Tag Archives: Paul Handley

SEPTEMBER 30 2020 – “CHURCH HAS FAILED BISHOP BELL. PUBLIC RETRACTION SOUGHT” – ‘VIRTUE ONLINE’

https://virtueonline.org/church-has-failed-bishop-bell-public-retraction-sought

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The Church has failed Bishop Bell. Public Retraction Sought

By Richard W. Symonds
September 28, 2020

The Archbishops of Canterbury and York stated last week [“New scheme ‘marks turning point’ in Church’s treatment of survivors”, Church Times, Sept 25]:
“As we await IICSA’s report…we continue to pray for survivors and all those the Church has failed”

The Church has failed the wartime Bishop of Chichester George Bell, and will continue to do so until there is a public retraction of the “significant cloud” remark by Archbishop Justin Welby, and the name of George Bell House is restored by the Bishop of Chichester Martin Warner.

Archbishop Welby and Bishop Warner still appear to believe there is ‘no smoke without fire’ regarding the Bishop Bell abuse allegations, even though the two separate investigations by Lord Carlile QC and Timothy Briden – commissioned by the Church – have clearly shown there is ‘no smoke and no fire’.

Both have the power to heal serious divisions within a Cathedral community – and beyond it.

It is also within their power to commission another investigation into ‘mistaken identity’. ‘Carol’ was clearly abused when she was 8 years old — and she should be fully believed and supported — but there is now clear evidence her abuser was not Bishop Bell.

Yours sincerely

Richard W. Symonds
The Bell Society
2 Lychgate Cottages
Ifield Street, Ifield Village
Crawley – Gatwick
West Sussex RH11 0NN
Tel: 07540 309592 [Text only please]
Email: richardsy5@aol.com

Below is the Church Times article.

New scheme ‘marks turning point’ in Church’s treatment of survivors

By PAUL HANDLEY
The Church Times
26 SEPTEMBER 2020

THE Archbishops’ Council has approved an interim pilot scheme for survivors of abuse in the C of E, as part of what the Archbishops of Canterbury and York describe as “a turning point” in the Church’s treatment of survivors.

The sum available has not been disclosed, but is believed to be in six figures. Survivors campaigning for redress had argued in the past that anything less than £250,000 would not be worth offering.

The announcement of the fund on Friday was accompanied by a commitment by the Archbishops’ Council “to urgently pursue the principle of independent safeguarding recognising the need for greater independence and transparency of safeguarding”.

The Church’s hierarchy has long accepted the need to address the question of redress for survivors of church-based sexual abuse, but survivors have been frustrated by the time it has taken to come up with a scheme.

The issue has gained fresh impetus with the appointment of the Bishop of Huddersfield, Dr Jonathan Gibbs, as the Church’s lead bishop of safeguarding, and the imminence of the final report on the Church of England from the Independent Inquiry on Child Sexual Abuse (IICSA), due to be published on 6 October.

Five weeks ago, the Archbishop of Canterbury released emergency funds for “VB”, whose business was in danger of going under because of a severe bout of depression linked with his abuse (News, 21 August). It is understood that VB has been offered further sums from the new pilot scheme.

The pilot scheme is geared to those survivors’ cases which are already known to the Church, “where the survivor is known to be in seriously distressed circumstances, and the Church has a heightened responsibility because of the way the survivor was responded to following disclosure”, a statement said on Friday.

Lessons learnt from the pilot will inform the creation of a full redress scheme.

A statement from the Archbishops of Canterbury and York, joint chairs of the Archbishops’ Council, spoke of “a long, honest, and soberingly frank discussion. . .

“The issue of independence is something we have taken a personal lead on and are very committed to. We are glad that the Church is now going to make this happen. Along with providing redress for victims and survivors, this is the next step we must take.

“Today’s meeting and these decisions feel like a turning point. As we await IICSA’s report into the Church of England, we continue to pray for survivors and all those the Church has failed. We are profoundly sorry for our failings, but today our words of sorrow are matched by actions that we believe will lead to real change. We hope that this will provide some hope for the future.”

Dr Gibbs described the move as “an endorsement by the Archbishops’ Council of General Synod’s unanimous vote in February for a more fully survivor-centred approach to safeguarding, including arrangements for redress”.

The interim scheme is expected to help between five and ten survivors initially, although any survivor of church-based abuse “who is in dire straits” can request help. This can be at any stage of their case management, even if they have already accepted a settlement with an insurer.

If it is a recent case, the diocese would be expected to support the application, but a survivor unwilling to engage with the diocese can apply direct. The presumption is that the survivor’s present difficulties are wholly or partially a consequence of past abuse “and/or the re-abuse through the Church’s actions in response to their report of abuse”.

The scheme will be able to offer cash sums, but the emphasis will be on funding support such as financial/debt counselling, therapeutic support, seed funding to help with employment. Help with housing is also a possibility, but is expected to be offered rarely.

Andrew Graystone, who has worked as advocate for victims of abuse, said on Friday: “It is good that the Council seems to have acknowledged — I think for the first time — that the Church cannot deal with safeguarding failures in-house.

“Victims have said for a long time that independent scrutiny and management of safeguarding is the only way to make the church safer. I’m glad that the Archbishops are both now committed to this. I fully expect that IICSA will demand nothing less.”

He said that survivors remained sceptical that a full redress system would be in place in 12 to 15 months, a suggestion from the safeguarding bishops. The interim pilot support scheme was therefore welcome.

He warned, though, that it had to be properly funded. “If the fund runs out in three months, victims will be further damaged.”

And he reminded the Church of the severity of the need. “The Church shouldn’t look at this as an act of generosity, but as the very beginnings of paying its debt to survivors of abuse. The lead bishops know that this fund will do nothing more than rescue a few survivors from the cliff edge. It’s not a repair fund, but a suicide-prevention budget.”

In the view of survivors, the Church should restore them to the place they were when they disclosed their abuse. “No one should be worse off because they have disclosed what was done to them,” Mr Graystone said.

“Beyond that, the needs of survivors are very varied and lifelong. They may include housing, counselling, information, and apology, as well as financial support for lost income. It’s never just a matter of writing a cheque to make things better. I’m glad that the Lead Bishops recognise this, and are committed to designing bespoke packages for individual survivors.”

END

JULY 24 2020 – “HAVING PEOPLE ON A CORE GROUP WITH A CONFLICT OF INTEREST IS SIMPLY NOT SUSTAINABLE AND IS, ON THE FACE OF IT, UNLAWFUL. AND TO FAIL TO ALLOW THE PERSON TO REPRESENT THEMSELVES, OR BE REPRESENTED, IN THE FULL KNOWLEDGE OF THE ACCUSATION, IS NOT SUSTAINABLE, AND IS, ON THE FACE OF IT, UNLAWFUL” ~ LORD ALEX CARLILE QC

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Lord Alex Carlile QC

“HAVING PEOPLE ON A CORE GROUP WITH A CONFLICT OF INTEREST IS SIMPLY NOT SUSTAINABLE AND IS, ON THE FACE OF IT, UNLAWFUL. AND TO FAIL TO ALLOW THE PERSON TO REPRESENT THEMSELVES, OR BE REPRESENTED, IN THE FULL KNOWLEDGE OF THE ACCUSATION IS NOT SUSTAINABLE, AND IS, ON THE FACE OF IT, UNLAWFUL” ~ LORD ALEX CARLILE QC

 

“Perhaps this is an appropriate time to be reminded of what Lord Carlile also said last year – February 1 2019: “I hope that this event [‘Rebuilding Bridges’ – Ed] will add to the clamour for the Church to admit the awful mistakes it has made in dealing with unsubstantiated allegations against Bishop Bell. His name should never have been publicised before allegations were investigated. 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” ~ Richard W. Symonds

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Richard W. Symonds – The Bell Society

 

 

“LORD CARLILE QUESTIONS LAWFULNESS OF PERCY SAFEGUARDING INVESTGATION” – ‘THINKING ANGLICANS’ – SIMON SARMIENTO

by PAUL HANDLEY

24 JULY 2020

Lord Carlile’s remarks refer to safeguarding core group’s meeting

 

DAVID HARTLEY/CHURCH TIMES

The Very Revd Professor Martyn Percy

 

LORD CARLILE, a leading QC, has suggested that the safeguarding  investigation into the Dean of Christ Church, the Very Revd Professor Martyn Percy, is potentially unlawful.

His remarks this week relate to the creation of a safeguarding core group containing senior figures from Christ Church College, Oxford, who had complained to the Church’s National Safeguarding Team (NST) about the Dean, who is also the college’s Head of House.

The complaint is the latest move in a long-running dispute, during which, at one point, the Dean was suspended from his duties at both the college and the cathedral. The Dean was cleared of all the original charges in an internal inquiry led by Sir Andrew Smith (News, 23 August 2019), but is not being permitted to chair most of the college’s Governing Body while an employment tribunal is pending for the recovery of the near-£500,000 legal costs of his defence. The college’s legal bill is now alleged to be about £3 million.

Colleagues of the Dean have argued that, by agreeing to investigate the safeguarding accusations lodged by officers of the college, the Church of England is being “played” (News, 19 June). The Dean denies any mishandling of the four incidents under investigation.

A meeting of the safeguarding core group to consider the case was held on 13 March. As is customary, the Dean, as the person accused, was not represented. The group, however, contained three members of Christ Church who had made complaints against him. One left Oxford shortly afterwards; the other two have since been removed (News, 17 July).

That March meeting, however, is the only one that has been held, and approved the basis of the investigation into the Dean.

Lord Carlile, a former president of the Howard League for Penal Reform, became familiar with the C of E’s safeguarding practices through his independent investigation of the posthumous accusations against the late Bishop of Chichester George Bell. He concluded that the Church had “failed to engage in a process which would also give proper consideration to the rights of the bishop” (News, 22 December 2017).

Speaking on Monday, he said: “I do not believe that the Church has got to grips with the fundamental principles of adversary justice, one of which is that you must disclose the evidence that you have against someone, and give them an equal opportunity to be heard as those making the accusation.

“And you cannot give them an equal opportunity if there are conflicts of interest involved. Anyone with a conflict of interest must leave the deliberations and take no further part. This is what lawyers understand as the law of apparent bias. It’s not to say that such people are biased: that’s often misunderstood. It is the appearance of bias that matters.

“Having people on a core group with a conflict of interest is simply not sustainable and is, on the face of it, unlawful.

“And to fail to allow the person accused to represent themselves, or be represented, in the full knowledge of the accusation, is not sustainable, and is, on the face of it, unlawful.”

There are other complications to this case. It seems that no minutes were taken at the 13 March core-group meeting. A later note, circulated by its chair in mid-June, does not record any question about conflicts of interest. Dean Percy contends that further conflicts of interest exist, in that the majority of the group’s members have had dealings with WS Law (Winckworth Sherwood), the Oxford-based legal firm that has represented Christ Church in its dispute with the Dean.

It further emerges that Chris Smart, the independent investigator appointed by the NST, has Alison Talbot, a partner at WS Law, as his Christ Church point of contact. She is said to have been “assisting him with his enquiries”, but had not, apparently, disclosed to him that she was involved in the legal dispute. Nor had two of the original complainants on the core group.

Several colleagues of the Dean, as well as other legal experts, have also queried the NST’s jurisdiction. Christ Church is essentially outside the diocesan structure, and the safeguarding concerns were reported to its Dean as Head of House. Dean Percy is currently awaiting a legal justification for the investigation from the secretary-general of the Archbishops’ Council, William Nye.

As it stands, clerics who are employed by bodies other than the Church, such as hospital or college chaplains, must have “due regard” for the Church’s safeguarding protocols. Although Dean Percy is Dean of Christ Church Cathedral, he has no need for permission to officiate from the Bishop of Oxford. It is thought, none the less, that the core group’s report will eventually go to the Bishop.

OTHER STORIES

Two members are removed from core group in Percy case, owing to conflict of interest

 

The Dean has consistently argued that any allegations of past abuse made by adults are subject to clergy codes of conduct, data protection, and college and university codes of confidentiality. All were adults; none was at risk; and none of the alleged perpetrators was in a position to commit any further harm. When Christ Church approached the police, the police declined to investigate further. The University of Oxford has taken a similar line. None of the four alleged survivors has complained about Dean Percy.

In the mean time, senior figures at Christ Church are continuing, in the words of some observers, to “weaponise” the investigation. At a recent meeting, members of the Governing Body were reportedly told by senior figures in the dispute that, with “new students potentially arriving in the autumn, the Dean is a safeguarding risk”, and that they were “constantly monitoring the risks the Dean poses”.

As a consequence, the Dean asked the NST for an unequivocal statement that he was not a safeguarding risk. The NST has complied: a statement has been posted this week on the C of E website: “The safeguarding issues referred to the NST are being looked at by an independent investigator and we would like to stress there is no evidence at this time that the Dean presents a direct risk to any child or vulnerable adult. The referral is about whether safeguarding responsibilities were fulfilled.”