Tag Archives: General Synod

July 26 2019 – “The Synod navel-gazes while the nation burns” – Canon Paul Oestreicher [Church Times Letter – 26/07/2019]

synod london Tint

“The Synod navel-gazes while the nation burns”

From Canon Paul Oestreicher

Sir, — Reading your General Synod report (12 July) leaves me close to despair. While England is in a state of social, political, and moral disintegration, crying out for healing and reconciliation, our still would-be National Church seems very largely occupied with its own affairs and its own guilt. Oblivious to the mortal dangers, we are busy doing repairs on our leaky vessel, as Britain runs on to the rocks, come Hallowe’en.

Allow me an interpolation from the year of my birth, in a small middle-class German town, in 1931. I know history never quite repeats itself, but the analogies are frightening. The mainly middle-class citizenry felt insecure, disillusioned with self-seeking party politicians at war with each other, and drawn towards a charismatic power-hungry unconventional leader, promising them whatever they wanted to hear.

In my region, his Brown Shirts were easily elected (think the Brexit Party) by those on right and left and by most churchgoers (the promised new order, a godsend), just as I was born. Two years later, Hitler took absolute power. Dissenters were traitors, (think Daily Mail). Who was to blame for all that was wrong? The Jews, of course, and bankers or Communists (think immigrants or Islam or Brussels).

Brexit is not, as — with some exceptions — our hierarchy leaves us free to think, a matter of personal opinion but a national tragedy. Brazen lies have traduced a small majority of citizens into seeking a divorce from the admittedly imperfect peace project that is the European Union.

To leave should, from the start, have been recognised as an economic, social, political, and not least spiritual disaster. See the rise in hate crimes. “Great Britain First” is a surrender of the values we have claimed to cherish, an open and welcoming society, tolerant of difference, committed to human rights, protecting minorities and cherishing the natural environment that sustains us.

To turn our back on Europe’s soul is to abandon a great part of our own heritage; for everything that is good and bad about Europe is good and bad about us. The self-centred cliques that are in the process of wrecking both of the political parties that have been the mainstay of British tradition is a calamity for which others cannot be blamed.

Last weekend, concerned citizens, alas without a recognisable church component, demonstrated against the imposition of an untrustworthy Prime Minister. The German churches failed to warn in time. Could not the small minority that the Church of England now is, still help to turn the tide?

PAUL OESTREICHER
Brighton

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Boris Johnson and a warning from history

I pray for our PM and hope that I am needlessly crying wolf, writes Canon Dr Paul Oestreicher, who fled the Nazis as a child. Plus letters from Professor Bob Brecher and Pat Kennedy
 1931: National socialist demonstration in Berlin. The banner reads ‘Only a strong Germany can provide employment to its people’. Photograph: Imagno/Getty Images

I was born in 1931 in the small German town of Meiningen, famous for its theatre, much like Stratford-upon-Avon. Its mainly middle-class citizens were deeply disillusioned, tired of the infighting of the political parties. Germany seemed to be in a state of social and moral disintegration, crying out for healing and reconciliation. People were drawn to a charismatic, unconventional power-hungry leader who read their minds and promised what they wanted to hear. I know history never quite repeats itself, but the analogies are frightening.

The single issue was the exceptionalism (Opinion, 29 July), the superiority of the German race. The good, mainly churchgoing citizens easily voted his Brown Shirts onto the regional council (think the Brexit party). Two years later they voted nationally in sufficient numbers to enable Hitler to seize total power. It was all perfectly legal, too late to effectively protest. Dissent was now treason (think the Daily Mail). My father’s parents were Jews. Outcasts now (think our non-Brits), a few years later we had no choice but to flee and my grandmother to take poison. I pray for our PM and hope that I am needlessly crying wolf.
Canon Dr Paul Oestreicher
Brighton

 

The Church of England’s ecumenical legacy in Europe is being airbrushed out of history by the totalitarian mindset of Brexiteers.
Dr Dorothea Greiner, German Bishop of Bayreuth and Chichester Cathedral’s Canon of Honour, is determined that legacy is not side-lined within the Diocese of Chichester and beyond.
The next Coburg Conference will be taking place in the Cathedral City this October, and the European delegates – including the Cathedral Chapter – will focus on the ecumenical vision of theologian Dietrich Bonhoeffer and wartime Bishop of Chichester George Bell, in the light of today’s political situation.
Richard W. Symonds
The Bell Society

“Three Days of Hell for Church of England” – IICSA [July 10, 11 & 12 2019]

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REVD MATTHEW INESON – IICSA – JULY 10 2019
‏@InquiryCSA

https://www.iicsa.org.uk/key-documents/12767/view/public-hearing-transcript-10-july-2019.pdf

“I cannot see the face of Jesus in the Archbishop of Canterbury or York. I see hypocrites and I see pharisees. I see the people that Jesus stood up against.

“I’m sorry to be so direct, I’m a Yorkshire man. I don’t think those people are fit for office.”

“Bishops sit on thrones. They live in fine palaces and houses, they wear the finest robes and garments.

“People literally kneel down and kiss the ring on their finger.”

“That’s why they are protecting themselves.”

“Why would I want an apology?”

“It’s recognition of what happened and how I’ve been treated.”

Matthew Ineson tells the #AnglicanHearing he was promised an apology multiple times but it never materialised.

A fringe meeting at last year’s general synod allowed clerics including the Archbishop of York, John Sentamu to meet sexual abuse survivors.

Rev. Matthew Ineson says John Sentamu physically grabbed and challenged him – “he’s arrogant, he’s rude and he’s a bully”.

 

Ms Scolding QC asks Archbishop Sentamu if his wife, who was recently ordained, had undergone relevant training and vetting.

He states that she has been vetted, and her training will begin in September.

He (Archbishop Sentamu) states that the only way to change the culture within the church is through training, and to ensure that this is consistent. (3/3)

IICSA Hearings and Seminars

Archbishop Sentamu Replying to @InquiryCSA

“I hope the way I carry out my ministry people realise I’m a vulnerable person like anybody else. I am not a saint. I am capable of doing something wrong.”

 

He (Archbishop Sentamu) agrees that instead, the church should have held higher standards given its moral position.

Ms Scolding QC asks Archbishop Sentamu whether believes he has made a personal mistake in the course of responding to disclosures of clerical abuse during his career.

“Hand on heart, I don’t think so.”

 

“He’s arrogant, he’s rude, and he’s a bully” – Revd Matthew Ineson of Archbishop Welby’s fellow Archbishop John Sentamu [IICSA – 10/07/2019] – “Now that’s what I call a ‘significant cloud'” ~ Richard W. Symonds

MS SHARPLING: Thank you, Archbishop Sentamu. Could you
10 just clarify something for me: we heard evidence from
11 Mr Ineson today, and if the church accept that he was
12 abused as a young lad whilst under the care of
13 the church, is there now any impediment for an apology
14 to be given for that abuse? Leaving aside anything that
15 might have happened subsequently, is there any
16 impediment in the collective church mind that prevents
17 an apology to Mr Ineson for that original abuse?

18 A. I think the real problem comes because the evidence is
19 contested.

20 MS SHARPLING: I see.
21 A. And the review hasn’t happened. And I’m hoping that
22 that review will be swift and quick. It’s still,
23 I think, waiting on Mr Ineson agreeing the terms of
24 reference for this particular review. So hopefully, it
25 will be swift. I hope it will happen. I actually think that, I mean, it is a very difficult one, because you do not want to either be flippant about what kind of apology [‘confetti apologies’] you are giving. For it to be substantive, actually, you have got to get all the facts out, and the review should take place, I hope as soon as possible, because on one CDM my understanding is that the evidence was completely contested”

 

Q. And to ask you whether you had any contact with the
17 Archbishop John Sentamu —
18 A. I did.
19 Q. — at that event?
20 A. I did. I’d never seen John Sentamu before and, if
21 I never see him again, it will be too soon, in my
22 opinion. It was a fringe meeting arranged so that
23 General Synod members could meet with victims of abuse.
24 And there were many victims — 40, I don’t know the
25 exact number, but there were many, and members of the
Page 55
1 problems himself”. I said, “You were disclosed to five
2 years ago. You did nothing. So, go on, say you’re
3 sorry”. And he answered, “Apologies mean different
4 things to different people”. And then he said to me,
5 and I didn’t get this, “There is a boulder between you
6 and I”. He said, “You have put a boulder between you
7 and I”. And I said to him, “The only thing in front of
8 you, Mr Sentamu, is the possibility you will now have to
9 answer for your actions and you don’t like being
10 answerable to anybody”. And his answer was, “One day,
11 we will talk”, and he took his hand off my shoulder and
12 walked away.
13 I went outside and I saw a lady from the NST — I’m
14 sure it’s Heather, but I’m — I told her what happened,
15 “I’ll make you a cup of tea. Are you all right?” When
16 I look back now, you do not, whoever you are, walk in
17 a room full of victims of abuse and physically get hold
18 of them and challenge them. But it’s who he thinks he
19 is. He’s arrogant. He’s rude. He’s a bully.
20 Q. This, I understand that you’re talking about happened at
21 the fringe event at General Synod last year?
22 A. It did.
23 Q. I understand that you were part of the event together
24 with Sheila Fish, from —
25 A. Yes.
Page 54
1 General Synod, and Justin Welby and John Sentamu were
2 there. At the end of the meeting, people milling about,
3 John Sentamu came over to me. The whole meeting,
4 I could feel his eyes in the back of my head — do you
5 know what I mean? But he came up to me, and he came
6 really in my face, too close, and he grabbed me by the
7 shoulder and he held me by the shoulder, and he said to
8 me, “One day, you and I will talk”. So I said, “Well,
9 I only live half an hour away. You put the kettle on,
10 I’ll come over and we’ll talk”. And the look was, “Who
11 do you think you’re speaking to?”. And then he said,
12 “One day we will pray together”. And I said, “That will
13 never happen, but I will talk to you”. And he said to
14 me — and he was holding me the whole time, and he said,
15 “What do you want? What do you want?” I said, “I want
16 you to apologise and I want Steven Croft and all the
17 others to apologise”. I said, “You ignored my
18 disclosure of abuse. You left my abuser five years to
19 potentially abuse again”.
20 As part of the police investigations, they
21 discovered that Trevor Devanamanikkam was looking for
22 rent boys online.
23 I said, “And then he’s charged with very serious
24 charges against me. He then climbs in a bath and stabs
25 himself to death and then it’s discovered that he had
Page 56
1 Q. — whom we have already heard, from SCIE?
2 A. Yes.
3 Q. One of the things that she said — chair, you might
4 remember — was that the victims and survivors had
5 spoken to her about the change and the practical changes
6 they would like in the church and that, largely, she had
7 considered those to be practical, sensible changes. So
8 my final question for you is, building on that, what
9 practical recommendations or changes do you think would
10 help the church to respond better to allegations of
11 child sexual abuse?
12 A. I have no desire to damage the church at all or bring
13 the church down. That’s not my thing. The overriding
14 motive for me is to help prevent that abuse happens
15 again, and I think there are people in position in the
16 church who shouldn’t be there who have repeatedly made
17 mistakes, shall we say, if we’re kind, about
18 safeguarding.
19 I think safeguarding should be totally out of
20 the hands of the Church of England.
21 Q. So managed outside of the church?
22 A. Totally. You can’t do your own work. You can’t
23 investigate yourself. There’s too much bias there.
24 There’s too much conflict of interest.
25 I also believe, personally, in mandatory reporting
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Page 57
1 because I — the church don’t seem to really, in their
2 heart, want to do that. They talk about it, but they
3 don’t do it. I can’t understand, if you discover that
4 abuse is possibly happening, or you receive
5 a disclosure, you pick the phone up to the police. It’s
6 as simple as that. It doesn’t have to go through all
7 the different layers of the Church of England, and if
8 I thought a little girl or boy was being abused, I would
9 pick the phone up to the police then, and that is
10 mandatory reporting, as far as I see. I’m simple.
11 Simple thinking.
12 Q. No, not at all. That concludes the questions I have for
13 you, unless we have missed something very key that you
14 wanted to raise that might assist the chair and panel in
15 their conclusions and recommendations?
16 A. No, there is just one thing I would say. There’s
17 a couple of things. You were talking before about
18 apology, why would I want apology.
19 Q. Yes.
20 A. Firstly, it is recognition. It is recognition of what
21 happened and it is recognition of the way that I have
22 been tret. I was told, in July 2017, by Graham Tilby
23 that I would — had I had an apology? I said “No”. He
24 said, “I can sort that out for you”. That was two years
25 ago. I have never had it.
Page 59
1 I have even in the church been called “a common
2 northerner” before now, at a safeguarding thing. I want
3 to say — I really want to say thank you to David
4 because I wouldn’t be here without David, and to people
5 like Richard who represent victims of abuse. Without
6 that support, I would still be not knowing what to do.
7 I also want to thank my MP, who is here today.
8 Yeah. Her staff and her get it, and she has been
9 totally, totally supportive, and I understand she’s
10 written to the Archbishop of Canterbury and asked on
11 more than one occasion to meet with him to discuss my
12 case. A letter of 17 January 2018 has still not had
13 a formal response. Over a year.
14 I want to say thank you to the many victims, and
15 I’ve met many now, who really are courageous people.
16 Some of them are here today, a lot of them will be
17 watching. I don’t actually even want to be here today.
18 This is something I never in my life wanted to do. But
19 I am. But the truth is, none of us ever asked for it to
20 happen, the abuse to happen, and the re-abuse, and
21 I want to say thank you to this inquiry for all you’re
22 doing, and I just hope that — I believe the church will
23 nod at the end of this and say, “Thank you very much.
24 We will take note”, and they will just revert to form.
25 They are not going to change unless they are made to.
Page 58
1 Moira Murray told me that I would get a formal
2 apology from the church when the legal case against
3 Trevor Devanamanikkam was over. That was two years ago
4 since he died, and I have never had an apology.
5 I was then told by Moira I would get a formal
6 apology when the civil case was settled. That was
7 a year next month. I have never had a formal apology.
8 Justin Welby was interviewed by a journalist student
9 in Canterbury and the first question was, “Why hasn’t
10 Matthew had an apology?” He promised to chase that up.
11 That was last year, I think. I have never had the
12 apology.
13 I have never had a formal apology at all, but
14 I think there’s an obvious reason for that: because they
15 would have to admit the bishops’ failings if they
16 apologised for it. I have never even had a formal
17 apology for the abuse from Trevor Devanamanikkam — the
18 abuse by Trevor Devanamanikkam.
19 Can I just finally say a scenario I want to share
20 with you: I am a Yorkshireman, as you’ve probably
21 gathered. David Greenwood always says, “You’re straight
22 talking”, that’s how it comes. I don’t think the church
23 can cope with that. That’s been my experience. They
24 want to go around the houses and through the layers and
25 do all that. Straight talking, they can’t cope with.
Page 60
1 They can’t be trusted.
2 And I say that as a clergyman. I am still a priest
3 of the Church of England and I don’t believe the
4 hierarchy can be trusted. Justin Welby sat in this very
5 room a few weeks ago, with tears in his eyes, and said
6 he’d learned to become ashamed of the church. I do not
7 understand why that is the case, because the vast
8 majority of the Church of England, clergy and lay, would
9 never abuse anybody, and would report it, and they would
10 be horrified by the abuse. It isn’t the vast majority.
11 It is a small amount of people. And then it’s the
12 re-abuse by the bishops and the archbishops themselves,
13 and I think, if any shame wants applying, it needs to be
14 applied to the Archbishop of Canterbury and the
15 Archbishop of York and the House of Bishops, and not all
16 the bishops, but the vast majority of them. What
17 they’re — and the NST and William Nye and all that lot
18 at Church House. I think they are cruel, and that’s the
19 word.
20 What would Jesus do in this situation? He wouldn’t
21 do what they’re doing. And I just think this comes down
22 to — it’s the old story: abuse is about power.
23 Devanamanikkam’s power over me, he used. John Smyth did
24 the same over his victims. Peter Ball. All of them.
25 That abuse of power is used again, and again, and again
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Page 61
1 by the bishops of the Church of England without — they
2 ignore disclosures. They leave the abuser to carry on.
3 Then, when you complain about those bishops, the
4 Archbishop of Canterbury just takes no further action,
5 no further action, no further action. It’s a complete
6 cycle. That’s what the problem with the Clergy
7 Discipline Measure is, because they’re investigating
8 themselves, and it destroys people. It really does.
9 And why? Because bishops sit on thrones. They live
10 in fine houses and palaces, they wear the finest robes
11 and garments, which cost the earth. I know, because
12 I’ve sat I sell ’em them?in them. They bully people.
13 Yeah? People literally kneel down and kiss the ring on
14 their finger. Who would give that up? They don’t want
15 to, and that’s why they’re protecting themselves. It
16 really does drive people to distraction. And I say no
17 more. I really say no more. Enough is enough. And
18 I think the victims are far tougher and stronger people
19 than the archbishops and the bishops of
20 the Church of England, and, as a priest, I can tell
21 you — and I say this as a priest — I cannot see the
22 face of Jesus in the Archbishops of Canterbury or York.
23 I see hypocrites and I see Pharisees, the people who
24 Jesus stood up against.
25 I’m sorry to be so direct. I’m a Yorkshireman. But
Page 63
1 any reason. Just raise your hand or indicate to me that
2 you wish to do so. Next, there are two bundles in front
3 of you which have the vast majority of the relevant
4 documents I am going to take you to, but exhibits will
5 also be got up on screen. If, like me, you find reading
6 things difficult unless it is in slightly larger font,
7 please do indicate and we can blow the font up as large
8 as you need it.
9 We have two witness statements from you, Mr Iles:
10 one dated 9 November 2017, which has already been
11 published on this investigation’s website; and one dated
12 1 May 2019 at ACE026967. Chair and panel, behind tab A1
13 of your bundle.
14 Now, I’m not going to — I am going to assume that
15 you signed both of those witness statements, your
16 signature, however, being subject to a cover. Did you
17 sign both of those witness statements?
18 A. Yes.
19 Q. Have you had an opportunity to read them recently?
20 A. Yes.
21 Q. Are the matters set out there true, to the best of your
22 knowledge and belief?
23 A. Yes.
24 Q. Mr Iles, just to identify, you are a barrister employed
25 by the Church of England legal office since 2004, and
Page 62
1 I don’t think these people are fit for office. Thank
2 you. I’m sorry I have gone on.
3 MS McNEILL: No, no, thank you, Mr Ineson. Chair, do you or
4 the panel have any questions for this witness?

 

IICSA Transcript – 10/07/2019 – Revd Matthew Ineson & Archbishop John Sentamu

https://www.iicsa.org.uk/key-documents/12767/view/public-hearing-transcript-10-july-2019.pdf

 

“If we can’t admit to being wrong or making a mistake, we can’t genuinely say sorry or apologise because we don’t think we’ve done anything wrong. That moral denial of human fallibility will breed an arrogance which most people see but to which the arrogant person is blind” ~ Richard W. Symonds

~ Richard W. Symonds – on reading Archbishop John Sentamu’s answer when Fiona Scolding QC asks him [at the IICSA 10/07/2019] whether he believes he has made a personal mistake, in the course of responding to disclosures of clerical abuse, during his career: “Hand on heart, I don’t think so”, the Archbishop replies.

 

“He’s arrogant, he’s rude, and he’s a bully” – Revd Matthew Ineson of Archbishop Welby’s fellow Archbishop John Sentamu [IICSA – 10/07/2019] 

IICSA – July 11 2019 –

Fiona Scolding QC: “Do you think the Church needs to be more willing to admit past mistakes?”

Justin Welby, Archbishop of Canterbury: “The history of the Church does not encourage accountability…Accountability is structural [aka ‘The System’]

Fiona Scolding QC [in questioning Graham Tilby]: “The issue here surrounds the fact that, with the greatest respect to diocesan bishops, they have all the power and no accountability” 

July 11 2019 – IICSA Thursday 

– Page 50

Q. = Fiona Scolding QC

A. = Graham Tilby [National Safeguarding Advisor]

 

Q. Once Mr Galloway had reported, I think the decision was made that the decision as to whether or not the allegation was substantiated or not should be made by somebody independent of the core group?

A. Yes.

“So I understand you commissioned an analysis, shall we say, of whether or not, on the balance of probabilities, this complaint was met or not from a Mr Briden, who is a senior ecclesiastical lawyer. His case — his report is ACE026752, B81. There’s a summary of his report at paragraph 348 of your witness statement, but, essentially, what he identifies is that there is no realistic prospect of bringing a claim, and describes the evidence as unfounded” 

A. Yes. 

Q. But as part of that process, as I understand it, both Bishop Bell’s family were represented by Desmond Browne QC

A. That’s right. 

Q. — acting on a pro bono basis? 

A. Yes. 

Q. And Alison was represented by Mr Chapman [ @Switalskis ?] as I understand it 

A. Yes, indeed. 

Q. — who is sitting in this room here today? 

A. Yes. 

Q. And they made various submissions, because we have got various orders that were made in the case?

 

Archbishop Justin Welby – IICSA – July 11 2019

“We have got to learn to put actions behind the words, because ‘Sorry’ is pretty cheap”

IICSA – Friday –

MR CHAPMAN: Chair and panel, we act for ten victims of Anglican clerical sexual abuse and the survivors support group, MACSAS.
May I deal with one matter immediately, which is Archbishop Welby’s letter produced yesterday in which he purported to apologise to Mr Ineson in 2017. That letter was provided to the inquiry yesterday, and to us only a few minutes before you came in at 2.00 pm. So Mr Ineson has not had an opportunity to formally respond to it. But the archbishop relied on that letter as suggesting that he gave an apology in 2017, and the words he relied upon were in the final paragraph, and
I read: 

“… deeply sorry, yes, for the abuse, from your description of how this has been dealt with by the church.”

Mr Ineson roundly rejects that as an apology for how he has been treated in the church. It is mealy-mouthed. It does not frankly accept that the church treated him badly in the words of Bishop Hancock, “shabbily and shambolic”. Yesterday was an opportunity for the archbishop to say before Mr Ineson in public, “I accept and I apologise for the way you were treated in that shabby and shambolic manner and for my part in it”. That was not just a discourtesy to Mr Ineson; it shows that the archbishop, in his own words, still doesn’t get it.

 

IICSA – Friday – 12/07/2019

Mr O’Donnell [Slater & Gordon] – “Bishop Selby’s answers to Mr Frank [IICSA] indicated that the Anglican Church might just be trying to run down the clock, might be making all the right noises whilst this Inquiry is ongoing, and then getting back to business as usual once these hearings are finished”

InquiryCSA – Friday – 12/07/2019

Q. = Nikiti McNeill [IICSA]
A.1 = John Titchener [Group Compliance Director for the Ecclesiastical Insurance]
A.2 = David Bonehill [UK Claims Director for the Ecclesiastical Insurance Group]

Q. – Do you think that as the victim, should have had to wait or fight as long as he has in order for this to be clarified on the record?

A.1 – No
Q. – Ms McNeill reads from the guiding principles of Ecclesiastical, focusing on the fact that treatment of survivors should not be negative or worsen their well being. She asks, in their handling of the A4 issue, does he consider Ecclesiastical to have lived up to these principles?

A.1 – The witness acknowledges that they have not.

 

@InquiryCSA – Friday – 12/07/2019

Mr. Rory Philips QC [Counsel for the Ecclesiastical Insurance Office – EIO] 

“Where the Inquiry has not sought a specific answer to criticisms made, then as a matter of basic fairness, it is not possible for you to arrive at a conclusion as to whether these criticisms are well founded….
“Because that would offend the guiding principle if I can use that phrase again, which must inform all of the work of this, as of any inquiry, namely fairness….

“EIO is an insurer. It is a commercial organisation. And perhaps some of the difficulties for claimants here arise because they expect EIO to behave towards them rather more as if it was the church”

 

“IICSA reprimands Ecclesiastical over earlier advice to C of E and evidence to Inquiry” – Church Times – 12/07/2019

 

bonehillsmiling-20190712120653085_web

IICSA Anglican Church hearing day 10

Today, the final Friday,  was originally intended to be used only for closing statements from the lawyers representing the various parties. However, it was announced at the end of Thursday that an additional witness would be called first on Friday morning. This turned out to be David Bonehill, Claims Director of EIG and and John Titchener, Group Compliance Director of EIO.

The Church Times has a report of what happened: IICSA reprimands Ecclesiastical over earlier advice to C of E and evidence to Inquiry

Transcript of day 10 hearing.

List of documents adduced on day 10 (but none have as yet been published)

“The sex abuse that was perpetrated upon me by Peter Ball pales into insignificance when compared to the entirely cruel and sadistic treatment that has been meted out to me by officials, both lay and ordained. I know from the testimony of other people who have got in touch with me over the last five or 10 years that what I have experienced is not dissimilar to the experience of so many others and I use these words cruel and sadistic because I think that is how they behave. It is an ecclesiastical protection racket and [the attitude is that] anyone who seeks to in any way threaten the reputation of the church as an institution has to be destroyed”

~ Reverend Graham Sawyer – IICSA – July 2018

“The truths about Matt’s ‘shabby and shambolic’ treatment by the church after his original assault thirty + years ago will probably never be completely known.  What we have seen is at best incompetent treatment but at worst dangerously cruel”
The words of Revd Graham Sawyer are not to be forgotten – said at the IICSA Inquiry last year – July 2018:
“The sex abuse that was perpetrated upon me by Peter Ball pales into insignificance when compared to the entirely cruel and sadistic treatment that has been meted out to me by officials, both lay and ordained. I know from the testimony of other people who have got in touch with me over the last five or 10 years that what I have experienced is not dissimilar to the experience of so many others and I use these words cruel and sadistic because I think that is how they behave. It is an ecclesiastical protection racket and [the attitude is that] anyone who seeks to in any way threaten the reputation of the church as an institution has to be destroyed”

 

May 14 2019 – “George Bell Group issues new statement” – ‘Thinking Anglicans’ – Simon Sarmiento

George Bell House - 4 Canon Lane - Chichester Cathedral

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

George Bell Group issues new statement

George Bell Group issues new statement

The George Bell Group has issued this: Statement May 2019.

Since October 2015 when the Archbishops’ Council announced that they had paid compensation to the woman given the pseudonym ‘Carol’, who alleged that she had been abused by Bishop George Bell, his defenders have criticised the Church authorities for never once affording the Bishop the presumption of innocence.  Now, after the inquiries of Lord Carlile and Timothy Briden, it can be seen that the allegations against Bishop Bell were unfounded in fact.

THE CARLILE REVIEW

The Carlile report, whose conclusions (save as to publicity) the Church accepted, criticised the investigation of Carol’s allegations as a rush to judgment predicated on Bell’s guilt. It concluded that the decision to settle with Carol was indefensibly wrong and that the process completely ignored the Bishop’s reputation and the interests of his surviving family, including his very elderly niece.

The original statement by the Archbishops’ Council in October 2015 claimed that none of the expert independent reports had found reason to doubt Carol’s veracity. But Lord Carlile discovered that the only expert consulted by the Church thought it very likely that Carol’s experience of abuse in her first marriage had affected her recall, and that the possibility of false memories was a real one.

Regrettably Archbishop Welby added his authority to the destruction of Bell’s reputation: on Good Friday 2016, before the Carlile report was completed, he told BBC Radio that the investigation of Carol’s claim had been ‘very thorough’ and the finding of abuse correct on the balance of probabilities. We now know how far from the truth that was.

The Archbishop told Lord Carlile during his inquiry that if there had not been a proper investigation of Carol’s story, the Church would have to apologise. But sadly, when the Carlile report was published in December 2017, he chose not to do so. To the disappointment of Bell’s defenders, he appeared to reject the presumption of innocence; instead he commented that there was still ‘a significant cloud’ left over Bishop Bell’s name without giving any explanation of why he continued to hold that view in the face of Lord Carlile’s conclusions.

THE ‘FRESH INFORMATION’ AND THE BRIDEN PROCESS

The publicity given to the Carlile report appears to have triggered a copy-cat claim by the woman given the name Alison. The Core Safeguarding Group which had been responsible for the shambolic investigation of Carol’s claim now set about trying to substantiate that by Alison. They may well have hoped that the similar facts alleged by Alison would corroborate the discredited Carol. But within weeks the police, to whom the Core Group had reported the matter, closed their enquiries.  Next an investigation by a senior retired police officer commissioned by the Church quickly showed that Alison’s evidence was unreliable and incapable of supporting any adverse finding against the Bishop.

Mr Briden reported that her account not only had internal inconsistencies but was also contaminated by her having read Carol’s story, a contamination revealed by her repeating verbatim some of Carol’s words which had been reported in the press. He ended his report by saying that all the allegations against George Bell remitted to him were unfounded.

Many will have hoped that on reading Mr Briden’s report Archbishop Welby would have publicly acknowledged that the cloud of which he had previously spoken had been dissipated. He did not do so.

THE DUTY OF THE CHURCH NOW

The history of the treatment by the Church of England of the reputation of George Bell has become a scandal. It is now the plain duty of the Church of England, nationally and in the Diocese of Chichester, to make amends by working to restore Bishop Bell’s reputation, not least in institutions which were once proud to adopt his name.

We welcome the decision of Canterbury Cathedral to revive a commission to create a statue of Bell and note the expression of ‘delight’ with which the Archbishop of Canterbury has responded. We acknowledge with gratitude the firmness with which the Dean and Chapter of Christ Church, Oxford have maintained and cherished the chapel there dedicated to Bell’s memory throughout the controversy. We note that the meeting room dedicated to Bishop Bell remains, as before, at the World Council of Churches in Geneva.

It is only in Chichester itself, the place in which Bishop Bell lived and worked for almost thirty years and where his ashes are interred in the cathedral, that any public adoption of his name is now suppressed.

We find the public stance of the Bishop of Chichester, Dr Martin Warner, incomprehensible and indefensible. The Bishop’s ‘Response’ to the Briden Report, published on 24 January 2019 and now promoted on the websites of the diocese and cathedral, only went as far as to acknowledge that ‘Bishop Bell cannot be proven guilty’. He added that it could not be ‘safely claimed that the original complainant [i.e. Carol] had been discredited’. This is a most regrettable insinuation that there was, or likely was, substance to Carol’s allegation and hence that Bell was to be suspected of abuse.

The Bishop emphasised the defamatory innuendo by asking ‘those who hold opposing views on this matter to recognise the strength of each other’s commitment to justice and compassion.’ There is, regrettably, no evidence in this response of the Bishop’s commitment to justice or of any compassion towards those who are wrongly accused. His words have been repeated verbatim by the Bishop at Lambeth in response to a Question at the recent session of the General Synod of the church. Indeed, the Bishop even invoked the authority of the House of Bishops in support of this view. So far as we are aware the House has never even discussed the matter.

Such words simply preserve the impression that there was, and remains, a case against Bell. A not dissimilar state of mind was revealed by the Chichester Diocesan Safeguarding Officer when he told the Child Abuse Inquiry in March 2018 that ‘all the indications we have would suggest that the simplest explanation for why someone comes forward to report abuse – because they were abused – is likely to be the correct one’.

As the High Court Judge Sir Richard Henriques has pointed out in his report to the Metropolitan Police on allegations against prominent individuals, such an assumption results in an investigation which does not challenge the complainant, tends to disbelieve the suspect and shifts onto the suspect the burden of proof, ignoring any presumption of innocence. It becomes a premise for a miscarriage of justice such as can now be seen to have been inflicted on the reputation of George Bell.

It should be sufficient to observe that like Professor Anthony Maden, Lord Carlile did interview this first complainant. We note Lord Carlile’s statement of 1 February 2019, made to the local campaigner Mr Richard Symonds: ‘The Church should now accept that my recommendations should be accepted in full, and that after due process, however delayed, George Bell should be declared by the Church to be innocent of the allegations made against him.’

We are more than conscious that this saga represents a wider pattern in the Church and across society where many other such miscarriages of justice have become notorious. Now it is surely essential that if all the many safeguarding bodies, national and diocesan, are to be retained by the Church of England their work must be placed under real legal discipline and in the hands of officers who observe fully the expectations and rule of law and act without fear or prejudice.

There must never again be any repetition of such a discreditable, indeed disgraceful, performance.

Andrew Chandler, Convenor of George Bell Group, 9 May 2019

COMMENTS
Susannah Clark

“it can be seen that the allegations against Bishop Bell were unfounded in fact.”

What does that precisely mean? If the group is saying that the case is ‘unproven’ then I’d agree, because it is impossible to prove one way or the other whether her allegations against the Bishop are true or untrue. If it is saying that ‘Carol’s allegations about George Bell can be proved to be untrue, then that is a slur on a woman whose narrative they have repeatedly said is false. To say that George Bell *is* innocent (except in legal terms) is a false claim.

What I read in this statement is the use of insinuation.

“The possibility of false memories was a real one.” Yes. But ‘possibility’ means just that. It’s also possible her recall of who abused her was not false. Possibility either way is not the same as fact.

“They may well have hoped that the similar facts alleged by Alison would corroborate the discredited Carol.” Setting Alison aside, why is Carol described as “the discredited Carol”. That is offensive to a woman whose claims remain unproven one way or the other. It is slur.

As Dr Martin Warner correctly acknowledges: “Bishop Bell cannot be proven guilty.” But he is also right to add that it could not be “safely claimed that the original complainant [i.e. Carol] had been discredited.” That is not insinuation. It is fact. The fact remains that Carol may or may not have been abused by George Bell.

Process was faulty, and reform in the Church’s safeguarding procedures is overdue, but at the same time, this campaign group has created an incredibly hostile and partisan environment for an abuse victim herself. ‘Carol’ in all likelihood has indeed suffered abuse. It may have been committed by George Bell. With the passage of time we shall probably never know. However, assertions that – as a matter of fact – Carol’s claims are false… that is a disgraceful shutting down of an abuse victim’s experience and allegation.

Yes, the accused need safeguarding protection too… few deny process needs improvement… but no, it CANNOT “be seen that the allegations against Bishop Bell were unfounded in fact.”

That is a falsehood, a false assertion. If we create a virulent and hostile environment for people with the courage to come forward to accuse abusers – and it takes incredible courage – then we should be ashamed, because what it will do is drive victims back into secrecy and silence.

In addition, we must never lionise powerful men, even good men of known courage, to the extent that hagiography silences those who – in some cases – are nevertheless victims of the very dark side of human character. Great men can be flawed. We cannot simply disbelieve women because of their abuser’s reputation. That cannot wash. What we need is process that is discreet, measured, and factually very precise with its language. And non-partisan.

We do not, factually, know if George Bell was innocent or guilty. I doubt we ever will. Carol may be right.

T Pott
“We do not know, factually, if George Bell was innocent or guilty.” If that were so, it would put him in exactly the same position as everybody else who has ever lived. So, perhaps, we should simply remember people for what we do know about them.
Susannah, if you make an allegation I raped you when you were 5-years-old, the onus is on you to provide evidence that I raped you. The onus is not on me to prove I am innocent.

If you cannot provide that evidence in a court of law, then however convinced you are that it was me who raped you, I am to be presumed innocent. That’s the law.

After two investigations (Carlile & Briden), ‘Carol’ – who has had the benefit of anonymity and been paid nearly £30,000 (?) in compensation – has provided zero evidence that it was Bishop Bell who abused her.

Therefore, Bishop Bell is to be presumed innocent. That’s the law.

But the Church seems to consider itself above the law by presuming Bishop Bell’s guilt and presuming the innocence of ‘Carol’.

May 3 2019 – “More fallout from the Panorama programme” [‘Scandal in the Church of England’] – ‘Thinking Anglicans’ – Simon Sarmiento

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More fallout from the Panorama programme

More fallout from the Panorama programme

An open letter has been published by Justin Humphreys, chief executive of the charity now known as thirtyone:eight (formerly Churches Child Protection Advisory Service):
An open letter to the leadership of the Church of England following BBC’s Panorama.

…It has been clear for some time that the past cases review conducted between 2007 and 2010 was flawed in a number of respects. For there to be any confusion or uncertainty about what happened to those cases that were identified, often referred to as the ‘Known Cases Lists’ is also inexcusable. The Panorama program did well to uncover what were clearly points of discomfort for the church hierarchy. For key representatives of the Church to either not be able to respond clearly to questions about the number of cases or be unprepared to do so, calls the management of these cases into serious question and makes one wonder who exactly is in control? The need for transparency and true accountability has never been as needed as it is today.

What is needed within the Church of England (and frankly elsewhere across the wider Church and beyond) is authentic leadership. Leadership that is prepared to lead by example in a proactive exercise of self-reflection that leads to open and honest dialogue (particularly with survivors). Leadership that is not governed, coerced or muzzled by either insurers, lawyers or any other stakeholder that may stand to lose from just exposure and open remorse and repentance. This would be the right thing to do!

We may ask, what (or who) is being served by this ongoing catalogue of failures, missed opportunities and resistance to effective change concerning past, present and future safeguarding matters? It certainly cannot be said that survivors are being well-served. It is also of great concern that the Church itself is being further damaged by a continual denial of the truth and avoidance of any tangible reparation.

If the public at large is ever again to say of the Church that it is a safe place, a haven or even a sanctuary for those who are suffering, the Church must be prepared to be laid bare and be held accountable for those things it has failed to do well. This humility would be the greatest strength of the Church in seeking to deal with this sad catalogue of shame. The time has come for those that stand in the way of what Jesus would so clearly have done to be challenged, held accountable and where needed placed elsewhere – where they have less opportunity to exert their negative influence and to stand in the way of the restoration that is desperately needed…

Do read the whole letter.

Stephen Parsons at Surviving Church has written a second blog, this one is titled: Panorama on C/E. Further reflections. Again it’s worth reading in full, but the concluding paragraph says:

…Panorama indicated to us that control of information is a tactic of power still actively employed by the central Church authorities.  The originators of this tactic do not appear to be the bishops themselves but the highly paid Church House officials at the centre of things.   Unfortunately for them, their control of the levers of power was all too easy to spot in both the recent television interviews.    The interview of Archbishop Welby on Channel 4 was, like that of Bishop Hancock, unconvincing and somewhat contrived.  The bishops themselves both had personal integrity and human warmth but nothing could not disguise the fact that they were speaking for someone other than themselves.  The Church cannot continue to go down a path of fielding individuals to act as spokesmen for the institution.  The public want, as far as possible, to encounter real human beings who can speak for the church.  The people of England relate to real people, people who, like them, are living lives of joy mixed with pain.  They will never want to identify with a group when they suspect that the information put out is being manipulated and managed before it is shared with them.  In short, let bishops be bishops, shepherds of the flock, not puppets being controlled by forces that are invisible and are not necessarily working for the good of all.

The Church Times has published a letter from Andrew Graystone which can be found here (scroll down)

Panorama programme won’t be the last scandal

Sir, — Church leaders, from the Archbishops up, acknowledge that the Church is failing in its care of victims of clergy abuse. But ask them who is responsible for sorting out the mess, and nobody knows. Is it the job of the Archbishops’ Council? or the General Synod? or the National Safeguarding Steering Group? or Lambeth Palace? or the House of Bishops? Or is it, perhaps, a matter for each individual diocese?

Everybody points to someone else. Nobody steps forward. After a decade or more of crisis, which continues to eat away at the Church’s standing in society, there has been a complete failure from those in authority to grasp the issue. One reason that some survivors of church abuse are so painfully vocal is that they are filling a vacuum of leadership on this most crucial of issues for the Church.

Monday’s Panorama, with its focus on the shameful mismanagement of abuse in Lincoln diocese, was entitled Scandal in the Church of England. It could have been made at any point in the past decade, and it could have focused on almost any diocese. Stories will continue to emerge, and the scandal of abuse past and present will continue to undermine the Church’s wider mission, until some individual or body takes responsibility and institutes decisive action.

In the mean time, it is victims of abuse, past and present, who bear the cruelty and pain of the Church’s failure.

COMMENTS

Andrew Graystone says in the Church Times: “Church leaders, from the Archbishops up, acknowledge that the Church is failing in its care of victims of clergy abuse. But ask them who is responsible for sorting out the mess, and nobody knows…”

If that is the case, intervention is required by The Supreme Governor of the Church of England Her Majesty The Queen – just as the Pope was required to intervene in the Catholic Church.

Feb 20 2019 – “‘General Synod has no confidence in the Church of England’s capacity to regulate its own safeguarding culture'” – Martin Sewell – ‘AC’

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http://archbishopcranmer.com/general-synod-no-confidence-safeguarding/

 

MARTIN SEWELL

“Was this not the process that created the Bishop George Bell debacle? The Church of England leadership will still not follow the plain and increasingly irritated advice of its independent investigator Lord Carlile, who said: “The Church should now accept that my recommendations should be accepted in full, and that after due process, however delayed, George Bell should be declared by the Church to be innocent of the allegations made against him….

“If witnesses accounts and denials of knowledge (if appropriate) are not captured in a timely way, may not their reputations be placed “under a cloud” of complicity in the cover-up by some future archbishop without evidence, just as Justin Welby has tainted the memory of Bishop George Bell? Justice requires due process to victims and those under suspicion alike. We are woefully failing many in this case”

COMMENTS

Len

“The church in trying to preserve its reputation has all but lost it. Kicking allegations ‘into the long grass’ and then throwing long dead Bishops ‘under the bus’ has all added to the loss of credibility of the church and its hierarchy…

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 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”.