Tag Archives: Rt Rev Martin Warner Bishop of Chichester

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


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.


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].”

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

Chichester Cathedral moves to restore Bishop George Bell


Chichester Cathedral


  • 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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Feb 14 2019 – ‘Bishop Bell’ Letters – Chichester Observer – “Conference points of note” [Richard W. Symonds] + “Disappointment at conference” [Christopher Hoare]

IMG_2338 (2)

February 13 2018 – Letter to a Bishop – Hugh Wyatt CVO – Former Lord Lieutenant of West Sussex

Hugh Wyatt CVO

January 2018

Rt. Rev. Dr Martin Warner

Bishop of Chichester

The Palace


PO19 1PY

Thank you for sending me a copy of your statement to the Diocese on the

George Bell matter and Lord Carlile’s review.

You have plenty to say about “Carol”. You were “privileged to meet her”; you think “she is a woman of courage and integrity”; she behaved with “dignity and was not greedy”; and you had a “patient and generous conversation” with her.

But, as you admit, George Bell was found guilty by the Core Group. You also say “this was a Church matter”. You are correct – it was – and it failed to deal with the matter properly and fairly.

Many of George Bell’s supporters, some of whom including myself actually knew George Bell, think that the buck stops in Chichester and that you should be carefully considering your position.

February 13 2018 – Release of Bishop Bell Document – A Critical Analysis by His Honour Charles Gibson [distributed by Tom Sutcliffe to General Synod in Feb ’18]


In the Christian liturgy a form of confession comes early on in the service. One would reasonably expect Archbishops and Bishops to be very good at it, not only in services but also in their reflections on the decisions they make in their episcopal and everyday lives. I have considered the responses of the Archbishop of Canterbury, the Bishop of Chichester and the Bishop of Bath and Wells (the Church of England’s lead safeguarding bishop) to the Carlile Report in the light of this expectation.

Lord Carlile QC was commissioned to conduct a review into the way in which the Church dealt with the complaint made by ‘Carol’, first in 1995 and again in 2012 and 2013, that the late Bishop George Bell had sexually abused her on occasions in the late 1940s and early 1950s.

In September 2015 the Church issued a formal apology to Carol, paid her a sum in damages and costs, and issued a public statement in terms which led to widespread reporting of the story, all to the effect that Bishop Bell had been guilty of appalling sexual abuse of a child – a conclusion which, though not expressly stated, was to be implied from the Bishop of Chichester’s “deep sorrow” while he acknowledged that “the abuse of children is a criminal act and a devastating betrayal of trust that should never occur in any situation, particularly the church”. He referred to “the survivor’s courage in coming forward to report the abuse”.

By its statement the Church pinned the label ‘Abuser’ on Bishop Bell as securely as it pinned the labels ‘Survivor’ and ‘Victim’ on Carol.

The inevitable (and eminently foreseeable) publicity led in turn to widespread and passionate responses in defence of the high reputation of Bishop Bell which the Church had destroyed; and the Church was challenged to demonstrate the quality of the process which it had adopted and which had led to such a shocking result.

Lord Carlile’s terms of reference did not include determination of the truthfulness of Carol or the guilt or innocence of Bishop Bell [para 9]. In essence, he was required to examine the procedures which the Church followed, the way in which it obtained and assessed evidence, and whether it was right to make a public statement of apology and pay damages.

In relation to the complaint which Carol made in 1995 Lord Carlile found that the Church did not serve Carol well [para 96]. There can be no argument about that, and the Church’s shortcomings at that time were specifically acknowledged by the Bishop of Chichester in October 2015 and by the Bishop of Bath and Wells in his response to the Carlile report: he described the failures at that time as “lamentable”. Those failures consisted in offering pastoral support but taking the matter no further. It is reasonable to expect the leaders of the Church, having dealt with the matter in recent years with the benefit of wisdom and practice accumulated over twenty years or so since the “lamentable” failures of its predecessors, to be equally willing to acknowledge and castigate any serious failings in their own conduct which Lord Carlile might identify in his report.

Lord Carlile made a large number of specific criticisms of the way in which the Church dealt with the complaint which was made in 2012 and 2013. He accepted that the errors which he identified had been made in good faith, and that they resulted from ‘oversteer’ in the direction of what were believed to be the best interests of Carol and of the Church, and without a calculated intention to destroy Bishop Bell’s reputation. This is unsurprising. It would be scandalous in the extreme if the Church had been found to have acted in bad faith with the specific intention of damaging (more accurately further damaging, having regard to the 2015 statement) Bishop Bell’s reputation. But equally unsurprisingly Lord Carlile found that in fact and in reality his reputation was destroyed in the eyes of all but his strongest supporters [para 119].

Lord Carlile made sixteen criticisms which fall into five categories.

Approach to the investigation

(1) The allegation being serious and apparently credible, the Church implicitly accepted it without serious investigation or enquiry. This was an inappropriate and impermissible approach [para 43]. There was an underlying acceptance of Carol’s case; she was referred to as the ‘victim’, not the ‘complainant’ [para 155(iii)]. The use of this term and ‘survivor’ contributed to decisions which might otherwise have been scrutinised more critically [para 274].

(2) The Church concluded that the needs of a living complainant who, if truthful, was the victim of very serious criminal offences were of considerably more importance than the damage done by a possibly false allegation to a person who was no longer alive. This approach was wrong in principle, for three separate reasons [paras 43-48].

(3) No steps were taken to ensure that Bishop Bell’s interests were considered actively by an individual nominated for the purpose. His reputation, and the need for a rigorous factual analysis of the case against him, were swept up by the focus on settling Carol’s claim and the perceived imperative of public transparency [paras 142, 155(ii), 159(i) and (ii), 188]. The Core Group never seriously engaged with protecting the legitimate interests of Bishop Bell [para 263].

(4) The reputation of the Church was apparently treated as of greater importance than the justice of the case [para 155(i)].

Assembling and dealing with evidence and advice
(5) The Church reached a conclusion without actively seeking the widest available

evidence [paras 36, 140-141, 155(iv), 229]. Significant evidence was readily available [paras 214-220 (‘Pauline’), and 221-225 (Canon Adrian Carey)]. See also (10) below, and the detailed points made by the George Bell Group in its Review dated 18 March 2016.1 The Bishop of Chelmsford, who had a very limited knowledge of the case, was wrong to assert in a debate in the House of Lords that the allegations had been “tested ….. so far as possible”.

(6) The Core Group failed to appreciate the appropriate test for prosecution, viz whether there is a realistic prospect of conviction, and the duty of prosecutors to be impartial, following leads which might cast doubt on the complaint as well as those which are likely to support it [para 41].

(7) The Core Group failed to give the considerable weight which should have been given to Bishop Bell’s good character, his inability to defend himself, and the lack of any other allegations [para 56].

(8) Although counsel’s advice was obtained on the issue of which part of the Church (if any) would have to meet an award of damages, no specialist criminal lawyer was asked to advise on the strength of the evidence [para 170]. Such advice probably would have been to the effect that the prospects of a successful prosecution would have been low [para 171]; and it would have affected the approach to negotiations [para 172].

(9) Only some members of the Core Group were shown the full report of the Consultant Psychiatrist who was consulted. Had they all seen the report they would have seen his advice that

http://www.georgebellgroup.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/03/George-Bell-Case-Review.pdf. 2

page2image32592 page2image32752 page2image32912


the delays in reporting in this case were exceptional, that memory is not reliable over such long periods, and that the only way to establish the truth of the allegations would be through corroborating evidence [paras 178-181].

(10) Evidence that Bishop Bell had access to many young girls during World War II2 and that this had given rise to no complaints was wrongly treated as not undermining the Core Group’s conclusion that the allegations against Bishop Bell were true [para 233].

Treatment of relevant people

(11) The response of the Archbishop’s staff to the complaint which Carol made in September 2012 was inadequate [para 107].3

(12) Nothing was done to identify living relatives of Bishop Bell and to ensure that they were informed of the allegations, let alone asked for or offered guidance [paras 142, 207].

Constitution of the Core Group
(13) There were unacceptable variations in membership and attendance at meetings ofthe Core Group [para 176].
The various criticisms of the establishment, structure and work of the Core Group were summarised in fourteen separate points in para 254 of the Report.

Settlement of the claim
(14) Insufficient attention was given to points which were available for use in negotiations: the fact that Bishop Bell had been dead for over half a century and a fair trial would be extremely difficult; the absence of any corroborative or similar fact evidence; and that Carol had alleged abuse in 1995 but had not made a claim for many years afterwards [paras 146-147, 155(v), 188, 190].

(15) The Church was wrong to settle Carol’s complaint without an admission of liability, while knowingly and apparently deliberately destroying the reputation of Bishop Bell [para 52].

(16) Lord Carlile stated that if the criticisms which he made were substantially valid the decision to settle the case in the form and manner which was followed was indefensibly wrong [para 258]. With the evidence which he found to be readily available a denial of liability would have been the right initial response by the Church [para 260]. There could have been an economic case for a ‘litigation risk’ settlement with an express denial of liability [para 261]. A confidentiality clause probably would have been complied with, and in the event of breach the repayment aspect of it could have been enforced, and cogent reasons for the settlement could have been given [para 262]. Had this been done the legitimate interests of Bishop Bell would have been protected, and he would not have been cast out into the moral wilderness in any statements by the Church [para 263]. This is what should have been done [para 283].

In reading the report all those who had participated in producing the result which led to the review should have considered carefully (i) the extent to which their acts and omissions were criticised, (ii) to what extent the situation in and after September 2015 would have been different had they acted in such a way as not to have attracted criticism; and consequently (iii) to whom and in what terms they should make apologies. This duty should have been undertaken with humility and frankness, particularly in the light of the unqualified nature of the apology which had been offered for the acts and omissions of Bishop Eric Kemp, the then Bishop of Chichester, in and around 1995.

2 Through his active participation in the Kindertransport scheme.

3 At the time of the complaint the Archbishop was The Most Revd and Rt Hon Rowan Williams. The present Archbishop was elected on 4 February 2013 and enthroned on 21 March 2013.

page3image31048 page3image31208 page3image31368 page3image31528


It is my firm conclusion that in view of the catalogue of faults which Lord Carlile found in the Church’s approach to dealing with Carol’s complaint and in its processes the one word answer to (ii) is ‘massively’; and that the appropriate apologies would have been deeply penitential.

Bishop Peter Hancock, the Bishop of Bath and Wells, responded to the report on behalf of the Church. As mentioned above, he used the word “lamentable” to describe the handling of the case in 1995. He rejected the recommendation of a confidentiality clause. He accepted that the Church’s processes had been deficient in a number of respects. He claimed that much professional care and discussion were taken over agreeing the settlement and the decision to make it public; and that the Church had acted in good faith throughout with no calculated intention to damage Bishop Bell’s reputation. He apologised for adding to the additional pain suffered by Carol and the Bishop’s surviving relatives by the handling of the case.

The Bishop of Chichester started his statement by asserting that Lord Carlile’s review was a demonstration of the Church’s commitment to equality of justice and transparency. He apologised for failures in the work of the Core Group and for inadequate attention to the rights of the dead. He accepted that there should be further consideration to the complexity of the case, such as what boundaries should be set to the principle of transparency. He described the principle of innocent until proven guilty as “emotive”. He praised Carol’s dignity and integrity, whether she was technically a complainant, survivor or victim.

The Archbishop of Canterbury referred to Bishop Bell’s heroic stature, saying that the decision to publish his name was taken with immense reluctance. He disagreed with the recommendation as to a confidentiality agreement. He observed that Lord Carlile did not seek to say whether Bishop Bell was responsible for the acts alleged. He apologised for failures in the process. He accepted that a significant cloud was left over Bishop Bell’s name, saying that no human being is entirely good or entirely bad, and that while Bishop Bell was in many ways a hero he is also accused of great wickedness.

The most striking aspect of this trio of responses is that in none of them is found any recognition of the radical and damning observations which Lord Carlile made about the Church’s approach to the matter: see (1) to (4) above. Lord Carlile tactfully used the word “oversteer” to describe the Church’s approach and the detail of its work. An equally appropriate term is bias. In the points which Lord Carlile made we can see manifest bias in favour of Carol and against Bishop Bell. This is consistent with the doctrine which has been adopted in recent years by, in particular4, the police. Widely criticised for failing to take seriously complaints of sexual abuse and to deal sensitively with those complaining of it, the police adopted a principle that such complainants were always to be believed and were to be assured that they were believed. This has led inexorably to an inherent disbelief in the alleged abuser; and in practice there has been shown in many cases a sharp contrast between diligence in pursuing lines of enquiry likely to support a complaint and a lackadaisical approach to the equally important duty of pursuing lines of enquiry which may cast doubt on it. This is a duty owed in law by the prosecution in a criminal case. I suggest that the duty is equally owed by all those responsible for dealing with complaints of serious misconduct, not least the Church.

4 See, for example, the recent case of R v Allen, where the officer in the case not only failed to review the complainant’s telephone records, which served to exonerate the defendant, but also asserted that they contained nothing relevant to the issues in the case. In the light of this case and others it seems that there is now a prospect that this intrinsically unjust principle is being abandoned.



Regrettably, the three responses show not a hint of recognition of this duty; and the damning indictment of the breach of it has been lightly brushed aside by prelates who are all too keen to show pride that their “good faith” has been recognised. All that this means is that they did not set out deliberately to destroy Bishop Bell’s reputation. But this is not much of a point in the Church’s favour when that result was eminently foreseeable, indeed virtually certain, as the consequence of the Church’s approach; and we have seen that this approach was replicated throughout the investigation. Moreover, the statement by the Bishop of Chichester that Lord Carlile’s review was “a demonstration of the Church’s commitment to equality of justice” is startlingly inaccurate. On the contrary, it is a demonstration of the Church’s devotion, not to the principle of justice simpliciter, but to the fashionable but misconceived principle of justice for the particular class of persons who claim to be victims and/or survivors. As this case vividly demonstrates, the application of this principle foreseeably, if not inevitably, makes victims of people such as Bishop Bell and those who honour his reputation.

In a very broad way the statements did recognise that there had been faults in the process of investigation. But in view of the wide range of Lord Carlile’s criticisms it was inappropriately boastful of Bishop Hancock to refer to “much professional care and discussion”. Further, although the Bishop of Chelmsford had no more than a walk-on part, he had no justification for saying that the allegation had been “tested ….. so far as possible”.5 This is an example of the Church’s readiness to be reckless in its self serving response to criticism.

The statements showed no recognition of the wholly different result which would have come about had the Church proceeded in the proper manner, based on sound principles, clearly described by Lord Carlile.

It would have been clear that there was not a single shred of corroborating evidence, in circumstances in which, in spite of the passage of time, such evidence could have been found if it existed. Proper attention to the advice of the Consultant Psychiatrist6 would have led to the conclusion that it would be wrong to admit any possibility of Bishop Bell’s guilt. For all Carol’s honest belief in the accuracy of her story, there was no good reason for the Church to share that belief. Quite simply, her memory could not be relied upon after such a long lapse of time, and the absence of any corroboration demonstrated that her memory was at fault.

It was therefore culpably wrong of the Bishop of Chichester to equivocate as to whether Carol was “technically” a complainant, survivor or victim; and the Archbishop of Canterbury was equally culpable in qualifying his recognition of Bishop Bell’s high reputation with the gratuitous comment that “he is also accused of great wickedness”. It appears to me that so wedded is he to the fundamentally flawed approach which Lord Carlile described that he cannot contemplate going any further than admitting that it is equally likely that Bishop Bell was an abuser as it is that he was not. Moreover, it was discreditable of him to support this stance with the assertion that “Lord Carlile does not seek to say whether George Bell was in fact responsible for the acts about which complaint was made”. Of course he does not do so: this question was outside his terms of reference, as he recognised [para 9].

While the Bishops of Bath and Wells and of Chichester in their responses appeared to disclose a measure of willingness to look again at what the Bishop of Chichester called “the

  1. 5  See (5) above.
  2. 6  See (9) above.



principle of transparency”, the Archbishop makes it clear enough that for him this principle trumps all others. It is eminently foreseeable that other people, whether of high reputation or not, will be sacrificed on the altar of transparency before his archiepiscopate comes to an end.

Reading and analysing the material in this case leaves me as a lifelong Anglican with a deep sense of sadness that between my sense of justice, formed and developed over a long period in the law, and that of at least some of the leaders of my Church there is “a great gulf fixed” [Luke 16.26]. I fear that, unless we see a recognition of, and repentance for, the great wrong which has been done to Bishop Bell, to those who treasure memories of him and those who admire him for what he did for the Church and for the moral and spiritual life of the country, that gulf will remain unbridgeable.

His Honour Charles Gibson

December 2017



Since I wrote the Analysis just before Christmas 2017 widespread criticism of the Church’s response to Lord Carlile’s review has been published. Prominent among this body of criticism was a letter dated 17 January 2018 and signed by seven eminent historians.

They asserted that the Church’s response involved perpetuation of a single allegation, and that this flew in the face of the review, which had devastated the Church’s claim that its view was based on an investigation which was “very thorough”. They emphasised that the allegation against Bishop Bell was not only wholly uncorroborated but was contradicted by considerable and available circumstantial material which any historian would consider credible. They claimed that the allegation was unsupported and unsupportable, asserting that there was no credible evidence that Bishop Bell was a paedophile.

In a letter dated 19 January 2018 the Archbishop of Canterbury, writing with the support of the Bishops of Chichester and of Bath and Wells, rejected the contention that the Church should amend its response to the Carlile review.

The letter contains a number of points which in my opinion are wholly without merit.

The Archbishop made much of the Church’s having taken the allegation seriously, implying that in the past the Church had failed to treat such allegations with the seriousness which they deserved. I hope that he was not implying that the historians or any other of those who have expressed criticism have suggested that any such allegation need not be taken seriously, for any such implication would be insulting. In making so much of the seriousness of the Church’s intent and its determination to listen carefully and sympathetically to those making allegations the Archbishop is pushing at an open door. None of the critics would suggest otherwise.

Taking an allegation seriously involves investigating it thoroughly, and the Archbishop appears to persist in the contention that the Church passed this test, in spite of Lord Carlile’s unequivocal opinion that it did not: see in particular items (1), (2), (3), (5), (7), (8), (9), (10) and (13) in my Analysis. For him and the Bishops it seems that performance of the duty to treat the complainant seriously absolved the Church from the equally important duties to avoid bias and ‘oversteer’, to seek out and investigate all potentially relevant evidence, and to be prepared not to shirk from drawing the conclusion to which the evidence inexorably leads.

In this case that conclusion was clear. It was ignored because of the Church’s incorrect approach to the matter, and as a result of a particular example of the shoddiness of its processes. Not all members of the Core Group, which in any event had a variable membership, saw the full report of the Consultant Psychiatrist whom the Church consulted. Those who did see it cannot have read it thoroughly. His advice was unequivocal. Memory is not reliable over the long periods which elapsed in this case, and the only way to establish the truth of the product of such memory is through corroborating evidence. In its investigation the Church failed to seek such evidence. Had it done so it would have found none. Moreover, as the historians point out, there was a wealth of persuasive circumstantial evidence which was not neutral: it contradicted and undermined the allegation.

The Church has shirked the difficult, but necessary, task of explaining to Carol that after thorough investigation of her complaint her honesty was accepted, but that the Church could not


in good conscience and with fairness rely on her memory. The reasons for that conclusion could have been explained to her in a pastoral way, without derogation from the policy of taking allegations seriously.

The Archbishop states that “claims are from time to time dismissed because we do not accept the allegations. However, we do take all allegations seriously”. That being the case, why was this claim not dismissed? On the expert evidence, it was not to be accepted unless it was corroborated. The Archbishop, in a comment which is as patronising as it is inaccurate, suggests that the historians in their letter seem to confuse the two standards of proof, beyond reasonable doubt and on a balance of probabilities. The point which he wilfully ignores is that the evidence in this case was such that no reasonable tribunal, applying the latter standard which all agree was the appropriate one, could have concluded that Bishop Bell was guilty in any respect.

That conclusion would have disposed of the allegation. Once a tribunal has found that an allegation is unreliable it has no business to give it further currency. The Archbishop compounds the wrong he and others have already done by repeating that Bishop Bell is “accused of great wickedness” and that a “significant cloud” still hangs over him.

It is disturbing to see the Archbishop recording that “the Diocese of Chichester was given legal advice to make a settlement based on the civil standard of proof”. Maybe it was; but, as Lord Carlile observed, legal advice was not sought on the strength of the evidence. The advice must have been tendered on the basis of the conclusions of the Core Group, which, as has been clearly demonstrated, were fatally flawed.

On the insupportable basis that the allegation has a continuing validity the Archbishop insists that to achieve transparency Bishop Bell had to be named. What happens in those cases, which he says do occur, when claims are dismissed, as this claim should have been? Is the alleged perpetrator against whom there is no reliable evidence to be hung out to dry as Bishop Bell continues to be? If this is the case, the sooner the Archbishop treats Lord Carlile’s opinion and recommendation with the seriousness which he accorded to Carol’s allegation the better.

Unless he does so, any pronouncement of his as to where justice lies in any situation is not to be treated with respect by those, whether or not they are members of the Church which he leads, who are seriously concerned with justice.

His Honour Charles Gibson

23 January 2018

January 5 2018 – “What ought to happen after the Carlile report” – Church Times – Letters – David Lamming and Alan F. Jesson





What ought to happen after the Carlile report


From Mr David Lamming

Sir, — Lord Carlile’s report of his review of the handling by the Church of England of the claim by “Carol” that she was sexually abused by the late Bishop George Bell (News, 15 December) is devastating in its criticisms of the Core Group that agreed the settlement with the claimant (involving the payment of £16,800 damages plus £15,000 costs). Utterly demolishing the claim (made in the statement announcing the settlement on 22 October 2015) that “the settlement followed a thorough pre-litigation process,” he shows that it was anything but “thorough”. Moreover, the statement disingenuously claimed that this included the commissioning of expert independent reports “none of [which] found any reason to doubt the veracity of the claim”.

Although, as he is careful to point out, Lord Carlile’s terms of reference did not include making a finding as to the truth or otherwise of Carol’s claim, the extracts that he publishes from the report of Professor Maden (commissioned by the Core Group), far from showing no reason to doubt Carol’s claim, give every reason to doubt it.

The obvious conclusion (or it should have been obvious to the bishops who commented publicly on the Carlile report) ought to be that if the investigative process was so fundamentally flawed, any finding, explicit or implicit, that Bell committed the alleged abuse cannot stand, with the consequence that the important presumption of innocence (for some reason, pejoratively described as “emotive” by the Bishop of Chichester in his public statement) applies, in the same way as it would apply to a defendant whose criminal conviction was quashed by the Court of Appeal on the basis of a finding that he had not had a fair trial.

According to the General Synod timetable issued on 14 December (the day before publication of the Carlile report), “Safeguarding” is to be the subject of a “Presentation under SO 107 — with Q&A” on the morning of Saturday 10 February. In the light of Lord Carlile’s report, that is not good enough. Time must be found for a proper debate when the issues arising from the report, and its implications for the Church and the National Safeguarding Team, can be properly discussed.

(Lay member of General Synod)
20 Holbrook Barn Road, Boxford
Suffolk CO10 5HU


From the Revd Alan F. Jesson

Sir, — Shakespeare had Mark Antony say of Caesar, “The evil that men do lives after them, The good is oft interrèd with their bones.” Comments from the Archbishop of Canterbury and the current Bishop of Chichester ensure that this is also shamefully applied to Bishop Bell.

It also raises another important point, which seems to have been overlooked.

I have read Lord Carlile’s report, and the Annexes thereto, and, in the light of the botched inquiries of the Core Group (I cannot call them incomplete), it seems that, if Bishop Bell is innocent, as circumstances suggest, and if “Carol” is truthful, as the Core Group assume them to be, then clearly there must be somebody who has escaped any consequence of his actions.

The comments from the Archbishop of Canterbury and the current Bishop of Chichester render it imperative that a full independent investigation is urgently but thoroughly undertaken.

That tired cliché “Lessons learned” is too often an excuse for little further action. In justice to Bishop Bell, this must not happen.

9 Lawn Lane, Sutton-in-the-Isle
Ely, Cambridgeshire CB6 2RE

November 20 2017 – An Open Letter to William Nye and the National Safeguarding Steering Group [NSSG] and National Safeguarding Panel [NSP] – Church of England

I have been moved to write after reading the Church Times letter this week by Ruth Hildebrandt Grayson – the daughter of Franz Hildebrandt who was, as you know, a great friend of George Bell, Bishop of Chichester:
I was appalled to read the Revd Tom Brazier’s assertion that we “do no further harm” to anyone, if we happen to ruin the reputation of a deceased person against whom allegations of abuse have been made by apologising to the complainant (Letters, 10 November)…I am sure none of us would endorse the statement that “no further harm” has been done to the reputation and legacy of one of the country’s greatest Bishops. I would suggest that Mr Brazier visit Chichester and find out for himself just how much harm has been done
Today, Monday, two days after the Chichester Diocesan Synod in Lewes – and wanting to help rather than harm – may I urge you please to bring forward the release date of the Carlile Review on Bishop Bell.
Yours sincerely
Richard W. Symonds
2 Lychgate Cottages, Ifield Street, Ifield Village, Crawley, West Sussex RH11 0NN
Tel: 07540 309592 (Text only – Very deaf) Email: richardsy5@aol.com

Daily Telegraph – “Justice for bishop” – Letters – October 15 2016 – Dr Ruth Hildebrandt Grayson [+ January 5 2016 Letters]

The Telegraph
 OCTOBER 15 2016
 Dr George Kennedy Allen Bell (1883 - 1958), Bishop of Chichester, in his study at Chichester Palace
George Bell in his study at Chicester Palace CREDIT: GETTY IMAGES 

SIR – Lord Bramall notes, rightly, that the authorities should not “cast aside the basic principles of justice itself” when investigating cases of child abuse.

Next Wednesday, a group of individuals concerned with obtaining justice in the case of the late George Bell, former bishop of Chichester, will hand in a petition with over 2,000 signatures at Lambeth Palace.

It is a year since the Church of England published the outcome of a covert inquiry into a single case of alleged child abuse by the bishop in the late Forties or early Fifties. No effort was made to assemble, or to request that those in a position to do so might assemble, a case for the defence. Moreover, the Church has refused numerous requests to disclose the nature of the sources it used to reach its decision.

The petition requests that the case should be reopened. In light of the fact that a strong case for the late bishop’s defence has now been assembled by a number of people with close connections to him, there is no excuse for the Church to delay a fresh investigation any further.

Dr Ruth Hildebrandt Grayson
Sheffield, South Yorkshire


Bishop Bell declared guilty without trial

Dr George Bell, the former Bishop of Chichester

SIR – As the daughter of Franz Hildebrandt, a close friend of Bishop George Bell, who made him and so many other refugees welcome in this country, I am deeply saddened by the recent accusations against the bishop.

However, like Charles Moore, I am even more saddened by the Church’s apparent willingness to ignore the basic principle of British justice: that a person is innocent until proved guilty. It would appear that the primary motivation in the Church’s decision to compensate the alleged victim and disgrace Bishop Bell was fear of public outcry had it not done so.

Even if there were sufficient evidence to warrant Bishop Bell’s arrest had he been alive, which has certainly not been demonstrated to date, this is a far cry from saying he would have been charged or found guilty.

As Mr Moore notes, there have been many cases of alleged abuse in which people have been unfairly treated by the authorities and the media, and later shown to be innocent.

The term “witch hunt” has already been used with regard to the recent treatment of Bishop Bell. It is ironic that the Church could be seen to be a party to such a process – which ceased in this country in the literal sense several centuries ago.

I challenge the Church authorities to make public the evidence on which their actions have been based, and to give us the opportunity of examining the facts for ourselves.

Dr Ruth Hildebrandt Grayson
Sheffield, South Yorkshire

SIR – Charles Moore identifies the bewilderment and anguish that exist in the diocese of Chichester, and well beyond it, following the announcement of an allegation against Bishop George Bell and the settlement of a civil claim.

This goes deep. It has inevitably been linked with the trial and conviction of other clergy from the diocese of Chichester who have been convicted of sexual abuse, among them Peter Ball, a former bishop of Lewes.

However, the impact of an accusation against a person of Bishop Bell’s stature is far more profound. We have not lost sight of that. The suggestion that we would trade the reputation of Bishop Bell for a moment of political, social or even media advantage is seriously mistaken.

The perspective that receives little acknowledgement in Mr Moore’s article is that of a survivor. Within Britain, and certainly within the Church of England, we are seeking to move on from a culture in which manipulation of power meant that victims were too afraid to make allegations, or allegations were easily dismissed.

In future we must provide safeguards of truth and justice for all, victim and accused alike.

It is for that reason that I welcome the Goddard Inquiry as a more balanced forum than the media might be for a judicial and forensic assessment of our handling of child-abuse cases. If, in the matter of Bishop Bell, or any other case, we in the diocese of Chichester are shown to have acted without proper attention to our responsibilities as guardians of the Christian faith, the vulnerable and the voiceless, then I would expect public censure and its consequences to follow.

Rt Rev Martin Warner
Bishop of Chichester
Chichester, West Sussex