Tag Archives: Lord Alex Carlile QC

Jan 24 2019 – “Archbishop of Canterbury apologises ‘unreservedly’ for Church of England’s ‘mistakes’ in handling Bishop Bell allegations” – Daily Telegraph – Robert Mendick

https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2019/01/24/archbishop-canterbury-apologises-unreservedly-coes-mistakes/

Archbishop of Canterbury apologises ‘unreservedly’ for CoE’s ‘mistakes’ in handling Bishop Bell allegations

Archbishop of Canterbury (pictured) apologises 'unreservedly' for CoE's 'mistakes' in handling Bishop Bell allegations

The Archbishop of Canterbury was accused yesterday of persisting with a “malign” attack on Bishop George Bell after he refused to exonerate him following a “copycat” allegation of historic child sex abuse.

An official report published yesterday concluded that a 70-year-old allegation against Bishop Bell was unfounded. It found that the evidence of the complainant – a woman named only as “Alison” – was “unreliable” and “inconsistent”.

Alison had written to the Church of England, claiming she had been sexually assaulted by the bishop in 1949 when she was aged nine.

The letter was sent a week after the Church of England was found to have wrongly besmirched Bishop Bell in its handling of a previous complaint brought by a woman known only as “Carol”.

The latest report suggested that Carol’s allegation had “prompted a false recollection in Alison’s mind”.

Yesterday, the Most Rev Justin Welby “apologised unreservedly for the mistakes” in the handling of the complaint made by Carol. But he declined to publicly clear the former Bishop of Chichester of any wrongdoing or retract a statement that he had a “significant cloud … over his name” and that he had been accused of “great wickedness”.

In a private letter, however, sent to Bishop Bell’s closest surviving relative, his niece Barbara Whitley, he wrote: “Once again I offer my sincerest apologies both personally and on behalf of the Church. We did wrong to you and before God.”

Bishop Bell, one of the towering figures of the Church in the 20th century, has been unable to defend himself, having died in 1958. But his supporters urged the Church to restore his reputation after two reports exonerated him.

Ms Whitley, 94, said yesterday: “I would like to see my uncle’s name cleared before I die.”

Desmond Browne QC, a leading barrister who acted for the bishop’s family and who was christened by him in 1949, said: “What is now clear is that the investigations by two experienced lawyers [have established] George Bell’s innocence. But not once [has] the Archbishop of Canterbury offered Bell the presumption of innocence.”

Alison had alleged that Bell, the former bishop of Chichester, had sat her on his lap and “fondled her”.

But the report by Timothy Briden, an ecclesiastical lawyer and vicar general of Canterbury, concluded that in her oral evidence “her attempts to repeat what had been written in the letter displayed, however, a disturbing degree of inconsistency”.

Alison had alleged in the letter the abuse had taken place indoors in front of her mother but in oral testimony thought she had been assaulted outdoors. He concluded that her claim was “unfounded”.

The existence of Alison’s complaint made in December 2017 was made public by the Church of England at a time when it was facing increasing criticism for its handling of the earlier allegation by Carol. Alison’s claim was passed in January 2018 to police, who then dropped the case.

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Bishop George Bell

Mr Briden also investigated a separate complaint made by an 80-year-old witness – known only as K in the report – that his mother had told him that she had seen Bishop Bell “carrying out a sexual act with a man over his Rolls-Royce” in 1967. 

Bishop Bell died in 1958 and did not have a Rolls-Royce. The report said: “The longer that the statement from K’s mother is analysed, the more implausible it appears.”

Lord Carlile, the QC who carried out the damning inquiry into the handling of Carol’s claim, was scathing of the Church of England’s decision to make public the police inquiry into Alison’s complaint.

Lord Carlile said: “I am astonished that the Church [made] public the further complaint against Bishop Bell and the error has been proved by the conclusion of this latest inquiry.”

Prof Andrew Chandler, Bishop Bell’s biographer and spokesman for the George Bell Group, said “the claim by Alison appeared a copycat of Carol’s complaint”. Carol was paid £15,000 compensation in a legal settlement in October 2015.

In his statement yesterday, Archbishop Welby described Bishop Bell as a “remarkable role model”, adding: “I apologise unreservedly for the mistakes made in the process surrounding the handling of the original allegation against Bishop George Bell.” 

But he went on: “It is still the case that there is a woman who came forward with a serious allegation … and this cannot be ignored or swept under the carpet.”

The current Bishop of Chichester, Martin Warner, also declined yesterday to exonerate his predecessor. But he accepted that a public statement he made signifying Bishop Bell’s guilt and released in 2015 after Carol’s claim was settled was probably now an error. 

“Knowing what we now do [we] would want to re-examine that and I don’t think we would [make that statement].”

“Two members of the House of Lords should make a point of reading these inspiring letters: the Archbishop of Canterbury and the current Bishop of Chichester…” ~ Lord Lexden

More information:

https://www.churchtimes.co.uk/articles/2019/12-july/books-arts/book-reviews/the-george-bell-gerhard-leibholz-correspondence-edited-by-gerhard-ringshausen-and-andrew-chandler

https://www.alistairlexden.org.uk/news/great-bishop-and-great-injustice

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…

Jan 31 2019 – “Bishop Bell claims found not proven” – Chichester Observer – Michael Drummond

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‘Bishop Bell’ Portrait Photograph by Howard Coster 1953 [stored by the Canon Librarian in Chichester Cathedral’s Private Library]

https://www.chichester.co.uk/news/crime/new-allegations-against-bishop-george-bell-cannot-be-proven-church-report-finds-1-8788128

New allegations of sexual abuse against Bishop George Bell cannot be proven on the balance of probabilities, a new report from the Church has concluded. Current Bishop of Chichester Dr Martin Warner issued an apology and said that the 70 years since Bishop Bell’s death have ‘defeated the quest for certainty’. Chichester Cathedral The report by Timothy Briden was conducted at the request of Bishop Warner and examined allegations of misconduct against the late Bishop Bell.

However the Church-sponsored inquiry did not include the original allegations made by a woman known as Carol. Highlighted in the report was a claim by a woman known as Alison that Bishop Bell abused her and told her: “This is our secret.” She recalled feeling uncomfortable afterwards and being told that it would be ‘impossible to have the bishop up’ because nobody would believe her.

Mr Briden concluded that her account was ‘not proved on the balance of probabilities’ and said her account was unreliable. Witness evidence from as many as 12 witnesses were examined in the new report. Bishop of Chichester Dr Martin Warner said: “We recognise how damaging and painful this has been. “Bishop Bell cannot be proven guilty, nor can it be safely claimed that the original complainant has been discredited.

PHOTOGRAPH: Bishop of Chichester Martin Warner “There is an uncertainty which cannot be resolved.”

The report can be read in full on the Church of England’s website. Any allegations relating to a woman known as Carol were excluded from the report and were not discussed.

Bishop Warner said: “The judgement from Tim Briden on the new information about Bishop George Bell which came to light at the end of 2017 brings to an end a lengthy examination that has drawn on the recommendations by Lord Alex Carlile in his report on the Church of England’s handling of this matter from the outset.

“The diocese of Chichester has rightly been called to account for its safeguarding failures of the past – shocking and shaming as they were.

READ MORE: ‘Wilful blindness’ existed towards Church child abuse in Chichester diocese, inquiry hears

“We hope that the culture of the diocese has changed. We believe that it has been essential to demonstrate a capacity to respond appropriately to any allegation of sexual abuse by a member of the clergy, no matter how senior, or by any person who holds office in the church. We remain committed to this.

“The Carlile report, and this subsequent investigation, have however shown how much we have had to learn about dealing with cases from the distant past.

“In particular, we have learned that the boundaries of doubt and certainty have to be stated with great care, that the dead and those who are related to them have a right to be represented, and that there must be a balanced assessment of the extent to which it would be in the public interest to announce the details of any allegation.

“We recognise the hurt that has been done to all who have been directly involved, including the family of George Bell and those who continue to respect his achievements, as a result of the areas where we have fallen short. We apologise profoundly and sincerely for our shortcomings in this regard. The responsibility for this is a shared one, as are the lessons learnt from it.

“For the future, we recognise how damaging and painful this has been. We have all been diminished by this case. The legitimate quest for certainty has been defeated by the nature of the case and the passage of time.

“Bishop Bell cannot be proven guilty, nor can it be safely claimed that the original complainant has been discredited. There is an uncertainty which cannot be resolved. We ask those who hold opposing views on this matter to recognize the strength of each other’s commitment to justice and compassion.

“Moreover, we continue to believe that the good things that George Bell did in his life will stand the test of time.

“His prophetic work for peace and his relationship with Dietrich Bonhoeffer are only two of the many ways in which his legacy will go on being of great significance to us in the Church and we hope and pray we can go on learning from what he has given to us.”

 

READ MORE: Revealed: How former Bishop of Lewes failed to report paedophile priests

 

December 2 2017 – Lord Carlile: “A complete loss of authority…the whole conduct of the police in this case [of Damian Green MP] is quite extraordinary”

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Lord Alex Carlile QC

https://www.standard.co.uk/news/politics/tory-war-with-met-police-over-thousands-of-pornographic-images-on-computer-of-damian-green-a3707376.html

Tory war with Met police over ‘thousands of pornographic images on computer of Damian Green

The allegation heaped further pressure on Theresa May’s embattled deputy. However, it also left Scotland Yard in the spotlight about its handling of personal data obtained in investigations.

Lord Carlile, the former watchdog over anti-terror laws, called on Met chief Cressida Dick to exert her “authority” and take control of the force’s handling of the controversy.

He told the Standard it was “unacceptable” for former officers to dredge up old evidence to embarrass people. Ex-Cabinet minister Andrew Mitchell said it was an attempt to “blacken” Mr Green’s name.

The new allegations came from Neil Lewis, who was a Met expert in analysing computers, attached to counter-terrorism investigations. He was part of the team that raided Mr Green’s House of Commons office in 2008.

Neil Lewis said he found thousands of pornographic images on the Cabinet minister’s computer (BBC)

The operation was mounted to catch a Whitehall official leaking secrets to the Tory MP but officers made the chance discovery that Mr Green’s parliamentary computer appeared to have been used to view porn.

In an interview with the BBC, Mr Lewis said he was “shocked” at the volume of pornographic images and had “no doubt whatsoever” in his mind that these were accessed by Mr Green.

His study of the machine suggested someone spent “hours” browsing porn at Mr Green’s desk in the Commons over many weeks. However, he said the images were “legal” and not violent or extreme.

Andrew Mitchell said it was an attempt to “blacken” Mr Green’s name

“The computer was in Mr Green’s office, on his desk, logged in, his account, his name,” said Mr Lewis. “In between browsing pornography, he was sending emails from his account, his personal account, reading documents … it was ridiculous to suggest anybody else could have done it.”

He said that although “you can’t put fingers on a keyboard”, the evidence made him sure it was Mr Green who was accessing the “thumbnail” images. Similar material had also been accessed on Mr Green’s laptop, he claimed.

Mr Green, 61, the MP for Ashford in Kent, became First Secretary of State earlier this year. Experts in civil liberties were shocked by an apparent admission by Mr Lewis that the data copied from Mr Green’s computer was not permanently “deleted” but could have been recovered if needed.

Lord Carlile, a former Lib Dem MP who later served as the independent Government adviser on counter-terror laws, said he was alarmed that retired police officers appeared to be briefing against a Cabinet minister. He said there appeared to be “a complete loss of authority” at Scotland Yard.

“I would expect the Metropolitan Police Commissioner to take charge given that we are dealing with the effective deputy prime minister,” he said.

“I think the whole conduct of the police in this case is quite extraordinary.”

Two senior Tory ex-ministers also criticised the police leaks. Tim Loughton, who sits on the Commons Home Affairs Committee, said: “This whole matter stinks. The Met urgently need to investigate this leak.

“This raises questions of trust in the police if material that was fully investigated nine years ago and did not merit any action mysteriously reappears.”

Mr Mitchell told the Today programme: “Mr Green has been absolutely emphatic in what he said. He has said repeatedly that he never downloaded or viewed this material.

“I think Mr Green is entitled to be believed. I think the hounding of Mr Green over information which everyone is clear was entirely legal and which he has emphatically denied either downloading or viewing is completely wrong.”

“I think it is highly questionable whether a retired police officer should misuse this sort of material in this way and I think the police need to explain why there was any record kept of entirely legal activity.

A Labour legal figure added: “The police can’t just seize your computer for one reason and then blacken your name with what they found on it later, where no charges are brought.

“Trust in the police depends on them keeping confidential material they obtain through using their powers as police officers.”

November 2 2017 – Justice for Bishop Bell hindered by further delay in Church Statement

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Lord Carlile has already concluded the Church of England’s investigation on Bishop Bell was “flawed and unfair”.
The Church, for reasons only known to itself, has delayed the release of its Statement on Bishop Bell until the end of November – maybe even later.
This is likely to create yet another injustice, entirely of the Church’s own making.
Despite this delay, the Bell Society will continue to focus on two local issues:
1. Restoration of 4 Canon Lane back to George Bell House
2. Re-hanging the Portrait of Bishop Bell in the Dresden Room of George Bell House (at present, the Portrait lies in storage within the Cathedral’s private Library.
~ Richard W. Symonds – The Bell Society – Nov 2 2017