Tag Archives: Church Times

Feb 8 2019 – “George Bell ‘should not have been named’ in Church’s settlement of sex abuse allegation” – Church Times – Madeleine Davies

IMG_2295

https://www.churchtimes.co.uk/articles/2019/8-february/news/uk/george-bell-should-not-have-been-named-in-church-s-settlement-of-sex-abuse-allegation

George Bell ‘should not have been named’ in Church’s settlement of sex abuse allegation

08 FEBRUARY 2019

A confidentiality clause should have governed the payment made to “Carol”, the Bishop of Chichester, Dr Martin Warner, has said

The house at 4 Canon Lane, Chichester, once called Bishop Bell House

 

THE blackening of George Bell’s name would not have happened had there been a confidentiality clause governing the payment made to “Carol”, who accused him of sexual abuse, the Bishop of Chichester, Dr Martin Warner, said on Monday.

Dr Warner was addressing supporters of Bishop Bell at the Rebuilding Bridges conference, held at 4 Canon Lane, Chichester, to which supporters wish to see the name “George Bell House” restored.

The naming was up to the Dean and Chapter, the Bishop reiterated (News, 1 February), but he indicated that the cathedral should make more of the Sisters of the Cross, who had donated the house.

“I don’t think simply renaming it ‘George Bell House’ will just do the job. We cannot rewrite history, but we must do better.”

More generally, he suggested that the Church of England must “speak of the achievements, the good things that Bishop Bell did” to restore his reputation. It was “report that makes a person famous for their good deeds. . . So, it seems that for us in the diocese and the Church of England at large, it is important that we are able to speak of the achievements, the good things that Bishop Bell did.”

This had been done on “a number of occasions”, he said, one of which had been his address at a commemoration of the Reformation, in Coburg in 2017. “I believe history will tell the good deeds of Bishop Bell, and I believe they will stand the test of time.”

Dr Warner resisted calls to pronounce Bishop Bell innocent, prompting one speaker to explain that “most here are troubled because the idea of innocence until proven guilty touches everyone.”

He did, though, indicate his acceptance of a key recommendation by Lord Carlile of Berwick, who conducted a review of the Church’s handling of the accusation against Bishop Bell, that the dealings with Carol should have been confidential. “The fault lies with us as the institution, and it is clearly identified in Lord Carlile’s report, as having gone public. We have to own up to that and face it. I’m very clear about that. I take part of the responsibility.

“If you want to know about justice, it’s not about guilty or innocent, but what is made public. Had we said nothing about a settlement with Carol, had there been a confidentiality clause, none of this would have reached the public domain. . .

“We are clear on how wrong we were on publicising the process.”

A statement by Lord Carlile was read at the conference: “The Church should accept that my recommendations should be accepted in full, and Bishop Bell should be declared by the Church to be innocent of the allegations made against him.”

His review had not been asked to determine whether Bishop Bell was innocent, but he had concluded that the case was not strong enough even to be brought to court (News, 22 December 2017).

Among the resolutions carried at the conference was one calling for an apology by the Archbishop of Canterbury, and another asking for a debate in the General Synod.

 

 

Feb 1 2019 – “Welby welcomes plan for George Bell statue, hours after apologising for Church’s handling of the case” – Church Times – Hattie Williams

Welby welcomes plan for George Bell statue hours after apologising for Church’s handling of the case

https://www.churchtimes.co.uk/articles/2019/1-february/news/uk/welby-welcomes-plan-for-george-bell-statue-hours-after-apologising-for-church-s-handling-of-the-case

 

01 FEBRUARY 2019

The commission was halted in 2015, after an allegation of sexual abuse against Bell

A sketch of George Bell by David Goodman

 

THE Archbishop of Canterbury has welcomed plans for a statue of the late Bishop of Chichester, George Bell, to be completed and installed in Canterbury Cathedral, hours after apologising for the Church’s botched handling of an allegation of sexual abuse against the Bishop.

Plans for the statue were halted in 2015, after a woman known as “Carol” alleged that Bishop Bell, a former Dean of Canterbury Cathedral, had sexually abused her in the 1940s, when she was nine. The diocese of Chichester apologised and reached a settlement with Carol within the year (News, 23 October 2015).

An independent investigation by Lord Carlile later concluded, however, that the Church had rushed to judgement in the case, which, Lord Carlile said, should not have been made public (News, 22 December 2017). He wrote that, had the Church seen the evidence that his review had managed to uncover without great difficulty, the case would not have been thought strong enough even to be tested in court.

The news sparked fresh allegations against Bell, which were dismissed in a report on Thursday of last week by an ecclesiastical lawyer, Chancellor Timothy Briden, Vicar-General of the Province of Canterbury.

The report was the conclusion of a second investigation, commissioned and made public by the Bishop of Chichester, Dr Martin Warner, in January of last year. Both Dr Warner and the Archbishop issued statements apologising.

The next day, the Friends of Canterbury Cathedral, which was founded by Bell when he was the Dean of Canterbury (1924 to 1929), announced that a statue of him which had first been commissioned in 2015, would be completed and installed at the cathedral, paid for by the Friends.

“To commemorate his work whilst in Canterbury, the statue will be placed in one of the exterior niches at the west end of the cathedral, joining those of other influential figures.”

The Friends have declined to comment further or provide pictures of the statue, but a newsletter sent to the Friends of Canterbury Cathedral in the United States, in February 2014, gives details of three new commissions for the west front of the cathedral: one of Dean Bell, and two others of the Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh.

It reads: “The statue of Dean Bell has been commissioned and carving has begun out at Broad Oak [in Kent].

“The maquettes for the royal statues of Her Majesty the Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh have been approved by Chapter and the Cathedrals Fabric Commission and work will begin on their manufacture later in the year. Some of our own masons are involved helping the sculptor, Miss Nina Bilbey, and it is hoped that all the statues will be ready for installation towards the end of the year.”

The statues of the Queen and Prince Philip were unveiled on the west front in March 2015. When approached this week, Ms Bilbey said that she was unable to comment at present.

Archbishop Welby posted a link to the announcement on Twitter, last Friday. He wrote: “I warmly welcome the announcement today that the statue of Bishop George Bell will in due course be completed and installed at Canterbury Cathedral, as a permanent reminder of his unique contribution to international peace and to the Church of England.”

His comment echoed his apology for the “mistakes” made in handling the original allegation, which he previously said had left a “significant cloud” over the name of Bishop Bell, despite protests from historians that Bell’s name should never have been implicated (News, 22 January 2018).

Bishop Bell’s biographer, Professor Andrew Chandler, has been campaigning with the Bell Society to clear Bell’s name. “To invest the authority of high public office, and the name and the resources of the Church itself, in a sustained denigration of an innocent, dead man, is profoundly disturbing,” he said this week.

“To maintain that denigration in public, even in the face of the most authoritative, experienced, and principled criticism, for over three years, is something very serious indeed. It does represent, in a fundamental way, an abuse of moral power.”

A spokesman for Church House suggested last week that Chichester Cathedral might “review” its decision to remove Bishop Bell’s name from its grant scheme. It was up to individual institutions, however, to decide whether to reinstate his name on buildings, he said.

Several buildings dedicated to Bell have been renamed in the past three years, including George Bell House, a conference centre in Chichester Cathedral close, which was dedicated in October 2008, on the 50th anniversary of his death (Features, 3 October 2008). The building was renamed 4 Canon Lane in 2016.

An event — “Rebuilding Bridges” — is being hosted there next week by the Bell Society. It will ask whether the Dean and Chapter will restore the name of Bell to the building, and whether Bishop Bell be “cleared of abuse” by the Archbishop.

 

March 2 2018 – “IICSA hearing likely to prompt more disclosures of abuse, Church of England safeguarding officials say” – Church Times – Hattie Williams

https://www.churchtimes.co.uk/articles/2018/2-march/news/uk/iicsa-hearing-more-disclosures-abuse-church-of-england-safeguarding-officials

IICSA hearing likely to prompt more disclosures of abuse, C of E safeguarding officials say

02 MARCH 2018

IICSA

Professor Alexis Jay and members of the Inquiry panel

THE Church of England must be prepared for new revelations and disclosures of clerical sex abuse during, and in the wake of, a public hearing of the Independent Inquiry into Child Sex Abuse (IICSA), a spokesperson for the National Safeguarding Team (NST) has said.

Starting on Monday, the public hearing in London will consider the extent of any institutional failures to protect children from sexual abuse within the Anglican Church.

It will use the diocese of Chichester as a case study to examine the “culture of the Church” and whether its “behaviours, values, and beliefs inhibited or continued to inhibit the investigation, exposure, and prevention of child sexual abuse” (News, 2 February).

An NST spokesperson said on Tuesday: “High-profile cases that we have been involved with before, such as independent reviews, have led to more disclosures. We must assume that people will come forward for the first time: we would not want to rule that out.”

The public hearing is due to conclude on 23 March.

It is one of 13 investigations included in the IICSA — the largest public inquiry ever undertaken in the UK, which is looking into several institutions, including the Roman Catholic Church and local-authority children’s homes.

The Archbishop of Canterbury confirmed last week that he had been called to give evidence at the Chichester hearing. He said that the Church had to acknowledge “where it went wrong” — but that this did not mean that Christian values were wrong.

“It doesn’t mean that our Christian heritage was somehow totally misguided from beginning to end: it means that the Church did awful things (as well as many good things), but that it failed badly around the issues of the care of vulnerable children and adults,” he said.

“We have to face the consequences of that, [learn] to be genuinely transparent and honest, and we have to be repentant. We need to use religious language to repent.”

The former Archbishop of Canterbury Lord Williams, and the current Bishop of Chichester, Dr Martin Warner — who have both submitted statements — are also expected to be called to give evidence at the hearing, although the final timetable has yet to be confirmed.

The hearing will also examine C of E safeguarding policies, training, leadership, recruitment, and disciplinary processes, how effectively it has worked with statutory organisations, and its treatment of survivors, including the handling of allegations against a former Bishop of Chichester, George Bell.

Professional support will be made available by the IICSA to those present at the hearing. The NST has arranged for at least one bishop to be there on each day to provide pastoral support, as well as a private room for quiet reflection.

A spokesperson for the NST said that it had been working towards openness and transparency. “Given the history and legacy of poor practice, we have taken the issue of transparency into our approach to the inquiry: we have commissioned independent reviews, built a culture of continuous learning, and independently audited each of the 42 dioceses, all of which are being published.

“The Inquiry will be a difficult experience for survivors, the Church, and society, but we have to approach it as an opportunity to improve, to learn, to build on the work we are doing, and, hopefully, accelerate that work for the future.”

Ongoing safeguarding allegations. It was revealed this week that The General Synod was misinformed last month about the number of safeguarding allegations being handled by the dioceses, it was revealed this week.

There are in fact about 2600 cases ongoing, not 3300, as previously reported by the Bishop of Bath and Wells, the Rt Revd Peter Hancock, in a written question to a Synod member, Kat Alldread, last month (News, 16 February).

More than half of these 2600 cases involved children, and more than a quarter related to church officers — not 18 per cent as previously reported, the clerk to the Synod, Dr Jacqui Philips, confirmed in a letter to Mrs Alldread this week.

A church officer is defined as anyone who is appointed or elected by or on behalf of the Church to a post whether they are ordained or lay, paid or unpaid.

February 26 2018 – “The Church of England should stand up for Bishop Bell” – OXSTU [Oxford Student]

http://oxfordstudent.com/2018/02/25/church-england-stand-bishop-bell/

The Church of England should stand up for Bishop Bell

A short biography of George Bell, who had been Bishop of Chichester for 27 years when he died in 1958, begins by acknowledging a recurring pattern regarding the reputation of notable people. It points out that after such people die, their reputations are often reshaped and defamed by harsh criticism not voiced during their lifetimes – but that the Bishop had managed to be an exception to this rule.

This claim, published in 1971, would no longer be written today. Whilst the memory of George Bell has been cherished over the past 60 years due to his significant support of the Protestant opposition to Hitler, his work in bringing over many non-Aryan refugees from Germany and his emphatic opposition to the bombing of civilians during the Second World War, Bell’s reputation is now at risk of being utterly decimated. A complaint made to the Archbishop of Canterbury in 2013 accused Bell of having committed grotesque acts of child abuse in the 1940s and 50s. In response, the Church apologised and paid the accuser £16,800 in compensation. Various memorials, such as one proclaiming him a ‘champion of the oppressed’ in Chichester Cathedral, faced removal. An Eastbourne school, formerly known as the Bishop Bell Church of England School, has changed its name altogether.

Most would agree that this sort of action would be justified in the face of conclusive evidence against Bell. But it has since transpired that the church acted far too hastily. Following their acceptance of the abuse claims, a robust movement was sparked to defend Bell’s reputation, involving major journalists such as Charles Moore and Peter Hitchens. The Church then initiated an independent inquiry, led by Lord Carlile (one of the country’s top legal experts), which concluded that they had “rushed to judgement” and that the damage to Bell’s reputation was “just wrong”. Lord Carlile even went so far as to say that had he been prosecuting a case against Bell in court, Bell would have won. Nevertheless, this report was withheld by the Church for two months. After its eventual release, Justin Welby insisted that a “significant cloud” still hangs over Bell’s name in spite of Lord Carlile’s conclusions.

We should be equally concerned for protecting Bell’s reputation against false accusations as we are for spoiling his reputation over true accusations

This strange outcome highlights an element of mystery that has surrounded the Bell case. The initial claim against Bell was anonymous and the church revealed no details about the accusation when making their apology. As mentioned, it took two months for the Church to release the Carlile report after having received it. Once it was released, Justin Welby did not follow the logical implications of the report, but refused to retract his statements because of a vague belief in a “cloud”. On the 31st January, the enigmatic plot thickened when the Church announced that a further anonymous and unspecified accusation had been made and was being investigated. Some felt the timing of this was suspicious, given that a motion to debate the restoration of Bell’s reputation was due to be voted on at the Church’s General Synod the following week. Lord Carlile, who knew nothing of this accusation during his investigation, described the announcement as ‘unwise, unnecessary and foolish’. At the very least, we can all recognise the strange and stark asymmetry between the previous withholding of the completed Carlile investigation report and the eagerness of the recent announcement of an incomplete investigation. Things got worse when it emerged that the Church of England had refused to allow Mrs Barbara Whitley, Bell’s 93-year-old niece, to have the lawyer of her choice represent her side in the proceedings – instead choosing on her behalf someone who is neither a lawyer nor known to Mrs Whitley.

At this point, while many will sympathise with the active supporters of George Bell, which now includes leading groups of historians, theologians and church leaders who have written public letters asking for Welby to retract his statement, others feel a sense of unease. After all, it is of course possible that the accusations are true. Justin Welby, in a recent interview with the Church Times, said that the alleged victims should be “treated equally importantly” as the reputation of George Bell. Some would say this does not go far enough: surely we must be more concerned for the alleged victims, who are still living, over the reputation of someone who died 60 years ago?

The general nervousness of the Church of England’s handling of the Bell case must be related to the fact that the Church currently faces over 3,000 complaints of sexual abuse

Perhaps a better way of framing this would be to say that we should be equally concerned for protecting Bell’s reputation against false accusations as we are for spoiling his reputation over true accusations. The trouble is that most people have an instinctive tendency to find the latter much easier than the former. When the Church of England apologised and paid the first alleged victim in 2015, The Guardian ran the story with the headline “Church of England Bishop George Bell abused young child”. At that stage, nothing was known about the identity of the accuser nor the accusations, and yet headlines announced the claims as fact. Once the Carlile report was made public, it would have been no less factual to run the headline ‘George Bell declared innocent of abuse claims’, yet nobody did so. In fact, most would consider this overstepping the mark.

The general nervousness of the Church of England’s handling of the Bell case must be related to the fact that the Church currently faces over 3,000 complaints of sexual abuse (including both long-standing and recent accusations). Other high-profile cases of clergy committing child abuse, such as that of former bishop Peter Ball, have highlighted the shocking failures of senior clerics to listen to victims and pass allegations on to the police. Taking into consideration the sharp spike in awareness of the prevalence of sexual abuse in society more broadly, following Weinstein, Larry Nassar and the #MeToo movement, it is not hard to imagine why the Archbishop of Canterbury would not want to stick his head above the parapet and defend the innocence of an archetypal establishment figure: a dead, white, male clergyman.

Courage, after all, comes at a cost. George Bell discovered this himself when his opposition to the bombing of innocent civilians during the Second World War put him on the wrong side of Winston Churchill, probably the main reason why he was never appointed Archbishop of Canterbury. In the absence of substantial evidence in support of the accusations against him, Bell’s reputation deserves to be defended. This is not only in the interest of truth, but also in the interest of maintaining a legacy of courageous leadership which is desperately needed among Bell’s clerical successors today.

February 24 2018 – “Proof, not reputation, is crux of Bell affair” – Church Times – Letter – Marilyn and Peter Billingham

https://www.churchtimes.co.uk/articles/2018/23-february/comment/letters-to-the-editor/letters-to-the-editor-abuse-nuclear-disarmament-brexit-border-control-bell

Proof, not reputation, is crux of Bell affair

From Marilyn and Peter Billingham

Sir, — Canon Angela Tilby (Comment, 16 February) is indeed right to say in her column that those fighting for Justice in the George Bell case would be naïve to rest the case for his defence on his fine reputation. But they don’t.

The George Bell Group, the theologians, the lawyers, historians, academics, journalists, and, indeed, the independent reviewer Lord Carlile QC together present an overwhelming case that the evidence against Bishop Bell would not find its way to the criminal court at all were he to be alive.

Further, the evidence does not even meet the lower standard of proof, “the balance of probabilities”, required by the civil courts, now that he has passed away. In English law, he is innocent. The evidence would be too weak to take to court at all. Character references would not be required. Nevertheless, since when have character references been inadmissible in a court of English law?

MARILYN BILLINGHAM
PETER BILLINGHAM
Chichester

July 2014 – “Diocese and Cathedral turned deaf ears to victims’ complaints” – Church Times – Madeleine Davies

IAN CHRISMAS

Dean Treadgold: he “could not act on mere allegations” of child abuse

A DEVASTATING report on the failure of Chichester Cathedral and the diocese of Chichester to protect children from abuse over a 29-year period was published on Tuesday, ten years after its completion.

The CARMI report, written by Edina Carmi, a social-work consultant, was finished in 2004. It had been commissioned by a former Bishop of Chichester, Dr John Hind, after Terence Banks, head steward at the cathedral, was convicted of 32 sexual offences against 12 boys between 1971 and 2000. In 2004, only the recommendations of the report were published.

A new foreword to the report, written this month by the Bishop of Chichester, Dr Martin Warner, explains that, in 2004, “Serious Case Reviews were not published in their entirety.”

The decision to publish it now had been informed by “our interaction with victims of sexual abuse in churches, who have consistently asked for the full facts to be brought to light, so that lessons are learned, and everything possible is done to ensure these awful events are not repeated”.

Dr Warner said that he and other clergy were “profoundly ashamed of abuse that has happened in church or church institutions”, and offered “our most sincere apologies to survivors and their families, though we know that this can never repair the damage done”.

The report had informed safeguarding practice, he said, and had begun a process of learning which continued with the publication of subsequent reports ( News, 3 May 2013, and News, 27 May 2011). Safeguarding practice had “moved on enormously since 2004”.

Mr Banks was sentenced to 16 years’ imprisonment in 2001, after an investigation by Sussex police. He was convicted of 23 charges of indecent assault, five of buggery, one of indecency with a child under 14 years, and two of attempting to procure acts of gross indecency.All of the 12 victims were lessthan 16 years of age, and somewere as young as 11. All were involved in activities at the cathedral.

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The CARMI report details how Mr Banks used alcohol and pornographic material to “break down the boys’ inhibitions”. In 1973, he was banned from a school after an allegation of abuse against a child. Even though the school’s governing body was composed entirely of cathedral Chapter members, no action was taken to limit Mr Banks’s contact with children. No action was taken after he was seen embracing a victim in the cathedral grounds in the 1980s.

In 1991, a 12-year-old alleged that he had been shown a pornographic video at Mr Banks’s house. It was reported to the wife of the Bishop of Chichester (Dr Eric Kemp, referred to in the report as Bishop A), and the parents were summoned to speak with a canon who was “reported to have made the parents feel they were making too much of a minor incident”.

In 2000, a victim and his mother went to see the Dean of Chichester Cathedral, the Very Revd John Treadgold (referred to in the report as Dean A), to make allegations. This victim later told the police that Dean Treadgold had advised him to “act on his conscience, as the Dean could not act on mere allegations”. Dean Treadgold did not report the matter to the child protection adviser, the police, or social services.

The father of another victim told the police, and Mr Banks was then arrested. The CARMI report states that the Dean’s “lack of action on hearing of the abuse was at variance with West Sussex Child Protection Procedures, and ‘The Protection of Children’, which was implemented in the diocese in 1997”.

Dean Treadgold told the CARMI review that, on his return from Germany, he had recevied a letter stating that the police were involved, and that he must “do nothing”. Until 2000, he had “never been informed of any concerns relating to [Mr Banks]”.

While pastoral support was offered to Mr Banks and his wife after his arrest, victims and their families reported being shunned by clergy and members of the con-gregation. The report speaks ofa “hostile environment, which appeared to blame victims and families, rather than be grateful for their courage in reporting the matter to the police”.

Highlighting the disparity between safeguarding practice elsewhere and within the cathedral and diocese, it refers to a number of “mistaken beliefs”, including that “it was entirely up to the individual to decide whether or not to report concerns to the responsible authority”; and it also refers to a lack of recognition of the Church’s responsibilities.

It warns of “confusion between homosexuality and child abuse. Until the Church is able to confront prejudice about sexuality, and provide an environment where individuals are able to be openabout this area of their life, the risk is that this mistake will happen again.”

The report suggests that, afterthe report was commissioned, “limitations [were] imposed on making contact with stakeholders”. For example, although the review was publicised in Cathedral Notes, Mr Banks was not referred to by name, and there was no offer of confidentiality for any of the contributors.