Tag Archives: Lord Carlile Review

January 1 2018 – “Justin Welby’s astonishing refusal to accept the outcome of a report he commissioned” – Peter Hitchens – MailOnline

http://hitchensblog.mailonsunday.co.uk/2018/01/justin-welbys-astonishing-refusal-to-accept-the-outcome-of-a-report-he-commissioned.html

01 January 2018 11:38 AM

Justin Welby’s astonishing refusal to accept the outcome of a report he commissioned

I’m posting this item from my Sunday column as a stand-alone article, because it seems to me that the Archbishop of Canterbury’s refusal to accept the outcome of the independent inquiry by Lord Carlile QC – which he himself commissioned – into the George Bell case has become a scandal in its own right.

Not only is it shocking for a man in such a position to reject a report he asked for, and whose author he presumably helped to choose. It is , er, highly disingenuous for the Archbishop to have said (as he did ): ‘Lord Carlile does not seek to say whether George Bell was in fact responsible for for the acts about which the complaint was made’. This is not because Lord Carlile reached no conclusions on that issue. It is because Lord Carlile was narrowly limited in his terms of reference to examining the process by which the Church condemned George Bell. In fact it is plain from the Carlile report that George Bell was condemned on inadequate evidence, sloppily and unfairly gathered and sloppily and unfairly considered. Lord Carlile told me on the day of publication that he, a distinguished QC, would have lost the case had he attempted to prosecute George Bell on such evidence. Given that a man is innocent until proven guilty, and it is plain that the Church has not proved George Bell guilty by any standard, he is therefore innocent.

The Archbishop’s unlovely behaviour is licensing all kinds of people to shuffle and delay over important actions which are necessary to restore Bishop Bell’s good name.

These include the return of his name name to schools and buildings from which it was Stalinistically stripped, the re-hanging of various portraits and pictures of him which have been taken down or moved to less honoured positions, the revision of his Wikipedia entry which currently gives absurd credence to the allegations against him, the rewriting of the Chichester Cathedral guidebook, the renewed observance of the day which commemorates George Bell’s memory in the Church calendar, the return to widespread use of the hymn ‘Christ is the King, written by Bishop Bell, which some churches have abandoned since the allegations surfaced,  and the re-starting of work on a sculpture of him commissioned by Canterbury cathedral, which was abandoned when the claims against him were first published:

 

‘I see the Archbishop of Canterbury. Justin Welby, has been complaining about ‘fake news’. As well he might, since ‘fake news’ is a good description of the statement which Archbishop Welby’s church put out to the media, insinuating incorrectly that the late George Bell was a child molester.

 

Lord Carlile has now produced a devastating report which shows that statement was full of false claims. It said Bishop Bell would have been arrested if he’d still been alive, when he wouldn’t have been. It said there had been a thorough investigation – when there hadn’t been. It said experts had found no reason to doubt the charges, when one expert most definitely had found such a reason and clearly said so.

 

Yet despite this total demolition of a case that any court would have thrown out, Archbishop Welby continues to claim (more fake news?) that there is a ‘cloud’ over George Bell’s name, like some dim wiseacre in a pub, utterly defeated in an argument by facts and logic,  intoning doggedly that ‘there’s no smoke without fire’. The only cloud over Bishop Bell’s name hangs there because Justin Welby’s pride prevents him from admitting he got it wrong.  He knows what he needs to do.’

 

Perhaps, because of its severe and careful ,legal language, some people may not have realised just how devastating Lord Carlile’s report was to the case against George Bell.

 

It may be read here

https://www.churchofengland.org/sites/default/files/2017-12/Bishop%20George%20Bell%20-%20The%20Independent%20Review.pdf

November 18 2017 – ‘Bishop Bell’ Letter by Ruth Hildebrandt Grayson – Church Times – Nov 17 2017

IMG_0167

From Dr Ruth Hildebrandt Grayson

Sir, – I was appalled to read the Revd Tom Brazier’s assertion that we “do no further harm” to anyone, if we happen to ruin the reputation of a deceased person against whom allegations of abuse have been made by apologising to the complainant (Letters, 10 November).

I am the daughter of one of the late Bishop Bell’s closest friends. I have been privileged to work over the last two years with many people who are seeking justice for George Bell: as relatives, friends, biographer, clergy, lawyers, journalists, and other supporters.

We have been deeply dismayed by the possibility of a miscarriage of justice in this case, and I am sure none of us would endorse the statement that “no further harm” has been done to the reputation and legacy of one of the country’s greatest Bishops.

I would suggest that Mr Brazier visit Chichester and find out for himself just how much harm has been done.

While we await the publication of the Carlile report on the procedures followed in this instance, the House of Bishops has produced two policy statements in 2017 which are relevant to it.

One [policy] notes that when investigating a complaint against an accused church officer, “a legal presumption of innocence will be maintained during the statutory and Church enquiry processes.” As the Revd Clifford Hall pointed out (Letters, 3 November), this did not happen in the case of the late Bishop Bell, who was presumed guilty on the basis of a single unchallenged accusation, without the production even a shred of hard evidence against him; and it may indicate that correct procedures – as required by the law of the land – were not followed here.

The other policy was published on 13 October, immediately after the Church’s receipt of Lord Carlile’s report. It states that those receiving safeguarding allegations against a church officer must “ensure that [the complainants] feel heard and taken seriously”.

This is not the same as saying that only their account of the matter should be considered. Indeed, it may well mean that it is not appropriate to apologise to a complainant without a complete and impartial investigation of both sides of the case, even when the accused is dead. The defendant may no longer be able to speak for himself, but other sources are often available.

Many of us are concerned that there appears to be a delay in publishing Lord Carlile’s findings in the George Bell case. I trust that the church authorities will see fit to release the report in its entirety soon.

Otherwise, rumours about the rights and wrongs of the case will continue to circulate that can only further damage the Church’s reputation over the handling of this matter.

To support a potential miscarriage of justice in this or any other case, on the grounds that the accused is already “entrusted to the Father”, beggars belief.

R.H. GRAYSON

Sheffield

 

UNEDITED VERSION

Sir,

I was appalled to read the Revd Tom Brazier’s assertion that we ‘do no further harm’ to anyone if we happen to ruin the reputation of a deceased person against whom allegations of abuse have been made by apologising to the complainant (Letters, Church Times, 10 November 2017). His comment was made in response to the Revd Clifford Hall’s question of the previous week regarding apologies made by senior clergy in the case of another deceased bishop: ‘Have they learned nothing from Bishop Bell’s case?  When will the persecution of those conclusively presumed innocent until the contrary is proven cease?’ (Letters, Church Times, 3 November 2017)

For the Revd Brazier’s information, I am the daughter of one of the late Bishop Bell’s closest friends.  I have been privileged to work over the past two years with many people who are seeking justice for George Bell: as relatives, friends, biographer, clergy, lawyers, journalists, and other supporters.  We have been deeply dismayed by the possibility of a miscarriage of justice in this case; and I am sure none of us would endorse the statement that ‘no further harm’ has been done to the reputation and legacy of one of the country’s greatest bishops.  I would suggest that Revd Brazier visit Chichester and find out for himself just how much harm has been done.

While we await the publication of the Carlile report into the procedures followed in this instance, the House of Bishops has produced two policy statements in 2017 that are relevant to it.  One notes that when investigating a complaint against an accused Church officer, ‘a legal presumption of innocence will be maintained during the statutory and Church enquiry processes’.  As Revd Hall points out, this did not happen in the case of the late Bishop Bell, who was presumed guilty on the basis of a single unchallenged accusation without a shred of hard evidence ever being produced against him; and it may indicate that correct procedures – as required by the law of the land – were not followed here. It is unbelievable that a member of the clergy could publicly advocate ignoring such a fundamental precept of English law.  Moreover, it is simply not correct to claim that because an alleged perpetrator is dead, the truth may never be discovered.

The other policy was published on 13 October 2017, immediately after the Church’s receipt of Lord Carlile’s report.  It states that those receiving safeguarding allegations against a church officer must ‘ensure that [the complainants] feel heard and taken seriously’.  This is not the same as saying that only their account of the matter should be considered.  Indeed, it may well mean that it is not appropriate to apologise to a complainant without a complete and impartial investigation of both sides of the case, even when the accused is dead.  The defendant may no longer be able to speak for himself, but other sources – including family members and other witnesses – are often available.

Many of us are concerned that there appears to be some delay in publishing Lord Carlile’s findings in the George Bell case.  I trust that the Church authorities will see fit to release the report in its entirety in the very near future.  Otherwise, rumours as to the rights and wrongs of the case will continue to circulate that can only further damage the Church’s reputation over its handling of this matter.  To support a potential miscarriage of justice in this or any other case on the grounds that the accused is already ‘entrusted to the Father’ beggars belief.

Dr Ruth Hildebrandt Grayson

October 1 2017 – Commemoration Service at St Martin-within-Ludgate [Ludgate Hill] to mark Bishop Bell’s 59th Anniversary – Wednesday October 4 (5pm)

the-wren-church-of-st-martin-within-ludgate-a-christopher-wren-designed-ED7N6N

St Martin within Ludgate, Ludgate Hill, London

https://www.spectator.co.uk/2017/09/greater-european-integration-will-do-great-harm-to-all-europeans/ (last paragraph):

Readers may remember this column’s campaign to restore the reputation of George Bell, courageous wartime Bishop of Chichester, posthumously condemned, on paltry evidence, of child abuse. This weekend, Lord Carlile QC will hand in to the church authorities his report on the processes they used to condemn Bell. It will be public in a few weeks. In the meantime, a service will commemorate Bell at 5 p.m. at St Martin within Ludgate, London, on Wednesday 4 October. All welcome” ~ Charles Moore – The Spectator