damned Bell. Lord Carlile reported in early October, and the steer was that the church would release his report roughly now. On Monday, however, a C of E press release said that the authorities ‘are at the stage of responding with feedback from those who contributed’. ‘This is the process with all independent reviews, there is a period of a few months between receiving the first draft and final publication,’ it explained. A few months! Obviously those criticised should be allowed to comment privately on what the report says, but there was only one accuser and only one supposed perpetrator. This is not the Chilcot report. Two thoughts occur. The first is that the delay strongly suggests that Lord Carlile has found the process to have been severely wanting. The second is that the ‘safeguarding’ team at the heart of the process are being much better safeguarded than ever poor Bell was” – 
Charles Moore

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