Tag Archives: Lord Carlile

March 27 2018 – “Church safeguarding” – Daily Telegraph – Letter – Arthur Varndell of Storrington, West Sussex

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“Church safeguarding”

Sir – I think I may be able to enlighten Ruth Hildebrandt Grayson (Letters, March 24) who writes about the case of Bishop Bell, as to the Church of England’s thinking on safeguarding.

At a recent parochial church council meeting in the Chichester diocese, a parish safeguarding officer gave a briefing on the introduction of a programme being trialled in the diocese. Bishop Bell and others were mentioned, along with the stance taken by Archbishop Justin Welby.

The meeting was told that a change of mindset is needed. The old idea that one is “innocent until proven guilty” does not apply when dealing with a safeguarding complaint; the view has to be that there is a case to answer, and the defendant must prove his innocence.

Clearly Lord Carlile was operating under the old rules and Bishop Bell can never comply with the new rules.

In this way, church leaders are able to accept almost all of Lord Carlile’s report but still maintain there is a shadow over Bishop Bell.

Arthur Varndell

Storrington, West Sussex 

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Case for Bishop Bell

Sir – The Archbishop of Canterbury, the Most Rev Justin Welby, is not alone in being ashamed of the Church in its handling of child abuse cases in the Diocese of Chichester (report, March 22). So are quite a few others. And some of us would add that we are ashamed of Archbishop Welby too.

At the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse hearing on Wednesday, the Archbishop was questioned about his continuing attack on the late Bishop George Bell, whose reputation has been besmirched by what Lord Carlile, the Church’s own eminent appointee to examine its legal processes, has described as a very misguided rush to judgement on a single accusation of historic child sexual abuse.

The continued anger that the case has aroused has nothing to do with Bishop Bell’s eminent reputation. It has everything to do with the fact that no one has ever been allowed to present a case in his defence.

The recent effort by the family to appoint its own lawyer in a new investigation has been turned down by the Chichester authorities. And once again, the Archbishop missed a chance to affirm his belief in Bishop Bell’s innocence as presumed by the law.

When will the Archbishop have the grace to admit that the Church leaders responsible for handling the George Bell case – including himself – have made the most colossal error of judgement in this instance?

Dr Ruth Hildebrandt Grayson

Sheffield, South Yorkshire

March 22 2018 – An Archbishop on Justice and Presumption of Guilt – Rumpole on Justice and Presumption of Innocence

March 22 2018 – IICSA Transcript – Wednesday March 21

Archbishop Justin Welby

Page 119-120 [Paras 21-25]

and at the heart of this has to be justice, and justice is a very, very difficult thing to find, as you know much better than I do, but we have to have a system that delivers justice. That is so important. And if it doesn’t, it’s not good enough.

Fiona Scolding QC

Page 123 [Paras 14-25] Page 124 [Paras 1-8]

One of the points that Lord Carlile makes is that the church didn’t take a good enough account of…George Bell’s reputation. Now, we have heard from several individuals about their views about that. But what he seems to suggest is, you have to start — you know, this was such a Titanic figure that one must assume that his reputation is unblemished and, therefore, that has to be weighed very heavily in the balance. Do you have any response to that?

Archbishop Justin Welby

I think the greatest tragedy of all these cases is that people have trusted, very often, those who were locally, in diocesan terms, or nationally Titanic figures, and have then found that they were not worthy of their trust. The fact that someone is a titanic figure doesn’t tell you anything at all, except that they have done remarkable things in one area. It doesn’t tell you about the rest of their lives. And it is not something that we can take into account.

March 22 2018 – From The Archives [1988 – “Rumpole of the Bailey” with Leo McKern – Episode: ‘Rumpole and the Age of Miracles’ [Series 5 Disc 2) – Filmed on location at Chichester Cathedral [‘The Diocese of Lawnchester’ – Ecclesiastical Court]

Rumpole: “I happen to have a good deal of faith”

Ballard: “Yes, in what precisely?”

Rumpole: “The health-giving properties of Claret. The presumption of innocence…that golden thread running through British justice”

March 3 2018 – “Poor treatment of moral figure” – Chichester Observer – Letters – Tim Hudson

https://www.chichester.co.uk/news/your-say/letter-poor-treatment-of-moral-figure-1-8399047

LETTER: Poor treatment of moral figure TIM HUDSON, HAWTHORN CLOSE, CHICHESTER Published: 20:00 Thursday 01 March 2018

On Monday 5 March the independent inquiry into child sexual abuse, chaired by Professor Alexis Jay, will begin its consideration of the Church of England, especially Chichester diocese.

The details so far known about our diocese are lurid and they will become more so; some clergy already are or have been in prison, including a former Bishop of Lewes, Peter Ball.

The independent inquiry will also look at the case of Bishop George Bell (died 1958), who has not been convicted of any child abuse, but whose reputation has nevertheless been shredded by the Church over the last two years. Notably by the Archbishop of Canterbury himself, who, ignoring the findings of Lord Carlile’s report on the accusation against Bell delivered before Christmas, still regards the long-deceased bishop as being ‘under a cloud’.

In this context the Bishop of Chichester’s recent ‘Just a Thought’ (15 February) makes dispiriting reading. Bishop Martin tells us apropos of the grant to Tim Peake of the Freedom of the City that ‘the Christian welcome also wants to say some things about what makes a good citizen: … respect for human dignity, honesty, justice and the common good’.

Can the bishop really claim that the way the Church of England has treated and still treats Bell, a figure of towering moral authority before and during the Second World War, exemplifies those qualities in full, or even at all?

Bell’s surviving family and friends, besides his many younger admirers in the UK, Germany and elsewhere, would certainly not agree.

March 2 2018 – “IICSA hearing likely to prompt more disclosures of abuse, Church of England safeguarding officials say” – Church Times – Hattie Williams

https://www.churchtimes.co.uk/articles/2018/2-march/news/uk/iicsa-hearing-more-disclosures-abuse-church-of-england-safeguarding-officials

IICSA hearing likely to prompt more disclosures of abuse, C of E safeguarding officials say

02 MARCH 2018

IICSA

Professor Alexis Jay and members of the Inquiry panel

THE Church of England must be prepared for new revelations and disclosures of clerical sex abuse during, and in the wake of, a public hearing of the Independent Inquiry into Child Sex Abuse (IICSA), a spokesperson for the National Safeguarding Team (NST) has said.

Starting on Monday, the public hearing in London will consider the extent of any institutional failures to protect children from sexual abuse within the Anglican Church.

It will use the diocese of Chichester as a case study to examine the “culture of the Church” and whether its “behaviours, values, and beliefs inhibited or continued to inhibit the investigation, exposure, and prevention of child sexual abuse” (News, 2 February).

An NST spokesperson said on Tuesday: “High-profile cases that we have been involved with before, such as independent reviews, have led to more disclosures. We must assume that people will come forward for the first time: we would not want to rule that out.”

The public hearing is due to conclude on 23 March.

It is one of 13 investigations included in the IICSA — the largest public inquiry ever undertaken in the UK, which is looking into several institutions, including the Roman Catholic Church and local-authority children’s homes.

The Archbishop of Canterbury confirmed last week that he had been called to give evidence at the Chichester hearing. He said that the Church had to acknowledge “where it went wrong” — but that this did not mean that Christian values were wrong.

“It doesn’t mean that our Christian heritage was somehow totally misguided from beginning to end: it means that the Church did awful things (as well as many good things), but that it failed badly around the issues of the care of vulnerable children and adults,” he said.

“We have to face the consequences of that, [learn] to be genuinely transparent and honest, and we have to be repentant. We need to use religious language to repent.”

The former Archbishop of Canterbury Lord Williams, and the current Bishop of Chichester, Dr Martin Warner — who have both submitted statements — are also expected to be called to give evidence at the hearing, although the final timetable has yet to be confirmed.

The hearing will also examine C of E safeguarding policies, training, leadership, recruitment, and disciplinary processes, how effectively it has worked with statutory organisations, and its treatment of survivors, including the handling of allegations against a former Bishop of Chichester, George Bell.

Professional support will be made available by the IICSA to those present at the hearing. The NST has arranged for at least one bishop to be there on each day to provide pastoral support, as well as a private room for quiet reflection.

A spokesperson for the NST said that it had been working towards openness and transparency. “Given the history and legacy of poor practice, we have taken the issue of transparency into our approach to the inquiry: we have commissioned independent reviews, built a culture of continuous learning, and independently audited each of the 42 dioceses, all of which are being published.

“The Inquiry will be a difficult experience for survivors, the Church, and society, but we have to approach it as an opportunity to improve, to learn, to build on the work we are doing, and, hopefully, accelerate that work for the future.”

Ongoing safeguarding allegations. It was revealed this week that The General Synod was misinformed last month about the number of safeguarding allegations being handled by the dioceses, it was revealed this week.

There are in fact about 2600 cases ongoing, not 3300, as previously reported by the Bishop of Bath and Wells, the Rt Revd Peter Hancock, in a written question to a Synod member, Kat Alldread, last month (News, 16 February).

More than half of these 2600 cases involved children, and more than a quarter related to church officers — not 18 per cent as previously reported, the clerk to the Synod, Dr Jacqui Philips, confirmed in a letter to Mrs Alldread this week.

A church officer is defined as anyone who is appointed or elected by or on behalf of the Church to a post whether they are ordained or lay, paid or unpaid.

February 28 2018 – “The Importance of Bishop Bell” – F.A.C.T. [Falsely Accused Carers & Teachers]

https://factuk.org/2018/01/25/the-importance-of-bishop-george-bell/

The importance of Bishop George Bell

January 25, 2018

Bishop George Bell (1883 – 1958) is famed for being one of the first to speak out against the dangers Hitler posed in the 1930s and for saving many lives during these years by guaranteeing refugees from Germany. He was one of the few to condemn our government’s obliteration bombing of German cities during the Second World War. He has been, and is, a revered and respected figure.

In 1995 (37 years after he had died) a complaint was made that Bell had abused a child in the 1940’s and 1950’s. The complaint was not passed to the police at the time but was passed to them when the complaint was repeated in 2013. The Church paid compensation to the complainant in 2015 and in 2016 the Church of England commissioned Lord Carlile to review their procedures concerning the investigation into the case. The resulting review was scathing in its criticism of the Church’s handling of the allegations against Bell. Lord Carlile concludes “The Core Group was set up in an unmethodical and unplanned way, with neither terms of reference nor any clear direction as to how it would operate. As a result, it became a confused and unstructured process, as several members confirmed” and “There was no organised or valuable inquiry or investigation into the merits of the allegations, and the standpoint of Bishop Bell was never given parity or proportionality.”

In spite of Carlile’s criticisms the Church remains undeterred in holding Bell responsible. Bell’s name stays removed from buildings, colleges and institutions and his reputation traduced. The problems inherent in a system, like the Church, concerning safeguarding and issues of justice affect all who work or are involved in a church. The case concerning Bishop George Bell has highlighted the flaws and gives no assurance that justice will be done for the accused as well as for the complainant.

As the George Bell Group writes, “Lord Carlile’s report has now left the Church with many searching questions, including how best to remedy the many defects in the current Practice Guidance so as to ensure that such an injustice can never recur.”

Unfortunately this injustice is already happening to innocent people in the Church.

Lucy

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February 26 2018 – “The Church of England should stand up for Bishop Bell” – OXSTU [Oxford Student]

http://oxfordstudent.com/2018/02/25/church-england-stand-bishop-bell/

The Church of England should stand up for Bishop Bell

A short biography of George Bell, who had been Bishop of Chichester for 27 years when he died in 1958, begins by acknowledging a recurring pattern regarding the reputation of notable people. It points out that after such people die, their reputations are often reshaped and defamed by harsh criticism not voiced during their lifetimes – but that the Bishop had managed to be an exception to this rule.

This claim, published in 1971, would no longer be written today. Whilst the memory of George Bell has been cherished over the past 60 years due to his significant support of the Protestant opposition to Hitler, his work in bringing over many non-Aryan refugees from Germany and his emphatic opposition to the bombing of civilians during the Second World War, Bell’s reputation is now at risk of being utterly decimated. A complaint made to the Archbishop of Canterbury in 2013 accused Bell of having committed grotesque acts of child abuse in the 1940s and 50s. In response, the Church apologised and paid the accuser £16,800 in compensation. Various memorials, such as one proclaiming him a ‘champion of the oppressed’ in Chichester Cathedral, faced removal. An Eastbourne school, formerly known as the Bishop Bell Church of England School, has changed its name altogether.

Most would agree that this sort of action would be justified in the face of conclusive evidence against Bell. But it has since transpired that the church acted far too hastily. Following their acceptance of the abuse claims, a robust movement was sparked to defend Bell’s reputation, involving major journalists such as Charles Moore and Peter Hitchens. The Church then initiated an independent inquiry, led by Lord Carlile (one of the country’s top legal experts), which concluded that they had “rushed to judgement” and that the damage to Bell’s reputation was “just wrong”. Lord Carlile even went so far as to say that had he been prosecuting a case against Bell in court, Bell would have won. Nevertheless, this report was withheld by the Church for two months. After its eventual release, Justin Welby insisted that a “significant cloud” still hangs over Bell’s name in spite of Lord Carlile’s conclusions.

We should be equally concerned for protecting Bell’s reputation against false accusations as we are for spoiling his reputation over true accusations

This strange outcome highlights an element of mystery that has surrounded the Bell case. The initial claim against Bell was anonymous and the church revealed no details about the accusation when making their apology. As mentioned, it took two months for the Church to release the Carlile report after having received it. Once it was released, Justin Welby did not follow the logical implications of the report, but refused to retract his statements because of a vague belief in a “cloud”. On the 31st January, the enigmatic plot thickened when the Church announced that a further anonymous and unspecified accusation had been made and was being investigated. Some felt the timing of this was suspicious, given that a motion to debate the restoration of Bell’s reputation was due to be voted on at the Church’s General Synod the following week. Lord Carlile, who knew nothing of this accusation during his investigation, described the announcement as ‘unwise, unnecessary and foolish’. At the very least, we can all recognise the strange and stark asymmetry between the previous withholding of the completed Carlile investigation report and the eagerness of the recent announcement of an incomplete investigation. Things got worse when it emerged that the Church of England had refused to allow Mrs Barbara Whitley, Bell’s 93-year-old niece, to have the lawyer of her choice represent her side in the proceedings – instead choosing on her behalf someone who is neither a lawyer nor known to Mrs Whitley.

At this point, while many will sympathise with the active supporters of George Bell, which now includes leading groups of historians, theologians and church leaders who have written public letters asking for Welby to retract his statement, others feel a sense of unease. After all, it is of course possible that the accusations are true. Justin Welby, in a recent interview with the Church Times, said that the alleged victims should be “treated equally importantly” as the reputation of George Bell. Some would say this does not go far enough: surely we must be more concerned for the alleged victims, who are still living, over the reputation of someone who died 60 years ago?

The general nervousness of the Church of England’s handling of the Bell case must be related to the fact that the Church currently faces over 3,000 complaints of sexual abuse

Perhaps a better way of framing this would be to say that we should be equally concerned for protecting Bell’s reputation against false accusations as we are for spoiling his reputation over true accusations. The trouble is that most people have an instinctive tendency to find the latter much easier than the former. When the Church of England apologised and paid the first alleged victim in 2015, The Guardian ran the story with the headline “Church of England Bishop George Bell abused young child”. At that stage, nothing was known about the identity of the accuser nor the accusations, and yet headlines announced the claims as fact. Once the Carlile report was made public, it would have been no less factual to run the headline ‘George Bell declared innocent of abuse claims’, yet nobody did so. In fact, most would consider this overstepping the mark.

The general nervousness of the Church of England’s handling of the Bell case must be related to the fact that the Church currently faces over 3,000 complaints of sexual abuse (including both long-standing and recent accusations). Other high-profile cases of clergy committing child abuse, such as that of former bishop Peter Ball, have highlighted the shocking failures of senior clerics to listen to victims and pass allegations on to the police. Taking into consideration the sharp spike in awareness of the prevalence of sexual abuse in society more broadly, following Weinstein, Larry Nassar and the #MeToo movement, it is not hard to imagine why the Archbishop of Canterbury would not want to stick his head above the parapet and defend the innocence of an archetypal establishment figure: a dead, white, male clergyman.

Courage, after all, comes at a cost. George Bell discovered this himself when his opposition to the bombing of innocent civilians during the Second World War put him on the wrong side of Winston Churchill, probably the main reason why he was never appointed Archbishop of Canterbury. In the absence of substantial evidence in support of the accusations against him, Bell’s reputation deserves to be defended. This is not only in the interest of truth, but also in the interest of maintaining a legacy of courageous leadership which is desperately needed among Bell’s clerical successors today.