Tag Archives: Professor Andrew Chandler

Jan 24 2019 – “Archbishop of Canterbury apologises ‘unreservedly’ for Church of England’s ‘mistakes’ in handling Bishop Bell allegations” – Daily Telegraph – Robert Mendick

https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2019/01/24/archbishop-canterbury-apologises-unreservedly-coes-mistakes/

Archbishop of Canterbury apologises ‘unreservedly’ for CoE’s ‘mistakes’ in handling Bishop Bell allegations

Archbishop of Canterbury (pictured) apologises 'unreservedly' for CoE's 'mistakes' in handling Bishop Bell allegations

The Archbishop of Canterbury was accused yesterday of persisting with a “malign” attack on Bishop George Bell after he refused to exonerate him following a “copycat” allegation of historic child sex abuse.

An official report published yesterday concluded that a 70-year-old allegation against Bishop Bell was unfounded. It found that the evidence of the complainant – a woman named only as “Alison” – was “unreliable” and “inconsistent”.

Alison had written to the Church of England, claiming she had been sexually assaulted by the bishop in 1949 when she was aged nine.

The letter was sent a week after the Church of England was found to have wrongly besmirched Bishop Bell in its handling of a previous complaint brought by a woman known only as “Carol”.

The latest report suggested that Carol’s allegation had “prompted a false recollection in Alison’s mind”.

Yesterday, the Most Rev Justin Welby “apologised unreservedly for the mistakes” in the handling of the complaint made by Carol. But he declined to publicly clear the former Bishop of Chichester of any wrongdoing or retract a statement that he had a “significant cloud … over his name” and that he had been accused of “great wickedness”.

In a private letter, however, sent to Bishop Bell’s closest surviving relative, his niece Barbara Whitley, he wrote: “Once again I offer my sincerest apologies both personally and on behalf of the Church. We did wrong to you and before God.”

Bishop Bell, one of the towering figures of the Church in the 20th century, has been unable to defend himself, having died in 1958. But his supporters urged the Church to restore his reputation after two reports exonerated him.

Ms Whitley, 94, said yesterday: “I would like to see my uncle’s name cleared before I die.”

Desmond Browne QC, a leading barrister who acted for the bishop’s family and who was christened by him in 1949, said: “What is now clear is that the investigations by two experienced lawyers [have established] George Bell’s innocence. But not once [has] the Archbishop of Canterbury offered Bell the presumption of innocence.”

Alison had alleged that Bell, the former bishop of Chichester, had sat her on his lap and “fondled her”.

But the report by Timothy Briden, an ecclesiastical lawyer and vicar general of Canterbury, concluded that in her oral evidence “her attempts to repeat what had been written in the letter displayed, however, a disturbing degree of inconsistency”.

Alison had alleged in the letter the abuse had taken place indoors in front of her mother but in oral testimony thought she had been assaulted outdoors. He concluded that her claim was “unfounded”.

The existence of Alison’s complaint made in December 2017 was made public by the Church of England at a time when it was facing increasing criticism for its handling of the earlier allegation by Carol. Alison’s claim was passed in January 2018 to police, who then dropped the case.

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Bishop George Bell

Mr Briden also investigated a separate complaint made by an 80-year-old witness – known only as K in the report – that his mother had told him that she had seen Bishop Bell “carrying out a sexual act with a man over his Rolls-Royce” in 1967. 

Bishop Bell died in 1958 and did not have a Rolls-Royce. The report said: “The longer that the statement from K’s mother is analysed, the more implausible it appears.”

Lord Carlile, the QC who carried out the damning inquiry into the handling of Carol’s claim, was scathing of the Church of England’s decision to make public the police inquiry into Alison’s complaint.

Lord Carlile said: “I am astonished that the Church [made] public the further complaint against Bishop Bell and the error has been proved by the conclusion of this latest inquiry.”

Prof Andrew Chandler, Bishop Bell’s biographer and spokesman for the George Bell Group, said “the claim by Alison appeared a copycat of Carol’s complaint”. Carol was paid £15,000 compensation in a legal settlement in October 2015.

In his statement yesterday, Archbishop Welby described Bishop Bell as a “remarkable role model”, adding: “I apologise unreservedly for the mistakes made in the process surrounding the handling of the original allegation against Bishop George Bell.” 

But he went on: “It is still the case that there is a woman who came forward with a serious allegation … and this cannot be ignored or swept under the carpet.”

The current Bishop of Chichester, Martin Warner, also declined yesterday to exonerate his predecessor. But he accepted that a public statement he made signifying Bishop Bell’s guilt and released in 2015 after Carol’s claim was settled was probably now an error. 

“Knowing what we now do [we] would want to re-examine that and I don’t think we would [make that statement].”

Feb 8 2019 – “George Bell ‘should not have been named’ in Church’s settlement of sex abuse allegation” – Church Times – Madeleine Davies

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https://www.churchtimes.co.uk/articles/2019/8-february/news/uk/george-bell-should-not-have-been-named-in-church-s-settlement-of-sex-abuse-allegation

George Bell ‘should not have been named’ in Church’s settlement of sex abuse allegation

08 FEBRUARY 2019

A confidentiality clause should have governed the payment made to “Carol”, the Bishop of Chichester, Dr Martin Warner, has said

The house at 4 Canon Lane, Chichester, once called Bishop Bell House

 

THE blackening of George Bell’s name would not have happened had there been a confidentiality clause governing the payment made to “Carol”, who accused him of sexual abuse, the Bishop of Chichester, Dr Martin Warner, said on Monday.

Dr Warner was addressing supporters of Bishop Bell at the Rebuilding Bridges conference, held at 4 Canon Lane, Chichester, to which supporters wish to see the name “George Bell House” restored.

The naming was up to the Dean and Chapter, the Bishop reiterated (News, 1 February), but he indicated that the cathedral should make more of the Sisters of the Cross, who had donated the house.

“I don’t think simply renaming it ‘George Bell House’ will just do the job. We cannot rewrite history, but we must do better.”

More generally, he suggested that the Church of England must “speak of the achievements, the good things that Bishop Bell did” to restore his reputation. It was “report that makes a person famous for their good deeds. . . So, it seems that for us in the diocese and the Church of England at large, it is important that we are able to speak of the achievements, the good things that Bishop Bell did.”

This had been done on “a number of occasions”, he said, one of which had been his address at a commemoration of the Reformation, in Coburg in 2017. “I believe history will tell the good deeds of Bishop Bell, and I believe they will stand the test of time.”

Dr Warner resisted calls to pronounce Bishop Bell innocent, prompting one speaker to explain that “most here are troubled because the idea of innocence until proven guilty touches everyone.”

He did, though, indicate his acceptance of a key recommendation by Lord Carlile of Berwick, who conducted a review of the Church’s handling of the accusation against Bishop Bell, that the dealings with Carol should have been confidential. “The fault lies with us as the institution, and it is clearly identified in Lord Carlile’s report, as having gone public. We have to own up to that and face it. I’m very clear about that. I take part of the responsibility.

“If you want to know about justice, it’s not about guilty or innocent, but what is made public. Had we said nothing about a settlement with Carol, had there been a confidentiality clause, none of this would have reached the public domain. . .

“We are clear on how wrong we were on publicising the process.”

A statement by Lord Carlile was read at the conference: “The Church should accept that my recommendations should be accepted in full, and Bishop Bell should be declared by the Church to be innocent of the allegations made against him.”

His review had not been asked to determine whether Bishop Bell was innocent, but he had concluded that the case was not strong enough even to be brought to court (News, 22 December 2017).

Among the resolutions carried at the conference was one calling for an apology by the Archbishop of Canterbury, and another asking for a debate in the General Synod.

 

 

Feb 1 2019 – “Welby welcomes plan for George Bell statue, hours after apologising for Church’s handling of the case” – Church Times – Hattie Williams

Welby welcomes plan for George Bell statue hours after apologising for Church’s handling of the case

https://www.churchtimes.co.uk/articles/2019/1-february/news/uk/welby-welcomes-plan-for-george-bell-statue-hours-after-apologising-for-church-s-handling-of-the-case

 

01 FEBRUARY 2019

The commission was halted in 2015, after an allegation of sexual abuse against Bell

A sketch of George Bell by David Goodman

 

THE Archbishop of Canterbury has welcomed plans for a statue of the late Bishop of Chichester, George Bell, to be completed and installed in Canterbury Cathedral, hours after apologising for the Church’s botched handling of an allegation of sexual abuse against the Bishop.

Plans for the statue were halted in 2015, after a woman known as “Carol” alleged that Bishop Bell, a former Dean of Canterbury Cathedral, had sexually abused her in the 1940s, when she was nine. The diocese of Chichester apologised and reached a settlement with Carol within the year (News, 23 October 2015).

An independent investigation by Lord Carlile later concluded, however, that the Church had rushed to judgement in the case, which, Lord Carlile said, should not have been made public (News, 22 December 2017). He wrote that, had the Church seen the evidence that his review had managed to uncover without great difficulty, the case would not have been thought strong enough even to be tested in court.

The news sparked fresh allegations against Bell, which were dismissed in a report on Thursday of last week by an ecclesiastical lawyer, Chancellor Timothy Briden, Vicar-General of the Province of Canterbury.

The report was the conclusion of a second investigation, commissioned and made public by the Bishop of Chichester, Dr Martin Warner, in January of last year. Both Dr Warner and the Archbishop issued statements apologising.

The next day, the Friends of Canterbury Cathedral, which was founded by Bell when he was the Dean of Canterbury (1924 to 1929), announced that a statue of him which had first been commissioned in 2015, would be completed and installed at the cathedral, paid for by the Friends.

“To commemorate his work whilst in Canterbury, the statue will be placed in one of the exterior niches at the west end of the cathedral, joining those of other influential figures.”

The Friends have declined to comment further or provide pictures of the statue, but a newsletter sent to the Friends of Canterbury Cathedral in the United States, in February 2014, gives details of three new commissions for the west front of the cathedral: one of Dean Bell, and two others of the Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh.

It reads: “The statue of Dean Bell has been commissioned and carving has begun out at Broad Oak [in Kent].

“The maquettes for the royal statues of Her Majesty the Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh have been approved by Chapter and the Cathedrals Fabric Commission and work will begin on their manufacture later in the year. Some of our own masons are involved helping the sculptor, Miss Nina Bilbey, and it is hoped that all the statues will be ready for installation towards the end of the year.”

The statues of the Queen and Prince Philip were unveiled on the west front in March 2015. When approached this week, Ms Bilbey said that she was unable to comment at present.

Archbishop Welby posted a link to the announcement on Twitter, last Friday. He wrote: “I warmly welcome the announcement today that the statue of Bishop George Bell will in due course be completed and installed at Canterbury Cathedral, as a permanent reminder of his unique contribution to international peace and to the Church of England.”

His comment echoed his apology for the “mistakes” made in handling the original allegation, which he previously said had left a “significant cloud” over the name of Bishop Bell, despite protests from historians that Bell’s name should never have been implicated (News, 22 January 2018).

Bishop Bell’s biographer, Professor Andrew Chandler, has been campaigning with the Bell Society to clear Bell’s name. “To invest the authority of high public office, and the name and the resources of the Church itself, in a sustained denigration of an innocent, dead man, is profoundly disturbing,” he said this week.

“To maintain that denigration in public, even in the face of the most authoritative, experienced, and principled criticism, for over three years, is something very serious indeed. It does represent, in a fundamental way, an abuse of moral power.”

A spokesman for Church House suggested last week that Chichester Cathedral might “review” its decision to remove Bishop Bell’s name from its grant scheme. It was up to individual institutions, however, to decide whether to reinstate his name on buildings, he said.

Several buildings dedicated to Bell have been renamed in the past three years, including George Bell House, a conference centre in Chichester Cathedral close, which was dedicated in October 2008, on the 50th anniversary of his death (Features, 3 October 2008). The building was renamed 4 Canon Lane in 2016.

An event — “Rebuilding Bridges” — is being hosted there next week by the Bell Society. It will ask whether the Dean and Chapter will restore the name of Bell to the building, and whether Bishop Bell be “cleared of abuse” by the Archbishop.

 

February 3 2018 – “Church of England accused of disclosing fresh Bell allegation to save Archbishop embarrassment” – Daily Telegraph – Olivia Rudgard

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2018/02/02/church-england-accused-disclosing-fresh-bell-allegation-save/

Church of England accused of disclosing fresh Bell allegation to save Archbishop embarassment

The motion, which is currently being assessed by Church of England lawyers, would not have been discussed at this month's meeting but would have been added to the agenda for later meetings had it received enough support.   
The motion, which is currently being assessed by Church of England lawyers, would not have been discussed at this month’s meeting but would have been added to the agenda for later meetings had it received enough support.    CREDIT: PA

The Church of England has been accused of disclosing evidence of a fresh allegation against Bishop George Bell in order to preserve the Archbishop of Canterbury from embarrassment at Synod.

The Church announced it had received “fresh information” about alleged sexual abuse by the highly-respected bishop, who died more than 70 years ago, on Wednesday, just over a week before the issue was due to be debated at a meeting of the Church of England’s governing body.

Synod members who had planned to propose a motion aimed at beginning the process of rehabilitating Bell’s reputation have decided to shelve it as a result.

The motion, which is currently being assessed by Church of England lawyers, would not have been discussed at this month’s meeting but would have been added to the agenda for later meetings had it received enough support.

But its proposer David Lamming, a lay member from the diocese of St Edmundsbury & Ipswich said he had decided to “put it on ice” following the disclosure of the new allegation.

Motions must receive 100 signatures in order to be added to the potential agenda for future events.

Mr Lamming told the Daily Telegraph: “I don’t think I can ask Synod to sign something that they are uncomfortable with in the light of this recent development.”

Dr Ruth Hildebrandt Grayson, the daughter of Bishop Bell’s friend Franz Hildebrandt, said the development made her “question [Welby’s] leadership”.

“I’m quite sure it was to distract attention away from the pressure that was building on Justin Welby to apologise for his earlier statement,” she said. 

“An Archbishop has to be able to take a bit of embarrassment, he has got to be able to say that he’s got it wrong.”

Professor Andrew Chandler, Bell’s biographer, said: “People will assume that there is some manipulation at work in all this, and whether that is true or not I don’t know.

“In the intensely political context in which all of this has emerged, it’s natural for people to have these suspicions, but it’s the Church that has created this context.”

In a statement released on Wednesday, Bishop Peter Hancock, the Church of England’s lead Safeguarding bishop said the announcement was made “in light of General Synod questions that need to be responded to and the reference to the case in the IICSA hearing yesterday”.