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Former Chief Constable accuses Church of “grave miscarriage of justice” in Bishop Bell case – Premier News – March 2016


News > UK > Church accused of “grave miscarriage of justice” in Bishop Bell case

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Church accused of “grave miscarriage of justice” in Bishop Bell case

Sun 20 Mar 2016

By Antony Bushfield

A former chief constable’s led a group in criticising the Church of England for committing a “grave miscarriage of justice” by labelling the former Bishop of Chichester, George Bell, a paedophile.


Lord Dear, who once led West Midlands Police, is joined by Labour MP Frank Field and Judge Alan Pardoe QC in a letter calling for a proper investigation.

They claim the Church did not interview key people before branding Bishop Bell a sex abuser.

In October 2015 the Church of England released a statement apologising to a woman who claimed she was abused by the respected Bishop Bell in the late 1940s and early 1950s.

It also paid compensation to the woman, who cannot be named for legal reasons.

Sussex Police has revealed it would have arrested Bishop Bell and interviewed him on suspicion of serious sexual offences had he still been alive.

A Church spokesperson said the decision to accept Bishop Bell was a paedophile was “not taken lightly or without consideration of the impact on the reputation of George Bell”.

The group supporting Bishop Bell has written to the Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby asking him to apologise to Bishop Bell’s family and launch an investigation.

Frank Field MP, a former member of the Church of England General Synod, told the Sunday Telegraph: “There has been a grave miscarriage of justice here. The church acted in secrecy. We don’t know what the charges were, who were the authorities which made the judgment and how that judgment was arrived at.

“If this could happen to a man like Bishop Bell it could happen to someone who is unknown and does not have influential friends to fight for them. We need a much more robust system for dealing with this kind of allegation.”

A Church of England spokesperson said: “The decision to settle the civil claim relating to the activities of Bishop Bell and make a formal apology was not taken lightly or without consideration of the impact on the reputation of George Bell.

“However in this case, as in others, the overriding goal was to search out the truth and issues of reputation cannot take priority over that.

“Any suggestion that the reputation of the Church, or its ministers, should take precedence over the search for the truth is fundamentally misplaced.”

“Police to apologise to Bishop George Bell’s family” – Premier – August 6 2016


Police to apologise to Bishop George Bell’s family

Sat 06 Aug 2016

By Antony Bushfield


The police is to apologise to the family of Bishop George Bell for the way it made public allegations of abuse against him.

Sussex Police accepted it should have informed the deceased clergyman’s relatives before confirming it would have charged him with sex abuse had he still been alive.

In October 2015, the Church accepted assault allegations against Rt Revd George Bell, who was Bishop of Chichester from 1929 until his death on 3rd October 1958, and paid compensation to the alleged survivor.

In a statement, officials said there was no “reason to doubt the veracity of the claim” and apologised for his actions.

The way the case has been handled by the Church and police has been under scrutiny since, with some saying it was wrong to vilify a man who was not alive to defend himself.


Journalist Peter Hitchens was a high profile voice condemning the allegations being made public without the prospect of a fair trial.

He wrote a letter of complaint to Sussex Police. In the force’s reply it said an apology would be made to Bishop Bell’s niece Barbara Whitley.

Detective Superintendent Jeremy Graves, is quoted by the BBC as writing: “The distress caused to Barbara Whitley is of course regrettable and I know that Katie Perkin [head of corporate communications] plans to personally write a letter of apology to her.

“With hindsight the matter could have been managed more sensitively but it was complicated by the fact that the release was generated by the diocese with whom we should have been working more closely.

“I am satisfied there was no intention to confuse or cause distress.”

The Church of England has been contacted for a comment.

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    This business is far from finished. There are a number of high-profile people who are chasing justice. There was no evidence offered in the Bishop’s defence. Apparently some of the details given do not appear to stand up to scrutiny: if the young girl’s allegations are true they could even have pointed to someone else being the culprit. The CofE appears to be stonewalling over the way it dealt with the whole affair.

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    It seems somewhat sad that in today’s politically correct world that an apology has to be given to a relative of a churchman who abused young children. In my opinion, the daughter should be apologising to the victim for the disgraceful and un-Christian acts of her father.

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      Mr Holland, it would greatly enhance your case if you knew what you were talking about.

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        Mr Symonds. Perhaps you would like explain your remaks please.

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          Much, but not all, is explained here:

          https://richardwsymonds.wordpr… (The Bell Society)

          https://you.38degrees.org.uk/p… (The Bell Petition – See Updates and Comments)

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            Not to me it isn’t, nor, I suspect to other readers on this posting.
            I would respectfully suggest that you come down from what I perceive to be your pompous, high-minded and pompous tower and explain in words of one syllable what is the point you are trying – and failing miserably – to make.

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              Truth is rather difficult to discover “in words of one syllable”, but I’ll try to put it in a nutshell:

              I have little doubt 5-year-old ‘Carol’ (now 70) was abused by a ‘man of the cloth’ in Chichester. I have very serious doubt – along with very serious evidence – that it was Bishop Bell. In other words, it was a case of mistaken identity.

              The detail you will have to work out for yourself – in other words, you will have to think for yourself and decide for yourself.

              I’m not optimistic you can manage that on the basis of what you have said so far.

              Graham Holland

              Thank you, guv, for your explanation. My forelock is being tugged as I write. I am so lucky to have such a learned and understanding person like you wanting to help and educate me. What little education at grammar school and university I managed to achieve pales into insignificance to your superior intellect. I must tell my friends at my Club and my City Livery Company and the boards on which I sit how fortunate I am to have had your advice.
              However, if you will permit a mere humble individual such as me to ask a couple of questions, I would be grateful for your munificence in answering something which is bothering me.
              I have thought about the original posting on this site. And I have discovered that the allegations of, shall we call her Carol, made the same allegat ions about Bishop George Bell in 1995. By now she would be a mature woman, and would be aware of the seriousness of her allegations. And what did the concerned and Christian Bishop of Chichester, Eric Kemp, do about these allegations? Er, according to the reading you advised me to do…………..he did precisely nothing. Naturally, he was too busy. Of course, the reputation of the Church had nothing to do with his decision.
              This is even more interesting as this is the same area as the former Bishop of Lewes, Peter Ball, used to be covering. My reading, which you advised me to do, uncovered the fact that he was accused of offences of a sexual nature. I understand that he denied them, much as I imagine Bishop George Bell’s daughter would do. However, in Bishop Peter Ball’s case, he was found guilty, and sent to prison. Naturally, a travesty of justice as a churchman would not commit such a heinous crime.
              But, back to the case about which we are talking, that of Bishop Georg e Bell. As advised by you, I thought and delved a little deeper. And. lo and behold, I discovered that, even though she was ignored by Bishop Eric Kemp, this lady we are calling Carol complained to Justin Welby in 2013. I do not know if you know him, but he is the Archbishop of Canterbury. And he set up an enquiry which, inter alia, (sorry about that, but I did a little bit of Latin at school as well) stated that ‘it had investigated the victim’s allegations and accepted her account as being true on the balance of probability.’
              Now I had to resort to my OED for the definition of ‘true’. Would you believe that it said ‘in accordance with fact or reality.’ And. lo and behold, the Church paid the alleged victim the sum of £15,000. Now I consulted a learned friend of mine (not, I appreciate, as clever as you), and he had the temerity to suggest that this payment would not have been made had there not been some semblance of truth in the allegations.
              In your first response t o me, you gratuitously suggested it would help if I knew what I was talking about (my English teacher always said that you should never end a sentence with a preposition!). I hope that the foregoing has helped to prove to you that, er, I know just a little about this case. Naturally, not as much as you do, of course.
              So, after thanking you for reading my humble submission, I would respectfully suggest that you refrain from being patronising with anybody who does not share your, some might just think, biased views.
              I conclude with the mere humble suggestion that (a) a report that states that the victim’s account was ‘true’; (b) a payment of £15,000 is a tad unusual if there was no evidence to justify such largesse; and (c) that area of Sussex appears to have more than its share of sexual misdemeanours.
              Thank you for suggesting that I should think and decide for myself. May I recommend the same course of action to yourself.
              God bless.

              7:55 p.m., Sunday Aug. 7 |Other comments by Graham Holland


              What a strange man you are, Mr Holland.

              No matter. Clearly you consider my views mistaken, so I won’t waste my time – or yours – trying to express them. I will leave it to others far more learned than either of us…such as the George Bell Group, Charles Moore of the Daily Telegraph and Peter Hitchens of the Mail on Sunday:

              http://www.georgebellgroup.org/ (George Bell Group)

              http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2016/08/05/now-dame-lowell-has-quit-the-great-child-abuse-inquiry-should-st/ (Charles Moore)

              “In advance of Goddard, the Church of England settled out of court with a woman who said she had been abused as a child between 1949 and 1953 by George Bell, the heroic anti-Nazi wartime Bishop of Chichester. The Church accepted that he had abused her. It soon turned out that no case for Bell had ever been heard by the Church and no evidence or witnesses of his life at that time had been called. The reputation of a dead, defenceless, good man had been sacrificed in a panic” ~ Charles Moore

              http://hitchensblog.mailonsunday.co.uk/2016/08/silenced-by-our-boot-faced-commissars-of-thought-crime-1.html (Peter Hitchens)

              “Holy smoke! I’ve made the Church retreat
              As the vast Goddard inquisition lurches off the rails, are we finally recovering our sanity about child abuse? Terrible as this crime is, it is not an excuse for losing our heads and trampling on justice.
              This week I record a small victory in one such case of injustice, that of the late, saintly and much-loved Bishop George Bell. He was publicly smeared as a paedophile without a hearing by the Church of England – on the basis of a single, ancient uncorroborated accusation.
              I am pleased to say that, under cover of a cloud of holy smoke, the C of E has retreated.
              The Church doesn’t understand English law (hence the kangaroo court) and has a nasty habit of using the anonymous complainant, an elderly lady known as ‘Carol’, as a human shield. Any criticism of the Church’s injustice is falsely alleged to be an attack on her.
              The current Bishop of Chelmsford, The Rt Revd Stephen Cottrell, recently said in the House of Lords that defenders of George Bell had ‘made hurtful comments’ about ‘Carol’. It was a nasty thing to say, and it was not true. I have been pursuing Mr Cottrell, helpfully pointing out to him what the Bible says about bearing false witness, and about owning up to wrongdoing. He is, after all, a modern sort of Bishop and can’t necessarily be expected to be well-versed in such things.
              And now I have wrung out of his spokesperson a pathetic, grudging so-called ‘clarification’. By this word, the C of E actually mean ‘admission’, but they obviously don’t believe that confession is good for the soul.
              It runs ‘when he said in the House of Lords that “some in the Bell Group had made hurtful comments” about “Carol”, it would have been more precise to say that these were comments that she found hurtful’.
              More precise! They mean ‘true’. And of course the two things are totally different. When I derided this formula, they retreated a few more inches, saying: ‘He acknowledges that what he actually said was mistaken, hence the clarification explaining what he meant to have said… When the new parliamentary term begins he promises to look into how a proper clarification can be produced.’
              When I said I would report this as ‘the Bishop now admits that what he said was untrue, and that he intends to correct it in the Lords at the earliest opportunity’, they moaned this would be inaccurate.
              You may judge for yourselves. I’ve been fairer to them than they ever were to George Bell” ~ Peter Hitchens


          • Graham Holland

            Richard. I have been called lots of things in my time, but ‘strange man’ has not been one of them.
            However, I will take your advice about Charles Moore. I was having dinner with him at my Club earlier this year. Had this conversation started earlier I would have asked him then. Not to worry, I will be meeting him again in October, and will pick his brains then.
            I hope you have an enjoyable week.