Tag Archives: John Bingham Religious Affairs Editor




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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What could be fairer than that?




July 13 2015 – “Church of England could return to defrocking rogue priests after child abuse scandals” – The Telegraph – John Bingham – Religious Affairs Editor


Church of England could return to defrocking rogue priests after child abuse scandals

The Church of England is considering an about-turn to bring back the penalty of defrocking rogue priests

New Bishop of Durham announced as Rt Rev Paul Butler

The Rt Rev Paul Butler Photo: Keith Blundy / Aegies Associates

The Church of England is considering an about-turn to bring back the penalty of defrocking rogue priests in response to a series of child abuse scandals.

The Rt Rev Paul Butler, the Bishop of Durham, said the Church must face up to the possibility that the decision to scrap the punishment just over a decade ago was wrong.

Bishop Butler, who is responsible for the Church’s safeguarding policy, disclosed that the bishops are to debate bringing the penalty back after admitting the decision no longer looks “wise” in the light of new cases of abuse.

The move comes after victims said clerics with criminal convictions were still calling themselves priests.

Defrocking – officially known as “deposition from Holy Orders” – was dropped when a new disciplinary code for clergy came into force in 2003.

Although clerics can still be banned for life from ministry they remain ordained as priests and there is no mechanism to remove this.

The decision to scrap defrocking was made by the Church’s ruling General Synod in 2000, after pressure from clergy union reps, who argued it was unfair to victims of miscarriages of justice as it is considered irreversible.

Members of the Synod have just passed sweeping changes to safeguarding rules to make it easier to suspend clerics suspected of abuse and have removed a time limit on complaints which made it impossible for historical abuse cases to be considered.

• Justin Welby: I broke down in tears at horror of Church child abuse

The possibility of reintroducing defrocking was raised by the Rev Neil Patterson, a rector in Herefordshire, in a question and answer session with Bishop Butler.

The bishop said he would invite the House of Bishops to consider reintroducing defrocking, but warned any reversal would “take some considerable time”.

Members of the Synod are due to spend Monday debating measures to cut carbon dioxide emissions.

A guidebook for parishes on going green issued this weekend warned: “It still seems that amongst the pews and the pulpits the environment remains not so much a cause for worship, or a way of life, but somewhere to walk on a Sunday afternoon.”

The Synod also gave final approval yesterday to a new alternative baptism service in which references to the devil are removed.

The Church of England is harbouring racism with a “shocking” lack of black and ethnic minority clerics, a senior bishop has warned.

The Rt Rev Stephen Cottrell, Bishop of Chelmsford, said: “Let’s be clear and honest with ourselves, there is still racism in our Church. I believe it is high time we awoke out of sleep and realised that we are guilty of complacency and neglect.”

The Church has only five clergy from ethnic minorities in senior positions.