Tag Archives: Peter Ball

July 24 2019 – “Professional Bullies” and the Church of England

2000px-Logo_of_the_Church_of_England.svg

“The sex abuse that was perpetrated upon me by Peter Ball pales into insignificance when compared to the entirely cruel and sadistic treatment that has been meted out to me by officials, both lay and ordained. I know from the testimony of other people who have got in touch with me over the last five or 10 years that what I have experienced is not dissimilar to the experience of so many others and I use these words cruel and sadistic because I think that is how they behave. It is an ecclesiastical protection racket and [the attitude is that] anyone who seeks to in any way threaten the reputation of the church as an institution has to be destroyed”
~ Revd Graham Sawyer – IICSA Inquiry – July 2018

1. “An ethically challenged Church? Bullying and threats” – ‘Surviving Church’ – Stephen Parsons

Among the many documents attached to the recent IICSA hearings was an email correspondence dating back to 2015 between a survivors’ group and the Archbishop of Canterbury.  I would not have picked up on this exchange but for an alarming article last Friday in the Church of England Newspaper by Sheik Muhammad Al-Husseini.  Al-Husseini has core status in the IICSA hearings and although he is not directly involved in the Anglican side of the hearings, he seems remarkably well-informed about the detail of what is going on in our church.  He has also spoken to several survivors and their lawyers.

The correspondence, to which Al-Husseini refers, mentions that in 2015 one of the things that survivors were complaining about to the Archbishop was the use by some dioceses of a particular company to protect their interests, Luther Pendragon, a specialist in crisis management.  Without knowing anything further about this firm, one is immediately concerned to discover that at least two dioceses are spending considerable sums of money on this kind of advice.  If any institution brings in professional help to protect its interests then it means that this institution has decided that it needs to ‘circle the wagons’ to protect itself against a perceived enemy.  Who is this enemy?  The enemy is evidently none other than the survivors themselves.  These are the same people, whose interests the Archbishop of Canterbury has promised to put right at the centre of the Church’s concerns.

The letter addressed to the Archbishop on the 12 June 2015 claims that ‘scandal management companies like Luther Pendragon Limited  .. are known to have acted to obstruct, apply pressure and threaten survivors, whistleblowers and others who have spoken out about Anglican clergy abuse’.  Even without reading the letter detailing the techniques used by this firm, we seem to be entering a very dark place. A diocese of the Church of England (two are mentioned, London and Winchester) has felt it right to use the services of what can only be described as professional bullies to protect its reputation.  The victims of this bullying are among the most vulnerable group in society – the sexually and spiritually abused.  How can this be ethical, let alone Christian?  One survivor I know was informed that it was normal practice for the Church or its agents to collect personal information about complainants to assist in the potential legal defence processes which might lessen the potential liability of the Church.  A particularly nasty attack that survivors have had to face is the suggestion that, before their abuse, they were in some way already mentally fragile.  Thus, any symptoms of post-traumatic stress they may now be suffering, were already present.

Al-Husseini’s article also mentions the fact that the Church of England nationally employs one particularly aggressive law firm to protect its interests.  A particular lawyer in this firm has acquired from survivors the nickname the Pitbull on account of her techniques of intimidation and merciless interrogation of survivors.   The article overall gives us some insight into a thoroughly unpleasant culture.  On the outside there are pleasing soft words, tears of remorse and apology.  Inside we find a ruthless machine full of hard-headed professional reputation people aligned to aggressive lawyers desperate to defend, at all costs, the institution.

It is to be hoped that this inclusion by IICSA of the 2015 document naming, and hopefully shaming, the underhand methods of Luther Pendragon, shows that the Inquiry is fully aware of hypocritical goings-on in the Church.  A further area of injustice remains to be resolved.  This is the way that the Church has tried, through its professionals, to discredit a highly respected international expert on safeguarding, Ian Elliott.  In 2015 Ian produced a comprehensive report about the treatment of one particular survivor, known to IICSA as A4.  In his report which has not been published in full, Ian criticised the advice given to the Church by lawyers and others to withdraw pastoral and other support from A4.  The Church, after initially enthusiastically receiving the report and promising to implement its findings in full, started to draw back from this support.  We do not know of course what was said behind closed doors at meetings of strategists and advisers but evidently senior people desperately wanted to discredit the report’s recommendations.  Within six to nine months it became just another report to be shelved and forgotten.  By that time the bishop who had been asked by the House of Bishops to oversee its implementation, Sarah Mullally, had been promoted from Crediton to London.  Here her new responsibilities made the task of overseeing the implementation of the Elliott report impossible to fulfil.  The criticism that Elliott had made in his report about the withdrawal of pastoral care for A4 was not picked up by the Church or responded to.  Nevertheless, there were enough denials and rumours around to suggest that this was not a true record of what had happened and this allowed the Church to wriggle out of any obligation to implement any part of the report.  No one in the leadership of the Church attacked Elliott, but neither did they, in the end, do anything to support him or put his recommendations into practice.

The doubts which had been cast over the Elliott report were finally confronted as the result of detective work presented to the IICSA enquiry.  Documents were uncovered which showed that there was, as he had claimed, written advice in circulation which gave clear advice to dioceses that A4 and other survivors were to be cut off from all communication with the Church if they made civil claims against it.  This included the withdrawal of pastoral support just as Ian Elliott had accurately reported.  This whole story was explored in the BBC Sunday programme on July 21st.

When we take an overall view of the way the Church has been behaving in regard to the survivors of sexual abuse it is hard not to use a series of adjectives which would include the words murky, disreputable and dishonest.  The gall needed to spend the Churches’ money on a company such as Luther Pendragon, which has made its name on defending tobacco companies and the nuclear waste industry, suggests that there are a considerable number of senior clergy who are in danger of losing their moral compass.

Every time a lie is told to a survivor, or a committee listens to ethically doubtful advice from an expensive lawyer, corruption enters in.  Individuals may have arrived at a meeting decent and honourable.  By the end of a meeting when they may have colluded in a blatant piece of expedient management of a survivor, there has been a slippage into colluding with evil activity.  This makes them participants in the evil themselves.

The saga of Jonathan Fletcher rumbles on.  Many people are asking how an individual with a history of doubtful behaviour and no PTO was able to access many pulpits in Britain and abroad over the past 2 ½ years.  Every such invitation involved another person in authority defying the rules of the Church.   Were these invitations made in conscious defiance of church rules or is it a case of information not being shared?  Then there is the deliberate ‘cleansing’ of mentions of Fletcher on various websites.  Who had the authority to perform such an act?  One author of a piece which had mentioned Fletcher in his original piece, only to see the name disappear, protested to me personally about this underhand and unauthorised editing.  The censorship shows every sign of being coordinated.  Thankfully no one has access to my blog posts so that my, no doubt provocative, posts on the topic remain up for anyone to read.

The Church at the institutional level and through its non-official manifestations seems to be going through a crisis of morality.  In spite of thousands of sermons preached each Sunday, the response to abuse survivors is apparently sometimes mired in shady, often shameful activity.  At the heart of this activity, as we have said many times before, is the need to preserve the good name of the structure.  How long will it be before this reputation polishing exercise collapses in total failure and the questionably ethical behaviour of so many church people becomes manifest?  That will be possibly the beginning of the end for our national Church.

COMMENTS

  1. Rowland Wateridge

Quoting what you say about survivors’ pre-existing conditions (if any) “A particularly nasty attack that survivors have had to face is the suggestion that, before their abuse, they were in some way already mentally fragile. Thus, any symptoms of post-traumatic stress they may now be suffering, were already present.”

That goes entirely against the long-standing legal concept that “you take your victim as you find him” (the word ‘victim’ may seem unfortunate in this context) also known as the “Egg-shell Skull Rule . This is a legal principle that the frailty, weakness, sensitivity, or feebleness of a victim cannot be used as a defence to a civil claim by the victim. In other words, put as simply as possible, it doesn’t avail an assailant, an abuser or a negligent car driver that they have injured someone who might be pre-disposed to injury due an existing condition. If someone has brittle bones, the law treats a broken leg as a broken leg regardless of the existing condition.

I’m sure others will have views on the wider topic here.

  1. But if the vicar/Archdeacon/bishop thinks it is a defence, it will work. And the survivor will still recognise they have been reabused. And I’ve been lied to and lied about. Corruption is not an unreasonable word. Brilliant post Stephen.

  1. No vicar, archdeacon or bishop may disregard the law of the land (the ‘Eggshell-skull Rule’ is equally the law in some other jurisdictions), and if they ‘think’ differently, that is immaterial. I have to say there is a question mark in my mind whether the Church itself has adequate legal advice sometimes, or if it is even sought, when matters of this kind arise.

    The point you make really goes to the question of proper and adequate representation and assistance to the survivor. If he or she had automatic access to legal advice, this spurious talk about pre-existing conditions would be knocked on the head very quickly.

    Luther Pendragon are not solicitors, although it is possible that they might have staff lawyers. If so, they, in turn, will know the Eggshell-skull Rule.

2. 02/03/2018 – Church of England faces ‘deep shame’ at child abuse inquiry” – The Guardian – Harriet Sherwood

 

3. 13/07/2019 Ecclesiastical Insurance – The Church of England and the IICSA

Photo John Titchener (left) – Ecclesiastical Insurance Office [EIO]. David Bonehill (right) – Ecclesiastical Insurance Group [EIG]

InquiryCSA – Friday – 12/07/2019 – Page 29 & 30

Q. = Nikiti McNeill [IICSA]
A.1 = John Titchener [Group Compliance Director for the Ecclesiastical Insurance Office]
A.2 = David Bonehill [UK Claims Director for the Ecclesiastical Insurance Group]

MS McNEILL: Do you think…A4, as the victim, should have had to wait or fight as long as he has in order for this to be clarified on the record?

MR BONEHILL: No.

MS McNEILL: Finally, I want to read directly…the guiding principles that you told us about last week from Ecclesiastical. The first of those guiding principles is that policyholders…should respond to victims and survivors in such a way that it is not experienced or seen as negative, resistant or unhelpful, because this can create relationship difficulties and may worsen their well-being. Do you think that in managing this entire issue, Ecclesiastical has lived up to that guiding principle?

MR BONEHILL: Could we have done it better? Yes, I accept that point.

MS McNEILL: …as a statement of principle, it is a good one, isn’t it?

MR BONEHILL: Yes, it is. I agree entirely.

MS McNEILL: Do you think that you lived up to that principle?

MR BONEHILL: I think we could have done better 

MS McNEILL: Thank you.

 

Above in summary form by #AnglicanHearing

Q. – Do you think that as the victim, should have had to wait or fight as long as he has in order for this to be clarified on the record?

A. – No
Q. – Ms McNeill reads from the guiding principles of Ecclesiastical, focusing on the fact that treatment of survivors should not be negative or worsen their well being. She asks, in their handling of the A4 issue, does he consider Ecclesiastical to have lived up to these principles?
A. – The witness acknowledges that they have not

 

 

@InquiryCSA – Friday – 12/07/2019

Mr. Rory Philips QC [Counsel for the Ecclesiastical Insurance Office – EIO] 

“Where the Inquiry has not sought a specific answer to criticisms made, then as a matter of basic fairness, it is not possible for you to arrive at a conclusion as to whether these criticisms are well founded….
“Because that would offend the guiding principle if I can use that phrase again, which must inform all of the work of this, as of any inquiry, namely fairness….

“EIO is an insurer. It is a commercial organisation. And perhaps some of the difficulties for claimants here arise because they expect EIO to behave towards them rather more as if it was the church”

 

“IICSA reprimands Ecclesiastical over earlier advice to C of E and evidence to Inquiry” – Church Times – 12/07/2019 – Hattie Williams

 

“The sex abuse that was perpetrated upon me by Peter Ball pales into insignificance when compared to the entirely cruel and sadistic treatment that has been meted out to me by officials, both lay and ordained. I know from the testimony of other people who have got in touch with me over the last five or 10 years that what I have experienced is not dissimilar to the experience of so many others and I use these words cruel and sadistic because I think that is how they behave. It is an ecclesiastical protection racket and [the attitude is that] anyone who seeks to in any way threaten the reputation of the church as an institution has to be destroyed”

~ Revd Graham Sawyer – IICSA – July 2018

 

IICSA Anglican Church hearing day 10

Today, the final Friday,  was originally intended to be used only for closing statements from the lawyers representing the various parties. However, it was announced at the end of Thursday that an additional witness would be called first on Friday morning. This turned out to be David Bonehill, Claims Director of EIG and and John Titchener, Group Compliance Director of EIO.

The Church Times has a report of what happened: IICSA reprimands Ecclesiastical over earlier advice to C of E and evidence to Inquiry

Transcript of day 10 hearing.

List of documents adduced on day 10 (but none have as yet been published)

 

July 13 2019 – “The Matt Ineson Story – Archbishops challenged” – ‘Surviving Church’ – Stephen Parsons

“The truths about Matt’s ‘shabby and shambolic’ treatment by the church after his original assault thirty + years ago will probably never be completely known.  What we have seen is at best incompetent treatment but at worst dangerously cruel”
The words of Revd Graham Sawyer are not to be forgotten – said at the IICSA Inquiry last year – July 2018:
“The sex abuse that was perpetrated upon me by Peter Ball pales into insignificance when compared to the entirely cruel and sadistic treatment that has been meted out to me by officials, both lay and ordained. I know from the testimony of other people who have got in touch with me over the last five or 10 years that what I have experienced is not dissimilar to the experience of so many others and I use these words cruel and sadistic because I think that is how they behave. It is an ecclesiastical protection racket and [the attitude is that] anyone who seeks to in any way threaten the reputation of the church as an institution has to be destroyed”

July 28 2018 – IICSA Transcript – Final Day – July 27 2018

Mr William Chapman, counsel for complainants, victims and survivors represented by Switalskis and also who represents MACSAS:

Page 135-136: “He [George Carey], in the words of Andrew Nunn, did try to sweep it under the carpet. If George Carey thought by doing so he served the reputation of the church, it was a gross misjudgment. The tactics deployed by the church were at the very edge of lawfulness. We heard how Bishop Kemp attempted to compromise Mr Murdock. We heard how several bishops telephoned Ros Hunt to ask her to tell the young men who had made complaints not to speak to the police or the press. We heard how Michael Ball, Bishop of Truro, had been contacting witnesses and, in Mr Murdock’s view, trying to influence them. We do encourage the police to review whether any of these matters, in particular the actions of the bishops who contacted Ros Hunt, disclose offences of perverting the course of justice”

Mrs Kate Wood

Page 89-92

Q. How would you characterise the emails you received from Neil Todd? You received a number I think at this time?

A. I did. He, I think, was surprised this was being raised again. He was very calm about it, I felt. He wanted information, and why wouldn’t he? I wanted to give him as much information as I could, but, for the reasons you have outlined, I had to be a bit careful. I didn’t have any emails from him that showed any great distress at that point. He was obviously anxious, and he wanted information. But he was very calm and composed with his emails. I could tell he was also very angry at the church, and, again, why wouldn’t he be? So I tried to support him through that.

Q. In your witness statement at paragraph 149 you refer to the fact that in his later emails in particular he was clearly angry with the church —

A. Yes.

Q. — and was feeling anxious. You refer to an email — I think the reference is wrong, but the correct reference is ACE001870. This is an email to Jeremy Pryor. Why is it that you have this email, Mrs Wood?

A. I can only think that Jez, Jeremy, copied me in on it, I think.

Q. You think Jeremy copied you in or did Neil Todd copy you in? The reason I say that is in your summary you seem to think that Neil copied you in when he wrote this to Jeremy?

A. I don’t know, sorry.

Q. That’s all right. Don’t worry about that. If we can go down to the fifth paragraph of the long email that begins, “So the difficulty”. I think this is the email you are referring to in your witness statement:

Neil Todd’s Email to Mrs Kate Wood/Jeremy Pryor

“So the difficulty of the black-and-white events of Peter Ball’s behaviour are not in the acts themselves — but the fact that he corrupted my genuine search for something good with acts which were obviously intentional for his own sexual gratification in the guise of a wise teacher nurturing and caring of a young seeker, aspiring to good intentions.

“When he denied his behaviour, this struck at my deepest conscience — it was then that the reality of what I allowed him to do — was not moral. The reality that his behaviour was not for my good or inspirational guidance.

“He only had to admit that what he did — actually occurred — this would then have made some sense to me. If he could admit that lying on top of me naked, his ejaculations, the naked showers under his instruction, the threat of physical beatings was all part of his unique path to spiritual guidance, was normal, then maybe we could have accepted that his intentions were good, just unusual. But his denial of all that occurred resulted in deep disillusionment. I personally felt ashamed for allowing this behaviour to occur, for allowing myself to be so gullible and not question or seek guidance earlier. This could have redirected my path. I could have joined a true community and been guided appropriately. The church should also have showed a greater deal of support but to dismiss me after the incident with no due care, simply resulted in full disillusionment with the institution as a whole. I genuinely felt the church was covering up, but at the worst it affected my personal relationship with God and my genuine search in faith. When Peter accepted a caution, he stated with penitence and sorrow he was accepting the police caution, but, again, the church was saddened by his resignation.

“All I want is the truth to be known without suspicion. I want Peter to admit in black and white that the events that took place did take place — that none of this was my imagination — nor my fault. I want the black-and-white questions to be answered.

“I would also request that the church take responsibility for not acknowledging nor supporting nor investigating my concerns.

“I heard that Peter had a new candidate when I was based in London — I wonder if he too experienced similar behaviour.

“I have survived all this, led a normal life — I changed direction after a few years of rebellion, to say the least, and commenced training as a registered nurse. I have been qualified since 1999 and have been working as director of nursing for indigenous communities in Australia. I have a loving and supportive partner of 18 years and am generally considered normal.

“Unfortunately, I never had counselling to deal with nor work through the emotions that occur after such a personal incident — but, yes, I can accept that Peter Ball’s behaviour has left its mark. I am not a vindictive person — I only wish for an acknowledgement that my experience was a reality and that all Church of England hierarchical parties take a share in the responsibility of their inaction.

“Regards, Neil.”

Closing remarks by Fiona Scolding QC

Page 175-176

Chair and panel, obviously it is not the role of counsel to the inquiry to sum up. I just have a very few brief remarks. I would like to thank everybody — in particular the legal teams and all the witnesses who have attended — for their patience and cooperation. I would also like to thank everyone for the courteous and respectful way in which this hearing has been conducted and in their approach and role towards us as counsel to the inquiry.
Just a few statistics, so that everyone can feel that they have earned their fees: 108,000 pages of documents were received by the inquiry during this investigation, and 53,244 pages were disclosed; 118 witness statements were obtained from 23 97 individuals; we have heard 14 live witnesses and three read witnesses.
Last, but by no means least, we want to hold and remember Neil Todd and his family and hope that they are able to find peace and solace after what must have been a painful reawakening of their memories.
We also wish to thank all the other victims and survivors, whose courage in speaking to us and whose insight, wisdom and understanding is both central and essential to the work of this inquiry. We apologise for any distress and upset that this week may have caused to them. Thank you very much

 

bonehillsmiling-20190712120653085_web

John Titchener (left) – Ecclesiastical Insurance Office [EIO]. David Bonehill (right) – Ecclesiastical Insurance Group [EIG]

InquiryCSA – Friday – 12/07/2019 – Page 29 & 30

Q. = Nikiti McNeill [IICSA]
A.1 = John Titchener [Group Compliance Director for the Ecclesiastical Insurance Office]
A.2 = David Bonehill [UK Claims Director for the Ecclesiastical Insurance Group]

MS McNEILL: Do you think…A4, as the victim, should have had to wait or fight as long as he has in order for this to be clarified on the record?

MR BONEHILL: No.

MS McNEILL: Finally, I want to read directly…the guiding principles that you told us about last week from Ecclesiastical. The first of those guiding principles is that policyholders…should respond to victims and survivors in such a way that it is not experienced or seen as negative, resistant or unhelpful, because this can create relationship difficulties and may worsen their well-being. Do you think that in managing this entire issue, Ecclesiastical has lived up to that guiding principle?

MR BONEHILL: Could we have done it better? Yes, I accept that point.

MS McNEILL: …as a statement of principle, it is a good one, isn’t it?

MR BONEHILL: Yes, it is. I agree entirely.

MS McNEILL: Do you think that you lived up to that principle?

MR BONEHILL: I think we could have done better 

MS McNEILL: Thank you.

 

Above in summary form by #AnglicanHearing

Q. – Do you think that as the victim, should have had to wait or fight as long as he has in order for this to be clarified on the record?

A. – No
Q. – Ms McNeill reads from the guiding principles of Ecclesiastical, focusing on the fact that treatment of survivors should not be negative or worsen their well being. She asks, in their handling of the A4 issue, does he consider Ecclesiastical to have lived up to these principles?
A. – The witness acknowledges that they have not

 

@InquiryCSA – Friday – 12/07/2019

Mr. Rory Philips QC [Counsel for the Ecclesiastical Insurance Office – EIO] 

“Where the Inquiry has not sought a specific answer to criticisms made, then as a matter of basic fairness, it is not possible for you to arrive at a conclusion as to whether these criticisms are well founded….
“Because that would offend the guiding principle if I can use that phrase again, which must inform all of the work of this, as of any inquiry, namely fairness….

“EIO is an insurer. It is a commercial organisation. And perhaps some of the difficulties for claimants here arise because they expect EIO to behave towards them rather more as if it was the church”

 

“IICSA reprimands Ecclesiastical over earlier advice to C of E and evidence to Inquiry” – Church Times – 12/07/2019 – Hattie Williams

 

“The sex abuse that was perpetrated upon me by Peter Ball pales into insignificance when compared to the entirely cruel and sadistic treatment that has been meted out to me by officials, both lay and ordained. I know from the testimony of other people who have got in touch with me over the last five or 10 years that what I have experienced is not dissimilar to the experience of so many others and I use these words cruel and sadistic because I think that is how they behave. It is an ecclesiastical protection racket and [the attitude is that] anyone who seeks to in any way threaten the reputation of the church as an institution has to be destroyed”

~ Revd Graham Sawyer – IICSA – July 2018

 

IICSA Anglican Church hearing day 10

Today, the final Friday,  was originally intended to be used only for closing statements from the lawyers representing the various parties. However, it was announced at the end of Thursday that an additional witness would be called first on Friday morning. This turned out to be David Bonehill, Claims Director of EIG and and John Titchener, Group Compliance Director of EIO.

The Church Times has a report of what happened: IICSA reprimands Ecclesiastical over earlier advice to C of E and evidence to Inquiry

Transcript of day 10 hearing.

List of documents adduced on day 10 (but none have as yet been published)

 

July 13 2019 – “The Matt Ineson Story – Archbishops challenged” – ‘Surviving Church’ – Stephen Parsons

“The truths about Matt’s ‘shabby and shambolic’ treatment by the church after his original assault thirty + years ago will probably never be completely known.  What we have seen is at best incompetent treatment but at worst dangerously cruel”
The words of Revd Graham Sawyer are not to be forgotten – said at the IICSA Inquiry last year – July 2018:
“The sex abuse that was perpetrated upon me by Peter Ball pales into insignificance when compared to the entirely cruel and sadistic treatment that has been meted out to me by officials, both lay and ordained. I know from the testimony of other people who have got in touch with me over the last five or 10 years that what I have experienced is not dissimilar to the experience of so many others and I use these words cruel and sadistic because I think that is how they behave. It is an ecclesiastical protection racket and [the attitude is that] anyone who seeks to in any way threaten the reputation of the church as an institution has to be destroyed”

July 7 2019 – “Bishop Hancock challenges the Synod on safeguarding” – Church Times

Bishop Hancock challenges the Synod on safeguarding

07 JULY 2019

SAM ATKINS/CHURCH TIMES

The Bishop of Bath and Wells, the Rt Revd Peter Hancock (centre) with Meg Munn and Phil Johnson

 

 

https://www.churchtimes.co.uk/articles/2019/12-july/news/uk/bishop-hancock-challenges-the-synod-on-safeguarding

VAGUE and evasive talk of culture change” over safeguarding is “not enough”, the Bishop of Bath & Wells, the Rt Revd Peter Hancock, told the General Synod on Sunday.

In a presentation, the Bishop said that the Church’s approach to survivors had been “inadequate”, and that all had a part to play in improving safeguarding practice.

“Vague and evasive talk of culture change is not enough,” he said. “It is driven by structures, appointments, and decisions. . .

“My challenge to Synod is that, if you are concerned about safeguarding in the Church, now is the time up to stand up, be counted, and get involved.”

A survivor who formed part of the presentation group, Phil Johnson, was one of the first to come forward, in 1996, with allegations of sexual abuse by a former Bishop of Gloucester and Lewes, Peter Ball. Mr Johnson is a member of the National Safeguarding Panel.

Mr Johnson told the Synod that safeguarding should be simple. “It is about vigilance, protection, and compassion,” he said. “It is not about endless bureaucracy.”

He said that the Church should not think that its safeguarding was necessarily better simply because it was spending more money on it.

Mr Johnson went on to say that the work to create a survivors’ reference group was very difficult, largely because so many victims had an “immense lack of trust” in the Church and the National Safeguarding Team (NST).

He was glad that the Safe Spaces project was close to completion, although he noted that he had first proposed it nearly six years ago, and, although money had been allocated for it, not a single penny had yet been spent on survivors. “This typifies how the Church does things,” he said. “We all need to come together to make things simpler, more efficient, quicker, and more cost-effective.”

The session began with a period of silence, and the Bishop said a prayer that had been written by a survivor of abuse: “Teach us to thirst for justice and righteousness in our Church . . . We lament the safeguarding failures of our Church. . . Helps us to repair broken lives so that those our Church has harmed may no longer survive but thrive.”

Safeguarding questions had been split from the rest of the questions, which were heard on Friday, to allow proper space for them. Bishop Hancock thanked the Business Committee for this approach; a presentation on safeguarding was given by the bishop, Mr Johnson, and Meg Munn, the chair of the National Safeguarding Panel.

In response to a question from Carolyn Graham (Guildford) about safeguarding cases’ being “passed around from diocese to diocese”, Bishop Hancock said that work was under way on an information-sharing system. A national case-management system would mean wider access to information lodged centrally. This would bring rigour. Asked by Canon Gavin Kirk (Lincoln) about survivors whose experience had led them to distrust the diocese where they lived, Bishop Hancock said that the voices of survivors must be heard in the process of redrafting safeguarding guidance.

He told Canon Rosie Harper (Oxford), who asked about the “moral imperative to restore and heal”, going further than “bare minimum legal redress”, that one part of the answer was to have a “standards-based approach to safeguarding”, and another was a charter “to provide survivors with confidence there is going to be consistency across dioceses”.

Some responses to safeguarding issues had been “woefully inadequate”, he said. He also reported that there had been attempts to establish mediation between survivors and the NST and some work had recently been commissioned on “restorative justice”.

In his presentation, Bishop Hancock said that the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse (IICSA) hearings had not been an easy experience for the Church. Some “justifiably difficult questions are being asked of us”, he said. But the inquiry had shone a “helpful light” on the C of E’s safeguarding procedures and failings.

He strongly urged every member of the Synod to read the two interim reports already released by IICSA: one on the case study of Chichester diocese and Peter Ball, and one on child sexual abuse in the context of religious institutions. The key findings in both reports, which were “harrowing and difficult to read”, were that clericalism and deference were causing “significant harm” (News, 9 May

A new case-management system for both national and diocesan safeguarding teams, which had been “sorely lacking”, was finally almost ready and would be rolled out next year, he reported.

He also said there would be three new lessons-learned reviews of the cases of John Smyth, the Revd Trevor Devamanikkam, and the late former Bishop of Chester, Victor Whitsey (News, 10 February 201716 June 201724 May).

A working group had been convened to examine whether the Clergy Disicpline Measure (CDM) was fit for its purpose in relation to safeguarding, he said. The group would have its first meeting in October (News, 31 May).

Ms Munn paid tribute to the three survivor representatives on the panel, who, despite being so damaged by their experiences of abuse, were still able and willing to help the Church become a safer place.

“The Church is late to this work: it needs to catch up; it has a lot to do,” she said. “I see a lot of people with good intentions, but you all need to do more, and do more, more quickly.”

SAM ATKINS/CHURCH TIMES Phil Johnson

Mr Johnson praised the leadership of Ms Munn and said that he was hopeful that this increased level of scrutiny would bear fruit. In particular, he was convinced that the CDM procedure was inadequate and needed reform.

The proposed redress scheme was very important for survivors and would need to be well funded, Mr Johnson said. It must include all cases of abuse, including those that had already come to financial settlements; many of these were agreed out of fear that the survivor might be landed with the Church’s “astronomical” legal costs.

He also supported the introduction of mandatory reporting of abuse allegations, along the lines developed by the pressure group Mandate Now. Two-thirds of current safeguarding cases were still dealt with exclusively in-house, he noted. Without actual sanctions for people who failed to pass on disclosures, the culture would never change.

In the questions following the presentations, the Archbishop of York, Dr Sentamu, on a point of order, asked the view of the Synod on mandatory reporting, to which a majority raised their hands in favour. It was one of the recommendations of the IICSA report on Chichester diocese.

The Bishop of London, the Rt Revd Sarah Mullally, asked whether the Church still had a problem with clericalism, and whether it hindered good safeguarding practice.

Mr Johnson said that there had been a lot of deference, but that this was not a problem only for the Church. He gave the example of football clubs, where coaches had a great deal of authority. This was evident in the conviction of Barry Bennell, a former coach at Manchester City and Crewe Alexandra, and the conviction of Bob Higgins, the former Southampton coach, both for child sexual abuse.

The natural tendency to keep things in-house was a problem, Mr Johnson said. “Watching IICSA this last week, there’s clearly evidence that this remains,” he said. It was everyone’s responsibility to address this, and to make these subjects non-taboo. “Things should be recorded in a routine manner,” he argued.

He received a standing ovation for his words during the Synod debate.

There was criticism that there was not a full Synod debate on safeguarding. Last week, Martin Sewell, a representative from Rochester diocese, called the Synod “lazy and incurious” (News, 5 July).

Matthew Ineson, a survivor, who was handing out leaflets outside York Minster on Sunday morning, said: “The Archbishops blocked the debate [on safeguarding]: they are manipulating the Synod.

“There is a cover-up going on from the very highest parts of the Church; Archbishop Welby has persistently taken no further action. The way victims are treated is just diabolical.”

At the end of the service, before the blessing was given, Dr Sentamu led the congregation in prayer for those who were part of IICSA, and for survivors.

June 30 2019 – “Bishop of Burnley calls for Mandatory Reporting” – BBC Radio 4 Sunday programme – ‘Thinking Anglicans’

synod london Tint

Bishop of Burnley calls for Mandatory Reporting

Bishop of Burnley calls for Mandatory Reporting

Thinking Anglicans

See our earlier article Senior Blackburn clergy reflect on IICSA reports on Chichester Diocese and Peter Ball.

The BBC Radio 4 Sunday programme carried an interview by Donna Birrell with the Bishop of Burnley, Philip North (starts at 32 minutes, 45 seconds).

BBC Radio Cornwall has a longer version of this interview, listen over here.

A transcript of this (longer) interview is copied below the fold.

Transcript of full interview with Bishop of Burnley, Philip North. (Shorter interview broadcast on BBC Radio 4, longer version on BBC Radio Cornwall.)
Jesus puts a child in front of the disciples as a model of discipleship, Jesus cared for children, put them at the centre of His community….and yet ….. as a church we’ve been complicit in appalling acts of abuse and of cover-up of children and I think we need a spirit of repentance now and to change the language and think through the structural changes this might entail.
DB : It’s very interesting you say that because you also make the point that this is about the whole Church and it’s about today…..
I do not doubt that things are infinitely better than they were 10/20 years ago in terms of training of clergy and parishes and safeguarding policies and procedures and good structures and systems in place, BUT to try and think that everything is historical and there are no longer vulnerabilities is just the kind of complacency which allows manipulative people to abuse children. We MUST look very honestly at the Church today a see what further steps we need to take and I think there’s a whole series of structural changes that we still need to consider, which is what we’re pointing to in this letter.
DB : Well you certainly have, in fact, in the letter, and I quote the letter, you say ” Does a de-centralised structure with independent parishes, diocese and cathedrals, create gaps that manipulative people can hide in? So therefore, Bishop Philip, would you be in favour of an independent safeguarding structure and mandatory reporting?
I think in terms of an independent safeguarding structure, that is where we need to have a very serious debate and personally, I would, because separate structures in each diocese don’t allow checks and balances that are needed and it means that safeguarding teams can always be prey to budgeting cuts. There is no evidence of that, but it is going to be a temptation in straightened financial times. It seems to me that an independent national safeguarding team with locally deployed safeguarding officers working in dioceses but answerable to the national team, is going to provide the kind of checks and balances that we need.
I think in some churches there is excellent practice, in others, safeguarding is still a matter of ticking boxes and we need to be very clear that every single local church is absolutely safe for children and families. And I think also we need to look at the way we engage our clergy, so does common tenure allow the level of accountability that is required now?
Is the Clergy Discipline Measure efficient and speedy and fit for purpose? These are big areas that we need to look at.
Evasive talk of culture change just won’t do, because culture is determined by appointments and by structures and by decisions and that is what we’ve got to look at.
DB : Well indeed, in fact the letter refers to “vague and evasive talk of culture change.” So you’re also suggesting that there is an inappropriate culture of deference to clergy, especially senior clergy, which has resulted in “cover-up” and I’m quoting your letter again, and the voices of the vulnerable being silenced?
That’s a significant concern. I think clergy are often unaware of the power they hold, but actually especially senior clergy, occupy extremely influential powerful positions. Abuse is all about the abuse of power and I think we need to be very aware of the power we hold. And I think we need to be much more serious about the checks and balances on power – an unhealthy clericalism, an unhealthy deference to clergy, especially in senior positions, undermines that.
DB : Very interesting. that you as a diocese have chosen to write this letter, it’s been signed and put together by all the senior clergy  within the diocese…and a few weeks back, other Bishops, including the Bishop of Bristol, Vivienne Faull, also came out and was scathing in response to the Independent Inquiry report into the Diocese of Chichester and in her words, she said that that culture of tribalism and clericalism still exists today. So it’s quite something that senior figures such as yourself are beginning now to speak out against the culture within the Church, but do you think you will be listened to?
Yes, I think we are. What I’d love to see is that people are beginning to see survivors not as a nuisance that needs to be managed, but people speaking with a prophetic voice to the Church. And I think they need to listen to the voices of survivors and hear very clearly what they’re saying to us. It’s absolutely essential. It’s one thing I’ve learned in 25 years of priestly ministry, it’s the voices that are most worth hearing are the ones that are the most difficult and the most grating. Those important voices, I think if we can hear those who have been abused multipley, because survivors have been abused by a priest or a church leader initially, but then the slowness of the church response, a culture of cover-up, all these things re-abuse and re-abuse and those are the people that I think we now need to hold in the centre of the Church, just as Jesus held that child at the centre of His community.
DB : Why do you think its taken so long to reach this point then, when senior figures such as yourself will actually speak out about it?
I think we’ve been ashamed of our past, I think we’ve blamed and scapegoated perpetrators, rather than thinking about our own structures and about our own culpability and responsibility. I think this is an issue the Church of England has not wanted to face up to and it’s high time we did.
DB : Right, well Bishop Philip, let’s go back to the culture and the structure of the Church, because survivors do indeed say that the process of bringing a case against the Church for sexual abuse is so damaging that it is almost a type of re-abuse. They talk about the process of going through the insurers, of going through the forensic psychiatric reporting which many survivors, I’ve spoken to, have said it is so damaging that effectively it has caused mental health problems, in some cases, it has also caused them to consider taking their own lives, how can the Church try to look again at the way it deals with survivors and their claims?|
I am embarrassed by some of the stories that I’ve heard from survivors – people being told they have a pre-disposition to mental health problems, people being told that the priest who abused them was not acting in his capacity as a priest at that time. People being told they are simply chasing the money – all of this is re-abusive. And I’m embarrassed to be honest, to be part of a Church which has said those things to people. And I think one thing that IICSA, I hope, will look at clearly is the relationship between the Church and its professional advisers – its lawyers and its insurers- to ensure that what comes first is the pastoral response, so survivors are treated properly as victims, so that their voices are heard and they have much easier access to the compensation that is their due.
DB : But there’s a lot of money involved isn’t there? the whole structure and the whole insurance culture s worth millions and millions of pounds. Do you really think that in reality, the Church will go some way to reforming this system?
Compensation needs to be moderated to the level of what happened to somebody, but if church leaders have been responsible for ruining someone’s life, then there needs to be financial compensation and that needs to be generous and appropriate and if that has financial implications for us as a Church, then that’s something we have to swallow, I’m afraid.
DB : And will you be asking the Church as well and in the light of IICSA indeed, to perhaps look again at the way it responds to survivors, particularly with regard to the insurers?
What I’ve read from some survivors is alarming and I do hope that those in those positions will look seriously at those relationships.
DB : OK and we touched upon a little earlier the Clergy Discipline Measure. You suggest that it needs reforming, what would you like to see done to that?
I think it needs to be sped up hugely and I think we need to be much more aware of voices of survivors who are involved in often very long processes. From the point of view of a Bishop, it’s a very, very difficult process to implement, it’s very slow and it’s particularly difficult where there is ambiguity, where the level of evidence is uncertain, where you’re sure in your heart that things aren’t quite right.
DB : And as you mentioned, the Independent Inquiry is about to hear another two weeks of evidence into the way the Anglican Church handles allegations of child sexual abuse. How hopeful are you that its findings and recommendations will lead to a safer Church?
I’m sure there will be critical engagement with whatever they find, I’m sure there’ll be proper debate, but I think the mood is changing. I think in the Blackburn Diocese, it’s interesting that it was not difficult to get the six senior clergy to sign up to a letter which said some quite far-reaching things and I’m hearing other Bishops and other senior leaders speak similarly, so I think the culture is changing . I think we’ll be very receptive to what IICSA has to say.
DB : How much notice will the powers that be..for example, Church House and Lambeth Palace, how much notice do they take of something like this do you think?
I think they listen very, very seriously and we look to see what happens. It would be good to see perhaps other dioceses writing similarly and responding similarly to keep the debate going, but the response we’ve had so far, has been a positive

March 24 2018 – “George Bell was ‘fond’ of paedophile bishop Peter Ball and sponsored him through ordination” – Christian Today – Harry Farley – March 23

https://www.christiantoday.com/article/george.bell.was.fond.of.paedophile.bishop.peter.ball.and.sponsored.him.through.ordination/127773.htm

George Bell was ‘fond’ of paedophile bishop Peter Ball and sponsored him through ordination

George Bell was ‘fond’ of paeodophile bishop Peter Ball and sponsored him for ordination, an inquiry has heard.

As former bishop of Chichester, Bell is considered one of Anglicanism’s heroes. However, it emerged in 2015 the Church of England paid £16,800 to the woman, known as Carol, in a legal settlement after she accused Bell of sexually abusing her as a child.

Now it can be revealed Peter Ball, who was jailed for a string of sex offences against teenagers and young men in 2015, was close friends with Bell.

Peter Ball
Bishop Ball sentenced to 32 months in prison but served only 16 months.

Ball was initially rejected in his attempt to become a priest in 1951 but Bell wrote to the selection panel in support of Ball’s application.

When Ball applied for ordination a second time it was Bell who sponsored him through the process.

In his witness statement to an inquiry investigating child sex abuse within the Church of England, Ball denied that Bell had ‘overruled’ the selection board allowing him to be ordained.

However he said that after his ordination Bell would visit his parish to take services, adding he was ‘aware that he was “fond” of me’.

In response to a question about Bell’s involvement in his ordination, Ball told the inquiry: ‘It is not right therefore to say that Bishop Bell “overruled” the selection board in order for me to be ordained.

Bishop George Bell
Courtesy of Jimmy James Bishop George Bell is an iconic figure for the Church of England and was bishop of Chichester from 1929 to 1958.

‘Although Bishop Bell had indicated in 1951 in a letter to the first Selection Board who did not recommend me for ministry that he would be “prepared to accept me for ordination” even though the Selection Board had not recommend me for training at that time, that is not how matters proceeded.’

He went on: ‘After theological college, it was Bishop Bell ultimately who did sponsored [sic] me for ordination, but with the approval of the Selection Board. Bishop Bell then placed me in the parish of Rottingdean where I undertook my first curacy.

‘He would visit my curacy on occasion to carry out confirmations and to take services.

‘We had a good working relationship; I was aware that he was “fond” of me. He was someone who I looked up to when I was a young curate starting out in the Church.’

Bell, who died in 1958, was revered by Anglicans before the abuse allegations against him emerged. However a report earlier this year heavily criticised the Church’s handling of the accusations and found it ‘rushed to judgement’ and failed to give proper consideration to Bell’s rights.

But the archbishop of Canterbury refused to back down and said a ‘significant cloud is left over his name’.

Ball went on to become bishop of Lewes in the diocese of Chichester and then bishop of Gloucester. He was accused of gross indecency against a 16-year-old in 1992 but escaped with a police caution after he received backing from a member of the Royal Family and a number of other establishment figures. He was told to step down from his role as a bishop. However he continued to minister in churches and schools until 2010 before he was eventually arrested.

At the age of 83 he was sentenced to 32 months for misconduct in public office and 15 months for indecent assaults in 2015. He was released after serving 16 months.

The independent inquiry into child sexual abuse has been investigation how the diocese of Chichester handled allegations of child sexual abuse as a case study for the wider Church of England.

In his concluding remarks today solicitor David Greenwood said the CofE was more ‘malign’ than the Catholic Church in its response to abuse and accused it of ‘a conscious effort to treat survivors badly’.

The archbishop of Canterbury in his evidence said he had ‘learnt to be ashamed again of the Church’ and warned child sexual abuse would ‘destroy the Church’ if not addressed.

You can read more about the past three weeks of hearings here.

February 12 2018 – “Church of England could pay millions in compensation for 3000 sexual abuse complaints” – Christian Daily (US)

https://www.christiandaily.com/article/church-of-england-could-pay-millions-in-compensation-for-3000-sexual-abuse-complaints/62033.htm

Church of England could pay millions in compensation for 3,000 sexual abuse complaints

The Church of England could reportedly end up shelling out millions in compensation for the more than 3,000 child sex abuse complaints it had received by 2016.
(REUTERS / Suzanne Plunkett)Church-goers arrive for a Christmas carol service at Canterbury Cathedral in Canterbury, England, December 23, 2009.

The total number of sex abuse complaints that the Church of England had received by 2016 had reached 3,300. Although the new complaints were not set apart from the old ones, the Church could still end up paying millions in compensation to the victims, The Daily Mail reported.

In a case against deceased Bishop of Chichester George Bell, the Church had to pay 15,000 British pounds in compensation even though the abuse allegations were unproven. If each complaint would cost that amount, the Church could then end up shelling out almost 50 million pounds.

The specifics of the abuse complaints were handed to the Church of England’s General Synod. This included the one filed against former bishop Peter Ball, who was imprisoned in 2015 for 32 months for abusing boys for more than 30 years.

On Feb. 5, the Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, said the woman who had accused Bishop George Bell of sexual abuse could not be overlooked. He said the accuser ought to be “treated equally importantly” as the person being accused, The Church Times reported.

Lord Carlile’s independent review criticized the Church of England’s decision to reveal Bell’s name in the case, and Welby also drew flak for saying that he could not clear the embattled bishop’s name. The Archbishop defended the Church’s decision to reveal the amount of compensation it had given to the woman, which was 16,800 pounds, and told the Church Times that he accepted Lord Carlile’s recommendations except the one about naming the accused.

“We have to treat both Bishop Bell, his reputation — we have to hold that as something really precious and valuable,” said Welby. “But the person who has brought the complaint is not an inconvenience to be overlooked: they are a human being of immense value and dignity, to be treated equally importantly. And it is very difficult to square that circle.”

In addition, Archbishop Welby said safeguarding was the most difficult thing he had to do because it dealt with the sin of the Church and the damage that it had inflicted on the victims. He said the problem has to be addressed both in spiritual and “mechanistic” ways.

January 24 2018 – “Mr Bunker is back in his Bunker

http://hitchensblog.mailonsunday.co.uk/2018/01/mr-bunker-is-back-in-his-bunker-.html

24 January 2018 11:39 AM

Mr Bunker is back in his bunker.

I felt this exchange from the latest George Bell thread deserved a post of its own, and some emphases that cannot be given in the text of comments:

Mr Bunker writes:’ No need to re-read the Archbishop of Canterbury’s statement to know that he did not “compare opinions held mistakenly before a fair trial and conviction showed them to be wrong” with current opinions on the Bishop Bell case. Far from it.

The Archbishop merely pointed out the following: That what is “alleged could not have been true” (because someone is “absolutely certain that it was impossible”) “sometimes turns out to be untrue” as it did, for example, in the case of Bishop Ball.

And that is a simple statement of fact. Not a comparison. – I can’t put it more plainly than that.

****PH responds: here is the Archbishop’s statement in full :

‘Following a letter sent to Lambeth Palace and also to the Telegraph newspaper by a group of academics, I felt it important to send a considered, personal response and this statement reflects the essence of my reply.

I cannot with integrity rescind my statement made after the publication of Lord Carlile’s review into how the Church handled the Bishop Bell case. I affirmed the extraordinary courage and achievement of Bishop Bell both before the war and during its course, while noting the Church has a duty to take seriously the allegation made against him.

Our history over the last 70 years has revealed that the Church covered up, ignored or denied the reality of abuse on major occasions. I need only refer to the issues relating to Peter Ball to show an example. As a result, the Church is rightly facing intense and concentrated scrutiny (focussed in part on the Diocese of Chichester) through the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse (IICSA). Our first hearing is in March.

The Diocese of Chichester was given legal advice to make a settlement based on the civil standard of proof, the balance of probability. It was not alleged that Bishop Bell was found to have abused on the criminal standard of proof, beyond reasonable doubt. The two standards should not be confused. It should be remembered that Carol, who brought the allegation, was sent away in 1995, and we have since apologised for this lamentable failure; a failure highlighted by Lord Carlile.

I wrote my response with the support of both Bishop Peter Hancock, the lead bishop for safeguarding, and Bishop Martin Warner, the Bishop of Chichester. We are clear that we accept all but part of one of the recommendations Lord Carlile makes and we are extremely grateful to him for what he has done and the help he has given the Church.

He indicates that in his judgement, a better way to have handled the allegation would have been for the Church to offer money on condition of confidentiality. We disagree with this suggestion. The confidentiality would have been exposed through the IICSA process, and the first question we would have faced, both about Bishop Bell and more widely, would have been ‘so what else are you concealing?’. The letter from the historians does not take into account any of these realities, nor the past failures of the Church. But we will go on considering how we can make our processes better and more robust, as pointed out by Lord Carlile.

As in the case of Peter Ball, and others, it is often suggested that what is being alleged could not have been true, because the person writing knew the alleged abuser and is absolutely certain that it was impossible for them to have done what is allegedAs with Peter Ball this sometimes turns out to be untrue, not through their own fault or deceit but because abuse is often kept very secret. The experience of discovering feet of clay in more than one person I held in profound respect has been personally tragic. But as I said strongly in my original statement the complaint about Bishop Bell does not diminish the importance of his great achievements and he is one of the great Anglican heroes of the 20th Century.’

 

** PH continues :He will note the operative section ‘As in the case of Peter Ball, and others, it is often suggested that what is being alleged could not have been true, because the person writing knew the alleged abuser and is absolutely certain that it was impossible for them to have done what is alleged. As with Peter Ball this sometimes turns out to be untrue, not through their own fault or deceit but because abuse is often kept very secret.’

This is a direct response to the historians, when they said: (First) : ‘We regard George Bell as a significant historical figure and *our assessment of his life and career has been an important aspect of our academic work. On this basis we suggest that our collective view on these matters constitutes a genuine and very pertinent authority.*

In this matter they are saying, with astonishing bluntness just this side of scorn,  that they know better than the Archbishop, and are better qualified to judge the matter than the Archbishop.

They continue : ‘In your public statement of 15 December 2017, the authority of your position was used to perpetuate a single allegation made against Bishop Bell, and you did so in face of the independent review which the Church itself commissioned. We believe that your statement offends the most basic values and principles of historical understanding, ones which should be maintained firmly by those in positions of public authority across society. They must never be ignored or abused.’

**This further passage elaborates the same point***

‘In the past you have insisted that the Church’s view was based on an investigation that was ‘very thorough’. But Lord Carlile has plainly, and utterly, devastated this claim. Historians and lawyers both attach great importance to the presumption of innocence. Your comment seems to imply that a case against Bell has actually been established. It has not.

History cannot be made out of allegations. It is the study of sources. Lord Carlile’s review sets out the material of the allegation for everyone to assess for themselves, and he invites them to do so. There is nothing in it that connects in any way with what is firmly known about Bishop Bell. The allegation is not only wholly uncorroborated but is contradicted by all the considerable, and available, circumstantial material which any historian would consider credible. (****PH: This argument is what Mr Welby refers to, and seeks vainly to rebut,  when he says lots of people thought Peter Ball was innocent, before he pleaded guilty to his undoubted crimes****)

 

The historians continued: ‘ Furthermore, even on its own terms we find it to depend wholly on scenarios which simply could not have occurred, given what is firmly known and authoritatively establishend

There is no credible representation of personalities, relationships, patterns or locations which is remotely recognisable (***PH notes, this passage is also plainly the object of Mr Welby’s reference to those who doubted the guilt of Peter Ball)**. Far from enhancing the allegation, the insistence on vivid quotations undermines critically a testimony in which the experiences of infancy are ‘recollected’, not immediately but at a distance of many decades. Even a modest historical sensitivity would have established the basic implausibility of such a testimony.

The material supporting this allegation does not in our view constitute a credible basis for the writing of history and it flies in the face of our customary critical method. It represents something quite different, an unhistorical, indeed anti-historical, testimony, explicable, perhaps, but in different terms. We cannot understand how such an unsupported, indeed insupportable, allegation can be upheld by a responsible public authority. Quite simply, it is indefensible.’

***PH notes: The reference to the Ball case is clearly a riposte to this (Mr Welby’s statement is a direct response to the letter. To which parts of that letter could it possibly be a response, if not those I cite?), though as I have explained it is a pathetically, pitiably inadequate and misplaced one.

As it happens, nobody in the Bell campaign, to my knowledge , has said that he or she *knows* him to be innocent. I certainly have not. In fact, from the very start, I have conceded explicitly that the allegations against him *might* be true. I specifically said so in my original article on the subject in the Spectator. No honest inquiry or trial could proceed unless our minds were open to this possibility. (You might say that the Church could not have honestly inquired into the matter unless their minds were open to the possibility that George Bell was innocent. And you could reasonably say that they did nothing which suggests that their minds were open to this – not least, the appalling fact that Bishop Bell had no advocate or defender during this procedure, let alone a presumption of innocence).

 

I several times said privately to my allies in this that we must not be afraid of the truth. If persuasive evidence emerged that Bell was indeed a child molester, then we must concede it immediately, and withdraw.  This was the explicit price of engaging in such a campaign, and if we lacked the courage to face it, we should keep quiet. As it happens, in the two years of this campaign, not one solitary further accusation of this kind has emerged, despite local, national and now international publicity given to the accusation. On the contrary, two persuasive witnesses have emerged, who recall the time and place at which the crimes are supposed to have taken place and who (from very different perspectives) offer evidence which fails to confirm, and casts doubt upon, the accusation.

I acted accordingly. Without knowing the answer to my question, I contacted both Sussex police and the NSPCC (who set up a helpline freephone after the allegation was publicised) to ask if there had been any further complaints against George Bell. I waited some months to do so. There were precisely none.  For the same reason, I sought a meeting with the accuser, so that I could hear her side. This request was denied,  though she had been willing to speak to other media and i was willing to abide by all necessary conditions to preserve her anonymity.

If Mr ‘Bunker’ has actually read the Carlile report and its annexes, he will know the great cloud of circumstantial evidence undermining Carol’s claim, and the total lack of hard corroboration of it, just as he will know that Professor Maden, engaged by the Church to examine the accusation, warned specifically and voluntarily of the possibility of false memory (though not all members of the investigating team were told of this) . No court, civil or criminal, would have found against George Bell on the basis of what we actually know. Thus, by any civilised measure, as well as in law,  he remains innocent of the charge made (just as Peter Ball, by comparison a trivial figure, remains by any civilised measure guilty of the crimes of which he was accused). Those who insist there is a ‘cloud’ over George Bell’s reputation are no better than gossipers, rumour-mongers and purveyors of tittle tattle. I really do not know why Mr Bunker clings to his position, except to draw attention to himself.

 

 

Comments

Feed You can follow this conversation by subscribing to the comment feed for this post.

 

I do not think whether ’to suspend judgement or not’ is the heart of the matter in this case now.

The restoration of the good name of George Bell is the most crucial issue, especially after the Review.

The C of E had failed to respond to the claimant properly earlier and apologized her about it and paid for a certain sum of money. This part of the case is completed and closed.

The C of E had wronged the good name of Bishop Bell on 22 Oct. 2015 through the statement they had made.

The consequences of the statements were/are among others:

Many (or the majority) of journalists of news media *believed* and wrote the allegation as the proven fact. None of them has, as far as I know, retracted their articles (most of them were published on 22 Oct. 2015 and still available on the Internet) or apologized Bishop Bell’s relatives. I have not heard that the C of E has protested to the media who described the Bishop as a pedophile then.

The name of Bishop Bell has been swiftly and unfairly removed from many places. It was reported that the portrait of Bell was put back to the former place in the city hall of Chichester, if my memory serves well. But otherwise we have not seen that his good name has been restored concretely and thoroughly.

What the Archbishop Welby is doing is that he is saying ’Yes’ in practice to all the negative consequences upon the good name of George Bell and therewith hurting Mrs Whitley. Why is it *Bishop Bell* who continuously has to pay the price now and even in future for the allegation no one can sufficiently prove?

 

I wonder if Mr Hitchens noticed an apparent contradiction in the Carlile report?

I mean, “without a calculated intention to damage Bishop Bell’s reputation.” vs. “apparently deliberate destruction of the reputation”

Surely it can’t be both? Full quotes…

“I consider that what happened resulted from oversteer in the direction of what was believed to be the best interests of Carol and of the Church, and without a calculated intention to damage Bishop Bell’s reputation.”

“There is an innate contradiction between a settlement without admission of liability, as at least technically happened here, and the knowing and apparently deliberate destruction of the reputation of the alleged perpetrator, as plainly happened here.”

 

> ***PH writes. This is simply not true. No judgement is implied on ‘Carol’. The only thing that is judged is the case against George Bell, which is inadequate to justify a prosecution, let alone to secure a conviction( or compel him to give restitution for tort in a civil case). If this were not so, we would have to prosecute for perjury the advocates and witnesses in any failed prosecution, or nay failed defence, for that matter. Why do people refuse to understand the operation of the law? ****

What law? There was not a legal or civil trial. It was a “process”, internal to the Church.

Surely it is a judgement of some kind on “Carol” when you refer to “the great cloud of circumstantial evidence undermining Carol’s claim, and the total lack of hard corroboration of it”?

The George Bell Group refers to inconsistencies in the account of ‘Carol’ and asserts that it, “contributes to any assessment of Carol as a witness”.

Plainly, Mr Hitchens and other people believe her account is untrue (this does not mean she is deliberately lying, as I made clear). Logically, they must disbelieve Carol. Even if they don’t claim to *know* her account is untrue.

I am interested to know, what would satisfy Mr Hitchens? Would he be satisfied if the Archbishop said that George Bell should be “considered (or presumed?) innocent” in a probatory sense? I mean based on the something like the civil concept of the “balance of probabilities”.

Or would Mr Hitchens only be satisfied if the Archbishop declared that George Bell is, simply, innocent? I still maintain that at least in this latter sense, that would reflect badly on ‘Carol’.

For the avoidance of doubt, Mr Hitchens, I support and commend your efforts throughout this affair.

 

Contributor Mike B, whom I thank for kindly replying, wrote:

“I think that you will find, Mr Preston, that the defence of Bishop Bell’s good name is all that is concerning those on Peter Hitchens’s side of the argument, who have contributed to this, and other threads, regarding this matter.”

Well, I am not sure who exactly you may mean by “those on Peter Hitchens’s side of the argument”, sir. Any decent person will naturally support a defender of another’s good name and especially the good name of a deceased person, for such a person is unable to defend himself or his reputation.
Yet I wonder if you may be exaggerating a little the disinterestedness of some of those supporters by your expression “all that is concerning” them.
I may be wrong, of course, but I seem to detect here and there in their writings a certain readiness to criticize the Archbishop himself and the Church along with him, a readiness which seems to me hardly to become people solely concerned with putting right an alleged defamation of a man’s character.
In defending one man’s good name shouldn’t people be careful to avoid any righteous exuberance in which they might be tempted to defame another?
You conclude, sir “..given that the Archbishop went public with his comments, it has become a public matter, hence the public’s business.”

How so, sir? I had never even heard of the good Archbishop’s comments nor indeed of the good bishop himself, until I happened to read Mr Hitchens’ robust defence of his reputation. Nor do I imagine that I was alone in that ignorance of events. If it is anyone’s “business” at all, it is surely the business only of those who manage and apply or withhold our laws, their advocates, plaintiffs and any summoned witnesses and jurors.
For the rest of the population it is, I maintain, none of their business, though some may be so susceptible to what Mr Hitchens himself has aptly called ‘gossip, rumour and tittle tattle’ that they are inclined to make it their ‘business’.

 

Peter Preston, “What I simply cannot make out is why anyone should interest himself at all – except to defend, as Mr Hitchens has done in the matter of the bishop’ good name – in whether a person with whom he or she has no connection whatever is to be held guilty or innocent of this or that offence. Why cannot people simply mind their own business?”

I’m not sure to whom you are referring?! Are you perplexed over the considerable comments and interest found here over a number of threads on the subject? If so, I wonder why. I do take your point that probably none of those posting knew the Bishop, (I don’t think) but even so, is it not the case, possibly, that firstly, we are responding to the numerous articles PH has provided us about the continuing issue and his part in it, to which many of us would want to show our support? Also there is the interest which all of us should be concerned with and that is the presumption of innocence which was wrongly denied the Bishop. And perhaps, since all of the discussion concerns the Church of England, we also ought to be concerned about its own behaviour throughout this most unedifying case.
All of which, regardless of whether we should really be concerned as to the guilt of a man we never met and don’t know, rather tips the balance in favour of sustained interest in all that Peter is kindly providing us for our information. And it is promoting a general discussion about several aspects of the case which could come up in other cases of both well known and anonymous people in future and things we need to try to guard against too.

 

@Peter Preston 27th January at 11:06AM

“What I simply cannot make out is why anyone should interest himself at all – except to defend, as Mr Hitchens has done in the matter of the bishop (sic) good name – in whether a person with whom he or she has no connection whatever is to be held guilty or innocent of this or that offence.”

I think that you will find, Mr Preston, that the defence of Bishop Bell’s good name is all that is concerning those on Peter Hitchens’s side of the argument, who have contributed to this, and other threads, regarding this matter.

Unfortunately, that good name has been wantonly discarded by Justin Welby and the Church of England, and Justin Welby has done so through statements which not merely hint at, but strongly suggest that Bishop Bell was guilty of prolonged child sex abuse. (I shan’t use the word paedophilia for reasons which you, as a Greek scholar, will doubtless understand.) Moreover, the Archbishop has done so, when there is nothing but the flimsiest of evidence to suggest Bishop Bell’s guilt. Hence, the discussion of legal principles and of the guilt or innocence of Bishop Bell. What is more, given that the Archbishop went public with his comments, it has become a public matter, hence the public’s business, so that people who care about the wanton discardment of someone’s good reputation are quite right to voice their concern and even anger, at what has occurred..

 

-“I’m not trying to justify Welby’s actions, just to point out that from his perspective, there may be other issues to consider than the strictly legal ones.”-
Posted by: Persephone | 27 January 2018 at 11:02 AM:

Self-interest..?

 

What I simply cannot make out is why anyone should interest himself at all – except to defend, as Mr Hitchens has done in the matter of the bishop’ good name – in whether a person with whom he or she has no connection whatever is to be held guilty or innocent of this or that offence. Why cannot people simply mind their own business?
If I read in the newspaper that Mr Fred Whatshisname of Somewhere or other Street has been charged with riding a bicycle without lights after dark, I may be momentarily shocked by the depths of depravity to which unregenerate human nature can sink but, as I don’t know the fellow, I would quickly consign the news item to the ‘nowt-to-do-with-me’ file and get on with the rest of my life. To continue to interest myself in the matter to the extent of guessing at the man’s personal state of conscience would indicate, I think, an unhealthy state of mind in myself.
Would my state of mind be any healthier, if the fellow had faced a more serious charge?

 

It’s certainly true that many people don’t understand the law, but what’s more to the point is that many people aren’t very good at thinking logically. If the law was the only issue here it would be straightforward, but it’s not. Welby also has to consider the public response to a high-ranking CoE official speaking about child abuse – however irrational that response might be. So what can he do? He can direct people to look at the evidence, he can state that the Bishop would probably have not been found guilty, had the case gone to court. But he can’t make any public statement that would even imply that ‘Carol’ was speaking untruthfully (let’s not use the word ‘lying’, to avoid the matter of intention). Many people would interpret this as an attempt to cover up child abuse. That’s not a logical conclusion, but a lot of people aren’t logical thinkers. They won’t read the Carlie report, they won’t bother to look at the evidence and even if they do, they won’t be able to interpret it in a logical way. They won’t know how the police proceed in a criminal investigation, or how lawyers work. They won’t understand the difference between criminal and civil cases or what the different standards of proof are. No point in telling them that the evidence available would probably not even have led to the man being charged – their reply will be ‘there’s no smoke without fire’.They’ll just immediately jump to the conclusion it’s an attempt to cover up child abuse. And he can’t risk that.

I’m not trying to justify Welby’s actions, just to point out that from his perspective, there may be other issues to consider than the strictly legal ones.

 

Archbishop Welby subscribes to the contemporary progressive-liberal worldview, and one of its tenets is that all men accused of sexual assault are guilty until proved innocent. My hunch is that, despite all the legitimate criticism he’s faced from Lord Carlisle and others, he’s ideologically incapable of taking any stand other than the one he regrettably continues to. I think he maintains there’s still a cloud over Bishop Bell’s name because, if he didn’t, he would be forced to challenge many of his own deeply-held beliefs, and just for today he’s unwilling or unable to walk down that particularly difficult and painful road.

I’m aware I’m talking about things I can’t know, but I’ve yet to see anything to suggest I’m not making reasonable assumptions.

 

Jeremiah Jones 26 January at 03:31PM

I agree with you, Mr Jones, that it is simply ignorance of the law (which isn’t that difficult to understand) which is causing confusion.

All that matters is whether the burden of proof has been met in the case of Bishop Bell. It clearly has not been, even on the less onerous civil standard.

That is all. ‘Carol’s’ character would not have been impugned simply because it was decided that the case she had brought had not met this requirement.

 

I must say, rare as it is, I’m in more or less complete agreement with Bunker’s last paragraph to Robert Duncan. I think that the presumption of innocence is a legal principle and not strictly relevant for how we judge even living individuals outside the legal system. Rather, what’s important is we err on the side of suspending judgement – the evidence must be very strong before we conclude someone is likely guilty of some accused offence. But there doesn’t have to be a trial, and it is even possible to disagree with the verdict of a trial.

In this case, the evidence isn’t strong. We have one accuser without corroborating evidence. On the other hand, there is little that casts definite suspicion or doubt on Carol’s claim. Somewhere should suspend judgement, neither suggesting Bell guilty nor Carol is lying or mistaken.

 

Persephone replying to Peter Preston,26th Jan @11.02am, about what Justin Welby can do regarding his “significant cloud” remark.

“This is where Justin Welby’s problem lies, I suspect, whatever he may personally think. He can’t risk publicly saying anything that would even imply that ‘Carol’ is lying. Apart from the fact that this cannot be proved, the papers could spin it as saying that all victims of child abuse are lying…”

He doesn’t need to make any further comment about whether ‘Carol’ is lying, mistaken or suffers faulty memory. That is something people can decide for themselves. As PH has repeatedly pointed out, in law, there is no legal recourse to a witness in any criminal case, otherwise courts would be full prosecuting them, and they would not be so willing to give evidence. People can be found not guilty regardless of the truth of a witness’s evidence for any number of reasons. That is why they are not pursued in law.
Mr Welby could still say he has reconsidered the situation and retract this statement and leave it to people to draw their own conclusions as to what may or may not be the truth in ‘Carol’s’ accusation.
The only query I have, is why he specifically told Lord Carlisle not to decide if Bishop Bell was guilty or not in his enquiry into the church’s handling of the case? That seems odd to me. Why leave that out of the enquiry?
One final point, I don’t quite understand how it follows that if ‘Carol’ is lying, the press could say, “all victims of child abuse are lying.”? Why would that be?

 

Posted by: Persephone | 26 January 2018 at 11:02 AM:

-“This is where Justin Welby’s problem lies, I suspect, whatever he may personally think. … He risks being accused of wanting to cover up child abuse. Basically, he’s in an impossible position. What’s the answer?”-

The Archbishop’s statement reads:

“The Diocese of Chichester was given legal advice to make a settlement based on the civil standard of proof, the balance of probability. It was not alleged that Bishop Bell was found to have abused on the criminal standard of proof, beyond reasonable doubt. The two standards should not be confused.”

Its meaning is open to interpretation.

The CofE made an out-of-court settlement of the civil claim precisely so that it would not be decided in court based on the civil standard of proof.

The allegation made was never examined in court and so never the subject of a legal finding.

Therefore, not only was it “not alleged that Bishop Bell was found to have abused on the criminal standard of proof, beyond reasonable doubt” – more precisely, in terms, Bishop Bell was “not found to have abused” – there was no legal finding AT ALL.

 

***PH writes. (re Mr Phil W) This is simply not true. No judgement is implied on ‘Carol’. The only thing that is judged is the case against George Bell, which is inadequate to justify a prosecution, let alone to secure a conviction … Why do people refuse to understand the operation of the law? ****

I don’t think they are *refusing* to understand, I believe they genuinely *don’t* understand. Either the facts as to how English law works, or, far less, the reasons *why* it operates like that. The proximate reasons for what we have are buried in the accidents of our history, and what we have we now analyse at our (complacent) leisure. One could drone on about the failure of our school system to educate people in the most elementary facts of our history, constitution, law, presumption of innocence (isn’t that what we’re talking about ?) etc – but PH has done that better, many times. I comment only in surprise that he doesn’t answer his own rhetorical question.

Mr Robt Duncan’s contribution is pertinent:

“Perhaps, then, you will see the importance of this issue. It is not enough to suspend judgement. It is not enough to talk cloudily of clouds. In such cases, where knowledge is impossible, one has a duty, formally, to ASSUME innocence.”

Some people here seem to be getting stuck on a merely logical quandary of ‘Carol’ vs Bell, one or the other. This may be good mathematics (though only if you have your abstraction right), even useful for detective analysis, but it is completely useless for justice and morality. It is the stuff of continental “inquisitorial” justice systems (which, like Justin Welby, would be stuck forever on this case because the detailed truth is now irrevocably lost), but alien to the English justice system, which could easily have decided any case brought against Bell, and on all the public facts now known, would have acquitted – had there not been an early ruling that there was no case to answer.

***PH notes (re Persephone, and “survivors’ memories are false” etc) If any newspaper did this, it would certainly be open to condemnation under the IPSO code for inaccuracy, and so forced to print a prominent retraction, and probably also for a suit at libel from the Archbishop. The person who *has* suggested that the complainant’s memories *may* be false (not that they are which is unknowable) is the professional psychiatrist employed by the C of E to examine the claim.***)

Quite so. So even if Persephone is right as to Welby’s fears, he can easily (if he bothers to think it out properly) face down not only his own fears, but any ignorant flak that might fly as a result. The question is, does he have the basic moral courage required? Sadly I don’t think so.

 

I thank Phil W for his reply, in which he says: “Like I said, imagine the headlines? My point is that the explanation for [the Archbishop’s] behaviour is obvious.”

Not to me it’s not. Is the suggestion that the Archbishop is afraid of personal criticism in the newspapers, or negative headlines aimed at the complainant?

If the former, are we not entitled to expect a religious leader to do what he believes to be morally right irrespective of whatever criticism his actions may attract? George Bell certainly lived up to that.

If avoiding criticism is his motivation, the untenable stance he is taking is hardly helping his cause as he is on the receiving end of lots of it – and from people with a lot more standing than the editor of a tabloid newspaper.

If the latter, I cannot see the problem.

Phil writes: “…if we assume that she was confused or suffering from false memories then still her account cannot be believed by someone who believes George Bell to be innocent.”

Indeed. I do not believe her account. Does Phil? If so, on what basis given that there is no corroborating evidence but several inconsistencies in it?

Every legal case has a winner and a loser. Losers do not normally come in for criticism unless they have deliberately lied, and I stress I am not suggesting that applies here. Who among us has a clear recollection of events that took place in our childhood? Why therefore would Carol be likely to receive unpleasant press coverage? Even if she were, that is still no reason to avoid doing the right thing.

This should be a rare case with two winners: George Bell emerges with his reputation intact and Carol keeps the financial compensation she received for abuse she may well have endured at the hands of an unknown perpetrator.

I also thank Mr. Bunker for his reply but wonder if perhaps the legal system in Germany is different from that in England and Wales. I am not a legal expert either. I believe “not proven” is a possible outcome in Scotland but my understanding is that south of the border the onus is on the complainant to prove their case; the defendant remains innocent until such time that the case is proven beyond reasonable doubt. If there is doubt – and how can there not be in this case? – then George Bell is innocent.

I am not sure why Mr. Bunker feels the need to mention that he does not judge Carol to be guilty. George Bell’s innocence does not imply Carol’s guilt. Carol is not on trial.

 

@Phil W

“‘SURVIVOR’S MEMORIES OF ABUSE ARE “FALSE” CLAIMS ARCHBISHOP'”

Actually, this might not be the headline in the papers. They might take the apostrophe out, and make the word ‘survivor’ plural – with all that implies.

***PH notes: If any newspaper did this, it would certainly be open to condemnation under the IPSO code for inaccuracy, and so forced to print a prominent retraction, and probably also for a suit at libel from the Archbishop. The person who *has* suggested that the complainant’s memories *may* be false (not that they are which is unknowable) is the professional psychiatrist employed by the C of E to examine the claim.***)

 

@ Peter Preston

“But what need is there that “we” should decide such things at all, ma’am, when we have law courts whose precise function that is? Isn’t that a bit like keeping a dog and barking yourself?”

Well, this is the problem isn’t it? If an accusation is made against someone who died decades ago, there is no possibility of taking the case to court, and establishing guilt or innocence in the usual way. “We” – I use the term impersonally, to mean anyone who considers the case – may think it is extremely unlikely that the accusation is true, and indeed the “balance of probabilities” would indicate that it is not true – but this can’t be established with certainty. This is where Justin Welby’s problem lies, I suspect, whatever he may personally think. He can’t risk publicly saying anything that would even imply that ‘Carol’ is lying. Apart from the fact that this cannot be proved, the papers could spin it as saying that all victims of child abuse are lying. He can’t even say that false memory may be involved, even though this is a likely enough scenario, as there is also no way this can be conclusively proved. He risks being accused of wanting to cover up child abuse. Basically, he’s in an impossible position. What’s the answer? I don’t know. Perhaps the Scottish verdict of ‘not proven’. But what can he say that won’t be spun as saying the accuser if lying?

 

Contributor Mr Bunker wrote:

“In a way, I feel more comfortable if, instead of “assuming innocence”, I simply do “not assume guilt”. I think this must be because assuming innocence is “active” (and could easily be false) whereas not assuming guilt is “passive” (and cannot be false).”

Now that’s what I call plain good sense. The law-courts themselves sensibly concentrate on the charge brought against the defendant and so they do not “find innocent” but rather “not guilty as charged”, when they acquit.
Unless and until any charge is brought, the law, as I understand it, presumes innocency of life – a courtesy of the law to the citizen and a right thereto, should it fail to be accorded.

 

Peter Preston – 25 January 2018 at 11:47 AM – understandably cannot make out how what is called “the civil standard of proof” comes into the matter at all.

It’s a good question.

In fact it only came into it as a civil action in prospect which was never in the event either properly investigated or examined in court.

The civil claim brought against the Church of England was settled out of court when the CofE was confronted with the prospect of denying liability and the case being decided in a public judgement “on the balance of probabilities”.

The point is not academic.

That an institution is faced with being held financially liable by association in civil law – as a collective punishment – for serious crimes allegedly perpetrated in secret by one individual, even sixty years dead, whether or not they actually occurred, is an incredible situation.

The resulting confusion has been so all pervading from the outset that anyone might be forgiven for thinking that it appears intentional.

As is stated in paragraph 52 of the Carlile review:

“There is an innate contradiction between a settlement without admission of liability, as at least technically happened here, and the knowing and apparently deliberate destruction of the reputation of the alleged perpetrator, as plainly happened here.”

 

@Phil W 25 January at 02:28PM

“That is a legal principle.”

So it is; and it was a legal case which ‘Carol’ brought, so she should have been required to comply with it. That she clearly was not, is what has brought about this whole debate.

 

I was thinking about this regarding the previous thread on this theme, and am glad that PH has once again stated in this one that fighting for the presumption of innocence is not the same thing as an absolute declaration that the Bishop could not have committed any abuse. Because PH and his allies have been clear about this, it makes it even harder to understand why the Archbishop, with this qualification in mind, cannot bring himself to rehabiliate the reputation of Bishop Bell until and unless any hard evidence comes to light to cast doubt on it.

What other clergy have done is not relevant to this particular case.

Oh identity politics, what crimes are committed in thy name !!

 

”Oddly enough though, the impression I get from this article and the current discussion in general is that it is no longer primarily a question of whether the Bishop is innocent or not. Instead it had degenerated into a question of the Archbishop of Canterbury’s role in this affair and how suited he is for his job. I won’t take part in that discussion.” (Mr Bunker 24 January 2018 at 10:52 PM)

I think it is not *odd* at all. Since the Carlile Review has been published, it becomes clear that Lord Carlile has found no *feet of clay* in George Bell but rather found the wrongful actions of the C o E regarding this case from the beginning. It had not * degenerated* but rather focused on the responsibility of the Archbishop of Canterbury.

As adeledicnander comments:

”This has been the actual point at issue from the very beginning.”

We should not forget what the C of E did on 22 Oct in 2015 to the good name of George Bell and how the media responded to it.

We should not forget that the name of George Bell has been *swiftly* removed from many places, especially around the C of E, from the schools, guidebooks and buildings etc.

His name has not yet been restored in many places because of the choice of the Archbishop of Canterbury and his supporters.

Mr Hitchens latest posts on this case are titled:

– What Does the Archbishop Think He is Doing? (22 Jan 2018)

– Historians and now Theologians are amazed by Welby’s refusal to admit that George Bell is not guilty of child abuse (18 Jan 2018)

-Justin Welby’s astonishing refusal to accept the outcome of a report he commissioned” (1 Jan 2018)

– Who’s really preaching fake news, Archbishop? (31 Dec. 2017)

– Acquitted and Vindicated – but his Reputation is Still in Prison.
The Church’s Duty to George Bell” (20 Dec. 2017)

 

I think this whole issue has been neatly summed up in Martin Sewell’s forum when he states

“If Bishop George Bell were alive today, and if he had children, they would have been removed from his care as soon as the allegations were made. Upon receipt of Prof. Maden’s report and the report of a judge of Lord Carlile’s expertise, these children would have been returned to his care. There would have been no lawful basis to do otherwise.”

In such a hypothetical situation one wonders if Archbishop Welby would stand by his statement that he believed there to be a ‘significant cloud’ hanging over Bell’s reputation.

 

Contributrix Persephone wrote:

“……it is naive to imagine that good people can’t do bad things. But there has to be evidence. And when an accusation is made decades after an event, where it comes down to one person’s word against another’s, how do you gather evidence? You can’t take forensics, you can’t interview witnesses if almost everyone involved is dead. So how do we decide?”

But what need is there that “we” should decide such things at all, ma’am, when we have law courts whose precise function that is? Isn’t that a bit like keeping a dog and barking yourself?
Why in any case need the condition of one person’s word against another be in any way a decisive consideration? Might not an individual still be innocent, even if several accusers should bring allegations of wrongdoing after the individual’s death, particularly if the latter had in his lifetime been wealthy and might therefore have been seen by unscrupulous persons as a potential source of compensation?
At all events, whether any of us is “guilty” or “not guilty” as charged is for the law courts to establish and not for others. In other words, since the adjective “forensic” actually means ” of or pertaining to the law courts”, we are in fact obliged to leave it to the “forensics”.