Tag Archives: General Synod

May 22 2020 – “NINTH COMMANDMENT CONCERNS ABOUT THE BISHOP OF CHICHESTER” – ANGLICAN LINK

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Present Bishop of Chichester Martin Warner

Letter to the editor: Ninth commandment concerns about the Bishop of Chichester

Letter to the editor: Ninth commandment concerns about the Bishop of Chichester

Richard Symonds of The Bell Society believes the General Synod of the Church of England and the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse should investigate the Bishop of Chichester for being “economic with the truth” in his statements on his handling of clergy sexual abuse cases. He writes:

 

Sir:

The Bishop of Chichester Martin Warner makes very clear at the IICSA in March 2018, the Church’s insurance company at the time – presumably Ecclesiastical? – was fully involved in (and I’m sure was fully paid for) the advice to the Church, and presumably its Core Group, regarding Bishop Bell and ‘Carol’:

Day 8 IICSA Inquiry – Chichester 14 March 2018 – Page 21 – Fiona Scolding QC: “The other matter I want to put to you is [quoting Lord Carlile]: ‘There was no organised or valuable enquiry or investigation into the merits of the allegations, and the standpoint of Bishop Bell was never given parity or proportionality.’ What is your response to that?”

Bishop of Chichester Martin Warner: “The question of an organised or valuable inquiry is something of a value judgement, I think, and we certainly didn’t feel that there was no serious inquiry into that which was undertaken through our insurers and their legal representative in whom we had considerable trust and regard and who Lord Carlile also recognises as a responsible and able person. I see him to say that the standpoint of Bishop Bell was never given parity or proportionality. It was certainly given proportionality. We understood absolutely that was the case. I think the area which he’s rightly also identified is that there was nobody there to speak for Bishop Bell, and that, again, with the benefit of hindsight, is something that I think was wrong…”

Mr. David Lamming, Church of England’s General Synod Member representing St. Edmundsbury & Ipswich, further comments: ‘Bishop Martin Warner’s answer to Fiona Scolding’s question at IICSA [Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse] on 14 March 2018 about the involvement of insurers in the settlement of ‘Carol’s’ claim (see…Richard Symonds’s comment) appears to be at odds with information he provided to me in 2016.’

At General Synod on 8 July 2016 I asked a question about the contribution to the settlement made by the Church Commissioners. The question was answered by the then First Church Estates Commissioner, Sir Andreas Whittam Smith. In the light of his written answer, I asked by way of a supplementary “whether insurers were asked to contribute to the settlement and, if so, whether and why they declined to do so?”’

This was Sir Andreas’s response: “You are accrediting the Church Commissioners with far more involvement in this case than you might think. We have a discretion to pay bishops’ costs, as you probably know, and we make judgments on what costs to bear on a variety of factors. In this case, the answers are really clear in my answer. I do not think I can add to them. There are the damages; there are the claimant’s legal costs and there are the Diocese of Chichester’s costs. We paid £29,800 of those and a private individual came forward, not an insurer, and paid the rest. I cannot add to that.”’

His answer led to the following exchange with Martin Sewell:

Mr Martin Sewell (Rochester): There is a very simple question on the table: did any insurer decline to indemnify?
Sir Andreas Whittam Smith: I have no idea whether an insurer was involved. We were not told about such a case.
Mr Martin Sewell: Who would know?
Sir Andreas Whittam Smith: The Diocese of Chichester would know.
Mr Martin Sewell: Will that information be made available?
Sir Andreas Whittam Smith: I cannot speak for the Diocese of Chichester, I am afraid.’

In the light of this exchange I e-mailed the Bishop of Chichester on 25 July 2016, asking (inter alia), “Were insurers involved at any stage prior to the settlement with Carol? If so, were they asked to contribute to the settlement and, if so, did they decline to do so or to indemnify the Diocese and, if so, why?”’

This was Bishop Martin’s reply in an e-mail on 29 July 2016: “No relevant insurance was held in respect of this claim, so no insurers were involved in the case and no requests were made to any insurer. As Sir Andreas said in his reply to the Synod, the costs and damages were paid by the Commissioners and a private individual who wishes to remain anonymous. The claim was made against me in my corporate capacity.”

Yours sincerely

Richard W. Symonds, The Bell Society

Ifield Village, Crawley-Gatwick, West Sussex RH11 0NN
Email: richardsy5@aol.com

MAY 19 2020 – BISHOP GEORGE BELL AND THE CHURCH OF ENGLAND’S MISCARRIAGE OF JUSTICE

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St. Margaret’s 13th Century Parish Church in Ifield Village – RWS Photography – May 19 2020AD

The following exchange of comments on ‘Thinking Anglicans’ suggest the present Bishop of Chichester Martin Warner was ‘economic with the truth’ in either 2016 or 2018.

Either way, the IICSA – and the General Synod – should investigate a serious breach of the law which has contributed to a serious miscarriage of justice.

Mr Richard W. Symonds of the Bell Society comments:

‘The Bishop of Chichester Martin Warner makes very clear at the IICSA in March 2018, the Church’s insurance company at the time – presumably Ecclesiastical? – was fully involved in (and I’m sure was fully paid for) the advice to the Church, and presumably its Core Group, regarding Bishop Bell and ‘Carol’:

https://richardwsymonds.wordpress.com/2019/01/13/jan-13-2019-from-the-archives-iicsa-march-2018/

Day 8 IICSA Inquiry – Chichester 14 March 2018 – Page 21

Fiona Scolding QC

“The other matter I want to put to you is [quoting Lord Carlile]: ‘There was no organised or valuable enquiry or investigation into the merits of the allegations, and the standpoint of Bishop Bell was never given parity or proportionality.’ What is your response to that?”

Bishop of Chichester Martin Warner

“The question of an organised or valuable inquiry is something of a value judgement, I think, and we certainly didn’t feel that there was no serious inquiry into that which was undertaken through our insurers and their legal representative in whom we had considerable trust and regard and who Lord Carlile also recognises as a responsible and able person. I see him to say that the standpoint of Bishop Bell was never given parity or proportionality. It was certainly given proportionality. We understood absolutely that was the case. I think the area which he’s rightly also identified is that there was nobody there to speak for Bishop Bell, and that, again, with the benefit of hindsight, is something that I think was wrong…”

 

Mr. David Lamming, Church of England’s General Synod Member representing St. Edmundsbury & Ipswich, comments :
‘Bishop Martin Warner’s answer to Fiona Scolding’s question at IICSA [Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse] on 14 March 2018 about the involvement of insurers in the settlement of ‘Carol’s’ claim (see…Richard Symonds’s comment) appears to be at odds with information he provided to me in 2016.
‘At General Synod on 8 July 2016 I asked a question about the contribution to the settlement made by the Church Commissioners. The question was answered by the then First Church Estates Commissioner, Sir Andreas Whittam Smith. In the light of his written answer, I asked by way of a supplementary “whether insurers were asked to contribute to the settlement and, if so, whether and why they declined to do so?”
‘This was Sir Andreas’s response: “You are accrediting the Church Commissioners with far more involvement in this case than you might think. We have a discretion to pay bishops’ costs, as you probably know, and we make judgments on what costs to bear on a variety of factors. In this case, the answers are really clear in my answer. I do not think I can add to them. There are the damages; there are the claimant’s legal costs and there are the Diocese of Chichester’s costs. We paid £29,800 of those and a private individual came forward, not an insurer, and paid the rest. I cannot add to that.”
‘His answer led to the following exchange with Martin Sewell:
Mr Martin Sewell (Rochester): There is a very simple question on the table: did any insurer decline to indemnify?
Sir Andreas Whittam Smith: I have no idea whether an insurer was involved. We were not told about such a case.
Mr Martin Sewell: Who would know?
Sir Andreas Whittam Smith: The Diocese of Chichester would know.
Mr Martin Sewell: Will that information be made available?
Sir Andreas Whittam Smith: I cannot speak for the Diocese of Chichester, I am afraid.
‘In the light of this exchange I e-mailed the Bishop of Chichester on 25 July 2016, asking (inter alia), “Were insurers involved at any stage prior to the settlement with Carol? If so, were they asked to contribute to the settlement and, if so, did they decline to do so or to indemnify the Diocese and, if so, why?”
‘This was Bishop Martin’s reply in an e-mail on 29 July 2016: “No relevant insurance was held in respect of this claim, so no insurers were involved in the case and no requests were made to any insurer. As Sir Andreas said in his reply to the Synod, the costs and damages were paid by the Commissioners and a private individual who wishes to remain anonymous. The claim was made against me in my corporate capacity.”
The full exchange of Qs and As at General Synod can be read in the Report of Proceedings, July 2016, at pages 58-59:
https://www.churchofengland.org/sites/default/files/2017-10/July%202016%20Report%20of%20Proceedings%20w.index_.pdf’
Richard W. Symonds ~ The Bell Society

 

Dec 22 2019 – “Church Safeguarding – Not a prayer” – Private Eye

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Church House Westminster

https://www.thinkinganglicans.org.uk/update-on-safe-spaces-following-media-report/#comments

Update on Safe Spaces following media report

The Church of England issued the press release below today. It appears to be in response to an article in Private Eye which was tweeted here yesterday.

Update on Safe Spaces following media report
21/12/2019

A spokesperson for the National Safeguarding Team said: “Safe Spaces is planned as a vital support service for survivors of church-related abuse across the Church of England and the Catholic Church in England and Wales.

“The delay in progressing the support service, first officially discussed in 2014, is a matter of regret which the Church of England acknowledges and apologises for. But since the appointment of a project manager and the creation of the Safe Spaces Management Board last year eight survivor representatives from across both Churches are involved in ensuring we find the right organisation to deliver the project.

“Their knowledge, skill and personal experience in shaping the model for Safe Spaces alongside their commitment and support for the procurement process is integral to finding the right organisation to deliver the project.

“All grant money from both churches and ATL has been ring fenced for the project and no money from the £592,000 grant has been spent to date, and no new company has been set up. Pre set-up costs, procurement, project management and development are separate to this and the cost is being shared across both Churches.

“Following an initial procurement process, the Board has agreed that it would not be recommending the appointment of a preferred supplier to deliver the project; this decision was taken in partnership with the survivor representatives.

“Over the coming weeks the Board in partnership with survivors will agree the next steps and the best way forward. Survivor voices remain central to any future success of this new service and their welfare and support is an absolute priority for the Church in its continuing safeguarding work.

“Both churches are committed to supporting survivors of church-related abuse and providing an independent national service for survivors of any form of church-related abuse.”

COMMENTS
Janet Fife

‘since the appointment of a project manager and the creation of the Safe Spaces Management Board last year eight survivor representatives from across both Churches are involved in ensuring we find the right organisation to deliver the project.’ I’m glad they are involving survivors in this, although I suspect they aren’t asking some who have been most vocal. I’m sure Matt Ineson would have something to say – and until the Church is ready to hear him, and Gilo, and “Graham’, and others, it won’t get very far. But as the project manager and board were appointed ‘last year’ –… Read more »

Martin Sewell

The Church seems to have lost the plot on this. One cannot hear of the delay and the associated costs without a rising sense of anger. Questions must be asked and more importantly – answered. This is not said in a vindictive sense but simply to seek an answer to the plainest of questions. “ How did the main thing cease to be the main thing?” The need was there, the victims known, the resource was available. It ought to have been possible to scope and deliver something for survivors within a year, by any team of competent managers. If… Read more »

Fr. Dean Henley

Presumably when she was the Chief Nurse the Bishop of London must have overseen projects far bigger than this one. Why has everyone involved been so inept, had no sense of urgency given their rhetoric on safeguarding. Old school politicians such as Lord Carrington resigned when there were serious failings such as this; why haven’t senior bishops resigned over this pitiful episode? Thank God for Private Eye and a free press!

This doesn’t look good. Depressing really. Am I a fool to be surprised at the prevarication, the EIG involvement and the procurement story, especially 2buy2. “They talk of vanity every one with his neighbour: they do but flatter with their lips, and dissemble in their double heart.” Why not let the survivors run the project completely? OK, I know why not.

Nov 22 2019 – “Does Archbishop Welby’s pride matter more than an elderly lady’s pain?” – Peter Hitchens at Christmas

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Archbishop Justin Welby and Mrs Barbara Whitley

PETER HITCHENS: Does Archbishop Welby‘s pride matter more than an elderly lady‘s pain? 

Peter Hitchens: Does Archbishop Welby‘s pride matter more than an elderly lady‘s pain?

This Christmas I would like you to think of the plight of a 94-year-old woman, who has been atrociously mistreated by the Archbishop of Canterbury 

This I would like you to think of the plight of a 94-year-old woman, who has been atrociously mistreated by the Archbishop of Canterbury.

Her name is Mrs Barbara Whitley. More than three years ago, the Church of England publicly accused her beloved long-dead uncle of the filthy crime of child sex abuse.

The charge was based on the word of a single accuser, more than half a century after the supposed offence. The Church had presumed his guilt and made no serious effort to discover the truth. Key living witnesses were neither sought, found nor interviewed. A senior bishop admitted soon afterwards that they were actually not convinced the claim was true. Yet by some mysterious process, a number of newspapers and stations, all on the same day, felt safe in confidently pronouncing that Barbara’s uncle had been a disgusting paedophile. No ifs or buts. Who told them?

A later inquiry would show that this miserable episode was based on nothing more than a chaotic, sloppy kangaroo court. One of this country’s most distinguished lawyers, Lord Carlile, tore the case against Barbara’s uncle to shreds. He said there would have been no chance of a conviction on the evidence available, and made mincemeat of the shambolic committee that had published the original allegation.

After delaying the release of this inquiry for weeks, Justin Welby’s church eventually published it. But did it admit its mistake and restore the reputation of Barbara Whitley’s wrongly defamed uncle?

Nope. Mr Welby, in defiance of all the rules of British justice, sulkily insisted that a ‘significant cloud’ still hung over the name of Barbara’s uncle. Thus, just as she might have been able to rejoice that her relative’s name had at last been cleared, the Head of the Established Church made it his personal business to prevent this.

And then, a few weeks later, another supposed allegation against her uncle was said to have been made. Why then? What was it? Who had made it? Nobody would say, but it served to stifle potential criticism of Mr Welby at the General Synod of the Church of England, which was about to begin. Details of the second allegation remain a secret. After nearly a year, Mr Welby’s church (which has a bad record of sitting on reports that it doesn’t like) still hasn’t come up with its conclusions [See Briden Report for conclusions – Ed]. Yet Sussex Police, given the same information, dropped their investigations into the matter after a few short weeks.

It all looks a bit as if someone is trying to save someone’s face. But the cruelty to Barbara Whitley, who was 91 when this horrible saga began, is appalling. Who cares about some prelate’s pride (a sin in any case) when Mrs Whitley could be spared any more pain?

Because the cruelty to Mrs Whitley seems to me to be so shocking in a supposedly Christian organisation, I have deliberately left till last that the object of these accusations is the late Bishop of Chichester, George Bell. Bell was, as people who knew him have told me, a kind, scrupulously honest, courageous man. He was, most notably, a beloved friend of the German Christians who fought against Hitler and a brave critic of the cruelty of war. I sometimes wonder if modern bishops and archbishops are afraid of being compared with him. They have reason to be. In the meantime, Mr Welby’s church should end Mrs Whitley’s agony.

Does anyone really doubt that, if the archbishop wanted to, he could end the whole business today?

 

[This article previously appeared in the Mail on Sunday – December 16 2018]

 

COMMENTS AND RESPONSES

“Of course it does!” – Rev Peter Mullen

“Nothing, as we all know, is more important than a person’s reputation, for good or ill. it is astonishing to me that it is still necessary to fight to preserve the reputation of George Bell, Bishop of Chichester, 1929-1958.
I am surprised to think that in 2019 we need to teach an Archbishop of Canterbury (Eton and Trinity College, Cambridge) the vital place of the presumption of innocence in our English system of justice.
Has he not heard of the cases of the Birmingham Six and the Guildford Four?  They did as much damage to Anglo-Irish relations as the wickedness of the bombers themselves.
Indeed George Bell still has much to teach us about our resistance to the tyranny of Nazi Germany in a world in which so-called civilised nations are still trying to bomb the Middle East into the Stone Age” – Gerald Morgan, FTCD (Leader: English Parliamentary Party, 2001)
“There should be no need for compromise, but there is a possible face-saver for the archbishop. That George Bell should be exonerated there is no doubt. It does not follow, however, that Carol must have been lying. The most probable outcome is that this was a case of mistaken identity, and in Chichester two possible offenders have been identified, though nothing can ever be proved” – Noel Osborne

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

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“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

Click to access 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
IICSA Inquiry – Anglican Church Investigation 10 July 2019
(+44)207 4041400 casemanagers@epiqglobal.com London EC4A 1JS
Epiq Europe Ltd http://www.epiqglobal.com Lower Ground 20 Furnival Street
15 (Pages 57 to 60)
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
IICSA Inquiry – Anglican Church Investigation 10 July 2019
(+44)207 4041400 casemanagers@epiqglobal.com London EC4A 1JS
Epiq Europe Ltd http://www.epiqglobal.com Lower Ground 20 Furnival Street
16 (Pages 61 to 64)
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’.