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OCTOBER 6 2020 – THE PUBLIC EXCORIATION OF AN ARCHBISHOP ENTANGLED IN A VERY ENGLISH WEB OF CORRUPTION AND DECEIT LYING DEEP WITHIN THE ANGLICAN CHURCH

Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby

THE IICSA REPORT – OCTOBER 6 2020 – A VERY PUBLIC EXCORIATION OF AN ARCHBISHOP ENTANGLED IN A VERY ENGLISH WEB OF CORRUPTION AND DECEIT LYING DEEP WITHIN THE ANGLICAN CHURCH

LETTER SUBMISSION ON THE EVE OF INDEPENDENT INQUIRY INTO CHILD SEXUAL ABUSE [IICSA] REPORT – OCTOBER 6 2020

Dear Editor


Following the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse [IICSA] investigations, we call upon Justin Welby to consider his position as Archbishop of Canterbury.
The Archbishops of Canterbury and York said on October 2:

“As we await IICSA’s report…we continue to pray for survivors and all those the Church has failed”

Archbishop Welby has failed the wartime Bishop of Chichester George Bell [whose 62nd Anniversary fell on October 3], and will continue to do so until there is a full exoneration by the Archbishop, calling on him to withdraw his “significant cloud…great wickedness” remarks, and for 4 Canon Lane in Chichester to be renamed back to George Bell House.
Justin Welby still appears to believe there is ‘no smoke without fire’, even though the IICSA and two separate investigations by Lord Carlile QC and Timothy Briden – both commissioned by the Church – have shown there is ‘no smoke and no fire’.
The Archbishop has been given every opportunity to right this wrong against Bishop Bell, but still refuses to use his power to heal the very serious divisions caused by this miscarriage of justice.
Our endeavour is to right this wrong.

Yours sincerely

ATKINS, Revd. Forrest William

BOYS, Geoffrey

CHARMLEY, Professor John

DONALD, Revd. Steve

GOMES, Dr. Jules

INESON, Revd. Matthew

MARTIN, Terry

MORGAN, Dr. Gerald

MULLEN, Revd. Dr. Peter

OSBORNE, Noel

RAVEN, Revd. Canon Charles

ROBINSON, Dr. Steven

SIMS, Kevin

SYMONDS, Richard W.

SYKES, Bishop Nicholas

VIRTUE, David W. DD

WATKINS, Lindsay

For further information regarding this letter and its signatories, please contact:

Richard W. Symonds

The Bell Society

2 Lychgate Cottages

Ifield Street, Ifield Village

Crawley – Gatwick

West Sussex RH11 0NN

Tel: 07540 309592 [Text only please]

Email: richardsy5@aol.com

George Bell, Bishop of Chichester

IICSA KEY FINDINGS

  1. The Anglican Church Investigation Report
  2. Part B: The Church of England
  3. B.4: Civil claims and redress in the Church of England
  4. B.4.5: Allegations against deceased individuals

B.4.5: Allegations against deceased individuals

29. The Church does not keep records about the number of allegations made against deceased individuals.[1]

30. If a claim relates to an individual for whom there would have been a valid insurance policy were they alive, it is dealt with by the EIO and the principles and procedures set out above would apply. If the claim relates to a deceased bishop – such as Victor Whitsey, Peter Ball or George Bell – it is managed by the Church Commissioners, whose role is to ensure proper investigation before taking decisions about settlement.[2]

31. The Church Commissioners (who are responsible for payment of compensation in claims which are not insured) are considering introducing mediation as part of their process for redress.[3]

The first George Bell case and the Carlile review

32. A complainant known as Carol alleged in 1995 and again in 2013 that she was abused by the late George Bell, former Bishop of Chichester. When Carol sued the Church for damages in 2014, a core group was convened. The Church settled Carol’s claim, apologised and issued a public statement.

33. Lord Carlile of Berriew was instructed by the Church to consider its response to the allegations. In his report (dated December 2017), he was critical of the Church’s actions, particularly in making a public statement about the allegations and the settlement reached. In the Chichester/Peter Ball Investigation Report, the Inquiry expressed concern about a number of Lord Carlile’s conclusions. These included that:

  • a confidentiality clause should have been included in the settlement;
  • considerable weight” should have been given to the “high esteem” in which George Bell was held; and
  • the core group was criticised for relying on the evidence of “a single complainant”.[4]

34. Lord Carlile’s recommendations only apply to a small minority of claims, those that are uninsured or where no claim is issued.[5] There may also be claims where there was no insurance policy in place.

35. In Mr Bonehill’s view, the process suggested by Lord Carlile was not consistent with the approach that an insurer would take in insured cases, and that it was “something that certainly we would not be able to support”.[6]

35.1. Lord Carlile recommended the assistance of advice from a lawyer with practical knowledge of criminal law and procedure. Although civil claims are judged on the balance of probabilities, Lord Carlile stated that “the examination of a case of this kind against the criminal standard is a useful and instructive exercise”.[7] Mr Bonehill said that this would not be considered relevant to an insured claim because the standard of proof is the balance of probabilities.[8]

35.2. Lord Carlile stated that the core group was wrong to dismiss the defence of limitation.[9] Mr Bonehill did not agree and repeated the EIO’s position that limitation should be used very sparingly.[10]

35.3. Lord Carlile considered that where a claim was settled without admission of liability the settlement should generally include a confidentiality provision. The EIO does not and never has insisted on confidentiality provisions unless they are sought by the complainant, but there is no distinction between claims settled with liability and without.[11] In Mr Bonehill’s view:

serious consideration would need to be given to enforcing such a clause. In reality, it is difficult to imagine a situation where it would be considered ethically proper for an organisation to seek to claw back a damages and costs payment from an individual who, potentially, has been a victim/survivor of abuse”.[12]

The second George Bell case

36. Following the publication of Lord Carlile’s report, a further allegation of abuse by Bishop George Bell was made by an individual known as Alison. This second George Bell case is the most recent example of how the Church of England manages an uninsured allegation against a deceased individual.

37. The National Safeguarding Team convened a core group to oversee and manage the response to the allegation, to comply with Lord Carlile’s recommendations.[13]

38. A former detective superintendent, Raymond Galloway, was appointed to undertake an investigation. His investigation was thorough and included as many witnesses as possible.[14] An independent consultant was also appointed to represent the interests of Bishop Bell’s family, with an independent sexual and domestic violence adviser to ensure that Alison’s viewpoint was heard.[15] Both were subsequently represented by counsel during the process. A senior ecclesiastical judge, Timothy Briden, was appointed as the decision-maker in relation to the complaint.[16]

39. The core group concluded that no reasonable tribunal could find that the allegations were proven on the balance of probabilities. Mr Briden concluded that no further allegations were proven on the balance of probabilities.[17]

‘THINKING ANGLICANS’

Comments

Richard W. Symonds 

Marion Owen:
“So this is why the Church of England was holding back from any fundamental reforms to its safeguarding policies in advance of the IICSA report: hedging its bets to see what it could get away with in terms of retaining control of its processes. Long term, this is not going to lead to a thoroughly victim and survivor focused enterprise. Doubtless, Ecclesiastical Insurance and Luther Pendragon will continue to be key players.
As a retired bishop recently remarked, when a church has to employ reputational management consultants, you know the game’s over and the emperor has no clothes”

IICSA Report – The George Bell Case – Lord Carlile QC and Mr Bonehill – Ecclesiastical Insurance Office [EIO]

33. Lord Carlile of Berriew was instructed by the Church to consider its response to the allegations. In his report (dated December 2017), he was critical of the Church’s actions…
35. In Mr Bonehill’s view, the process suggested by Lord Carlile was not consistent with the approach that an insurer would take in insured cases, and that it was “something that certainly we would not be able to support”.[6]
35.1. Lord Carlile recommended the assistance of advice from a lawyer with practical knowledge of criminal law and procedure. Although civil claims are judged on the balance of probabilities, Lord Carlile stated that “the examination of a case of this kind against the criminal standard is a useful and instructive exercise”.[7] Mr Bonehill said that this would not be considered relevant to an insured claim because the standard of proof is the balance of probabilities.[8]

39. The core group concluded that no reasonable tribunal could find that the allegations were proven on the balance of probabilities. Mr Briden concluded that no further allegations were proven on the balance of probabilities.[17]

FURTHER COVERAGE [Hat-Tip: ‘Thinking Anglicans’]

The Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse has published its long-awaited report on the Church of England and the Church in Wales. The report totals 154 pages.

Here is a link to the Recommendations section of the report. And here is a link to the Executive Summary.

Press releases:

Initial media coverage:

THINKING ANGLICANS

Archbishop of Canterbury’s Personal Statement

on Tuesday, 6 October 2020 at 5.45 pm by Simon Kershaw
categorised as Church of EnglandSafeguarding

The Archbishop of Canterbury has issued the following personal statement following the publication of the IICSA report:

To fail on safeguarding casts a profound stain across every good thing we do. I have said this before and I continue to stand by it. But I am acutely aware as we come towards the end of this year that while there is a genuine commitment for the safeguarding of children and vulnerable adults to be the highest priority of all parts of the Church, it is evident we still have not got it right.

The report published today is a stark and shocking reminder of how so many times we have failed – and continue to fail – survivors. Apologies are vital, but they are not enough. We have to listen. We have to learn. And we have to act.

In calling for the enquiry, through a letter to the then Home Secretary Theresa May in 2014, I was aware that although it would be something that survivors had demanded it would also be a deeply painful process to tell their stories. I am very grateful to them for their courage. We cannot and will not make excuses and I must again offer my sincere apologies to those to have been abused, and to their families, friends and colleagues.

There is clearly much to respond to and an in-depth consideration of today’s report is vital. IICSA has shone a light on the past and present to help us better inform our future safeguarding work. They are owed our thanks which we give wholeheartedly. I pray this report and its recommendations will result in the changes needed to make our Church a safer place for all now and for future generations.

 

Richard W. Symonds

The Archbishop’s all-too-familiar apologies and platitudes don’t wash with me, I’m afraid. He should consider his position as the one ‘in charge’ of his Bishops who have been stripped of their responsibility for safeguarding. This has been on his ‘watch’. Reply

Fr. Dean Henley

Fr. Dean Henley 

The Archbishop should be making an appointment with Her Majesty to offer his resignation. Reply

Jeremy Pemberton

Jeremy Pemberton 

I agree with these comments. His words come too glibly – and he has a list of people he has promised to meet and listen to and he has not done anything about it. His own knowledge of John Smythe and Jonathan Fletcher has not been fully explained and he has done all he can to avoid straight answers about the importance Iwerne had for him. There has been a very significant conspiracy of silence around evangelical misdoings, and unless he comes out with much more honesty around all of that I don’t think he is credible any more. Reply

Richard W. Symonds

Richard W. Symonds Reply to  Jeremy Pemberton

IICSA – a government-ordered inquiry – concludes that the Church of England “facilitates a culture where abusers can hide”.

The Supreme Governor of the Church of England is Her Majesty The Queen.

The Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby must now do the honourable thing and offer his resignation to Her Majesty. Reply

Helen King

Helen King 

Is it true that, as the Archbishop suggests here, he was responsible for ‘calling for this enquiry’? Reply

Nigel LLoyd

Nigel LLoyd Reply to  Helen King

I am not sure that the ABC did call for the IICSA enquiry to be set up. But I do remember that, when the enquiry was being set up, the ABC asked, as a matter of urgency, that the CofE should be at the front of the queue for investigation. Reply

Helen King

Helen King Reply to  Nigel LLoyd

Thanks for that clarification. That makes sense. Reply

Matthew Ineson

Matthew Ineson 

Justin Welby should resign immediately along with all who have ignored abuse, ignored disclosures of abuse, covered up for those who have done the above and treat victims badly. He cannot have all the privilege he has and not take responsibility. He has persistently taken ‘no action’ in complaints in order to protect bishops, refused to personally apologise on behalf of the church to victims who have suffered horrific abuse. This is on his watch. He repeatedly says he has no power, only influence. This is blatantly untrue. He has power to discipline bishops, suspend bishops and impose penalties for… Read more » Reply

Colin Coward

Colin Coward 

Why does the Church of England have a culture in which abuse is systemic?

Why is no one asking the question: What action has the church taken and is the church now taking to change the abusive institutional elements in Christian teaching and practice that are integral to the culture of abuse? Reply

Dave

Dave

If there is a “genuine commitment for the safeguarding of children and vulnerable adults to be the highest priority of all parts of the Church” why are diocesan websites, and twitter feeds silent? Take Manchester, for example, (and there will be many other examples) where a former Dean of the Cathedral was investigated. The website makes no mention whatsoever of the report, no request for prayer, no statement. The Bishop says via Twitter of all things (!) that the report was ‘pretty shameful’ (what an insensitive understatement) and then actually goes on to say as long as abusers exist, nobody… Read more » Reply

Janet Fife

Janet Fife Reply to  Dave

The Bishop of Manchester’s statement on Ch 4 news last night was awful: no compassion or concern for survivors; saying how much the Church has improved; praising Justin Welby for the great job he’s doing. Clearly. David Walker has learned absolutely nothing from the IICSA Report, and therefore his diocese can’t look for much improvement. He too should resign. Reply

Bill Broadhead

Bill Broadhead Reply to  Janet Fife

The script had probably been written for him, Janet, by EIO, Luther Pendragon and the legal office at Church House, Westminster. Bishops cannot say what they really want to say in case it ends up costing money. And don’t forget Manchester Diocese only collected 40% of parish share last year, so he won’t want to upset the Commissioners and those doling out the Strategic Development Fund money. Reply

Marise Hargreaves

Marise Hargreaves 

Less than a root and branch reform will achieve nothing. Accountability, transparency and all things safeguarding out of the hands of the church would be a start. Resignations need to happen from the top down and a recognition the institution as it now exists cannot continue. More words upon words achieve nothing. Actions speak louder and so far the actions are less than impressive. Reply

Fr John Harris-White

Fr John Harris-White 

A sad day indeed for the Anglican church. But an opportunity to turn round and face the future in the strength of the forgiveness of Our Lord. But it needs changes at the top of the Church of England, and in particularly the resignation of Archbishop Welby. I would be willing to sign such a petition, calling him to be a man, and resign. his position.

Fr John Emlyn Reply

Just Sayin'

Just Sayin’ 

All too often it seems Archbishop Justin offers himself as innocent observer. He has had plenty of opportunity to influence the culture of the C of E and the House of Bishops in his time yet has chosen not to do so.

From comments on this site and elsewhere he has, as they say ‘lost the dressing room’. If he has any shred of self worth or conscience he really should go. Reply

Richard W. Symonds

Richard W. Symonds

‘Virtue-signalling’ Archbishop refuses to stand down after scathing abuse report:

https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-8813903/Victims-call-Archbishop-Canterbury-quit-shameful-disgraceful-CofE-report.html

LETTER SUBMISSION – OCTOBER 7 2020

Dear Editor
All serving Anglican bishops should offer their resignations en masse to the Supreme Governor of the Church of England Her Majesty The Queen [“C of E bishops should lose responsibility for safeguarding children, says inquiry”, Guardian, Oct 7], just as all Catholic bishops in Chile offered their resignations en masse to the Pope in 2018:
They should re-apply for their jobs, be asked at interview what they would do to put things right, and have their jobs and stipends back only if they satisfy the interviewing panel. Their expressions of regret, apology, and promises they will learn lessons, might then have some credibility.


Yours sincerely

Richard W. Symonds

The Bell Society

2 Lychgate Cottages

Ifield Street, Ifield Village

Crawley – Gatwick

West Sussex RH11 0NN

Tel: 07540 309592 [Text only please]

Email: richardsy5@aol.com

OCTOBER 3 2020 – FROM THE ARCHIVES – ARCHBISHOP WELBY REFUSES TO PUBLICLY CLEAR BISHOP BELL, REFUSES TO RETRACT “SIGNIFICANT CLOUD” REMARKS AND REFUSES TO WITHDRAW “GREAT WICKEDNESS” COMMENTS – DAILY TELEGRAPH – JANUARY 24 2019

Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby

FROM THE ARCHIVES – ARCHBISHOP WELBY REFUSES TO PUBLICLY CLEAR BISHOP BELL, REFUSES TO RETRACT “SIGNIFICANT CLOUD” REMARKS AND REFUSES TO WITHDRAW “GREAT WICKEDNESS” COMMENTS – DAILY TELEGRAPH – JANUARY 24 2019

Archbishop of Canterbury apologises ‘unreservedly’ for CoE’s ‘mistakes’ in handling Bishop Bell allegations

Archbishop of Canterbury (pictured) apologises 'unreservedly' for CoE's 'mistakes' in handling Bishop Bell allegations
Archbishop of Canterbury (pictured) apologises ‘unreservedly’ for CoE’s ‘mistakes’ in handling Bishop Bell allegations

24 JANUARY 2019 • 2:51PMFollow 

The Archbishop of Canterbury was accused yesterday of persisting with a “malign” attack on Bishop George Bell after he refused to exonerate him following a “copycat” allegation of historic child sex abuse.

An official report published yesterday concluded that a 70-year-old allegation against Bishop Bell was unfounded. It found that the evidence of the complainant – a woman named only as “Alison” – was “unreliable” and “inconsistent”.

Alison had written to the Church of England, claiming she had been sexually assaulted by the bishop in 1949 when she was aged nine.

The letter was sent a week after the Church of England was found to have wrongly besmirched Bishop Bell in its handling of a previous complaint brought by a woman known only as “Carol”.

The latest report suggested that Carol’s allegation had “prompted a false recollection in Alison’s mind”.

Yesterday, the Most Rev Justin Welby “apologised unreservedly for the mistakes” in the handling of the complaint made by Carol. But he declined to publicly clear the former Bishop of Chichester of any wrongdoing or retract a statement that he had a “significant cloud … over his name” and that he had been accused of “great wickedness”.

In a private letter, however, sent to Bishop Bell’s closest surviving relative, his niece Barbara Whitley, he wrote: “Once again I offer my sincerest apologies both personally and on behalf of the Church. We did wrong to you and before God.”

Bishop Bell, one of the towering figures of the Church in the 20th century, has been unable to defend himself, having died in 1958. But his supporters urged the Church to restore his reputation after two reports exonerated him.

Ms Whitley, 94, said yesterday: “I would like to see my uncle’s name cleared before I die.”

Desmond Browne QC, a leading barrister who acted for the bishop’s family and who was christened by him in 1949, said: “What is now clear is that the investigations by two experienced lawyers [have established] George Bell’s innocence. But not once [has] the Archbishop of Canterbury offered Bell the presumption of innocence.”

Alison had alleged that Bell, the former bishop of Chichester, had sat her on his lap and “fondled her”.

But the report by Timothy Briden, an ecclesiastical lawyer and vicar general of Canterbury, concluded that in her oral evidence “her attempts to repeat what had been written in the letter displayed, however, a disturbing degree of inconsistency”.

Alison had alleged in the letter the abuse had taken place indoors in front of her mother but in oral testimony thought she had been assaulted outdoors. He concluded that her claim was “unfounded”.

The existence of Alison’s complaint made in December 2017 was made public by the Church of England at a time when it was facing increasing criticism for its handling of the earlier allegation by Carol. Alison’s claim was passed in January 2018 to police, who then dropped the case.

Bishop George Bell pictured at home in 1943
Bishop George Bell pictured at home in 1943 CREDIT: HULTON ARCHIVE/TOPICAL PRESS AGENCY

Mr Briden also investigated a separate complaint made by an 80-year-old witness – known only as K in the report – that his mother had told him that she had seen Bishop Bell “carrying out a sexual act with a man over his Rolls-Royce” in 1967. 

Bishop Bell died in 1958 and did not have a Rolls-Royce. The report said: “The longer that the statement from K’s mother is analysed, the more implausible it appears.”

Lord Carlile, the QC who carried out the damning inquiry into the handling of Carol’s claim, was scathing of the Church of England’s decision to make public the police inquiry into Alison’s complaint.

Lord Carlile said: “I am astonished that the Church [made] public the further complaint against Bishop Bell and the error has been proved by the conclusion of this latest inquiry.”

Prof Andrew Chandler, Bishop Bell’s biographer and spokesman for the George Bell Group, said “the claim by Alison appeared a copycat of Carol’s complaint”. Carol was paid £15,000 compensation in a legal settlement in October 2015.

In his statement yesterday, Archbishop Welby described Bishop Bell as a “remarkable role model”, adding: “I apologise unreservedly for the mistakes made in the process surrounding the handling of the original allegation against Bishop George Bell.” 

But he went on: “It is still the case that there is a woman who came forward with a serious allegation … and this cannot be ignored or swept under the carpet.”

The current Bishop of Chichester, Martin Warner, also declined yesterday to exonerate his predecessor. But he accepted that a public statement he made signifying Bishop Bell’s guilt and released in 2015 after Carol’s claim was settled was probably now an error. 

“Knowing what we now do [we] would want to re-examine that and I don’t think we would [make that statement].”

AUGUST 29 2020 – ‘CORE BLIMEY’ – PRIVATE EYE ON CORE GROUPS WITHIN THE CHURCH OF ENGLAND – “THE MOST INCOMPETENT AND UNJUST FORM OF INVESTIGATION I HAVE EVER SEEN” – LORD ALEX CARLILE QC

IMG_7110

IMG_7103

“Core Blimey” – Private Eye No 1529 – 28 August – 10 September 2020

PRIVATE EYE – CHURCH NEWS – “CORE BLIMEY”

FOLLOWING our report in Eye 1527 that there are currently 27 national “core groups” investigating safeguarding concerns about bishops and deans in the Church of England, the church’s lead bishop on safeguarding, Rt. Revd Jonathan Gibbs, quickly put out a correction.

There are in fact 30 such groups, three more having been created since the last count in mid-July. He added that “about three-quarters of current national cases are about senior clergy failing to act appropriately rather than a direct allegation of abuse.”

This isn’t as reassuring as he seems to think: it implies that seven or eight of the most senior figures in the Church of England are being investigated over allegations of first-order abuse.

Some of these may be retired, but as far as we know only two – former Archbishop George Carey and current Bishop of Lincoln Christopher Lowson – are currently barred from acting as bishops, and their cases don’t involve any “direct allegation of abuse”.

Lord Carlile QC said two weeks ago that the C of E’s core group system is “the most incompetent and unjust form of investigation I have ever seen.”

Carlile led the 2017 review of how the church mishandled claims against the late Bishop George Bell. He concluded that its George Bell core group had been “unmethodical, confused and unstructured”, with the membership and chair changing from meeting to meeting. The whole process was predicated on Bell’s guilt and resulted in “catastrophic damage” to his posthumous reputation. (The mistaken allegation that Bell was a paedophile was reported as fact in the Daily Telegraph by religious-affairs editor John Bingham – who was subsequently punished for his error by being appointed the C of E’s head of media.)

Carlile is among 65 lawyers, clerics and abuse survivors who signed a letter to the Charity Commission this month, asking it to challenge the C of E over “the continuing flow of cases of injustice”. The signatories accuse core groups of acting “in ways reminiscent of the Star Chamber, synonymous with the selective use of arbitrary unaccountable power”.

Last month, for example, a victim of John Smyth QC made a formal complaint against Archbishop Justin Welby for failing to act on information about his old friend’s violently abusive behaviour, and was duly told that an investigation would be held. But he now learns that Welby has already been the subject of a secret investigation into the claim in 2017 – in which the complainant was not even consulted. The new inquiry is nothing more than an internal review of that process – which could be tricky since no-one will say who conducted the investigation or what it discovered.

Ultimately, the judgement on whether Welby should be disciplined rests with the new Archbishop of York, Stephen Cottrell, who has himself been recently investigated by a core group; and the judgement on whether Archbishop Cottrell should be disciplined for his safeguarding failure rests with Archbishop Welby.

What could be fairer than that?

 

___________________________________________________________________________-

 

JUNE 22 2020 – THE MARTIN SEWELL LETTER – DAILY TELEGRAPH [20/06/2020]

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SIR – The way allegations have been made against the Dean of Christ Church, the Very Rev Professor Martyn Percy (Letters, June 19), breaches the Church of England’s guidelines and ignores recommendations of the Carlile Report into the Bishop Bell fiasco.
I hope that Lord Carey, the former Archbishop of Canterbury whose right to officiate has been revoked (report, June 18), fares better. Abuse victims know that an organisation which puts PR before justice is no friend of theirs.

Martin Sewell
Member of the General Synod
Gravesend, Kent

JUNE 16 2020 – THE CHARACTER ASSASSINATIONS OF DEAN MARTYN PERCY OF CHRIST CHURCH AND BISHOP GEORGE BELL OF CHICHESTER

character assassination button

THE CHARACTER ASSASSINATIONS OF DEAN MARTYN PERCY OF CHRIST CHURCH AND BISHOP GEORGE BELL OF CHICHESTER

 

The Martyn Percy affair – further comments

What can I say by way of comment over this conflict?  It is quite clear that Martyn has in the past upset the equilibrium and status quo in two powerful institutions.  In the first case, at Christ Church Oxford, a group of senior members have complained about him in his role of Head of House or Dean on two separate occasions.  We, as outsiders observers, have no detailed understanding of the first allegations made against him.   All we do know with some certainty is that a Tribunal was convened under the chairmanship of a retired judge, Sir Andrew Smith.  This found him innocent of the accusations made against him – all twenty-seven charges were dismissed.  Our sympathy for Martyn’s cause is aroused by the fact that he had to endure two years of pressure and stress.  We feel for anyone who, in the course of allegations against them, is suspended from his work and made the object of a campaign of vilification and slander.  Moreover, who was denied the opportunity of even having a preliminary investigation before the Tribunal against him was convened. 

This Tribunal involved the spending of huge resources of charitable money, thought to be over £2 million. Martyn’s own legal costs have been huge.  When the Tribunal verdict was announced, we hoped that the problem would go away.  We might also have hoped that the original accusers might express a little remorse for having spent so much charitable money to further their cause.  But no, the current situation is that the same accusers among the governing body have re-emerged to continue the campaign against the Dean.  This time they are using a quite different set of accusations and a different method of harassing and undermining Martyn.  Having exhausted the procedures afforded to them by the college statutes, the complainants have moved on to attack him using the tools of the quasi-legal structures of the Church of England.

Those of us who support Martyn and his principled stand over a variety of topics in current church debates, are aware that he has made enemies.  As an avowed progressive, he is not easily going to fit in with the prevailing opinions of a largely conservative bench of bishops.  The one particular issue over the past five years that has rattled many cages is the George Bell affair.  Martyn has prominently identified himself with those who regard the posthumous trashing of Bishop Bell’s reputation as contrary to the laws of justice and historical truth.  Many of us, with Martyn, regarded the alacrity with which Church leaders assigned guilt to Bell as being an attempt to show a decisiveness while many other more recent safeguarding allegations were being mishandled.  

The method of assessing and evaluating the Bell evidence was the infamous core group, the same tool that is now being deployed against Martyn himself.  It would not be hard to suggest, to use Gilo’s expression, that, in both case, the core group has been ‘weaponised’ against the subject of the investigation.  This is especially true when the person at the heart of the enquiry has no representation to speak on their behalf.  Again, in both Bell’s case and Martyn’s, similar church establishment mechanisms can be seen at work.  The NST have put Martyn “on trial” without conducting even the most minimal inquiry or interview with him.  The core group contained people who were prosecuting him for their own ends, and were heavily invested in pre-judging the outcome of any investigation.  This is identical to what the Dean had to endure at Christ Church from 2018.

As with Christ Church, so with the NST.  The Dean is forced to pay for his own defence to protect his reputation and integrity.  It was noticeable that the Anglican hierarchy were largely mute when the original Christ Church accusations were aired.  There was a sense that, while support was being expressed by hundreds of individuals across the country and £100,000 raised for legal costs, official support from the Anglican hierarchy was largely absent.

The appeal to the Church of England and its National Safeguarding Team by complaining Christ Church dons to examine accusations against the Dean of Christ Church, has already been explored in Gilo’s piece.  The mention by Gilo of the ‘right part’ of the NST hints at private conversations and plotting at the highest levels of the Church of England taking place with the complainants at Christ Church.  I understand that as far as the lawyers acting for Martyn are concerned, the NST has absolutely no jurisdiction in Martyn’s case.  Martyn is not an employee of the Church of England; he is not being accused of being a danger to children or vulnerable adults.  We also note the “vulnerable adult” terminology used by the NST.  The correct term is “adults-at-risk”, which is defined and deployed in higher education, local government and the NHS.  The NST are out of touch.  The safeguarding issues that are the focus of the enquiry had already been dealt with properly by Martyn, according to University and college protocols. 

Once again, a core group is being used to achieve a particular end.   What we see in the process seems to run counter to natural justice and fairness.  It also seems to take no notice of Lord Carlile’s remarks and the recommendations that were made by him in 2017.  We refer particularly to those that laid out how all interested parties should be represented. These were accepted in total by the Church of England and now they are ignored in what has become a notorious case, ensuring that the whole world is watching (and judging!) the Church of England as it stumbles ahead with a faulty grasp of proper procedures in this complex case.

If Martyn can stand up to the pressure currently being put on him, it could help expose the evident power abuses and appalling misuses of procedure which seem to be operating in the NST.  If the NST were to see sense and pull out of its involvement in the Christ Church debacle, this would have a desirable outcome.  it would allow the NST to be regarded as a properly accountable organisation. No longer would the considerable power of this body be used against individuals without clear and consistent protocols in the way that it operates.  Someone made the decision to allow the NST to enter the treacherous waters of internal Oxford collegiate politics. 

Who was it and what are the systems in place to query and even put a block on such a risky, even impetuous, decision? If, as is likely, the NST comes out of this disastrous intervention with egg on its face, who is going to take responsibility for this financial and ethical car-crash? In many ways this whole episode goes far beyond what Martyn may or may not have done to upset members of his college.  The issue has become one of the church using its legal structures in ways that deny compassion, natural justice and the basic qualities of care.  Once again the Church of England seems incapable of handling its power without hurting and damaging people.  Legalism, the power of money and privilege seem to be prominent.    If the general public sees some of this behaviour and is unimpressed, can we really blame them? 

Another question that is being asked by many of us is this.  If Martyn Percy deserved investigation over safeguarding issues with apparently such flimsy evidence being offered, then why not are other more pressing cases given attention?  There are several outstanding CDM claims against serving bishops which lie on file.  Presumably these can now be activated by victims and complainants? There is the case of Jonathan Fletcher which seems to be ignored by central church authorities, even though it reached front-page headlines of the Daily Telegraph.  If the allegations against Fletcher are even half-true, he still poses a safeguarding threat which should be a priority for the NST.  To focus on Martyn, who poses no such threat, and ignore Fletcher can only be described as a deeply political choice. 

Unless someone explains the real basis for NST involvement in the Christ Church factional disputes, Martyn’s supporters will conclude that the NST has become a political tool at the service of certain unaccountable factions within the Church of England.  If that surmise is correct, one would hope that the General Synod would wake up to this fact and vote the NST out of existence.  We cannot afford to have a rogue structure within the Church which operates with so much secrecy, factionalism and sometimes overt bullying.  Whoever authorised the unleashing of the NST on Martyn Percy has been responsible for taking an enormous gamble with the Church’s assets and reputation.  They have gambled on an outcome which, even if successful at one level, does no credit to the Church.  If the anonymous power brokers are, however, unsuccessful in what they are doing in Oxford, this may have the effect of destroying the NST structure altogether and their future ability to exercise power through it.

6 thoughts on “The Martyn Percy affair – further comments”

  1. Martyn Percy’s intervention re. the appointment of Philip North as Bishop of Sheffield, in the same year his views on the Bishop Bell case were expressed, was another example of his getting up the noses of the powers that be.

    His blog https://theore0.wordpress.com/2017/03/06/abstaining-a-lenten-reflection-on-sheffield-by-martyn-percy/ was widely influential and many saw it as the turning point in the North/Sheffield affair. I have a feeling his card was marked then.

    Though, to be honest, I think almost anyone with real principles in the C of E gets their card marked pretty promptly.

     

  2. I know both men. And consider both to be people in the hierarchy of the Church who speak with integrity in relation to the abuse crisis. And I know that church-context abuse survivors have strong support from each. Martyn was approached by us to write a chapter in Letters to a Broken Church – and wrote an excellent chapter following the Chichester hearings at the Inquiry.

    Philip would have been one of very few bishops we could have approached for a chapter. His interview on BBC Radio 4 Sunday programme was unlike anything we’d heard from any other bishop (with the exception of Alan Wilson). A remarkable interview and one that all Synod members should listen to if they haven’t already. Sadly, our book was already by that stage at print process – so we couldn’t include Philip.

    https://www.thinkinganglica

    Their political or tribal differences aside – both Martyn Percy and Philip North have given their voices courageously as allies to the plight of survivors. I salute them both.

  3. “I understand that as far as the lawyers acting for Martyn are concerned, the NST has absolutely no jurisdiction in Martyn’s case. Martyn is not an employee of the Church of England;”

    I am not an employment lawyer and do not wish to dip into the vexed question of whether office holders are employees, but I am concerned that this line of argument being advanced by Dr Percy’s lawyers will probably consume more costs than most of the other issues in contention.

    The dean of Christ Church is, unusually, paid by Christ Church rather than the Commissioners. Although I don’t have copies of Doe, Hill, Cripps, etc., to hand, he is an ecclesiastical office holder and there are a plethora of statutes and measures which make specific reference to Christ Church as an ecclesiastical corporation, even if there are usually specific provisions in each measure to differentiate Christ Church from other capitular bodies.

    What I suspect has happened is that the students have tried to refer the Woodward case to the NST as a lever to eject Percy. They are gaming the system, and as Stephen notes it is opportunistic and unedifying. The students are probably past caring about that, however, and have reasoned that the ends justify the means.

    Since there is no clear distinction between the position of dean as head of the cathedral and as head of the college they probably approached the NST telling the latter that they have to do something. The NST, no doubt panicked, will have referred the question to the Legal Office. The Legal Office (currently led by a clergyman who was at Christ Church) will probably have advised the NST that they do have standing insofar as Percy is an ’employee’ or ‘office-holder’ qua his position as head of the cathedral, and the want of any distinction between the two aspects of his office means that his safeguarding responsibilities might therefore apply to the entirety of his office.

    Curiously, it is not so long ago that the then second commissioner disclaimed any involvement of the Church of England in the resolution of the dispute:

    https://hansard.parliament.uk/Commons/2018-11-29/debates/6DA9CB26-1373-470D-AAD3-CE9BEDE88743/DeanOfChristChurchOxford

    This question will no doubt consume a great deal of the ET’s time. I strongly suspect that it will result in the office being split in twain, which is probably what a majority of the students now want. Legislation severing the provostship of Oriel from a stall at Rochester was passed in 1875; similar legislation was passed severing the mastership of Pembroke (Oxford) from a stall at Gloucester in 1937, and the mastership of St Catharine’s (Cambridge) from a stall at Norwich in 1927. Many other headships at both universities had been tied to college livings and the headships of all the old colleges bar Merton, Downing and Trinity Hall (plus Keble, St Peter’s and Selwyn) had been reserved to clerics. Splitting the deanery would be the last act in that process.

    1. Sorry, I should have added that the head of the Legal Office was also chancellor of the Oxford diocese until last year (when he became head of the Legal Office), although he is based in London and assists at Holy Redeemer Clerkenwell.

      1. Froghole

        And, of course, it is perfectly possible that the head of the Legal Office had nothing to do with the decision that the NST assume responsibility for this matter, or indeed that the NST sought advice from the Legal Office at all. My statements above were mere conjecture.

         

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        Thinking Anglicans

‘BISHOP BELL – DRESDEN’ LETTER SUBMITTED BY THE REVD DR BARRY A. ORFORD TO THE DAILY TELEGRAPH

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Image copyright GETTY IMAGES The bombing of Dresden created a firestorm that destroyed the centre of the city

‘DRESDEN – BISHOP BELL’ LETTER SUBMITTED BY THE REVD DR BARRY A. ORFORD TO THE DAILY TELEGRAPH

 

The Editor

The Daily Telegraph

London

SW1W 0DT

February 13th, 2020

 

Sir,

The article by Sinclair McKay (February 13th) on the 1945 bombing of Dresden was timely and welcome. What a pity, though, that he did not mention the most prominent wartime challenge to the British policy of Obliteration Bombing, which came from Bishop George Bell of Chichester.

In 1944, when Hamburg had been devastated the previous year and Dresden was still to suffer, Bishop Bell, a fervent anti-Nazi, questioned in the House of Lords the morality of such bombing of targets which were not primarily military. Few of his fellow bishops supported him, and he earned himself both widespread abuse but also agreement. The bravery of his stand is undeniable.

Recently, there have been shameful (and now discredited) attempts in Bell’s diocese to tarnish his reputation. Since an apology for this behaviour is still not forthcoming, it is more than ever necessary that we are reminded of George Bell’s courage and integrity, both in wartime and beyond it.

 

Barry A. Orford

barry_orford
The Revd Dr Barry  A. Orford

“Dresden: The World War Two bombing 75 years on” – BBC News [Toby Luckhurst]

https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-51448486?fbclid=IwAR3WXr3kBnkWiaEnHQA7M975fXAHScBl9GCsghYW0S4-wGwqY3knSBh1Gv0

Dresden: The World War Two bombing 75 years on

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Dresden after the bombing, as seen from the top of the town hallImage copyright GETTY IMAGES
The bombing of Dresden created a firestorm that destroyed the centre of the city

“The firestorm is incredible… Insane fear grips me and from then on I repeat one simple sentence to myself continuously: ‘I don’t want to burn to death’. I do not know how many people I fell over. I know only one thing: that I must not burn.”

On 13 February 1945, British aircraft launched an attack on the eastern German city of Dresden. In the days that followed, they and their US allies would drop nearly 4,000 tons of bombs in the assault.

The ensuing firestorm killed 25,000 people, ravaging the city centre, sucking the oxygen from the air and suffocating people trying to escape the flames.

Dresden was not unique. Allied bombers killed tens of thousands and destroyed large areas with attacks on Cologne, Hamburg and Berlin, and the Japanese cities of Tokyo, Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

But the bombing has become one of the most controversial Allied acts of World War Two. Some have questioned the military value of Dresden. Even British Prime Minister Winston Churchill expressed doubts immediately after the attack.

“It seems to me that the moment has come when the question of bombing of German cities simply for the sake of increasing the terror, though under other pretexts, should be reviewed,” he wrote in a memo.

“The destruction of Dresden remains a serious query against the conduct of Allied bombing.”

This story contains graphic images.

Short presentational grey line

Dresden is the capital of the state of Saxony. Before the bombing it was referred to as the Florence on the Elbe or the Jewel Box, for its climate and its architecture.

Image of Dresden from 1900Image copyright GETTY IMAGES
A colour image of Dresden from 1900, showing a number of monuments which were later heavily damaged in the bombing

By February 1945, Dresden was only about 250km (155 miles) from the Eastern Front, where Nazi Germany was defending against the advancing armies of the Soviet Union in the final months of the war.

The city was a major industrial and transportation hub. Scores of factories provided munitions, aircraft parts and other supplies for the Nazi war effort. Troops, tanks and artillery travelled through Dresden by train and by road. Hundreds of thousands of German refugees fleeing the fighting had also arrived in the city.

At the time, the UK’s Royal Air Force (RAF) said it was the largest German city yet to be bombed. Air chiefs decided an attack on Dresden could help their Soviet allies – by stopping Nazi troop movements but also by disrupting the German evacuations from the east.

An RAF bomber over Hamburg, 1943Image copyright GETTY IMAGES
RAF bombers dropped incendiary bombs as well as explosive weapons on German cities to maximise damage

RAF bomber raids on German cities had increased in size and power after more than five years of war.

Planes carried a mix of high explosive and incendiary bombs: the explosives would blast buildings apart, while the incendiaries would set the remains on fire, causing further destruction.

Previous attacks had annihilated entire German cities. In July 1943, hundreds of RAF bombers took part in a mission against Hamburg, named Operation Gomorrah. The resulting assault and unusually dry and hot weather caused a firestorm – a blaze so great it creates its own weather system, sucking winds in to feed the flames – which destroyed almost the whole city.

Dresden after the bombing in 1945Image copyright GETTY IMAGES
Most of Dresden was destroyed after the British and US attack

The attack on Dresden began on 13 February 1945. Close to 800 RAF aircraft – led by pathfinders, who dropped flares marking out the bombing area centred on the Ostragehege sports stadium – flew to Dresden that night. In the space of just 25 minutes, British planes dropped more than 1,800 tons of bombs.

As was common practice during the war, US aircraft followed up the attack with day-time raids. More than 520 USAAF bombers flew to Dresden over two days, aiming for the city’s railway marshalling yards but in reality hitting a large area across the city.

Bodies lie in the streets after the attack on DresdenImage copyright GETTY IMAGES
Tens of thousands died, many suffocated in the firestorm
Dresden after the bombing in 1945Image copyright GETTY IMAGES
Major landmarks in the city were gutted

On the ground, civilians cowered under the onslaught. Many had fled to shelters after air raid sirens warned of the incoming bombers.

But the first wave of aircraft knocked out the electricity. Some came out of hiding just as the second wave arrived above the city.

People fell dead as they ran from the flames, the air sucked from their lungs by the fire storm. Eyewitness Margaret Freyer described a woman with her baby: “She runs, she falls, and the child flies in an arc into the fire… The woman remains lying on the ground, completely still”.

Kurt Vonnegut survived the bombing as a prisoner of war in Dresden.

“Dresden was one big flame. The one flame ate everything organic, everything that would burn,” he wrote in his work Slaughterhouse-Five.

He described the city after the attack as “like the moon now, nothing but minerals. The stones were hot. Everybody else in the neighbourhood was dead.”

In total, the British lost six bombers in the attack, three to planes accidentally hitting each other with bombs. The US lost one.

People taking a tram in Dresden amid the wreckage, 1946Image copyright GETTY IMAGES
The city was a wreck for years afterwards, as seen here, when city dwellers take trams through the ruins in 1946
A shot of Dresden in 1946 showing the effect of the bombingImage copyright GETTY IMAGES
It took years to clean up the damage
Dresden castle photographed in East Germany in 1969Image copyright GETTY IMAGES
Many parts of Dresden remained as ruins throughout its time as part of East Germany

Nazi Germany immediately used the bombing to attack the Allies. The Propaganda Ministry claimed Dresden had no war industry and was only a city of culture. Though local officials said about 25,000 people had died – a figure historians agree with now – the Nazis claimed 200,000 civilians were killed.

In the UK, Dresden was known as a tourist destination, and some MPs and public figures questioned the value of the attack. A story at the time published by the Associated Press news agency said the Allies were conducting terror bombing, spreading further alarm.

US and UK military planners, however, insisted the attack was strategically justified, in the same way as attacks on other cities – by disrupting industry, destroying workers’ homes and crippling transport in Germany.

A crane lifts a cupola on top of Dresden cathedral in 2004Image copyright GETTY IMAGES
Dresden’s Frauenkirche was rebuilt with the help of donations from the UK and the US after serving as a war memorial for decades
Dresden in 2015, largely recovered after the warImage copyrightGETTY IMAGES
Image captionDresden has recovered since the war, although it still bears the scars

A 1953 US report on the bombing concluded that the attack destroyed or severely damaged 23% of the city’s industrial buildings, and at least 50% of its residential buildings. But Dresden was “a legitimate military target”, the report said, and the attack was no different “from established bombing policies”.

The debate about the Allied bombing campaign, and about the attack on Dresden, continues to this day. Historians question if destruction of German cities hindered the Nazi war effort, or simply caused civilian deaths – especially towards the end of the conflict. Unlike an invasion like D-Day, it is harder to quantify how much these attacks helped win the war.

Some argue it is a moral failing for the Allies, or even a war crime. But defenders say it was a necessary part of the total war to defeat Nazi Germany.

It has even become a symbol for conspiracy theorists and some far-right activists – including Holocaust deniers and extremist parties – who have quoted Nazi casualty figures as fact and have commemorated the bombing.

Seventy-five years later, the bombing of Dresden remains a controversial act.

Media caption The 100-year-old survivor of Dresden tells BBC Newsday of the ‘stupidity of war’

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    13 November 2015
  • Yalta: World War Two summit that reshaped the world
    4 February 2020
  • Video UK WW2 Veteran says Dresden bombings were a ‘war crime’
    11 February 2019

    DRESDEN/BELL’ EMAIL FROM DR GERALD MORGAN

    Sir,

    The troubling question of the bombing of Dresden is raised in your columns by Sinclair McKay and A.N. Wilson under the heading ‘Was the Bombing of Dresden a War Crime?’ (The Spectator, 8 February 2020, pp.20-22). It is written with the luxury of knowing that Nazi Germany was defeated in 1939-1945, a knowledge denied to those with the awesome responsibility of winning the war. In many respects the contributions are self-indulgent and imbued with an arrogant sense of moral and even aesthetic superiority.

    How to defeat Nazi German in 1939-1945 (no simple task)? Germany did not surrender after the liberation of Paris on 25 August 1944, although a civilised nation might have done so. 
    Sadly Arnhem (17-26 September 1944) was a tragic failure, leaving Holland to the cruelty of German occupation throughout the winter of 1944-1945. Probably Boy Browning (Eton) was as much to blame for this failure as anyone else, but the British blamed the Poles under Sosabowski, who indeed wanted to fight on once Operation Market Garden had been undertaken. 
    So far from surrendering the Germans invaded the Ardennes on 16 December 1944  to 25 January 1945 and in defeating them the Americans lost some 85,000 men. No small price to pay. I remain loath to criticise those who fought and won the war even in the wake of Arnhem. And, as if the Poles had not suffered enough, thanks to continuing German resistance the Soviet offensive in Poland was launched on 12 January 1945.
    I have greater admiration for George Bell, Bishop of Chichester (1929-1958), for he opposed area bombing in the midst of the war when it took great moral courage to do so. Unsurprisingly his words of wisdom were not heeded at that time. Since then his reputation has been trashed by the present Archbishop of Canterbury (yet another Old Etonian).
    And what lessons have we drawn about the bombing of civilian populations since 1945? In March 2003 the messianic Tony Blair, supported by countless Labour and Tory MPs (including Theresa May) unleashed with the Americans a bombing campaign on Iraq. 
    In the 1960s Harold Wilson and the Labour Party expelled the Chagos Islanders from their home in the Indian Ocean to make way for an American bombing base at Diego Garcia.
    How easy it is to convict Sir Arthur Harris and Mr Winston Churchill of war crimes  in their absence. 
    Perhaps we can at least restore the reputation of the Bishop of Chichester by according him the presumption of innocence.
    Kind regards,
    Gerald Morgan, FTCD (Leader: English Parliamentary Party, 2001)

     

    Dr Gerald Morgan, FTCD (1993)
    Lydbrook School (1946-1953),
    Monmouth School (1953-1961),
    Meyricke Exhibitioner, Jesus College, Oxford (1961-1964),
    D.Phil. (Oxon.), 1973
    Director:The Chaucer Hub.
    Tel.: 086 456 56 60

    barry_orford

    The Revd Dr Barry A. Orford

    ‘BISHOP BELL’ LETTER SUBMITTED BY THE REVD DR BARRY ORFORD TO THE DAILY TELEGRAPH

     

    The Editor

    The Daily Telegraph

    London

    SW1W 0DT

    February 13th, 2020

    Sir,

    The article by Sinclair McKay (February 13th) on the 1945 bombing of Dresden was timely and welcome. What a pity, though, that he did not mention the most prominent wartime challenge to the British policy of Obliteration Bombing, which came from Bishop George Bell of Chichester.

    In 1944, when Hamburg had been devastated the previous year and Dresden was still to suffer, Bishop Bell, a fervent anti-Nazi, questioned in the House of Lords the morality of such bombing of targets which were not primarily military. Few of his fellow bishops supported him, and he earned himself both widespread abuse but also agreement. The bravery of his stand is undeniable.

    Recently, there have been shameful (and now discredited) attempts in Bell’s diocese to tarnish his reputation. Since an apology for this behaviour is still not forthcoming, it is more than ever necessary that we are reminded of George Bell’s courage and integrity, both in wartime and beyond it.

    Barry A. Orford