Tag Archives: Dr Ruth Hildebrandt Grayson

George Bell House - 4 Canon Lane - Chichester Cathedral

George Bell House – 4 Canon Lane – Chichester Cathedral [before the name change in 2015] [Picture: Alamy]

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“No justification for lack of name” – Ruth Hildebrandt Grayson – Chichester Observer Letter – June 20 2019

The phrase that 4 Canon Lane was ‘formerly known as George Bell House’ is misleading.  4 Canon Lane is a street address.  The building was given to the cathedral to commemorate Bishop George Bell, funds were raised for its renovation as George Bell House and it was dedicated as such in 2008 by Archbishop Rowan Williams.  It has never been undedicated.  The name ‘George Bell House’ therefore still stands.  The right of the cathedral authorities to attempt to remove it without due consultation with all parties concerned is highly contentious.
In view of the findings of two senior lawyers that the allegations made against George Bell are not only unproven but unfounded, there is no justification for the continued absence of his name from the building.  On the contrary, there would be every justification for all those who contributed to the renovation of George Bell House to request their money back unless the name is immediately reinstated, or to take other action as they deem appropriate.
The statement that ‘Chichester Cathedral Friends has no official position on the George Bell issue’ beggars belief.  George Bell founded the Friends in 1939.  It was entirely in order to raise this question at their anniversary meeting on 6 June.  The reply given at the time was that it would now be considered.  We await a further statement with interest.
Dr Ruth Hildebrandt Grayson
Sheffield
“Injustice on the Sisters and us” – Charlotte A Evans – Chichester Observer Letter – June 20 2019
Your report on the demonstration at George Bell House [4 Canon Lane] seems slightly to misrepresent the issue, in stating that its purpose was “to highlight the ‘injustice’ on the former Bishop”.
As I understand it, the protesters were gathered to highlight, first, the injustice on the Sisters* who donated the house, and on all of us who contributed financially to the renovation of the former Archdeaconry.
It was formally opened by Archbishop Rowan Williams as “George Bell House”, in 2008.
Thus, the commemoration of Bishop Bell was integral to the establishment of the centre, and ought not to have been suppressed by the Dean & Chapter.
You are right, of course, to report the sense of injustice regarding Bishop Bell.
Many of your readers will be aware of the petition to restore the name to George Bell House, which [I believe] has over a thousand signatories so far.
Thank you for your reporting.
Charlotte A Evans
Chichester
* Anglican Sisters of the Community of the Servants of the Cross

March 27 2018 – “Church safeguarding” – Daily Telegraph – Letter – Arthur Varndell of Storrington, West Sussex

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“Church safeguarding”

Sir – I think I may be able to enlighten Ruth Hildebrandt Grayson (Letters, March 24) who writes about the case of Bishop Bell, as to the Church of England’s thinking on safeguarding.

At a recent parochial church council meeting in the Chichester diocese, a parish safeguarding officer gave a briefing on the introduction of a programme being trialled in the diocese. Bishop Bell and others were mentioned, along with the stance taken by Archbishop Justin Welby.

The meeting was told that a change of mindset is needed. The old idea that one is “innocent until proven guilty” does not apply when dealing with a safeguarding complaint; the view has to be that there is a case to answer, and the defendant must prove his innocence.

Clearly Lord Carlile was operating under the old rules and Bishop Bell can never comply with the new rules.

In this way, church leaders are able to accept almost all of Lord Carlile’s report but still maintain there is a shadow over Bishop Bell.

Arthur Varndell

Storrington, West Sussex 

March 26 2018 – “Bishop Bell’s memory” – Daily Telegraph – Letter – Christopher Hoare

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“Bishop Bell’s memory”

Sir – Dr Ruth Hildebrandt Grayson’s letter (March 24) puts the case for the late Bishop George Bell very well.

Those of us who live in the Diocese of Chichester suffer a further frustration. Within days of the Church’s original finding being published, orders were given to remove almost all memorabilia to George Bell. In places where this was not possible, such as in the south aisle of the cathedral, a notice was displayed for many months referring to being a cloud over George Bell’s name.

At the same time, a building in Canon Lane that had been refurbished with nearly £1 million pounds of funds and named “George Bell House” was renamed “4 Canon Lane”.

Dr Hildebrandt Grayson asks how long we shall have to wait for the Archbishop to have the grace to admit that the Church made “the most colossal error of judgement”.

We in Chichester are asking how long before we can see the restoration of his name, and particularly of George Bell House.

Christopher Hoare

Chichester, West Sussex

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Case for Bishop Bell

Sir – The Archbishop of Canterbury, the Most Rev Justin Welby, is not alone in being ashamed of the Church in its handling of child abuse cases in the Diocese of Chichester (report, March 22). So are quite a few others. And some of us would add that we are ashamed of Archbishop Welby too.

At the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse hearing on Wednesday, the Archbishop was questioned about his continuing attack on the late Bishop George Bell, whose reputation has been besmirched by what Lord Carlile, the Church’s own eminent appointee to examine its legal processes, has described as a very misguided rush to judgement on a single accusation of historic child sexual abuse.

The continued anger that the case has aroused has nothing to do with Bishop Bell’s eminent reputation. It has everything to do with the fact that no one has ever been allowed to present a case in his defence.

The recent effort by the family to appoint its own lawyer in a new investigation has been turned down by the Chichester authorities. And once again, the Archbishop missed a chance to affirm his belief in Bishop Bell’s innocence as presumed by the law.

When will the Archbishop have the grace to admit that the Church leaders responsible for handling the George Bell case – including himself – have made the most colossal error of judgement in this instance?

Dr Ruth Hildebrandt Grayson

Sheffield, South Yorkshire

February 23 2018 – “Position is not defensible” – Chichester Observer – Letter – Ruth Hildebrandt Grayson

“Position is not defensible”

by

DR RUTH HILDEBRANDT GRAYSON, WHITFIELD ROAD, SHEFFIELD

Published: 10:00 Friday 23 February 2018 – Chichester Observer

It is mind-blowing that the Church of England can possibly think its position over the handling of an abuse claim against the late Bishop George Bell is in any way defensible.

Subsequent to the Carlile report, it now claims to have ‘some more information’ relating to the case, which it is not prepared to divulge. It is thus not only ignoring Lord Carlile’s recommendations about further procedures, but in his own words is also ignoring ‘due process of the rule of law’. It is probably also hoping that by such tactics, supporters and potential witnesses will go away or, indeed, die off – as one key witness already has.

One has to question why, again, the Church authorities are not prepared to publicise the so-called ‘new information’ in advance of an investigation, or to allow surviving family members their own legal representation. The answer could be that they are afraid that an outside QC would simply rip the case to pieces. Indeed, this may be the reason why they refused to allow Lord Carlile’s remit to extend to an actual verdict in the first place.

And with the IICSA inquiry into other cases in the Diocese of Chichester about to take place, they do not dare to appear politically incorrect.

The Carmi report of 2004, not published until 2014, makes it abundantly clear that for decades there have been ample opportunities for sexual abuse to occur in the wider cathedral context at the hands of a very wide range of potential perpetrators – of whom the bishop himself was not one.

Read more at: https://www.chichester.co.uk/news/your-say/position-is-not-defensible-1-8388613

February 3 2018 – “Church of England accused of disclosing fresh Bell allegation to save Archbishop embarrassment” – Daily Telegraph – Olivia Rudgard

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2018/02/02/church-england-accused-disclosing-fresh-bell-allegation-save/

Church of England accused of disclosing fresh Bell allegation to save Archbishop embarassment

The motion, which is currently being assessed by Church of England lawyers, would not have been discussed at this month's meeting but would have been added to the agenda for later meetings had it received enough support.   
The motion, which is currently being assessed by Church of England lawyers, would not have been discussed at this month’s meeting but would have been added to the agenda for later meetings had it received enough support.    CREDIT: PA

The Church of England has been accused of disclosing evidence of a fresh allegation against Bishop George Bell in order to preserve the Archbishop of Canterbury from embarrassment at Synod.

The Church announced it had received “fresh information” about alleged sexual abuse by the highly-respected bishop, who died more than 70 years ago, on Wednesday, just over a week before the issue was due to be debated at a meeting of the Church of England’s governing body.

Synod members who had planned to propose a motion aimed at beginning the process of rehabilitating Bell’s reputation have decided to shelve it as a result.

The motion, which is currently being assessed by Church of England lawyers, would not have been discussed at this month’s meeting but would have been added to the agenda for later meetings had it received enough support.

But its proposer David Lamming, a lay member from the diocese of St Edmundsbury & Ipswich said he had decided to “put it on ice” following the disclosure of the new allegation.

Motions must receive 100 signatures in order to be added to the potential agenda for future events.

Mr Lamming told the Daily Telegraph: “I don’t think I can ask Synod to sign something that they are uncomfortable with in the light of this recent development.”

Dr Ruth Hildebrandt Grayson, the daughter of Bishop Bell’s friend Franz Hildebrandt, said the development made her “question [Welby’s] leadership”.

“I’m quite sure it was to distract attention away from the pressure that was building on Justin Welby to apologise for his earlier statement,” she said. 

“An Archbishop has to be able to take a bit of embarrassment, he has got to be able to say that he’s got it wrong.”

Professor Andrew Chandler, Bell’s biographer, said: “People will assume that there is some manipulation at work in all this, and whether that is true or not I don’t know.

“In the intensely political context in which all of this has emerged, it’s natural for people to have these suspicions, but it’s the Church that has created this context.”

In a statement released on Wednesday, Bishop Peter Hancock, the Church of England’s lead Safeguarding bishop said the announcement was made “in light of General Synod questions that need to be responded to and the reference to the case in the IICSA hearing yesterday”.