Tag Archives: Harry Farley

April 9 2019 – “Clergy burnt church files after being accused of covering up abuse” – Christian Today – Harry Farley [March 20 2018]


The Deanery Garden at Chichester Cathedral


Clergy burnt church files after being accused of covering up abuse, inquiry hears


A senior clergyman burnt church files, an inquiry heard today, after he failed to report the systematic abuse of children by a priest to the police.

John Treadgold, the former dean of Chichester Cathedral, returned to the empty deanery after he retired in 2001, took files from the basement and burnt them in the garden, his former colleague Peter Atkinson said.

Peter Atkinson
IICSA – Peter Atkinson was Chancellor at Chichester Cathedral under John Treadgold and is now Dean of Worcester.

It happened as Terence Banks, the head steward of the cathedral, was convicted of 32 sexual offences against 12 boys over a period of 29 years. He was sentenced to 16 years in jail in 2001 after an investigation by Sussex police.

However it later emerged through a report conducted by Edina Carmi in 2004 that Treadgold had been told of Banks’ abuse by a victim in 2000 but had not reported it to the police, the child protection adviser or social services.

Of Banks’ 12 victims, all were under 16 years of ago and some were as young as 11. He was eventually convicted in 2001 of 23 charges of indecent assault, five of buggery, one of indecency with a child under 14 years, and  two of attempting to procure acts of gross indecency.

The current dean of Worcester, Peter Atkinson, was chancellor of Chichester Cathedral at the time, and told the independent inquiry into child sexual abuse that Treadgold came back to the deanery after he had retired and burnt files that were in the basement.

IICSAThe inquiry is chaired by professor Alexis Jay, second from left.

‘What I remember of the episode is that he returned to the deanery, which was then empty, removed a number of files from the deanery basement and had a fire in the garden,’ Atkinson told the inquiry today.

‘I don’t know what the files were,’ he added.

‘It is a bit odd that he moved away and then came back to do this. It was sufficiently troubling for us to mention this to the police.’

He said the police ‘took it very seriously’ but ‘ultimately no future action was taken’.

He described Treadgold’s dealings with the police as ‘defensive’ and said he blurred homosexuality with paedophilia in his attitude.

‘The conflict over homosexuality and abuse was, like many men of his background and his generation, there was an unease about her whole idea of homosexuality and a sort of presumption that homosexual men where unsafe in relation to other men, particularly younger men or boys.’

The independent inquiry into child sex abuse is hearing evidence into how the diocese of Chichester dealt with allegations of abuse as a case study for the wider Church of England.

March 24 2018 – “George Bell was ‘fond’ of paedophile bishop Peter Ball and sponsored him through ordination” – Christian Today – Harry Farley – March 23


George Bell was ‘fond’ of paedophile bishop Peter Ball and sponsored him through ordination

George Bell was ‘fond’ of paeodophile bishop Peter Ball and sponsored him for ordination, an inquiry has heard.

As former bishop of Chichester, Bell is considered one of Anglicanism’s heroes. However, it emerged in 2015 the Church of England paid £16,800 to the woman, known as Carol, in a legal settlement after she accused Bell of sexually abusing her as a child.

Now it can be revealed Peter Ball, who was jailed for a string of sex offences against teenagers and young men in 2015, was close friends with Bell.

Peter Ball
Bishop Ball sentenced to 32 months in prison but served only 16 months.

Ball was initially rejected in his attempt to become a priest in 1951 but Bell wrote to the selection panel in support of Ball’s application.

When Ball applied for ordination a second time it was Bell who sponsored him through the process.

In his witness statement to an inquiry investigating child sex abuse within the Church of England, Ball denied that Bell had ‘overruled’ the selection board allowing him to be ordained.

However he said that after his ordination Bell would visit his parish to take services, adding he was ‘aware that he was “fond” of me’.

In response to a question about Bell’s involvement in his ordination, Ball told the inquiry: ‘It is not right therefore to say that Bishop Bell “overruled” the selection board in order for me to be ordained.

Bishop George Bell
Courtesy of Jimmy James Bishop George Bell is an iconic figure for the Church of England and was bishop of Chichester from 1929 to 1958.

‘Although Bishop Bell had indicated in 1951 in a letter to the first Selection Board who did not recommend me for ministry that he would be “prepared to accept me for ordination” even though the Selection Board had not recommend me for training at that time, that is not how matters proceeded.’

He went on: ‘After theological college, it was Bishop Bell ultimately who did sponsored [sic] me for ordination, but with the approval of the Selection Board. Bishop Bell then placed me in the parish of Rottingdean where I undertook my first curacy.

‘He would visit my curacy on occasion to carry out confirmations and to take services.

‘We had a good working relationship; I was aware that he was “fond” of me. He was someone who I looked up to when I was a young curate starting out in the Church.’

Bell, who died in 1958, was revered by Anglicans before the abuse allegations against him emerged. However a report earlier this year heavily criticised the Church’s handling of the accusations and found it ‘rushed to judgement’ and failed to give proper consideration to Bell’s rights.

But the archbishop of Canterbury refused to back down and said a ‘significant cloud is left over his name’.

Ball went on to become bishop of Lewes in the diocese of Chichester and then bishop of Gloucester. He was accused of gross indecency against a 16-year-old in 1992 but escaped with a police caution after he received backing from a member of the Royal Family and a number of other establishment figures. He was told to step down from his role as a bishop. However he continued to minister in churches and schools until 2010 before he was eventually arrested.

At the age of 83 he was sentenced to 32 months for misconduct in public office and 15 months for indecent assaults in 2015. He was released after serving 16 months.

The independent inquiry into child sexual abuse has been investigation how the diocese of Chichester handled allegations of child sexual abuse as a case study for the wider Church of England.

In his concluding remarks today solicitor David Greenwood said the CofE was more ‘malign’ than the Catholic Church in its response to abuse and accused it of ‘a conscious effort to treat survivors badly’.

The archbishop of Canterbury in his evidence said he had ‘learnt to be ashamed again of the Church’ and warned child sexual abuse would ‘destroy the Church’ if not addressed.

You can read more about the past three weeks of hearings here.

February 8 2018 – “Church of England facing more than 3000 abuse cases” – Christian Today – Harry Farley


Church of England facing more than 3,000 abuse cases

The Church of England is facing more than 3,000 abuse complaints, the vast majority of which relate to children or vulnerable adults.

Peter Hancock, the lead bishop on safeguarding will reveal the full extent of the scandal the Church faces when he answers questions from the ruling general synod later today. Of roughly 3,300 ‘concerns or allegations’ dealt with by the Church in 2016 alone, ‘the vast majority of which related to children, young people and vulnerable adults within church communities,’ he will say.

Church of England synod
The Church of EnglandThe Church of England’s General Synod is its ruling body and sets its laws.

The revelation comes as the CofE’s general synod, or parliament, meets in Westminster for three days that are set to be dominated by questions around abuse.

A presentation around safeguarding on Saturday will outline the issues the Church is facing but Christian Today understands that survivors of abuse are furious the presentation is ‘stage-managed’ by bishops and is not a full debate that would allow more probing issues to be raised. Several synod members are planning to push for a full debate rather than simply a presentation but their calls are likely to be rejected.

Victims of clergy sex abuse will protest outside Church House before the presentation on Saturday and the Archbishop of Canterbury along with other bishops and members of synod are planning to go and join them for two minutes of silent prayer.

The Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, will face questioning by the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse (IICSA) next month. The Church is facing three weeks of public hearings into how it dealt with allegations of abuse in the Diocese of Chichester and one CofE source told Christian Today they expected the hearings to be ‘very painful’.

Welby has said the way the Church has abused people, particularly children, leads him to tears and frequently keeps him awake at night. But victims are warning the time for words is over as they demand fuller compensation.

The archbishop is also under significant pressure from supporters of George Bell, the late Bishop of Chichester, who the CofE effectively admitted was a paedophile when it announced it had paid £16,800 in compensation and legal fees to a complainant known as ‘Carol’. However a review of the decision by Lord Carlile QC found the Church’s process deficient in a number of ways.

Peter Hancock
Church of England Rt Rev Peter Hancock is Bishop of Bath and Wells and the Church of England’s lead bishop for safeguarding.

His review was published in December and found the Church had ‘rushed to judgment’ and smeared Bell in its attempt to avoid being seen as soft on clerical sex abuse. The inquiry found ‘serious errors were made’ as a result of an ‘oversteer’ that presumed his guilt without fully looking at the evidence.

But Welby appeared to leave open the possibility of Bell’s guilt when he responded to Carlile’s review by saying a ‘significant cloud’ still hung over his head.

Despite coming under immense pressure from Bell’s supporters, who include academics, historians and peers, Welby has refused to withdraw his statement and last week the Church said ‘fresh information’ has emerged about the case which has been handed to Sussex Police.

The CofE’s general synod meets from today until Saturday in Church House, Westminster.

February 6 2018 – “Welby under pressure as General Synod members asked to back motion of ‘regret’ over Bishop George Bell case” – Christian Today – Harry Farley


Welby under pressure as General Synod members asked to back motion of ‘regret’ over Bishop George Bell case

The Archbishop of Canterbury will be under renewed pressure at the Church of England’s ruling General Synod this week to renounce his claim that a ‘significant cloud’ remains over George Bell, a highly-respected bishop accused of sex abuse.

Members of synod, which acts as the church’s parliament, are today being asked to back a motion expressing ‘regret’ over Justin Welby’s handling of the case and calling for Bishop Bell’s ‘reputation as one of the great bishops of the Church of England is restored untarnished’.

Bishop George Bell
Courtesy of Jimmy James Bishop George Bell is accused of historical child sex abuse but his supporters insist the allegations are uncorroborated and without evidence.

The motion, seen by Christian Today, will be published as synod opens on Thursday after being approved by the church’s lawyers. It will not be debated at this week’s sessions but could be discussed at the next synod in July, if it receives enough support.

It comes after Welby said he could not retract his assessment that a ‘significant cloud’ hung over Bell’s reputation and the Church announced ‘fresh information’ had emerged about the case. Christian Today understands this involves a new complaint against Bishop Bell.

David Lamming, a lay member of synod and proposer of the motion, told Christian Today: ‘Regardless of this new information, the conclusions made in the damning Review by Lord Carlile QC into how the Church handled the case are important. General Synod must be given the opportunity to debate them.’

He added: ‘I initially considered putting the motion on ice while the investigation into these latest allegations unfolded but on second thoughts I think it important that synod has the opportunity to hold the Church to account for its processes and a debate on this motion would do just that. It will not be debated this week in any event, but if sufficient synod members sign it, that will be a clear indication that it should be on the agenda at York in July.’

The controversy over the George Bell case is likely to dominate this week’s synod with several questions tabled to the Archbishop of Canterbury on the issue.

The General Synod will meet this week in Westminster.

It comes after an independent review into how the Church dealt with the allegation made by ‘Carol’ found officials ‘rushed to judgment’ and smeared Bell in its desperation to avoid being seen as soft on clerical sex abuse. The inquiry by Lord Carlile QC found ‘serious errors were made’ as a result of an ‘oversteer’ that presumed his guilt without fully looking at the evidence.

Despite the highly critical report Welby refused to apologise to Bell’s relatives and supporters and instead issued a statement that appeared to leave open the possibility of his guilt.

Two groups of Bell’s supporters, alongside a number of historians and academics, have criticised Welby’s statement after Carlile’s review judged there would not have been sufficient evidence for a guilty verdict in a criminal court.

A question from Mr Lamming is thought to have prompted the Church’s admission of ‘fresh information’ after he tabled a question asking if there is ‘considered to be any evidence or other information that would support or corroborate the claim by “Carol” that she was sexually abused as a child by Bishop Bell?’


February 2 2018 – “Bishop blasts disgraced priest allowed to defend George Bell at Church of England’s headquarters” – Christian Today


EXCLUSIVE: Bishop blasts disgraced priest allowed to defend George Bell at Church of England’s headquarters

It is ‘outrageous’ that a disgraced priest banned from ministry has been allowed to speak at the Church of England’s headquarters, a bishop said today.

Rachel Treweek
Rachel Treweek was the first female bishop to sit in the House of Lords.

Jules Gomes, formerly a priest at St Mary’s on the Harbour on the Isle of Man, addressed a group of supporters for the former Bishop of Chichester, George Bell, who is accused of historical sex abuse, in Church House, Westminster, this morning.

But today the Bishop of Gloucester, Rachel Treweek, blasted his presence at the event, which is titled ‘Rebuilding bridges’.

‘He has been invited to speak under that wonderful title whereas all his writings about me and other bishops who are women are being destructive and destroying bridges not building them,’ she told Christian Today.

‘I think it is outrageous that he has been allowed to speak at Church House under that title when his writings demonstrate that he is not up for living in reconciliation or relationship.’

Church House is the building used as the Church of England’s main London base. The National Church Institutions (NCIs) which govern the Church’s daily running, do not own the building nor control its bookings and the CofE appeared to distance itself from the event.

A Church of England spokesperson previously told Christian Today: ‘We are aware of an event due to take place at Church House Conference Centre Limited, in Westminster, on Feb 1 at which we understand Jules Gomes, a former Church of England parish priest prohibited from ministry for 10 years by a Bishop’s Disciplinary Tribunal, has been invited to speak.

‘The National Church Institutions are tenants at Church House. Church House Conference Centre Limited, who manage bookings from clients and operate the conference spaces, is an independent conference centre located at Church House.’

Jules Gomes
Jules Gomes.comJules Gomes was barred for 10 years from ministry for conduct unbecoming a priest.

Gomes was banned from ministry for 10 years after a disciplinary tribunal found against him following complaints about his behaviour. Deeply opposed to female clergy, refers to female bishops as ‘bishopesses’ described Sarah Mullally, the new Bishop of London, as ‘safe space Sarah, the box-ticking Bishopette of Londonistan’ who ‘doesn’t have the foggiest idea about the biblical gospel’.

Elsewhere in a blog badged as ‘satirical’ he described a ‘gaggle of anorexic and bulimic teenage girls’ accompanying ‘Rachel Treweek, Bishopess of Gloucester’.

Treweek told Christian Today: ‘I have known him in the past so it is deeply disappointing that he feels able to write things about me and others without ever trying to communicate in a relational way.

‘If rebuilding bridges is about relationship then it is a very funny and strange way to demonstrate that if you feel able to simply write abusive things on blogs.’

January 24 2018 – “Bishop of Peterborough breaks ranks over Church’s handling of George Bell case” – Christian Today – Harry Farley


Bishop of Peterborough breaks ranks over Church’s handling of George Bell case

The Bishop of Peterborough has broken ranks after the Archbishop of Canterbury declined to rescind a statement saying a ‘significant cloud’ hung over the late Bishop George Bell’s reputation after he was accused of abusing a young girl.

Donald Allister said George Bell’s ‘reputation has been severely damaged’ by the allegations, which a legal expert reviewing the case suggested would not have led to a guilty verdict ‘beyond the balance of probabilities’ in a criminal court.

Justin Welby
ITV / Peston The Archbishop of Canterbury has faced calls to resign from Bishop Bell’s supporters after his handling of the case.


Allister called for ‘a major review of anonymity’ in sex abuse cases and suggested that where the complainant has a right to be anonymous, the law should allow for the respondent also to be anonymous.

‘Until there is overwhelming evidence to suggest guilt, it seems reasonable for people’s reputations not to be damaged in this public way,’ he said in a debate in the House of Lords.

Explaining his remarks to Christian Today, Allister said the name of the accused should only be disclosed ‘when there was a substantial body of evidence suggesting guilt’.

‘I suggest that if a complainant is allowed to be anonymous, there should be a presumption that the respondent should normally be afforded the same right,’ he told Christian Today.

Bishop of Peterborough
Diocese of Peterborough Donald Allister, the Bishop of Peterborough, called for a government review on anonymity.

‘I am simply asking for a public debate and for the government to review this matter. I’m not suggesting that I have all the answers, merely that I believe such a review is necessary.’

The comments highlight divisions within the Church of England over how it has responded to the allegations against Bishop Bell.

The former Bishop of Chichester was deeply revered in the Church of England and was one of the Church’s most respected 20th century leaders. However his reputation was destroyed in 2015 when the Church of England appeared to admit he was a paedophile by publicly apologising to an alleged victim, known only as Carol, and paid her more than £30,000 in damages and legal fees after a civil claim was launched.

A subsequent review of how the Church dealt with the accusations by Lord Carlile QC found it ‘rushed to judgment’ and smeared Bell in its desperation to avoid being seen as soft on clergy sex abuse. ‘Serious errors were made’ as a result of an ‘oversteer’ that presumed his guilt without fully looking at the evidence, Carlile’s review found.

But despite the highly critical report Welby refused to apologise to Bell’s relatives and supporters and instead issued a statement that appeared to leave open the possibility of his guilt.

‘We realise that a significant cloud is left over his name,’ he said at the time. ‘No human being is entirely good or bad. Bishop Bell was in many ways a hero. He is also accused of great wickedness. Good acts do not diminish evil ones, nor do evil ones make it right to forget the good. Whatever is thought about the accusations, the whole person and whole life should be kept in mind.’

Bishop George Bell
Courtesy of Jimmy JamesBishop George Bell

After three open letters of complaint were sent to the archbishop, Welby issued a statement explaining he could not clear Bell’s name and defending the Church’s decision to make the settlement public.

‘Our history over the last 70 years has revealed that the Church covered up, ignored or denied the reality of abuse on major occasions,’ he said.

‘The experience of discovering feet of clay in more than one person I held in profound respect has been personally tragic.’

He added it was important to distinguish between the level of proof needed for a criminal case in court, where the accuser needs to prove guilty ‘beyond reasonable doubt’ and a civil claim, which Carol bought, where guilt ‘on the balance of probabilities’ needs to be proved.

December 15 2017 – George Bell review: Justin Welby refuses to apologise as row over ‘innocent until proven guilty’ rages” – Christian Today – Harry Farley