Tag Archives: The Argus


Church of England child sex abuse: Sussex failings found / “Church ‘failed to protect children from abusers’, inquiry finds”

By Aidan Barlow  @ArgusAidan Crime Reporter

Professor Alexis Jay has chaired an inquiry into child sex abuse in the Church of England, including against former Bishop of Lewes Peter Ball

THE Church of England failed to protect children from sexual abusers in Sussex, an inquiry has found.

An independent inquiry into child sex abuse within the Church looked at the conduct of former Bishop of Lewes Peter Ball and former Bishop of Chichester George Bell.

It found the Church fostered a culture where sexual predators could “hide” – and got more support than victims of sexual abuse.

The inquiry found that 390 clergy have been convicted since 1940.

Last year there were 2,500 safeguarding concerns raised and 449 allegations reported.

Photo: Former Bishop of Lewes Peter Ball

It had investigated claims against figures in Sussex, which is part of the Diocese of Chichester.

Victim Philip Johnson, from Eastbourne, was a victim of Bishop Peter Ball in 1978.

Ball admitted abusing 18 young men between 1977 and 1992 and was jailed in 2015. He died last year aged 87.

Mr Johnson previously agreed to waive his right to anonymity and said the inquiry has taken a step in the right direction.

He said there is a need for more independent oversight and safeguarding and a need for more thorough support for victims and survivors.

Photo: Philip Johnson has spoken out about the abuse

In 2015, following Ball’s conviction, the then Detective Chief Inspector Carywn Hughes described how Bishop Ball had abused 12 victims at his home in Litlington near Lewes over many years.

The DCI said: “It became clear that under the guise of his status as a Bishop, Ball had systematically abused the trust of the victims, many of whom were aspiring priests, while others were simply seeking to explore their spirituality.

“He abused that trust and used religion, through his Give A Year For Christ scheme, as a cloak behind which to carry out his grooming activity, the principal aim of which was to satisfy his sexual interest in and desire for young men.”

Ball was guilty of misconduct in a public office and sexual assault.

He admitted misusing his position in authority between 1977 and 1992 “to manipulate and prevail upon others for his own sexual gratification” in relation to 16 young men.

He also admitted indecently assaulting two men in their late teens between 1980 and 1983 and between 1990 and 1991.

Ball was Bishop of Lewes between 1977 and 1992 and Bishop of Gloucester from 1992 until his resignation the following year.

Read more on this story:

The inquiry found that public support was often given to clergy like Ball by the Church of England, regardless of the evidence against them.

Bishop George Bell was the wartime Bishop of Chichester.

A victim, who The Argus previously referred to as Carol to protect her identity, said she was five years old when he molested her.

She also explained she had informed the Church of the abuse in 1995, and again in 2012, and again in 2013 – at which time Archbishop Justin Welby saw to it her complaint was fully investigated.

In October 2015, the Church issued a £16,000 payout and an apology for the way the complaint had been dealt with.

Inquiry chairwoman Professor Alexis Jay said: “Over many decades, the Church of England failed to protect children and young people from sexual abusers, instead facilitating a culture where perpetrators could hide and victims faced barriers to disclosure that many could not overcome.

Photo: Professor Alexis Jay chaired the inquiry

“To ensure the right action is taken in future, it’s essential that the importance of protecting children from abhorrent sexual abuse is continuously reinforced.

“If real and lasting changes are to be made, it’s vital that the Church improves the way it responds to allegations from victims and survivors, and provides proper support for those victims over time.

“The panel and I hope that this report and its recommendations will support these changes to ensure these failures never happen again.”

Photo: Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby

The current Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby apologised for church failings and said he felt “ashamed”.

He said the failings revealed were “profoundly and deeply shocking”.


Dear Aidan Barlow

As the Argus crime reporter, would you please maintain your journalistic integrity by amending your surprisingly sloppy piece of journalism [“Church ‘failed to protect children from abusers’, inquiry found”, Argus, Oct 8].

There is a distortion of facts, and therefore truth, if the case of the wartime Bishop of Chichester George Bell is confused – deliberately or otherwise – with the case of ex-Bishop Peter Ball.

Peter Ball was found guilty in a criminal court of law. 

George Bell was found not guilty by two separate investigations by Lord Alex Carlile QC and Timothy Briden – both commissioned by the Church.
I would urge you to amend your article accordingly.

Yours sincerely

Richard W. Symonds

The Bell Society

2 Lychgate Cottages Ifield Street, Ifield Village Crawley, West Sussex RH11 0NN
Tel: 07540 309592 [Text only – Very deaf] Email: richardsy5@aol.com


Here is an example of sloppy journalism which damages truth and justice for those victims and survivors of abuse, and those victims and survivors falsely accused of abuse.

When reading the Argus article, be aware that ex-Bishop Peter Ball was found guilty in a criminal court of law, while wartime Bishop of Chichester was found not guilty by two separate investigations by Lord Alex Carlile QC and Timothy Briden – both commissioned by the Church.

I look forward to the Church of England Comms correcting this media sloppiness – just as I look forward to flying pigs getting landing rights here at Gatwick.

Dear Richard, 

I agree with you that Aidan Barlow’s report is sloppy.  It is more than that: it is reprehensible and Bishop Bell would have grounds to sue the Argus for damages for defamation were he still alive. 

The report does not say in terms that Bell was guilty of abusing ‘Carol’, but that is the clear inference from referring to her as a ‘victim’ (rather than as complainant or claimant) and the £16,000 ‘payout’ by the Church, without making any reference to the subsequent investigation and Review by Lord Carlile.  

The article contains a link (Read more on this story: Fresh material given to police in Bishop of Chichester George Bell case) to the report by Joel Adams in the Argus on 31 January 2018 referring to the ‘information’ received following publication of the Carlile Review in December 2017.  At least that report includes an accurate summary of the conclusions of Lord Carlile QC (though wrongly elevating his status by calling him a ‘Law Lord’!) and refers to Carol as ‘the alleged victim’ (emphasis added), but this does little to correct the position when there is no reference in the current report to the subsequent Sussex police statement (in March 2018) “The matter is now closed as far as Sussex Police are concerned and the Church of England have been informed of this” (https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2018/04/22/bishop-george-bell-abuse-investigation-dropped-sussex-police/amp/https://virtueonline.org/uk-bishop-george-bell-investigation-dropped-sussex-police) nor to the Briden report, dated 17 January 2019, finding the new allegations to be “unfounded”: https://www.churchtimes.co.uk/articles/2019/1-february/news/uk/archbishop-welby-apologises-for-mistakes-in-case-of-george-bell.  

The IICSA report published on 6 October 2020 does refer to the Bell case on pages 70-71, but (I would suggest) in a disingenuous way, leaving the innuendo that Bell might have been guilty of the abuse alleged. 

First, on page 70, it records criticisms of Lord Carlile’s report voiced in evidence by Ecclesiastical (EIO) claims director David Bonehill (a witness who had to be recalled on 12 July 2019 to correct misleading evidence given earlier).  The report makes no comment on those criticisms and, so far as I am aware, Lord Carlile was not asked for his response to them.  

Second, at page 71, para 39, the IICSA report states simply in respect of ‘the second George Bell case’: “Mr Briden concluded that no further allegations were proven on the balance of probabilities.”  The footnote reference (footnote 578) is not a reference to Mr Briden’s report but to inquiry document ACE027643_138-142. |This is pages 138 to 142 of Graham Tilby’s witness statement dated 14 June 2019 in which (at para 348) he purports to summarise Timothy Briden’s conclusions.  His first bullet point states simply, “Alison’s complaint was not considered to be proved on the balance of probabilities”, omitting Mr Briden’s reason, namely “her evidence being unverified by independent sources and her account unreliable.”  Likewise, Mr Tilby’s second bullet point states “The incident described by witness K was not considered proved on the balance of probabilities”, omitting Mr Briden’s reason, “the hearsay account being inherently unconvincing and without corroboration.” (See Appendix III).  Further, Mr Tilby makes no reference to Mr Briden’s overarching conclusion at his para 43: “Concentrating exclusively on the allegations remitted to me, I have decided that they are unfounded.” (emphasis added). 

I should add, for the sake of accuracy, that Lord Carlile did not find Bishop Bell ‘not guilty’ of the abuse alleged by Carol as his terms of reference precluded him from doing so (see paras 9, 10 and 258 of his Review), but reading between the lines of his criticisms of the flawed core group investigation, it is pretty clear that that is his (unstated) view. 

In view of what I have set out above, I am copying this e-mail, inter alios, to Alex Carlile. 

Kind regards, 


David Lamming – General Synod member


General Synod member David Lamming has called this sloppy piece of journalism by the Brighton Argus as “reprehensible” – but it represents a part of the media which is beyond ignorant – and dangerously distorts the truth – deliberately or otherwise.

There needs to be pastoral care and support, not just for the victims and survivors of abuse, but also the victims and survivors of those falsely accused of abuse.


Dear Arron Hendy
Please register this as a formal complaint – one of accuracy [lack of] due to poor research by a professional journalist.
If this complaint is not dealt with by the end of today (Friday October 9 2020), I will formally complain to IPSO.

1. Accuracy

i) The Press must take care not to publish inaccurate, misleading or distorted information or images, including headlines not supported by the text.

ii) A significant inaccuracy, misleading statement or distortion must be corrected, promptly and with due prominence, and — where appropriate — an apology published.

Yours sincerely 

Richard W. Symonds
2 Lychgate Cottages Ifield Street Ifield Village Crawley West Sussex RH11 0NN
Tel: 07540 309592 (Text only please) Email: richardsy5@aol.com



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The Argus (Brighton) (Newsquest Media Group)

“Church’s child sex abuse shame” [Hard Copy] + Church of England child sex abuse: Sussex failings found / “Church ‘failed to protect children from abusers’, inquiry finds” [Online], date of article 08/10/2020

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Clause(s) breached:

1 Accuracy

The integrity of the professional journalist concerned is questioned with an inaccurate, poorly researched and sloppy piece of journalism.
There is a distortion of facts, and therefore truth and justice, if the case of the wartime Bishop of Chichester George Bell is confused – deliberately or otherwise – with the case of ex-Bishop Peter Ball.
Peter Ball was found guilty in a criminal court of law. George Bell was found not guilty by two separate investigations by Lord Alex Carlile QC and Timothy Briden – both commissioned by the Church.

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Richard W. Symonds


RH11 0NN

07540309592 [Text only – Very deaf]

December 21 2017 – “Chichester under fire over George Bell claims” – Christian Today – James Macintyre


Chichester under fire over George Bell claims

The Bishop of Chichester is under fire over his claim, made after the Carlile report into the Church of England’s handling of an allegation of sexual abuse against Bishop George Bell, that the Church did not proclaim the late Bishop Bell’s guilt.

The Mail on Sunday journalist Peter Hitchens, who has vigorously campaigned on behalf of the late bishop since the Church made public the claims against Bell in 2015, penned a hard-hitting letter to Martin Warner this week.

Bishop George Bell
Jimmy JamesBishop George Bell

In his letter, Hitchens focused on the impression that was left in the press after the Church issued a formal public apology and announced that it had paid £16,800 to the woman in question, known as ‘Carol’.

Hitchens wrote: ‘You said on Friday [the day the Carlile report was published], and yet again in your Radio 4 interview on Sunday that you had never proclaimed George Bell’s guilt. On Radio 4, you said ‘What we did not do and have not ever done is to make a clear statement which says “We have found George Bell guilty”. We have never done that’.

‘I must ask, in that case, why you did not write to The Times, the Guardian, the Daily Telegraph, the BBC, the Argus of Brighton or the Chichester Observer, correcting their reports of your statement, reports which proclaimed that George Bell was guilty? Is it possible that you did so and they ignored your letters? Or did you choose to leave the impression of guilt which your statement had created, which you now insist you had not intended to create? Had you written to complain, it would have been very helpful to my own unending efforts to get these media to change their tune.’

The Church of England was criticised in the Carlile report for a ‘rush to judgment’ in its handling of the allegations against Bishop Bell, who died in 1958.

The report by Lord Carlile said that although the Church acted in good faith, its processes were deficient and it failed to give proper consideration to the rights of the accused.

Hitchens dramatically clashed with Bishop Warner and Peter Hancock, the Church of England’s lead safeguarding bishop, at the press conference for the release of the report on Friday, accusing the Church of behaving in a ‘Stalinoid’ fashion towards the memory of the late Bishop Bell.

The new Bishop of Chichester Dr Martin Warner
The Bishop of Chichester Dr Martin Warner

The columnist also raised the removal of Bishop Bell’s name from buildings, institutions and guide books in Chichester including from the former George Bell House. He said that ‘many mentions of George Bell have been excised from the Cathedral guide book, his name has been removed from the House which used to bear it at Bishop Luffa school where I should think you might have some influence, and also from a hall of residence at the University of Chichester.

‘I pointed out to you last Friday that even the Soviet Union had eventually rehabilitated those whom it had unjustly condemned in unfair show trials (whose memories, names and pictures were likewise removed from buildings, streets, photographs, encyclopaedias and so forth).’

Hitchens concluded: ‘The Church of England is surely judged by (and should regulate itself by) a higher standard than an atheist secret police state.’

A spokesperson for the Bishop of Chichester said: ‘We have received a copy of the letter and as it is a long, detailed document Bishop Martin will be responding in the New Year. There is no actual time to do it properly between now and Christmas as this is obviously a hugely busy week.’

Bishop Warner said on Friday: ‘Lord Carlile’s Independent Review is a demonstration of the Church of England’s commitment to equality of justice and transparency in our safeguarding practice. The diocese of Chichester requested this “lessons learned” Review.

‘We welcome Lord Carlile’s assessment of our processes, and apologise for failures in the work of the Core Group of national and diocesan officers and its inadequate attention to the rights of those who are dead. We also accept the Report’s recognition that we acted in good faith, and improvements to Core Group protocols are already in place. Further work on them is in hand.

‘The Report demands further consideration of the complexities of this case, such as what boundaries can be set to the principle of transparency. Lord Carlile rightly draws our attention to public perception. The emotive principle of innocent until proven guilty is a standard by which our actions are judged and we have to ensure as best we can that justice is seen to be done. Irrespective of whether she is technically a complainant, survivor, or victim, ‘Carol’ emerges from this report as a person of dignity and integrity. It is essential that her right to privacy continues to be fully respected.

‘The good deeds that Bishop George Bell did were recognised internationally. They will stand the test of time. In every other respect, we have all been diminished by the case that Lord Carlile has reviewed.’

Bell’s niece Barbara Whitley, 93, has said she wants the reputation of her uncle restored and has asked for a face-to-face apology from the Church of England.

‘I’m determined to clear his name before I die,’ she told the BBC.

December 16 2017 – “‘He can say Bishop Bell wouldn’t be found guilty, it doesn’t change the facts'” – “A person of dignity and integrity” – “Legal expert pointed to overlooked evidence” – The Argus – Spotlight – Joel Adams



November 21 2017 – “Bell review imminent” – The Argus – Nov 21 2017


“Bell Review imminent”

The Church of England has said publication of a report into a sexual abuse scandal is imminent.

In October 2015, an unnamed victim was paid £15.000 and given an apology after she claimed the wartime Bishop of Chichester George Bell molested her.

The victim said she was just five when the abuse started.

A report into the Church’s handling of the matter was commissioned earlier this year and completed in early October.

it is now at the stage of responding with feedback from those who contributed, and is expected within weeks.

October 5 2017 – “Did Church keep abuse secret?” – The Argus


Did Church keep abuse secret?


Former Bishop of Lewes Peter Ball

Former Bishop of Lewes Peter Ball

THE Anglican Church will be probed for potentially harbouring a “culture of secrecy” surrounding sexual abuse which allowed predators to offend unchallenged, an inquiry has heard.

The public inquiry into child sexual abuse is preparing to scrutinise the response of religious institutions to allegations of exploitation by the clergy.

This will include the disgraced former Bishop of Lewes Peter Ball.

Ball was jailed for 32 months in October 2015 after pleading guilty to a string of historical offences, including two counts of indecent assault.

Attitudes to sexuality will form part of the investigation into the Anglican Church, due to begin next March, a preliminary hearing of the inquiry was told.

It comes after the Archbishop of Canterbury, the Most Rev Justin Welby, provoked debate by accusing the BBC of not handling reports of longstanding abuse with the same “integrity” as the Church.

Speaking at the new headquarters of the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse in central London, counsel to the inquiry Fiona Scolding QC said: “Culture is important because it shapes everything about the way that things are done within the organisation and it is both deeply embedded within an organisation and often difficult to change.”

Outlining the aims of the Anglican Church investigation, she said: “This will involve examining how far was there or is there a culture of secrecy within the Church.

“How far the Church’s approach to sex and sexuality contributed or contributes to difficulties with cultural change.

“How far does the hierarchical nature of the Church create a power imbalance which could inhibit the reporting of abuse.”

Ms Scolding said this would not only stretch to attitudes of the past, but also cover the current practices of the Church and any future reforms it has planned.

The preliminary hearing also heard 184,020 pages of evidence had been received for examination.

Around 100,000 have so far been reviewed by inquiry officials with 22,000 of these found to be duplicates and 35,000 deemed irrelevant.

Article of Faith, an independent review of how the Church handled Ball’s case, was published earlier this year.

Chaired by Dame Moira Gibb, the review found “Ball’s conduct has caused serious and enduring damage to the lives of many men”.


“Church resignations” – Argus Letters – Richard W. Symonds


Dear Editor

If a former Archbishop resigns because of the Ball Inquiry (“Carey quits over sex abuse report”, Argus, June 27), then the current Bishop of Chichester should resign because of the Bell Inquiry – if, and only if, Lord Carlile’s criticism is of the same magnitude as – but of a different order than – Dame Gibb.

Yours sincerely

Richard W. Symonds

The Bell Society

“Church Protected Paedophile Bishop” – The Argus – Front Page – June 23 2017



Church helped to cover up sexual abuse

THE Church of England “colluded” with and helped to hide the long-term sexual abuse of young men by one its bishops rather than help his victims, the Archbishop of Canterbury has said.

The Most Rev Justin Welby’s statement came as the Church published Abuse Of Faith, an independent review of how it handled the case of Peter Ball, the former Bishop of Lewes who was jailed for 32 months at the Old Bailey in 2015 after pleading guilty to a string of historical offences, including two counts of indecent assault.

The review, chaired by Dame Moira Gibb, found that “Ball’s conduct has caused serious and enduring damage to the lives of many men”.

It stated: “Peter Ball betrayed his Church and abused individual followers of that Church.

“The Church at its most senior levels and over many years supported him unwisely and displayed little care for his victims.

“Much of what we have described took place in different times and should be viewed from that perspective.

“But such perverse and sustained abuse by a senior figure in the Church and the Church’s failure to safeguard so many boys and young men still casts a long shadow.”

During his time as bishop, Ball hand-picked 18 vulnerable victims to commit acts of “debasement” in the name of religion, such as praying naked at the altar and encouraging them to submit to beatings, his trial heard.

The Archbishop described the report as “harrowing reading”, adding: “The Church colluded and concealed rather than seeking to help those who were brave enough to come forward.

“This is inexcusable and shocking behaviour and, although Dame Moira notes that most of the events took place many years ago, and does not think that the Church now would conduct itself in the ways described, we can never be complacent; we must learn lessons.”

He restated his “unreserved apology” to the victims who had been brave enough to come forward, adding: “There are no excuses whatsoever for what took place and the systematic abuse of trust perpetrated by Peter Ball over the decades.”

There is criticism in the review of Lord Carey, who was the Archbishop of Canterbury at the time, and other senior figures in the Church, saying the Church was “most interested in protecting itself”.

The review states that Lambeth Palace’s actions, especially in failing to pass on six letters of allegations to the police, while giving them one which was of “least concern”… “must give rise to a perception of deliberate concealment”.

The review points out that the Church’s management of those seven letters, containing allegations against Ball, was perhaps “its greatest failure in these events”.

The NSPCC spoke of its disgust at the findings.

A spokesperson said: “It is utterly disgraceful to discover that collusion at the heart of the Church of England led to the abuse of so many young men and boys. Abuse can happen in any institution or walk of life and we must ensure it can never be covered up by the powerful. Abuse in our most revered institutions must be exposed and investigated, offenders brought to justice, and victims given confidence to come forward.”


THE archbishop of Canterbury has asked his predecessor George Carey to step down as an honorary assistant bishop.

Lord Carey was singled out for criticism in yesterday’s report, with it stating he was more concerned with protecting the church rather than the victims.

In particular, it refers to Lambeth Palace’s failure to pass on six letters of allegations to the police.

Instead it forwarded one letter which was described as being of “least concern”.

The report stated this “must give rise to a perception of deliberate concealment”. It added that management of the seven letters was perhaps the church’s “greatest failure”.

It stated: “The letters came from a range of families and individuals quite independently of each other. They raised concerns which were all either indirectly or precisely suggestive of sexual impropriety, or worse, by Ball.

“These were not people who were at war with the Church or had any axe to grind. In fact, some of the correspondents go to great lengths to try to avoid rancour and find a constructive way forward.”

The report found that Lord Carey was significantly involved in the way the Church treated victim Neil Todd in 1992/1993. Despite years of abuse in Sussex, Ball was able to leave the diocese in 1992 to take up his post as Bishop of Gloucester.

A year later, the then 16-year-old trainee monk Neil Todd prompted a police investigation which led to Ball’s resignation from the clergy. Ball escaped with a police caution in 1993 for an act of gross indecency against Mr Todd who took his own life in 2012.

Lord Carey described the paedophile bishop as “basically innocent” and said he had a “very high” regard for him in a September 1993 letter to Ball’s brother Michael.

The review, which said Lord Carey had played a leading role in enabling Ball to return to ministry, described this comment as “alarming”. It added: “Ball was basically guilty and had admitted that. Lord Carey was also aware that the Church had received further allegations of potentially criminal actions by Ball.”

Current Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, said the review made for harrowing reading.

Steven Croft, the bishop of Oxford, said Mr Welby had written to Lord Carey asking him to “carefully consider his position”. Mr Croft and Lord Carey will meet “in the coming days for that conversation. In the meantime he has voluntarily agreed to step back from public ministry”.

The Guardian

“2016 in front pages” – The Argus – December 27 2016


The Argus Front Page – February 3 2016 – “He told me it was our little secret because God loved me” – ‘Feb 3 – An interview with paedophile George Bell’s victim’

The Argus Pages 10 & 11 – December 27 2016 – “The victim of former head of the Church in Sussex George Bell was a five-year-old girl who was sexually abused for four years, we revealed”