Tag Archives: Peter Billingham

Nov 24 2019 -“Chichester Cathedral moves to restore Bishop George Bell” – ‘Archbishop Cranmer’ – Martin Sewell

Chichester Cathedral moves to restore Bishop George Bell

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Chichester Cathedral

CRANMER’S ‘CURATE’S EGG’ COMMENTS

  • Well in the case of Bishop Bell daylight should have been allowed into this long ago. I firmly believe if you want to accuse you do so in the light of common day, not in the shadows of anonymity. And nor do I believe that the Church, nor anyone else for that matter, should be sending fat cheques for allegations which have not been proved beyond reasonable doubt.

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      This was a civil proceeding and claim, not a criminal case. Out of court settlements happen all the time without acceptance of culpability or liability. The error in this instance was not the payment (which was small given the nature of the allegations) but the Church of England accepting the claims were credible and that George Bell was guilty. There was no need for Welby to say he could not, with integrity, clear Bell’s name.

      To be honest, having been in similar situations, Jack has some empathy with Welby’s statement:

      “We have to treat both Bishop Bell, his reputation — we have to hold that as something really precious and valuable. 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.”

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        I agree. For many reasons the CoE made a grotesque mess of its handling of this case, but it is worth asking what should have been done that wasn’t. In my view, (1) ‘Carol’ should have been told: “We are not pre-judging anything but we need to cross-examine you, because someone who has genuinely been abused and a golddigger would say the same thing, and cross-examination will give us more information to distinguish. Can you see why we require that?” And (2) That reporter who said others had been abused in a local newspaper should have been followed up by the enquiry, no matter how many phone calls had gone unreturned.

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          What should have been done ? That is patently obvious: ‘Carol’s’ story should have been rigorously examined and she should have been made to make her accusations in the light of common day, not in this hole in corner manner. Bishop Bell deserved far better than this nonsense. I think the lessons of ‘Nick’ should be heeded and those who claim to have been abused in 1892 or whenever should not be believed without their story being tested properly. And the last thing that ought to be done is sending fat cheques. Time to derail the compensation gravy train.

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          Any decent qualified child protection expert assessing this woman’s allegations, would have tested her account. “Cross examination” is an adversarial process intended to discredit and undermine. Truth and justice isn’t always the outcome. For victims of abuse, this can be harmful and traumatic. This matter was settled and didn’t go to court – civil or criminal. If it had gone to a civil court, given that George Bell was dead and the action would have been against the Church of England, it would have been the Church who would have been “cross examining” the claimant and seeking to undermine her testimony. As Jack said, he empathises with Welby in this situation.

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            I mean the same by “cross examination” as you mean by “testing her account”. I agree with the words of Welby you have quoted, but overall I believe he grotesquely mispresided over the matter.

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              In going public with George Bell’s name? He argued that when the details eventually became public at the inquiry, the Church would have been accused of a cover-up. And he was right in this. His error was in stating (or implying) that he believed Bell was guilty when there was no clear evidence for this.

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    At IICSA Justin Welby said “We’ve got to learn to put actions behind the words because ‘sorry’ is pretty cheap.”
    He also said that he had apologised to me in person at lambeth palace in November 2016. He did not. Neither my solicitor or myself remember an apology and the minutes for the meeting, taken by a member of the nst, record no apology. This meeting was 7 months before Devamanikkam was even charged (and nobody knew if he would be). Was Justin Welby so convinced of Devamanikkams guilt that he apologised to me 7 months in advance of charges? This is not likely.
    Further an internal memo (obtained through a subject access request) from the same member of the nst dated April 2018 clearly states that no apology had been issued.
    So was Justin Welby mistaken, badly briefed or deliberately telling an untruth to the inquiry?
    The ‘letter’ Justin Welby produced (a few minutes before the start of the hearing despite there being months to prepare statements and hand in documentary evidence) , which I have never received, was a fudge anyway and the barrister asked Justin Welby if that was an apology or the beginning of one.
    I was sat behind him the whole time but he never turned round once.
    I have still had no formal apology despite being raped by a vicar in a vicarage. I would not want that regurgitated excuse now anyway.
    If apologies are so cheap..then do it along with restorative action that is appropriate.
    The truth is that any apology now would be worthless because it would have had to be dragged out of Mr Welby or Mr Sentamu. It is a cold, cold heart that behaves like this.
    Raped by a vicar in a vicarage as a youngster and the archbishop, nor any of the other bishops who have acted shabbily and shambolicly can even say sorry. I was right in my observations at iicsa….not fit for office.

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    About time too! Any idea when George Bell’s statue will be unveiled at Canterbury cathedral? A great Dean and a great Bishop. Let’s hope that his hymn – “Christ is the king” will have been sung today in many churches and cathedrals on Christ the King/Stir up Sunday.

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    When is Welby resigning?

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    The guide book has been changed. Good.
    Central to justice for George Bell is the fight against those who judge the past, without sufficient evidence or context, by the standards of today, to buy approval and signal virtue.

    If you can see this in the case of George Bell, Martin, why do you still support us repenting for the acts of slave traders, antisemites and persecutors of homosexuals? These things were done in different times by other people. To suggest that we bear guilt is just another form of injustice and stupidity.

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      Absolutely agree, Chef. The biblical, godly principle is that each person is responsible for his (or her) own wrongdoing or sin, and no-one elses’s. The instruction given in Deut.24:16, 2Ki.14:6, and 2Chr.25:4, while expressed within a context where the death penalty was implemented, gives a principle of personal responsibility that applies in contexts where other penalties are implemented.

      The requirement for retrospective grovelling apology for wrongdoings that are not a particular person’s fault or responsibility is a form of guilt manipulation that needs to be resisted with full determination, no matter what the force of social coercion applied to that person to perform an act which is nothing but virtue-signalling. Justice demands that the innocent should not be punished, but the guilt-manipulating coercing social mob cares nothing for justice, but only for vindictive, unjustified punishment.

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An Evening with Peter Hitchens – Friends Meeting House, Chichester – Sunday, October 2 2016

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Peter Hitchens

After T.S. Eliot’s “Murder in the Cathedral” – abridged and directed by Peter Billingham – Peter Hitchens fielded questions in a packed Friends Meeting House

A lady asked Peter H. about his use of the term “the Church” (eg “allegations against Bishop Bell by the Church”) and asked to whom he was referring exactly.

Peter H wanted to avoid attacks on individuals – this being counter productive – but yes, it was from the Archbishop down.

Hubert Doggart pursued the issue: Chichester’s Dean & Chapter failed to use the word “alleged” when making pronouncements on Bishop Bell’s guilt. Could we not insist on their retracting from this stance?

Peter H replied the word “alleged” was used in the Diocesan statement of October 26 2015.

Mr Doggart doggardly pressed on : Could we not isolate our Dean and Chapter from the Diocese?

Peter H replied that the Diocesan lawyers appeared to him out of their depth, especially unable to respond adequately to the legal minds of the George Bell Group. However, he did not think it appropriate or feasible to attack the Dean and Chapter at this point – reiterating the need to concentrate on Bell’s reputation – and its restoration. That is what he is fighting for. 

Peter H advised not to pursue investigation into ‘Carol’. Yes, he thinks she was abused, and needs every bit of sympathy we can give. We should avoid hounding, outing or dishonouring her.

From his experience of reputations and institutions, Peter H believed only persistence will bring results, and in the long-term, it will in this case. He encouraged to keep ‘chipping away’; keep at it, and seize every opportunity.

It was noted that in Chichester, Bishop Bell’s name was to be remembered on October 3rd; but in other Dioceses he has already been erased from the List. There are unconfirmed reports the Episcopal Church USA has already expunged Bishop Bell from their List. Confirmation is being sought

Peter H thought much of the City Council’s rehanging of the Bell portrait: a brave, unusual forthright action.

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Church Times – Front Page – Friday, October 7 2016

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http://www.chichester.co.uk/whats-on/theatre-and-comedy/play-reading-as-part-of-justice-for-george-bell-campaign-1-7596901

Play reading as part of “Justice for George Bell” campaign Bishop Bell

Phil Hewitt – phil.hewitt@chiobserver.co.uk

Monday 26 September 2016

An abridged, dramatised reading of T S Eliot’s Murder in the Cathedral will take place in Chichester as part of the campaign to clear the name of the city’s wartime Bishop Bell, a man accused last year of child abuse more than half a century after his death (October 2, 6.30pm, The Friends’ Meeting House, Priory Road, free admission).

Taking part will be Mail on Sunday columnist and author Peter Hitchens, a key figure in efforts to argue nothing has ever been proved against Bell: “The Church of England gave George Bell a kangaroo court. It was about as marsupial as it could be.”

As Peter says, it is documented that Bell would always travel third class by train; and that travelling on the little branch lines, there would be times when he would have to travel without a ticket. Without fail, he would then get his secretary to find out what he owed and send off a cheque: “Does a man who is so open and honest in such small things fit with a man who was supposed to have led a life of predatory child abuse? I don’t think so.”

Peter believes the campaign has made significant progress: “It has allowed what was initially an allegation to become an allegation again rather than being accepted as undisputed truth, which the church did wrongly to begin with.”

Peter’s argument is that the church and some of the media ignored “the presumption of innocence which is not just a principle in law but a principle in life. The statement that they put out never at any stage says George Bell is guilty, but somehow or other three national newspapers and the BBC all came to the conclusion that he was guilty.”

Peter, who spent some formative years in Chichester, just after George Bell’s death, living in Brandy Hole Lane and attending (as a non-choirboy) the Prebendal School, insisted he is not afraid of the truth: “If it is true, then no harm will have been done by insisting on the presumption of innocence. If it is not true, then a great deal of harm will have been done.

“But I find it hard to see how it could be proved conclusively. It is so long ago. We only have a witness from one side of the alleged events. The accused person is not there to defend himself. One hopes for some sort of event that might bring it about but I doubt it.

All I have ever wanted to stress is that it is an allegation rather than something proven.

“I have no doubt that the reason they threw George Bell under the bus was to make themselves appear tough and decisive which is the opposite to how they have appeared. Their mistake was to think that nobody cared about George Bell any more. I have been in touch with a huge number of people who care very much.”

Peter says he himself reluctantly came to the conclusion, as Bell did during the war, that area bombing of Germany was wrong: “There was one just man who was prepared to stand up and say it was wrong, and that is an important salve to our national conscience for something we cannot feel terribly proud about.”

And that has been thrown away: “This was a solitary uncorroborated allegation.”

Read more at: http://www.chichester.co.uk/whats-on/theatre-and-comedy/play-reading-as-part-of-justice-for-george-bell-campaign-1-7596901

“Murder in the Cathedral” by T.S. Eliot – Sunday October 2 – Friend Meeting House – Chichester -6.30pm

“Murder in the Cathedral” by T.S. Eliot

Abridged and Directed by Peter Billingham – In Memory of Bishop George Bell

http://www.winchester.ac.uk/academicdepartments/PerformingArts/peopleprofiles/Pages/DrPeterBillingham.aspx

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https://gatwickcitytimes.wordpress.com/2016/10/02/october-2-2016-late-afternoon-evening-in-chichester/

There were rehearsed readings of short extracts from Eliot’s play.
THE CAST
Conscience – Peter Hitchens
Archbishop Thomas Beckett – Canon Derek Tansill
People of Canterbury – Douglas Hankin-West, Johanne Ball, Marilyn Billingham
First Knight – David Simpkin
Second Knight – Peter Billingham
“You should pay tribute to the readers who gave a superb performance of Eliot’s words” ~ Peter Hitchens
£100 was raised for Amnesty International