Bishop George Bell
The Independent Review
By Lord Carlile of Berriew, CBE,
Published: 15 December 2017
[A] Introduction Page 3
[B] Summary of conclusions, lessons learned and
[C] Terms of Reference 9
[D] Methodology, approach and legal issues 11
[E] The allegations and the known facts. Progress prior
to September 2012
[F] The progress of the case from September 2012 24
[G] The Core Group meetings, with Reviewer’s
[H] Subsequent investigation for the purposes of this
[I] The apology and media statement 59
[J] Views of Core Group members as expresses to this
[K] Conclusions from Core Group records and
meetings with reviewer
[L] Was the settlement with full publicity appropriate? 66
[M] Later meetings including members of the Core
[N] The Henriques Report on Operation Midland 70
[O] House of Lords debate 30 June 2016 71
[P] Meeting between Carol and The Bishop of
[Q] Lessons Learned and changes already made by the
1. In November 2016 I was asked to conduct a Review into the way the Church of
England dealt with a complaint of sexual abuse made by a woman known as
‘Carol’ against the late Bishop Bell.
2. A year earlier, on the 17 September 2015, the Bishop of Chichester had issued
an apology to Carol. This was followed by a public statement made by the
Church of England 1
. In the same period, the Church paid her damages of
£16,800 and £15,000 legal costs.
3. There has been considerable publicity about the case. ‘Carol’ is not the
complainant’s real name but is the one I shall use throughout this document.
She does not wish her real name to be published. In my view, it is right and
required to respect her wishes; this is consistent with the Sexual Offences
(Amendment) Act 1992 as amended.
4. The conclusions drawn by others from the Church of England’s public
statement are illustrated by many of the media reports which followed. Bishop
Bell has been treated as having been guilty, and the complaint was regarded
as being shocking in the highest degree. For example, I have attached an
article2 dated the 22 October 2015 reflecting this, written by the respected
religious affairs editor of the Daily Telegraph John Bingham.
5. Shortly afterwards, a journalist claimed in a local newspaper article that she
had had contact with an unnamed mental health nurse who had treated
‘numerous boys and girls’ in hospital, whom she said had been abused by
Bishop Bell. I made considerable efforts to contact the journalist and test the
substance of these allegations, but was unable to make contact. I left messages
to which there was no response. During the months of my review, nobody has
come forward to support the story. Given the circumstances, including the lack
of any identification of those mentioned, and the possibility of confusion with
others (including Bishop Peter Ball, who is mentioned in several places below),
I have concluded that the story cannot be substantiated and I have therefore
6. Other than those referred to in that article, no one other than Carol has come
forward to make allegations against Bishop Bell. This is despite the widespread
publicity which the case has received.
1 The letter and statement are at Annex A.
2 At Annex B
7. Many journalists and commentators have written in support of Bishop Bell. An
example, written in January 2016 by Charles Moore for the Telegraph, is at
Annex C. It represents a body of opinion which has been advocated forcefully
8. In this review there are quotations from emails and letters. Although I have had
to edit for legal reasons, I have not corrected any grammatical or spelling
mistakes irrespective of the author of the documents. This is because the power
or emotion of a document may be lost in correction. I am confident no one
reading this review will conclude that inaccurate spelling, grammar or syntax
diminish a person’s credibility in any way. Also, I have omitted the names of
individuals whose identity is not of significance to my review.
9. The purpose of my review is not to determine the truthfulness of Carol, nor the
guilt or innocence of Bishop Bell. That does not form part of my Terms of
Reference, which are set out in full in paragraph 35 below. Rather, as I have
distilled the essence of my task, it has been to examine
a. the procedures followed by the Church of England in its various parts,
b. the way in which it obtained and assessed evidence in this case, and
c. whether it was right to make a public statement of apology and pay
[B] SUMMARY OF CONCLUSIONS, LESSONS TO BE LEARNED
10. I was asked to look at the way in which the Church of England treated these
allegations. As a result, I have considered the process; it was not part of my
task to consider the truth of the allegations and I have not done so.
11. I have concluded that the Church of England acted throughout in good faith. It
was motivated by a desire to do what it perceived to be the right thing by the
12. Its actions were informed by history in which the Church has been, at best, slow
to acknowledge abuse by its clergy and, at worst, believed to have turned a
13. I have concluded that the process followed by the Church in this case was
deficient in a number of respects.
14. The most significant was that the Core Group which it established failed to
follow a process that was fair and equitable to both sides.
15. It is axiomatic that, in appropriate cases, the Church should be ready to
acknowledge sexual abuse committed by the clergy.
16. However, that does not mean that the reputations of the dead are without value.
17. It follows that, even when the alleged perpetrators have died, there should be
methodical and sufficient investigations into accusations levelled against them.
Where, as in this case, it is clear that the Crown Prosecution Service evidential
charging standard (a realistic prospect of conviction) would not have been met,
that should be a material consideration in the case.
18. I have concluded that the Church of England failed to institute or follow a
procedure which respected the rights of both sides. The Church,
understandably concerned not to repeat the mistakes of the past when it had
been too slow to recognise that abuse had been perpetrated by clergy and to
recognise the pain and damage caused to victims, has in effect oversteered in
this case. In other words, there was a rush to judgement: the Church, feeling it
should be both supportive of the complainant and transparent in its dealings,
failed to engage in a process which would also give proper consideration to the
rights of the Bishop. Such rights should not be treated as having been
extinguished on death.
19. My recommendations are as follows.
20. Core Groups are necessary for the scrutiny of cases, not least in order to ensure
that decisions are taken consistently. Each such group should have one person
nominated at the beginning as Chair who is expected to chair all meetings
throughout. Groups should be established with as continuous and permanent
a membership as possible.
21. The Core Group3 should have, in addition to someone advocating for the
complainant, someone assigned to it to represent the interests of the accused
person and his or her descendants.
22. Core Group members should ensure that they are able to attend meetings, at
the very least by conference telephone or video link, but generally in person. If
they are unable to attend, there should be pre-selected and named substitutes
to stand in for them.
23. For the purpose of making informed and legally compliant decisions, all Core
Group members (including named substitutes) should see the same
documentary material and other evidence and correspondence. It should be
provided to all members in the same format.
24. The whole Core Group must see all relevant material. This must include all
items which have the potential materially to support complaints or to undermine
them. This is consistent with the legal requirements of disclosure in criminal
25. Proportionate and sympathetic assistance should be given to complainants at
an early stage and, if appropriate, their families.
26. However, it should be made clear to complainants that their complaints are not
considered to be proved until findings of fact have been made by the Core
27. The Church should assume that complainants are entitled for all time to
anonymity, unless they themselves choose to make their identities public.
28. Where the Core Group judges it to be appropriate, a call for evidence should
be made, for example in an effort to identify other complainants. Whenever
possible, such calls for evidence should not name the alleged perpetrator, but
3 Or any other body with responsibility for deciding a case
may refer to the city/town/parish, type of abuse etc. insofar as is necessary to
achieve the objective of the call.
29. Subject to the above, alleged perpetrators, living or dead, should not be
identified publicly unless or until the Core Group has (a) made adverse findings
of fact, and (b) it has also been decided that making the identity public is
required in the public interest.
30. Each Core Group should be assisted by a person who is qualified to give
relevant legal advice. Advising lawyers should not be voting members of the
Group. Decisions are for the members after taking into account legal and such
other expert advice as may be required. A Core Group considering posthumous
allegations of sexual abuse by the clergy should include someone with legal
experience which must include practical and up-to-date knowledge of criminal
law and procedure as it pertains to the investigation and determination of
allegations of sexual assault4
. Whilst the standard of proof for civil claims is the
balance of probabilities, where the allegations are of serious criminal offences
a full understanding and estimation of the criminal process is an essential piece
of information for a case: for example, if there is the clear conclusion that there
would have been a criminal conviction, that would simplify the assessment of a
31. It is unavoidable that, in the case of posthumous allegations, the Core Group
will be required to make findings of fact. Determination of the truth or otherwise
of such allegations is particularly difficult. The Church is likely to regard a
requirement to find such allegations proved to the criminal standard (beyond
reasonable doubt) as placing too heavy a burden on complainants. However,
the rights of the dead should not be ignored. Irrespective of whether
proceedings have been commenced, the reasonable compromise would be
that the case must be proved to the civil standard – which of course is
appropriate by definition when there are civil proceedings under consideration.
The civil standard requires that the complainant must satisfy the Core Group
that, on the balance of probabilities, the allegation is made out: in other words,
that it is more likely than not that the alleged perpetrator behaved in the way
the complainant alleges.
32. In cases where, following a proper and adequate investigation, they are settled
with admission of liability, there should be a presumption that the perpetrator’s
name will be published together with a description of the conduct concerned
(unless the complainant objects on reasonable grounds).
4 Someone who is trained in dealing with vulnerable witnesses and who understands what is meant
by the “myths and stereotypes” which, historically, have bedevilled the prosecution of sexual offences.
33. Where as in this case the settlement is without admission of liability, the
settlement generally should be with a confidentiality provision: there should be
a presumption that the name of the alleged perpetrator should not be published,
unless the alleged perpetrator agrees that it should be, or the circumstances
are held to be wholly exceptional (on reasonable grounds).
34. The Church is currently developing Practice Guidance; I urge early production
of the promised addendum to deal with posthumous allegations. It should state
that there is a duty to disclose sufficient information to the representatives of
the alleged perpetrator so that they know the case they have to meet.
[C] TERMS OF REFERENCE
Terms of Reference
35. My Terms of Reference were published and are as follows:
• In October 2015, the Church of England released a statement to say that the
Bishop of Chichester, Dr Martin Warner had apologised following a settlement
regarding allegations of child sexual abuse by George Bell in the 1940s and 1950s.
George Bell was Bishop of Chichester for 29 years until shortly before his death in
1958. The response to the announcement has included criticisms of the Church
and its handling of the case from a range of individuals.
• The House of Bishops Practice Guidance “Responding to Serious Safeguarding
Situations Relating to Church Officers” (May 2015) states;
Once all matters relating to a serious safeguarding situation have been
completed, the Core Group should meet to review the process against this and
other Practice Guidance, and to consider what lessons can be learned for the
handling of future safeguarding situations
• In June 2016, the Church of England announced that it would be undertaking an
independent review into how the case was managed and the key processes
involved in the decision-making.
2. Objectives of the review
To provide the Church of England with a review which, having examined relevant
documents and interviewed all relevant people, ensures that:
1. Lessons are learned from past practice
2. Survivors are listened to and taken seriously, and are supported
3. Good practice is identified and disseminated
4. Recommendations are made to help the Church embed best practice in
safeguarding children and adults in the future.
3. Scope of the review
• The review will cover the following periods:
1. 1995, when the complainant first wrote to the then Bishop of Chichester and the
actions taken by the Church of England as a result of this complaint
2. 2012 when the complainant wrote to Lambeth Palace and the actions taken by the
Church of England as a result of this complaint
3. 2013 when the complainant wrote to the Archbishop of Canterbury and the actions
taken by the Church as a result of this complaint
4. 2013 onwards when the case was managed across the National Church, Lambeth
Palace and the Diocese of Chichester, notably via a Core Group.
• The review will consider the adequacy of the responses to the complainant and the
subsequent decision-making processes and action taken, in the context of the
safeguarding policies and procedures in place at the time.
• The reviewer will be given access to all the evidence pertaining to how the
decisions were reached: firstly, that the claim should be settled and, secondly that
a public announcement should be made. This will include access to relevant
medical information and reports which formed part of the settlement process (with
the consent of the complainant).
• The reviewer will call for any material submissions or submissions connected to
this case, which will be facilitated through the establishment of a website
designated to the review.
• The person or persons undertaking the review will seek to interview key members
of the core group and other individuals deemed by the reviewer to be appropriate.
• The review will provide a detailed evidence-based analysis of the responses and
decision-making processes concerning the case.
4. Undertaking the review
• The review will be carried out by an independent person who has not had a
connection with the case and its management, nor with the Diocese of Chichester.
• The review will be carried out by someone or persons with either extensive legal
and/or safeguarding experience of cases involving the alleged sexual abuse of
children. A separate specification document will be agreed outlining this in more
• The reviewer will produce a report, relevant sections of which shall be seen by
those who directly contributed to the process for comment about factual accuracy,
before it is finalized.
• The reviewer will produce an executive summary, which will be published to
support the dissemination of learning. The executive summary shall exclude any
material which might enable the complainant’s identity to be deduced.
• The Church of England will determine whether the full report can be sufficiently
redacted or otherwise anonymised to enable its publication without risking
disclosure of the complainant’s identity.
[D] METHODOLOGY, APPROACH AND LEGAL ISSUES
36. As part of my review, the Church issued a call for evidence at my request. In
addition, the publicity surrounding the review brought it to public notice. The
results of this are set out in detail below. I have met many connected with the
case, one of whom is Carol herself. I regard it as troubling that some of those
to whom I spoke were never identified or contacted by the Core Group or the
wider Church. In my view it was premature of the Church to have reached a
conclusion before actively seeking the widest available evidence about what
had happened at the time.
37. I have asked myself about the legal framework which I should apply when
considering the facts that I have found.
38. At one extreme would be the requirement for the allegations to be proved to the
standard of a criminal trial, in other words that Carol would need to make the
Core Group sure that her allegations were true. If they had a reasonable doubt
then she would not have made out her case.
39. At the other extreme would be a standard that merely required Carol’s
allegations to be credible. In the absence of evidence that what she was saying
was untrue, then she would be believed.
40. I regard both these extreme ends of the spectrum as inappropriate for an
enquiry into serious allegations made against a clergyman who is dead.
41. I believe that the Church would feel uncomfortable requiring a complainant to
prove her case to the criminal standard that is to say beyond reasonable doubt.
I agree. Nor would this be compatible with the requirements of civil litigation,
which is the form of litigation under discussion in this case. However,
examination of a case of this kind against the criminal standard is a useful and
instructive exercise, as part of an evidence based and thorough decision
making process. The Core Group should have understood the Crown
Prosecution Service Code Test for a prosecution; namely whether there is a
realistic prospect of conviction. The CPS applies the merits based approach,
which makes it clear that Prosecutors must make their decisions objectively,
impartially and reasonably, according to the evidence, having regard to any
defence and any other information that the suspect has put forward or on which
he or she might rely; must assume that the case will be considered by a properly
directed, objective, impartial and reasonable tribunal acting in accordance with
the law; and must not allow themselves to be influenced by myths or
stereotypes, by predictions based on the outcomes of previous similar cases or
by anything they have heard, read or seen elsewhere. Without this
understanding of the charging process, the Core Group was in the dark about
the criminal aspects of the case. I have been told, and have to accept, that
several members of the Core Group ‘had considerable experience of the
criminal justice system’. Unfortunately, there is no evidence that they shared,
let alone harnessed that experience – which is surprising and disappointing.
42. Whilst the reputations of the dead are to be regarded as very important, there
is some qualitative difference between having due regard for their rights and
the need to protect the living. I have borne this difference in mind.
43. However, as we shall see, in this case the Church adopted a procedure more
akin to the second extreme: that is to say, when faced with a serious and
apparently credible allegation, the truth of what Carol was saying was implicitly
accepted without serious investigation or enquiry. I have concluded that this
was an inappropriate and impermissible approach and one which should not be
followed in the future.
44. In my view, the Church concluded that the needs of a living complainant who,
if truthful, was a 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.
45. Whilst understandable and superficially appealing, I have concluded that this
approach is wrong in principle, for the following reasons.
46. First, the reputations of the dead are not without value. This applies as much to
those who have lived ordinary lives as to those who have been famous. A
moment’s thought makes it plain that none of us would wish to be vilified after
our deaths when we could no longer defend ourselves. Further, the pain caused
to those who have loved and respected the alleged perpetrator, on hearing that
a shocking allegation has been accepted as true, cannot just be discounted. If
one imagines for a moment that the Bishop were one’s own father, the point is
clearly made. If a system is not good enough for our own fathers, then it is not
good enough for anyone.
47. Secondly, there is a serious risk to the Church in making monetary
compensation payments to complainants without proper enquiry into the truth
of their allegations. I have already said that I have not considered whether or
not Carol is a truthful complainant: she may well be. But there is a danger that
if it becomes known that the Church will settle such actions, unscrupulous
people may see this as a source of easy money.
48. Finally, there is always a risk that the Church, when faced with embarrassing
allegations, will wish to settle the action in order to avoid publicity. Whilst I do
not suggest that is what happened in this case, it is a temptation which should
be guarded against. It cannot be right that in order to protect the reputations of
the living, those of the dead are traduced. On the other hand, the Church cannot
be expected to fight costly court actions which it is likely to lose.
49. I have therefore concluded that the Church should have a published standard
of proof which it applies in cases of posthumous allegations. Given that in such
cases there may often be a claim for damages, the appropriate standard is that
applied in civil legal actions. Thus, henceforward, once the Church becomes
aware of a posthumous allegation, the Core Group should require the
complainant by evidence to establish the truth of the complaint on the balance
of probabilities (that is to say, whether it is more likely than not that he or she is
telling the truth).
50. Formerly it was thought that this test was subject to variation where serious
criminal allegations are made, and this had been reflected in the Clergy
Discipline Measure 2003 Code of Practice, paragraph 200. However, in Re SB
(Care Proceedings: Standard of Proof)  UKSC17 the Supreme Court
made it clear that the civil standard should be applied without any variation in
all civil cases.
51. Applying the requirement of fairness to both sides, the financial settlement of
cases involving posthumous allegations of sexual abuse should be founded on
sound consideration of litigation settlement strategy. This may include any of
a. settlement with full admission of liability,
b. settlement with full denial of liability,
c. litigation risk economic settlements, and
d. confidentiality requirements with enforceable repayment of damages and
52. If a Core Group has applied the civil standard of proof and reached a finding of
fact, then that would give some guidance as to whether or not to settle any court
action and, if settlement is reached, whether it is done on the basis that the
allegation is accepted as being true or not. There must always be room for the
Church to make a pragmatic decision not to contest a legal action where it has
a doubt about the truth of the allegation. Such cases can be settled whilst
denying liability; where this happens there should be a presumption that there
should be a no publicity clause. I understand the Church’s anxiety that there
should be transparency, and its instinctive revulsion against anything which
might be seen as a cover-up. Further, it has been emphasised to me that such
clauses may be difficult and unattractive to enforce. Sometimes that may be so,
but simply excluding the possibility on a blanket basis is not correct. Importantly,
the Church should not put its own reputation before that of the dead unless it is
clear that it is appropriate to do so. In some cases a settlement without
admission of liability and with a no-publicity requirement may achieve an
acceptable compromise between the need to settle a potentially expensive
court action whilst protecting the reputation of the dead. I have no doubt this is
what should have happened in this case. There is an innate contradiction
between a settlement without admission of liability, as at least technically
happened here, and the knowing and apparently deliberate destruction of the
reputation of the alleged perpetrator, as plainly happened here.
To be clear, I accept the wisdom and correctness of Appendix III to the
Chichester Commissaries’ Interim Report 20125
, in which it was said that a
confidentiality clause ‘should never be included in any agreement reached with
a survivor’. However, where there is a settlement properly reached on a nonadmission
of liability basis, the complainant is not a ‘survivor’.
The Core Group seems to have proceeded on the basis that they were bound
by Appendix III. In my view clearly they were not, and should have been so
53. One further matter needs consideration at this stage, which is the weight to be
given to the Bishop’s reputation.
54. I have outlined in Part A that I have received a number of forceful
representations about the good character of Bishop Bell. Many of his supporters
regard him as an inspiring man of the greatest holiness and are horrified that
allegations such as these have been given any credence at all.
55. I have treated these representations with a degree of caution, accepting as I do
that the perpetrators of sexual abuse can be extraordinarily devious, presenting
a carapace of piety and respectability to the outside world; and that adverse
facts can be concealed skilfully. In other words, the fact that Bishop Bell was
(and continues to be) highly regarded by others is not determinative of his guilt
or innocence of this allegation.
56. On the other hand, I am troubled by the fact that from careful study of their
Minutes the Core Group appears to have given scant, if any, regard to the
important issue of Bishop Bell’s good character. In circumstances in which, by
definition, he was unable to defend himself, the high esteem in which he was
held, taken together with the lack of any other allegations, should have been
given considerable weight.
[E] THE ALLEGATIONS AND THE KNOWN FACTS PROGRESS
PRIOR TO SEPTEMBER 2012
57. I am constrained in what I say about Carol by the Sexual Offences
(Amendment) Act 1992, section 1, as amended.
58. Carol her family lived in Sussex until about 19516
.She comes from a large
family, and times were difficult during World War II. Quite frequently, Carol
visited a staff member at the Bishop’s Palace. These visits took place at some
weekends and during some school holidays.
59. The Palace has a large garden, and several cottages just outside the main
house. Carol had access to the Palace.
60. The way of life appears old-fashioned to the 21st century observer. According
to Carol, Bishop Bell and his wife were quite formal, in a way that seems more
pre- than post-war. There was a full house staff. Bishop Bell generally dressed
formally. The atmosphere was that of a serious theologian and clergyman at
61. In the paragraphs which follow, I set out the chronology of the allegations made
by Carol, but at this stage I merely summarise them. I regret that to some that
setting out of the detail may seem gratuitous and I have thought long and hard
about whether to include it. I have come to the conclusion that it is essential.
62. Carol described the abuse as follows7
. Bishop Bell used to say that he would
read her a Bible story. He led her down a long corridor to a room lined with
books. He sat her on his lap. He started to read to her, and “wriggled”. This
developed on other occasions to touching, including digital penetration of her
vagina. On occasions, he made her touch his genitals. On other occasions he
attempted to penetrate her with his penis after pulling her underwear aside. He
63. In the same interview she alleged that Bishop Bell took her into the cathedral,
where she remembers him giving her a double-jointed china doll from under a
Christmas tree which she thought was for Barnardo’s.
I know considerably more about Carol. The reason that I give no further detail is in order to ensure that those
who may know her are not able to identify her.
7 This is taken from an account Carol gave to the police on the 1 July 2013, as noted contemporaneously by the
police. However, as will be seen, this should be compared with what she wrote in 1995.
64. During the events she described, she alleged that Bishop Bell said the following
to her “This is our little secret: it is God’s wish”; and that when he ejaculated he
would say: ‘Suffer little children to come unto me”. He was giving her “God’s
love…you are special”.
65. These allegations, if true, amount to serious and horrifying criminal offences
committed against a defenceless child. They would be the most serious breach
of trust imaginable. However, the fact that they are serious does not ipso facto
mean that they are also true.
66. She says that at the time she told the person she visited that Bishop Bell was
“interfering” with her, but that this was rejected as “telling fibs”.
67. She moved away when she was about 8-9 years old (probably in 1951) never
to return to the Palace.
68. Her life has been a full one. Her mental health has generally been good. She
has been examined by two experienced forensic psychiatrists, who found no
evidence of any material mental illness or psychiatric condition.
69. Strong views have been engendered by the case. It is asked whether she could
or would have made up such detailed and awful allegations. Why would she put
herself in the position of possibly having to be cross-examined and accused of
lying in court? Would she have invented such detailed and graphic evidence,
including the words set out in paragraph 64 above?
70. George Bell was born in Hampshire on the 4 February 1883. By 1910 he was
student minister and lecturer at Christ Church, Oxford. In 1914 he was
appointed Chaplain to the then Archbishop of Canterbury: this was considered
a major step for a young clergyman, and a clear indication of future preferment.
71. He married Henrietta Livingstone in 1918. In 1925 he was appointed to the very
senior post of Dean of Canterbury. By that time he was an acknowledged
theologian with important international Christian connections, and was
becoming a noted patron of the arts – later, in 1935, he was to encourage and
support TS Eliot in his writing of Murder in the Cathedral.
72. In 1929 he was appointed Bishop of Chichester. From that time onwards there
were expectations that in due course he would be appointed Archbishop of
73. In the mid to late 1930s he gave strong support to Christians and Jews in
Germany. He contributed to the work and survival of noted priests and to the
exposure of Nazi atrocities.
74. From 1941-43, as a Bishop sitting in the House of Lords, he condemned the
bombing by the Allies of civilian areas. He clashed with the wartime
Government by describing the bombing of German cities as ‘barbarian’,
disproportionate and a crime against humanity. These strongly-held views are
said to have led to his being passed over when new Archbishops of Canterbury
were appointed in 1942 and 1945.
75. After World War II, Bishop Bell continued as Bishop of Chichester. It is said to
be of significance that he was acknowledged by the then Archbishop of
Canterbury as the moving force in the immediate post-war years behind a
compendium of clergy discipline, which dealt with issues of serious
misbehaviour by Church of England priests.
76. He was Bishop of Chichester for 29 years. He died on the 3 October 1958,
shortly after retirement.
77. After his death, his already considerable reputation soared. Various institutions
and other things were named in his honour. Above all, he was given a ‘Name
Day’ by the Church; this was described to me by current senior clergy as the
nearest thing in the Church of England to beatification.
78. No allegations of sexual or other impropriety were made against him during his
lifetime. The first allegation was that made by Carol in 1995, 37 years after his
79. As I have already said, despite the considerable publicity Carol’s case has
received, no one else has come forward to make allegations against Bishop
Bell. Whilst this is plainly not determinative, I consider its significance in the
paragraphs which follow.
Carol’s first complaint
80. As stated above it is, in my view, unavoidable that I must set out the detail of
the allegations made by Carol. This is for three reasons:
a. to illustrate the seriousness of the complaints she made and thereby the
level of scrutiny they merited; and
b. because the seriousness of the complaints appears to have affected the
assessment of her credibility; and
c. so that those reading this review are able to understand the effect that the
allegation had on those considering it
81. On the 3 August 1995 Carol wrote a manuscript letter to Bishop Eric Kemp,
then the Bishop of Chichester8
. In it she said [as written, save for redactions to
protect her identity]:
I am writing because I only think it fair to warn you that after years of torment that I
suffered at the hands of Bishop Bell.
Everyone thinks he was a Saint but to my cost I know different. My whole life has
suffered because of him and after 40 odd years of keeping it locked up inside me I
am going to tell my story and sell it to the highest bidder to gain compensation for
something that blighted my whole life.
[….] lived in the house [near the] kitchen. I used to play in there, we also could go
through another door into the Bishop’s Palace. That’s where I first saw him. He
looked very imposing standing on the stairs in his funny trouser and frock coat at
least it seemed funny at the time.
He said ….. leave the child with me while you go about your duties. I will keep her
amused. He kept me amused alright. He told me I’d been chosen by god as a
special child but that I must not tell anyone or god would be angry.
He would bounce me up and down on his knee with gods special love between my
legs till I was anointed with gods special oil to make me special and he would always
chant suffer little children to come unto me till I was anointed. He even tried
penetrate when I was 8 to 9 years but it made me cry as it was painful. I only
escaped when we moved away at the age of 10yrs. The abuse either took place in
8 Bishop Kemp died in 2009
the Bishop’s kitchen or a room he took me to down a passage with lots of books and
a large leather armchair.
This is only some of what he did to me.
82. Carol told me that she wrote this letter because she had read in the media of
cases of abuse, and that at the time things were getting on top of her. She said
that her main purpose was to obtain an apology, and the threat to sell the story
to the highest bidder was to make the 1995 Bishop pay attention. She never
tried to sell a story to the media, then or at any later stage.
83. On the 9 August 1995 a member of staff on behalf of Bishop Kemp [+C], and
presumably on his authority, wrote on a copy of C’s letter:
Copy to +C at Oulston 9/8
+ C telephoned 10/8
Try to find out more about this lady. Try […..]
84. Around the same time, there was written on the same copy:
[…’s] parish. [He] does not know her. This is where the council houses problem
In my view this was an inappropriate comment to have written.
85. On the 14 August a note was written as follows:
+C suggested contacting social services to see if they could tell us anything about
[Carol]. Not knowing anyone in Social Services, I spoke to [..] to ask for his advice.
He told me that it was unlikely social services would tell me anything, because of
confidentiality. He was also concerned because any mention of child abuse might
set alarm bells going before we really wanted them to.
He thought it would be useful to check with Social Services in this area and Age
Concern what their policies might be in cases of this kind – he would pose the
question in a very general way. Michael thought it would be useful to have [..’s]
He wondered what (or who) was behind [Carol’s] letter.
[ ] thinks the executors should be informed as they might be able to take out an
injunction to prevent [Carol] talking to the Press.
86. The executors of Bishop Bell were informed on the 21 August, but took no
87. On the 23 August 1995 Bishop Kemp replied to Carol:
Dear Mrs xxxxxxxxxx
I have been away on holiday since the beginning of August and have seen your
letter on my return. I take it that the [person] that you refer to was living in the [….] by
the …. [and] was Mrs …….
I am sorry that you have such distressing memories and if you would like, I should be
very happy to suggest the names of one or two people who might be able to help
you with counselling. I would suggest also that you consult your parish priest, the
Revd ……, the Rector of St …………
With best wishes
88. On the same date, the 23 August 1995, Bishop Kemp wrote to the parish priest
referred to in the previous paragraph:
Dear [ ]
I have been pursuing further enquiries about [Carol].
In her letter she alleges that she was a girl staying with […] [location described]. I
have been able to ascertain that the person [concerned] was a Mrs ……,
…………….. She had [relatives] living in Chichester but no small children are known
to have been in [her accommodation].
I have, therefore, written to [Carol] saying that I received her letter and had been
away on holiday which is why I had not answered sooner. I said I was very sorry that
she has these distressing memories and that if she would like it, I can suggest the
names of one or two people who would be able to give her counselling. I have also
suggested that she might like to consult you as her parish priest.
Her letter to me was dated 3 August and nothing has been heard of her since so we
may find the whole matter dropped entirely.
89. Carol told me that she took the response to her as simply being told to contact
her local vicar. She did not find that helpful, and took no further steps at the
time. She said that she never thought of going to anyone like the police, a
solicitor or an official.
90. Bishop Kemp’s letter to the parish priest refers to ‘further enquiries’. Those
enquiries appear to have involved the discovery that [the person Carol visited]
indeed did work at the Palace – confirmation of basic underlying facts.
However, the same letter and other remarks quoted above send the clear
message that inaction would probably result in [the preferred option of] the
problem going away. This correspondence was not followed by any further
action by Bishop Kemp, or by Carol herself.
91. Some context is important in examining this complaint and response. Carol has
told me that she felt daunted by it, especially as her complaint was against a
senior clergyman, and it was suggested that she might approach another
clergyman. I find her response unsurprising. It is noticeable that there was no
suggestion of a meeting or other active steps by or on behalf of the incumbent
Bishop, Eric Kemp.
92. In general terms, in 1995 sexual abuse of children was sometimes not given
the weight and concern it receives today. However, so far as Bishop Kemp was
concerned, there were the following factors laid clearly before him:
a. Explicit allegations of extreme seriousness including rape; unattractively,
it was alleged that there was also blasphemy during the behaviour
b. These allegations had been made against a person of significant standing
in the Church.
93. It is notable that in 1993, the Rt Revd Peter Ball9
, formerly Suffragan Bishop of
Lewes (in the Diocese of Chichester) and by then diocesan Bishop of
Gloucester, had been cautioned by the police after admitting gross indecency
It has been suggested to me that Carol may have confused Peter Ball and Bishop Bell. I reject this
proposition as fanciful. Peter Ball was born in 1932, ordained as a Deacon in 1956, and had nothing
to do with Bishop Bell or the Bishop’s Palace during any material period
with a young trainee monk in his Bishop’s Palace.
10 Bishop Kemp therefore was
conscious of the importance of such issues.
94. It has become clear to me that Dioceses have a very high degree of
independence. This is not unique to the Church of England: in the Roman
Catholic Church even single monasteries in some cases are almost entirely
95. As a result, there seems to have been no systematic process for dealing with
allegations of this type. The process applied was far from thorough and was
apparently founded on the presumption that such allegations were most unlikely
to be true.
96. I have concluded that the Church did not serve Carol well in 1995, whatever the
truth or otherwise of her allegations. As Bishop Bell’s successor, Bishop Kemp
should have met Carol, or at the very least appointed a responsible person to
meet her. He should have set in train a genuine process of inquiry and
assessment. I find that the Church failed Carol in 1995.
97. Since then there have been significant changes in procedure11
. Between 1995
and 2013 consciousness of the importance of and corrosive consequences for
victims of child sexual abuse became more fully recognised. By 2013 some
very high profile cases had emerged into the public view from the UK, Ireland,
Australia, the USA and elsewhere. Publicity relating to sexual abuse including
some in the Church in the Diocese was plentiful, both nationally and locally.
98. In a Diocese-commissioned report in May 2011 the former President of the
Family Division of the High Court, Baroness Butler-Sloss, strongly criticised
Sussex Police and the Diocese for the way in which they dealt with complaints
against two named individuals.
99. In 2012 it became clear that Jimmy Savile, a famous person who had been the
subject of public adulation, was in fact a sexual offender on an epic scale.
10 In 2015 Peter Ball was imprisoned for offences of Misconduct in Public Office, arising from several
offences of indecency towards trainee monks.
11 Which are ongoing, as described in the final section of this review.
100. In March 2012 the Acting Bishop of Chichester apologised unreservedly for the
abuse which had been dealt with in the Butler-Sloss report of 201112
101. In May 2012 it was made public that Lambeth Palace had sent material to
Sussex Police relevant to the allegations against Peter Ball.
102. In August 2012 an Archbishop’s Visitation to the Diocese by the then
Archbishop of Canterbury, the Most Revd and Rt Hon Rowan Williams,
published its interim report. It concluded that the Diocese had an appalling
history of child protection failures, and commented that allegations were still
12 In a letter from Bishop Mark Sowerby: ‘I am very glad that we have now published the full text of the
Baroness Butler-Sloss Report along with its addendum together with the Roger Meeking’s Report and the
Baroness’s comments upon it. This is in line with our desire to be open and honest about the cases that have
come to light in the Chichester Diocese. I am grateful also to Bishop Paul Butler for the apology he has issued
on behalf of the wider Church of England. I should like to underline, once again, the regret we feel in this
diocese about past failings and which was expressed in Bishop John and Bishop Wallace’s apology to all the
victims. The Chichester Diocese wishes to be transparent about the past and to be rigorous and cooperative in
its safeguarding today and into the future.’
Acting Bishop of Chichester
[F] THE PROGRESS OF THE CASE FROM SEPTEMBER 2012
Carol’s second complaint
103. On the 1 September 2012 Carol sent an email to Lambeth Palace, in which she
reiterated her complaint of 1995. She said:
So you think only boys were abused, in the forties and early fifties ….. the bishop of
Chichester on more than 1 occasion he told …. to leave me with him and he would
take me to his library sit in a big chair and sit me on his lap and do things to me like sit
me over his manhood and tell me it was god’s love. About 15 years ago I plucked up
courage to write to the bishop of Chichester he told me to go for counselling at ……
rectory very convenient as the vicar was leaving also I don’t trust any clergy they ruin
your life and get away with it.at least other churches offer some sort of compensation
for ruined childhood by disgusting perverts.
good bye [signed]
104. The Archbishop of Canterbury’s correspondence secretary replied on the 3
Thank you for your message, which I was of course concerned to read. The
Archbishop hopes that anyone who has experienced abuse will feel able to come
forward and report it – their privacy and wishes will be respected. A special helpline
has been set up in conjunction with the NSPCC on 0800 389 5344. Victims can also
make a report to police.
With concern and best wishes
105. On the 12 October 2012 Carol sent a further email to Lambeth Palace from a
new email address, repeating the substance of her 1 September message, and
adding that she had not received a reply because her email account had been
106. On the 15 October 2012 the Archbishop of Canterbury’s Correspondence
Thank you for your emails. I am very sorry that you did not get a reply to the first you
sent. There seems to be something wrong with our system; it is logged on as having
been received but I cannot find the actual message. I was of course most concerned
to read what you say about the former Bishop of Chichester. Unfortunately, other than
the most recently retired bishop, the former bishops of Chichester are all now dead so
there is nothing we can do to take your story forward and deal with it. If you feel the
need to talk to someone about however, please let me know and I will put you in touch
with someone. Meanwhile please be assured of the Archbishop’s prayers and
concern. And thank you for telling us of this difficult and distressing episode.
107. There was no further correspondence until April 2013. In my judgement, the
response by Lambeth Palace, in the correspondence on behalf of the
Archbishop, was inadequate.
108. On the 13 November 2012 it was reported that Bishop Peter Ball had been
arrested for non-recent sexual offences.
109. On the 4 April 2013 Carol emailed Lambeth Palace again.
110. On the 5 April 2013 the BBC Radio 4 series Great Lives, presented by Matthew
Parris, featured Bishop Bell in an item with commentary by the journalist Peter
Hitchens. The programme described him as the leading Church of England
personality of the WWII years, and praised his courage and sense of principle.
111. Having not received a reply to her email of 4 April, on the 8 April Carol sent a
Didant think I would get a reply. It figers. I’m elderly so all through my life I was
blighted by my abuse and being a woman Im to be ignored. It is the two faced way
of the church you hope by ignoring it will go away but I won’t I will keep reminding
112. On the 9 April Carol received a short reply, and on the 24 April:
I am really sorry that it has taken so long to reply to your message. We have been
inundated with correspondence since Archbishop Justin’s Enthronement. I have
already been in touch with the Diocese of Chichester asking them to take a look at
the files they have to see if there is any information that is helpful. After so long,
however, I think it is important to be realistic about what there might still be. It would
be helpful though if you could give us the name of the bishop so that they can narrow
Meanwhile, Gemma Wordsworth, an Independent Sexual Violence Adviser [ISVA], is
currently on secondment to the diocese of Chichester. Whilst Gemma Wordsworth is
seconded to the diocese of Chichester, she is not working for them, but remains
independent. I will copy this message to the diocesan Safeguarding Adviser so that
he can put you in touch with Gemma if you wish.
Again, please accept my apologies for the delay in getting back to you. And I hope
that something helpful and constructive will come from your approach.
With best wishes
Archbishop of Canterbury’s Correspondence Secretary
113. On the same day Colin Perkins, the Diocesan Safeguarding Adviser who had
been copied into the previous email, sent an email to Carol as follows:
As the Archbishop of Canterbury’s Correspondence Secretary has already said, he
spoke to me recently about your email. I am so sorry to read what you have written
there. Please may I reiterate the offer that the Archbishop of Canterbury’s
Correspondence Secretary made in his email, of putting you in contact with Gemma
Wordsworth. As I am sure you may have heard about in the media, a number of
people over the last few years have come forward to the Church authorities and to
the police, reporting being sexually abused by certain clergy in the Diocese of
Chichester. Two cases have gone through the Courts already this year, in both of
which the clergyman in question was convicted for offences of child sexual abuse.
We have another case going through the Courts currently in which similar allegations
have been made, and there is another ongoing police investigation as well.
In all of these cases we have been working closely with the police, and in a number
of them Gemma has been supporting those people making complaints. She is highly
experienced at working with people who are reporting experiences of childhood
sexual abuse, and if you feel you would benefit from hearing from her, please let me
know and I will ask her to contact you as soon as possible. I hope that you will also
keep corresponding with the Archbishop of Canterbury’s Correspondence Secretary
further about the allegations you have made so that he and I can do all we can to
investigate this. Please let me reassure you that we take allegations of sexual abuse
by clergy very seriously and will do all we can to look into what you have said.
114. At around this time there was extensive publicity over the activities of a retired
Diocese of Chichester senior clergyman, Canon Rideout. In May 2013 he was
jailed for 10 years by Lewes Crown Court for sexual abuse carried out at a
children’s home. In the same month the final report appeared of the
Archbishop’s visitation, followed by an apology in July: the essence of the
strongly worded apology and of the BBC news report of it are reproduced at
Annex D below.
115. On the 11 May 2013 Carol replied to Colin Perkins:
Sorry to have taken so long to answer your email but we have been on holiday the
bishop was bell surely someone could of worked it out with the information I gave ….
lived [ ] we could go through it into the bishops palace Im beginning to wish Id left it
buried but all this in the papers about Saville etc keeps reminding me but in my day If
you were told not to lie you kept quiet I think [the person I visited] was afraid of losing
her job …… . And the longer I left it it became harder to say anything besides who
would of believed me I do want to speak to the lady you spoke of but it will be hard it
took years to tell my husband why I was fridged and was not keen on personal contact.
116. Further email contact ensued and Carol had personal contact with Gemma
Wordsworth the Independent Domestic and Sexual Violence Adviser seconded
to the Diocese. Carol appears to have come to trust Gemma Wordsworth, who
at all times has treated her with respect and sensitivity. Gemma Wordsworth
was present when I met Carol, at a useful meeting at which we discussed the
process in detail13. Gemma Wordsworth deserves credit for her care and
concern for Carol throughout. She is an outstanding professional who works in
a difficult field.
13 I did not question Carol as to whether her complaints were truthful, as that was not part of my terms
of reference. We did discuss at length the process and her understanding and expectations of it. I
have taken her comments fully into account in writing this review.
117. On the 23 May 2013 Carol repeated her allegations in an email to the serving
Bishop of Chichester. She concluded:
When I told my [the person I visited] [he/she] told me off, probley frightened of loseing
her ……. job. I kept it to myself for years …
im still after all these years being treated with contempt by the church even your
predisess..or said as all concerned were dead to forget it
im not im very much alive but its in my mind every day. The church is and was
responcable. They were his employer
its about time someone stood up and was counted I think the church owes me
something in the way of compensation for all iv suffered
I don’t want just a pat on the hand after all these years
Action taken from April 2013
118. In the paragraphs which follow I make some serious criticisms of the process
followed by the Church, and of the decisions and actions taken.
119. In that light, I must emphasise that I believe that, although in my opinion serious
errors were made, they were made in good faith, and with the intention of
achieving what was believed at the time to be the best outcome. I consider that
what happened resulted from oversteer in the direction of what was believed to
be the best interests of Carol and of the Church, and without a calculated
intention to damage Bishop Bell’s reputation. In fact and in reality, his reputation
was destroyed in the eyes of all but his strongest supporters.
120. Parenthetically, I need to mention an issue that had for some time been
exercising the Church of England centrally and also Dioceses. This relates to
costs in cases in which Bishops bore some form of uninsured civil liability for
damages. In the Peter Ball case an Opinion was provided to the Chichester
Diocesan Board of Finance by a Queen’s Counsel: he concluded that there was
no Diocesan vicarious liability for the tortious actions of bishops; and indeed
there would be an actionable breach of trust if the Diocese were to pay costs
or damages in such cases. In April 2014 the same QC provided a further and
unsurprisingly consistent Opinion, this time related to the pre-action letter of
claim sent by Carol’s solicitors.
121. This caused a degree of consternation in both the office of the Church
Commissioners and in the Diocese of Chichester. It raised the possibility of
Carol’s solicitors being told that, if she sued, even if she won her case there
was no responsibility for any part of the Church to satisfy any judgment
obtained. Of course, this would have been a public relations disaster for the
122. I have seen extensive internal correspondence on this issue. It is sufficient to
say that it was resolved, but did cause some delay in dealing with Carol’s
123. Following the emails cited above, counselling was provided for Carol by the
Diocese for a period in 2013. She withdrew from the counselling in September
124. On the 14 May 2013 a file was located in a cupboard at the Bishop’s Palace
containing the 1995 correspondence between Carol and Bishop Kemp, and
associated notes. On the 28th May Gemma Wordsworth met Carol for the first
time, and made herself available on demand.
125. At this time arrangements were made to access records kept at Lambeth
Palace, albeit with no expectation of anything fruitful being discovered (as it
turned out, nothing of relevance was located).
126. On the 13 June 2013 the Diocesan Safeguarding Adviser for the Diocese of
Chichester, Colin Perkins, wrote to Detective Inspector AB14 of the Sussex
Police, who is experienced in child abuse cases, an email containing the
We have received an allegation from a woman, now in her 70s, who says she ……
used to visit the Palace with … in the 1940s. She has given an account of serious
sexual abuse by Bishop Bell during these visits, when she was aged between 7 and
9. We have found a letter from her, dated 1995, when she wrote to Bishop Eric Kemp
making this allegation, and she has recently written to the Archbishop of Canterbury.
Gemma Wordsworth [Independent Sexual and Domestic Violence Adviser to the
Diocese] has met with her recently and we are helping her access counselling. Based
on the letter and the account she gave to Gemma, we are of the view that this is a
14 The Chief Constable of Sussex asked me not to include in my report the names of the police officers
concerned. Given that none was of a rank above Inspector, I decided that their names are not material and
have acquiesced in the request.
credible account of serious and ongoing sexual abuse against a young child,
suggesting that it is unlikely that Bishop Bell only abused this one person.
It is known, for instance, that Bishop Bell had evacuees staying at the Palace during
the war, and he inevitably would have had access to many children over the 3
decades of his ministry in Chichester. We have reviewed the small file we have in
Chichester and, apart from the aforementioned letter, cannot find any other
information regarding allegations. We are going to Lambeth Palace next week to have
a look at some of the huge volume of paperwork they have there, although we are
almost certain to not find anything.
Would you be able to see whether there have been any other allegations made about
him that have come to the attention of Sussex Police? We want to be able to say to
the complainant we are talking to that we have looked at every available source of
information, but also we would want to see for ourselves whether there is anything
else that may be known about Bishop Bell. The Royal Commission of Australia,
looking into institutional (including Church) child abuse is going back to 1930 so there
is a precedent for looking back this far. If you were able to look at the police’s archives
to see if you have ever received an allegation about him that would be very much
127. On the 18 June 2013 Gemma Wordsworth provided Carol with the name of a
solicitor, Tracey Emmott of the firm Emmott Snell. The Diocesan Safeguarding
Team thought that Carol was having difficulty facing the possible legal process,
and needed to be put in contact with a trusted solicitor with experience of
dealing with civil claims arising from sexual abuse. Tracey Emmott is such a
person: she has acted for several claimants making claims against the Church
of England in its various parts, and is well regarded for her skill in such cases.
128. On the 20 June Colin Perkins spoke to the police, and necessary lines of
communication were opened within the Church and externally.
129. On the 1 July, at her own home, Carol met Detective Constable CD, a specialist
officer in Sussex, and provided a detailed account. The interview lasted several
hours. Carol described her life, and repeated in full detail the sexual assaults
which she wished to describe.
130. At around this time the police were informed that Bishop Bell had given major
support to refugee Jewish children from the Kindertransport during WWII, some
of whom had lived in and were educated in the Palace; and of the possibility
that other children who may have resided at the Palace could have been victims
131. However, from the police viewpoint this was not a case for a full evidential
inquiry or even a call for evidence. By 2013 Bishop Bell had been dead for 55
years, and the police could not have been expected to take the matter any
further, because there was no possibility of a prosecution. They had and have
received no other complaints about his behaviour at any time.
132. On the 12 December Detective Constable CD from Sussex Police emailed
Carol and informed her that DI EF would review the file to establish whether, if
the suspect was alive, there would be a realistic chance of prosecution, i.e.
would he have been charged with an offence?
133. This was clumsily phrased. DC CD should have referred to ‘a realistic prospect
of conviction’, the CPS evidential test for a prosecution; and to whether there
was sufficient suspicion to justify interviewing the suspect under caution or,
possibly, arresting him. A charging decision would not have been made without
an investigation and interview, and in a case of this kind the advice and
involvement of the Crown Prosecution Service would have been routine.
134. By the 21 February 2014, the position had developed. It was understood in the
Church and Diocese that a civil claim was likely. The claim would not be
covered by insurance. The view of the Diocesan Registrar Matthew Chinery is
contained in an email to the effect that the allegations were likely to be of public
interest if/when they entered the public domain: there might even be
international interest. The approach of the Diocese was that there should be a
culture of openness and transparency. There was a possibility that the case
could be made public at any time. Any hint of suppression would be damaging.
However, that would have to be balanced carefully against the fact that the
alleged perpetrator would not receive a fair trial. A posthumous reputation
cannot be considered in the abstract, and there would be family members to
consider. Setting the case in the public domain may bring other people forward
– which would involve potential financial consequences.
135. Mr Chinery also expressed the view that the case needed to be considered by
a wider group beyond the Diocesan boundary. This would need to happen
before a settlement of the civil claim if there was to be one, because there would
be issues about confidentiality or a public statement which would affect the
136. Following the above email and subsequent discussions, it was determined that
a Core Group should be established, involving representatives from the
Diocese of Chichester and the national Church.
137. On the 4 April the police emailed Colin Perkins. They confirmed that they had
interviewed Carol and had reviewed some files at Lambeth Palace. They
a. the allegations were credible;
b. were Bishop Bell still alive it was probable that he would have been
arrested for the matter;
c. they were wary of committing further police resource to the matter
because Bishop Bell was dead and therefore there was no active child
d. Bishop Bell was not able to defend himself and there was a danger of
bringing his surviving family into disrepute based on claims that might
be impossible to disprove;
e. the Sussex Police would not be able to assist in the event of the Church
deciding to engage in proactive publicity;
f. they supported the current Bishop Dr Warner’s view that there should
be a meeting of a core group.
138. The above advice did not suggest that the matter could be proved to the criminal
standard – beyond reasonable doubt (not to be confused with the civil court
standard, the balance of probabilities).
139. At this point the limited police action effectively ended. Thus, it can be seen that
there was no real police inquiry into the case – for example, they told the
Diocese that they would not pursue the information that Kinderstransport
children stayed in the palace during WWII. The reality is that the police
interviewed Carol and took a detailed account of her evidence without the
obligation so to do. No further police enquiries followed. It is material to what
followed that nobody should have been under the impression that the police
carried out a full criminal investigation into the case.
140. Nor was any strategic decision taken to attempt to discover whether there were
any other complainants along the same lines as Carol. They might have
emerged from some research among any of the Bishop’s Palace
Kindertransport individuals mentioned above; from research as to whether any
other children had been living in the palace at the material time (see paragraphs
212 onwards below); from enquiry of any other surviving staff from the palace
at the material time (see paragraph 220 onwards below).
141. In addition, no general call for evidence was sent out – for example as to
whether any person experienced child sexual abuse in 1945-52 in or around
Chichester Cathedral and its precincts and connected buildings. Whilst a call
for evidence of this kind might have provoked comment, it need not have
identified any individual and might have elicited responses. This is important
because the type of abuse described by Carol often (but not invariably) tends
to be replicated.
142. Another reality is that, despite mention of the importance of ensuring that the
deceased accused person received a fair hearing, absolutely nothing was done
to ensure that his living relatives were informed of the allegations, let alone
asked for or offered guidance. Nor were any steps taken to ensure that Bishop
Bell’s interests were considered actively by an individual nominated for the
purpose. I regret that Bishop Bell’s reputation, and the need for a rigorous
factual analysis of the case against him, were swept up by a tide focused on
settling Carol’s civil claim and the perceived imperative of public transparency.
143. On the 11 April 2014, after previously contacting the police, Tracey Emmott
wrote a pre-action letter to the Bishop of Chichester, The Rt Revd Dr Martin
Warner. The letter set out a proposed action for damages, with reasons for
claiming outside the statutory limitation period (under normal rules 3 years
following Carol’s 18th birthday). At all times Tracey Emmott pursued Carol’s
case with a high degree of professionalism and as promptly as circumstances
144. The test for extending the limitation period, stated broadly, is whether a
reasonable person with the claimant’s knowledge would have considered the
injury sufficiently serious to start legal proceedings at an earlier date. If the
claimant had any personal characteristics which might prevent them from acting
as a reasonable person would, these could be taken into account by the judge
when deciding whether to exercise discretion to extend the limitation period.
145. In the pre-action letter Tracey Emmott wrote the following concerning the
extension of the limitation period:
a. The reason for the delay has been that our client did not have the
requisite knowledge to bring a claim.
b. The evidence is likely to be sufficiently cogent for the court to determine
the issues in view of the severity of the events and recollection that our
client has of them. Further, there is ample corroborative evidence and
similar fact evidence, as investigated and confirmed by the police.
c. It is well recognised that disclosure of abuse can occur many years later
and is concealed on account of shame, guilt and fear of not being
146. Reflection on the above includes the following comments:
a. Carol’s letter of the 3 August 1995 displayed explicitly at least some
determination to recover compensation – though without reference to a
b. The claimed cogency of the evidence arguably was far from clear.
Subparagraph (b) called for a response to the effect that Bishop Bell had
been dead for over half a century and that a fair trial would be extremely
difficult. The final sentence of (b) plainly was inaccurate – no corroboration
or similar fact evidence [evidence of system, similar acts or propensity]
was or ever has been produced by the police or otherwise.
c. Disclosure had been made in 1995.
147. Those reflections in my view required to be considered in the assessment by
the Church’s legal representatives of the strength of the claim, and whether it
should be settled and, if so, on what terms. Whilst in the final analysis the
limitation point was not taken, and probably reasonably so, it was sufficiently
cogent to remain a factor in any negotiations between solicitors. In my view it
was given insufficient attention. This is discussed further below.
[G] THE CORE GROUP MEETINGS WITH REVIEWER’S COMMENTS
148. Conceptually, a Core Group to deal with a case is an excellent idea. As a matter
of common sense and good practice, the essentials of such a group should
(i) Membership representing all relevant interests within the organisation
(ii) Clear reference to the Core Group as being the material decision makers.
(iii) If legal issues arise, internal and/or external legal advisers.
(iv) Consistent chairing and membership, i.e. all members to attend all
meetings as far as possible.
(v) Clear and well defined terms of reference; and a tabulated proposed
programme of work.
(vi) Sufficient meetings, if necessary allowing some members to attend online
(vii) All members to see all relevant papers for every meeting, and in the same
format. Decisions cannot be regarded as satisfactory or, possibly even,
valid if there is not a fully transparent process within the Core Group –
which includes seeing all papers.
(viii) An agreed and well-understood process for making key decisions –
especially to deal with situations where there is not consensus.
149. On the 16 April 2014 Colin Perkins sent a pre-agreed email to fourteen
individuals asking for their availability for an initial Core Group meeting. They
The Bishop of Chichester Dr Martin Warner
The Bishop of Durham The Rt Revd. Paul Butler, Chairman of the Church
National Safeguarding Committee
The Bishop at Lambeth The Rt Revd. Nigel Stock (who worked directly with the
Archbishop of Canterbury)
John Rees, Provincial Registrar
Jill Sandham, of Church of England Safeguarding
Kate Wood, Archbishop’s adviser on safeguarding
Rachel Harden, Church communications and PR
Angela Sibson, Diocesan Secretary of the Diocese of Chichester
Matthew Chinery, Registrar of the Diocese
John Booth, on behalf of the Chichester Diocesan Board of Finance
Paula Jefferson, then of DAC Beachcroft, external solicitor advising but not a
member of the group
150. On the 29 April 2014 the Bishop of Durham sent an email to the members of
the Core Group:
At the meeting of Archbishops & Diocesans Archbishop Justin decided that he should
inform those gathered of the possibility of the name of the person concerned
becoming public in due course.
In the light of the Cyril Smith case I am also increasingly coming to think that there
should be a release of the name. It is also worth reflecting on the Max Clifford case
where all bar 1 (I think) of the offences for which he was found guilty only came to
light after the public notification of the 1 offence.
However before doing so we would need to be very clear about potential support for
any relatives who might be affected, reporting mechanism for any potential survivors
coming forward, and how those who would want to defend him might have a voice
(since he obviously could not do so himself).
It would set a precedent so it might be that whilst the meeting on 9th should only focus
on this case those of us who would need to be involved in a wider discussion might
need to set it up for soon afterwards.
151. The first meeting occurred on the 9 May 2014 in London. Gemma Wordsworth
(who was on maternity leave) and the Bishop of Durham were not present. The
Bishop of Horsham, The Rt Revd. Mark Sowerby, was present. The meeting
was chaired by Jill Sandham.
152. There was a full discussion at the meeting, ranging over several subjects:
Colin Perkins had prepared a written summary, which was circulated and read. It was
revealed that the 1995 correspondence had been found in a cupboard in the
Chichester Bishop’s Palace.
Merits of a Public Announcement about the case
The question was asked whether there should be public announcement of the issue
at that stage. The group was reminded that Canterbury Cathedral had plans to
commission a statue of Bishop Bell, and that he may be featured in work being done
on behalf of the Holocaust Commission. Plainly, a public announcement would have
a major impact. Carol was not pushing for public disclosure, but would be unlikely to
oppose it. Bishop Bell’s descendants were discussed and it was noted that ‘there may
be extended family’. Paula Jefferson spoke of the solicitor Tracey Emmott’s
experience, and expressed the view that Tracey Emmott at that stage would not put
the case on her firm’s website and that it was unlikely to be concluded in less than six
months. Matthew Chinery did not want any part in preventing the case from entering
the public domain, but Paula Jefferson advised that the should ‘let the investigation
proceed at this stage’. Bishop Warner mentioned both the need for trust in the Diocese
to be built up, but also for a robust process and justice to Bishop Bell.
There was mention of a possible joint statement at the point of settlement (if reached).
However, Kate Wood suggested that it would be dangerous to allow public disclosure
founded on a single allegation and that due legal process had to be followed.
There was a need to move quickly as there may be other victims, who would be
There was a discussion about obtaining material from former Kindertransport children.
In this context it was agreed that it was not the Church’s role to conduct an
investigation, particularly if this did not have the support of the police. It was agreed
that Colin Perkins would clarify with the police whether they had totally concluded their
investigation, and whether they would be prepared to conduct those further enquiries
with the Kinderstransport.
Paula Jefferson suggested that the claim should be allowed to proceed over the next
few months. She said that this would consist primarily of obtaining medical reports. In
addition, it would be important for her to establish what the victim wanted: apology for
abuse; apology for the response to the letter written in 1995.
In this part of the meeting, it was agreed that the Core Group should meet again in
two months – in the hope of further clarification of the police position (‘will they follow
up leads if further victims come forward?’); for negotiations to continue (‘hopefully
conclude’) on the funding position and for investigations to take place as to how any
further potential victims might reasonably be traced, including through the Jewish
Legal process and liability; and claims against Bishops and Financial Liability
Paula Jefferson explained that an agreement would need to be reached as to who
was financially liable. There was a detailed discussion about where financial liability
She also advised that there was a possibility that the case would be statute barred by
limitation; to which John Rees responded (and the meeting agreed) that any defence
that smacked of legalism must be avoided.
There was agreement that a ‘reactive statement’ should be prepared in the event that
the news of the case broke other than proactively from the Church. This led to a
discussion about Bishop Bell’s prominence, and his reputation as a distinguished
spiritual leader and hymn writer. Comparisons were drawn with other religious figures
whose reputations had been severely damaged by abuse of children. An analogy was
drawn with the religious sculptor Eric Gill15
The Church’s national communications team was to deal with all enquiries, and a
reactive ‘if asked’ statement was to be prepared immediately for agreement.
Confirmation was to be obtained in writing from Sussex Police as to their position on
investigating further leads that may surface.
153. I have described the first Core Group meeting in detail, because it set the broad
agenda for the further meetings that followed. In assessing the performance
and effectiveness of the Group I was assisted greatly by the solicitor Paula
Jefferson, who allowed me a full face-to-face discussion of the case, and
assisted in ensuring that I was in possession of all relevant papers. In so far as
I comment upon her actions and advice, I am sure that she found herself
advising a client more risk-averse than most, more interested in damage
limitation than a legally robust process and outcome.
154. I held three meetings with members of the Core Group – the first with
approximately half of the active membership, and the others with members who
were not able to attend the first meeting. The Core Group members with whom
I met were co-operative and thoughtful in what they told me.
155. My criticisms of the important, first Core Group meeting principally are:
(i) My impression from the Minutes is that the justice of the case (for both
Carol and Bishop Bell) apparently was not of as great importance as the
paramount consideration of the reputation of the Church.
(ii) Despite reference to justice for Bishop Bell, no method or system was
devised, or even discussed, in order to secure fair consideration from his
(iii) There was an underlying acceptance that Carol had told the truth – she
was referred to as ‘the victim’ – as opposed to ‘complainant’ [see section
(iv) Apart from remarks about possible further police activity and an approach
to the Jewish community, there was no real discussion of an investigation
of the truth.
(v) The significance of limitation point arising from delay in making the claim
was addressed but dismissed by the Group. Nobody addressed the
15 Against whom there is substantial and undisputed evidence of repeated incest.
purpose of the time bar or its potentially high relevance in this case. It
operates to prevent unfairness, especially in cases where the opportunity
to defend has been completely dissipated by the passage of time, and
where the Claimant was long aware of the potential for a claim for
compensation. I consider that there could have been an explicable
application to stop the case on this basis, which could have been
considered on the merits by an experienced judge. Had this approach
been considered more actively, I feel sure that a fuller investigation would
have been organised, the results of which would have informed the further
conduct of the case, not least within the Core Group and in the
negotiations between solicitors.
156. The second Core Group meeting was on the 10 July 2014. Absent from those
who attended the previous meeting were the Bishop of Chichester and Rachel
Harden. The Bishop of Horsham and John Rees attended part of the meeting.
Jill Sandham chaired the meeting. Added attendees were The Revd Arun Arora
from the Church Communications Office (I am told in place of Rachel Harden)
and Saira Salimi on behalf of the Church Commissioners.
157. Mr Tilby has made a significant contribution to my task. He has been central in
ensuring that I have been provided with complete documentation, and has
provided information whenever requested. The Revd Arun Arora too has been
of great assistance in clarifying the communications aspects of the case.
158. In this 10 July meeting Paula Jefferson reported that she had met Tracey
Emmott, Carol’s solicitor, to discuss the case. The allegations of abuse related
to the period 1947-50 [in 1950 Carol had her 8th birthday], and were consistent
throughout Carol’s various descriptions of it. There was no corroborative
evidence. Carol had been taken to visit the Palace, but changes in the interior
meant that this aspect provided no corroboration. For reasons which are far
from clear to me, Carol had been shown the public part of the Palace , but not
the private parts she said she had also visited as a child. Ms. Jefferson advised
against reliance on the statute bar. It was stated that negligence was not likely
to be an issue if there was an admission of vicarious liability. There was
discussion about obtaining an independent report from a forensic standpoint.
Paula Jefferson advised that it would not be sensible to accept Carol’s evidence
without questioning it through an independent expert. Someone would be
needed to make a forensic assessment – clearly a reference to a psychiatrist.
It was agreed that there would be further investigations, and that there would
be a public announcement at some stage – though this would be difficult without
Carol’s consent. It was agreed to postpone informing any other agencies.
There was a discussion of the possible quantum of damages. Matthew Chinery
stated that he believed that there was a consensus that a decision to settle and
never mention it again would be entirely untenable from a reputation/risk point
There was a consensus to make further investigations and for public disclosure
at some point. The Claimant’s solicitor could be told that there would not be an
immediate settlement but further investigation.
Paula Jefferson ‘suggested that there could be an agreement between the
solicitors regarding a joint statement once the case is settled as it is likely the
Claimant’s Solicitor will put something on the website’.
There was consensus to test the credibility before taking it to the settlement
However, it was agreed that it would be better not to approach the Holocaust
Commission or the Chief Rabbi’s office ‘until the claim had been given
‘[The Bishop of Horsham] asked if the case could be expedited. Paula Jefferson
suggested that it could be settled by the end of August or beginning of
September depending on how quickly the medical reports could be obtained
and this would depend on when the Bishop of Chichester issues instructions
for further investigation’.
A further meeting of the Core Group was proposed for September 2014.
159. The detailed minutes of the second meeting, summarised above, lead me to
(i) There was no discussion whatsoever of the need to ensure the justice of
the case by examining the facts from Bishop Bell’s standpoint. This issue
seems to have been totally abandoned.
(ii) In reality, any notion of a balanced investigation had been abandoned.
Certainly no steps to that end were taken, other than the decision to
approach a forensic psychiatrist.
(iii) The argument that the Kindertransport angle should not be investigated
until the credibility of the claim had been assessed was circular and
160. There was a considerable delay before the third meeting of the Core Group.
During that time Tracey Emmott had obtained a forensic psychiatric report on
behalf of her client. The experienced psychiatrist concerned, Dr Judith
Freedman was instructed by Carol’s solicitor, and I have not seen those
instructions in full. However, it is a simple inference from reading the report that
Dr Freedman was not asked to assess Carol’s credibility, or any wider and
possibly related issues such as false or recovered memories, as she did not so
so. Dr Freedman clearly fully followed the instructions she received, to provide
an assessment of the damage suffered by Carol on the basis that her
allegations were entirely true. The instructions I have seen were:
“a. Is Carol suffering and/or has she in the past suffered from any identifiable
psychiatric illness and if so please identify the illness or illnesses, and when she
suffered such illness?
b. If she is suffering and / or has suffered from any identifiable psychiatric illness to
what extent is this attributable to the sexual abuse that she suffered from Bishop
George Bell (deceased) between 1947 and 1950?
Having regard to question b. please describe in detail how you consider Carol’s
experiences at the hands of Bishop George Bell (deceased) have affected her:
i. family life
iii. ability to work
Considering the issue of causation in more detail, please comment on the causative
significance of abuse suffered by Carol at the hands of Bishop George Bell (deceased)
in relation to any past and present treatment.
Please consider the prognosis. In particular please make reference to:
Carol’s future therapy requirements. If you consider that Carol would benefit from
psychiatric treatment and/or counselling please set out your recommendations for the
treatment and the cost of such treatment on a private basis.
What is your prognosis once Carol has undergone such treatment if you feel that this
is possible to predict at this stage?
Please consider whether Carol has capacity to conduct legal proceedings under the
Mental Capacity Act 2005.
‘The Mental Capacity Act 2005 (section 2(1)) provides that a person lacks capacity if,
at the time a decision needs to be made, he or she is unable to make or communicate
the decision because of an impairment of, or a disturbance in the functioning of, the
mind or brain’.
The Act contains a two-stage test of capacity which has diagnostic and functional
Is there an impairment of, or disturbance in the functioning of the person’s mind or
If so, is the impairment or disturbance such that the person lacks the capacity to make
decisions in relation to the proceedings.
161. On the 24 October 2014 Paula Jefferson provided a letter of advice to The
Bishop of Chichester. That is at Annex E below. It summarised the law,
procedural issues, and options for the future conduct of the matter. Doubtless,
this letter and Paula Jefferson’s presence were influential for the Core Group’s
deliberations, though it is unclear who saw the letter.
162. In the Autumn of 2014 it was decided that the psychiatric report obtained by
Tracey Emmott would not be accepted without further investigation, and that a
separate report would be obtained on behalf of Church interests. This was
obtained from Professor Anthony Maden, whose instructions were different in
one important respect. He was asked clearly to comment on credibility issues.
His instructions were set out by Paul Jefferson in a list of questions:
1. Do you in your opinion believe that the abuse occurred?
2. If so did it occur to the extent alleged?
3. Do you have any doubts about the veracity of the Claimant’s evidence?
Assuming you accept there was abuse then please consider
4. What impact did the abuse have on the Claimant?
5. Please provide your prognosis, commenting on:
5.1 the extent of any continuing disability
5.2 the impact which this has on daily living;
5.3 the impact which this had on the Claimant’s capacity for work;
5.4 when any continuing disability is likely to resolve.
6. Please review the Claimant’s medical and other records and quote
relevant extracts in your report.
Please also advise:
6.1 whether the Claimant has any relevant pre abuse/post abuse history
which has impacted on the Claimant’s psychiatric health;
6.2 whether the Claimant’s past and current psychiatric ill health were
caused by the abuse. Were there any other causes?
6.3 had the abuse not contributed to psychiatric injury would it have
occurred at all or to the same extent?
163. There followed a delay typical of the sometimes tortuous processes of litigation,
for which in this case no blame attaches.
164. On the 5 March 2015 Detective Inspector EF of Sussex Police emailed Colin
Perkins to the effect that:
i. If Bishop Bell were still alive he would have been arrested on suspicion
ii. Quite often historical allegations of rape boil down to one word against
iii. Had Bishop Bell denied the accusations, a file would have been sent to
the Crown Prosecution Service to consider:
(a) that it was proven by Church records that Bishop Bell had the access and
opportunity to commit the offences;
(b) that Carol had been consistent in her allegations;
(c) that complainants of sexual crime should be held to no higher standard
of integrity than a victim of any other crime, and there is absolutely
nothing that challenges the victim’s integrity on this allegation;
(d) who has more reason to lie about what happened? The victim has been
consistent over many years, including to [the person she visited] at the
time who didn’t believe her. It was true that there was now a claim for civil
damages, but importantly the Diocese were probably not going to contest
that – i.e. on the balance of probabilities they believed it happened.
(e) Despite the limited amount of information that could be obtained on this
matter, the police considered there was credible evidence on which to
decide an outcome. ‘In view of the above I believe that there is scope to
consider this matter for detection under Home Office Counting Rules
Outcome 5 – Offender has died.’
165. At this point it will be helpful to interpose some comments on law and procedure
related to the above police response.
166. The Code of Practice to Revised Code G of the Police and Criminal Evidence
Act 198416, which was implemented on 12 November 2012, provided that prior
to arrest alternatives must be considered:
The use of the power must be fully justified and officers exercising the power
should consider if the necessary objectives can be met by other, less intrusive
means. Arrest must never be used simply because it can be used. Absence of
justification ….may lead to challenges should the case proceed to court…
The Code provides that if a Senior Investigating Officer considers that a search,
interview, taking of samples etc., can be achieved without the necessity for an
arrest, then an arrest will not be appropriate. Those who cooperate will not be
16 Paragraph 1.3 of the Code of Practice.
taken into custody. An interview should be carried out on a voluntary basis
unless voluntary attendance is not considered a practicable alternative. In
certain cases, an arrest will, of course, be necessary. If the suspect appears to
represent a potential danger to the public, or is likely to abscond, or to destroy
potential evidence, or is a danger to himself, then an arrest will be appropriate.
167. Had Bishop Bell still been alive, unless there was evidence that he appeared to
represent a danger to the public he would not have satisfied the arrest
conditions. I am surprised that the police did not appear to be aware of this. The
probability is that, had he been alive, his premises and any computer would
have been searched under a warrant, and he would have been interviewed
under caution at a police station, not under arrest. This is of some significance
because the Core Group may well have taken an exaggerated view of the use
of the word ‘arrest’, as being in some way of itself evidence pointing towards
guilt – which it is not.
168. By this time, March 2015, there had been considerable publicity about the
accusations made against Peter Ball, and a trial date had been set. This
heightened the sense of anxiety felt within the Core Group.
169. Unfortunately, DI EF did not emphasise that no enquiries had been carried out
beyond interviewing Carol. Nor did he set out accurately the two-stage test to
be applied by the CPS in deciding whether to prosecute, namely whether there
is a realistic prospect of conviction on the evidence and, if so, whether it is in
the public interest to prosecute17
-using the merits based approach, described
in paragraph 41 above.
170. Nor was any specialist criminal lawyer asked to advise on the strength of the
evidence. Given the potential importance and impact of the case, I would have
expected senior Treasury Counsel to have been instructed to advise. I note that
two Opinions were obtained from a QC on the issue of which part of the Church
(if any) would have to meet any award of damages in a case of this general
kind. The issue of whether a prosecution would have reached the requisite
standard, and the accompanying reasoning, was at least as important for this
Core Group’s deliberations.
171. Had the evidence my review has obtained without any particular difficulty (see
section [H] below) been available to the Church and the CPS, I doubt that the
test for a prosecution would have been passed. Had a prosecution been
17 For completeness, I should make it clear that I have also considered the CPS threshold test which,
were Bishop Bell alive, would not apply in this case as there would be no realistic risks were he to be
brought on the basis of that evidence, founded upon my experience and
observations I judge the prospects of a successful prosecution as low. I would
have expected experienced criminal counsel to have advised accordingly.
172. Of course, the view that a prosecution would have failed does not mean that
Carol has not told the truth – which, as I emphasised earlier, it is not part of my
task to decide.
173. Nevertheless, had the Core Group been in possession of such an assessment,
there can be little doubt that it would have affected their approach to the
fundamental question of whether civil proceedings should have been settled
without resistance and without further factual enquiry, notwithstanding the lower
standard of proof for civil proceedings.
174. On the 9 March 2015 Graham Tilby as Core Group Chairman sent an email to
some, but surprisingly not all members, outlining the proposed decision-making
process regarding public disclosure. His emphasis was on:
(i) The view of Carol and the potential psychological impact of disclosure by
public announcement upon her.
(ii) What evidence was there that there may be other complainants?
(iii) Do other public agencies regard such announcements as being in the
(iv) What is Church policy on public announcements?
(v) What is the potential impact on the family/reputation of the deceased
(given that he cannot offer his own defence)?
175. The third meeting of the Core Group was on the 10 March 2015. Gemma
Wordsworth was present on this occasion, in her role as Independent Domestic
and Sexual Violence Adviser seconded to the Diocese. Also additional
compared with the previous meeting was Gabrielle Higgins, who had
succeeded Angela Sibson as Diocesan Secretary. In addition Graham Tilby
attended for the first time, having succeeded Jill Sandham. Rachel Harden
attended again, having attended the first but not the second meeting. Absent
compared with the previous meeting were The Bishop of Horsham and Messrs
Booth, Sandham, Sibson, Wood and Salimi.
176. This was an unacceptable change in membership of the Group, given their
responsibility and the requirement for consistency. Factual as well as tactical
and procedural decisions were required of the Group, and attendance should
have been a priority – a three-line whip. I appreciate that there were changes
of personnel, illness, personal reasons for various non-attendances. My
criticisms in this connection are not of individuals concerned, but of the fact of
inconsistency in the Group. In a situation where important fact-finding
challenges are required, consistency of membership is important – even if it
means reducing the size of the group and obtaining a broader spectrum of
177. At this meeting a summary of the report of Professor Maden was provided to
the members. I do not understand why it was decided not to give them the full
report. The summary does not provide the full picture of Professor Maden’s
comments on credibility. Some members of the Group had seen the full report:
thus the members were not all possessed of the same information relevant to
178. The parts of Professor Maden’s report dealing generally with credibility were as
Summary of Opinion
The delays in reporting in this case are exceptional. Memory is not reliable over such
long periods of time and the only way to establish that the allegations are true would
be through corroborating evidence.
The Claimant had an unhappy childhood …… There are no current mental health
problems and she has lived a normal life with no significant mental health problems
for over 30 years.
No mental health problems can be attributed to the material abuse and it has not
affected the Claimant’s life.
No treatment is indicated.
She has never lacked the mental capacity to complain. She has never had a mental
health problem that would have prevented her from complaining. The delay has
caused enormous problems for the expert asked to assess the case.
I found the Claimant to be an apparently straightforward woman of good character. I
have no reason to believe that the material allegations are a conscious fabrication.
However, there are enormous problems for the expert arising from the fact that the
Claimant is now assessed 63 years after the material events. The alleged abuse was
not reported until over 40 years after the material events.
Memory is not reliable over such long periods of time. Recall is an active mental
process in which memories tend to become distorted with time to fit the individual’s
beliefs, needs and values. Both the content and the meaning of recollections change
with time. Events can and do acquire a significance years later that they did not have
at the time.
I can expand on these problems if it would assist the Court. The distorting and
sometimes creative nature of recall has been recognised since the work of Bartlett in
the 1940s. This and much of the subsequent research is summarised in works such
as that by Sabbagh (2009), Schachter (2007) and Fernyhough (2013). It is a
consistent finding of research in this field that these problems with recall are unrelated
to questions of honesty, integrity, intelligence or level of education. The consequence
is that neither the individual nor anybody else can test the reliability and accuracy of a
recollection except by reference to other sources of information.
The Royal College of Psychiatrists, in common with similar professional bodies in
other countries, recognises that in some cases so-called “false memories” of abuse
may arise. The emphasis in the College document on the subject (Brandon et al, 1997)
is on such memories arising during therapy but the literature cited above gives no
reason to believe the problems associated with recall of distant events are limited to
therapeutic situations. Therapy is simply one of the many influences on the individual’s
beliefs, needs and values that shape and determine memories.
Taking that into account, my advice to the Court based on my interpretation of the
research is that after so many years there is no way of determining without reference
to corroborating information whether or not recall is accurate. I cannot say whether the
allegations are a so-called “false memory” but equally I cannot say they are an
accurate recollection of what happened. The onus is on the Claimant to establish that
her recollection of what went on between about 1947 and 1952 is accurate. I do not
know how she can do that without reference to corroborating information but it is an
issue for the Court to decide.
The psychiatric expert’s contribution is limited. I note that …. She had been living a
normal life in a happy marriage since ….. During the course of her first marriage she
was …… abused. It is very likely that those experiences affected her recall of the
earlier, alleged events. After the 1995 complaint, she did not experience any
deterioration in her mental health, as often happens when there is disclosure of abuse
after many years. She carried on with her life as normal. Memories of the abuse were
not triggered by her own experience of bringing up children, as often happens in such
Another problem with civil claims made so long after the material events is that they
are an invitation to engage in a process of retrospective re- attribution. It is a natural
tendency to look for meaning in one’s life and to impose meaning on events if
necessary or helpful for one reason or another. One looks back at one’s life and reinterprets
events, attaching to them a significance they did not have before and that
they may not deserve. It is a particularly tempting prospect when things go wrong in
one’s life. It can be even more tempting if the re-attribution leads to the responsibility
for any problems being attached to others rather than to one’s own decisions. It is also
a process in which anybody can engage.
No matter how successful a life, most people when looking back over 40, 50 or 60
years will be able to identify things that could have been done better or could have
turned out better. They will identify personality characteristics they would like to
change. The distorting effects of memory reinforce this process. It can be particularly
difficult to remember emotions or motivations after many years. None of this has much
to do with mental health or psychiatric problems, which are the central issues for a
psychiatrist. Psychiatrists have expertise in mental health problems but not in
explaining why a person without a mental disorder takes one decision rather than
In the present case, the Claimant looks back on a life that for the first 30 years or so
was often unhappy. There is an obvious temptation to seek to (consciously or
unconsciously) allocate the blame for that unhappiness to the actions of others in the
The time spans in this case are immense when considering complex issues of
causation. For example, by my calculations the Claimant left her [first] husband after
.. years of marriage in about …. Erin Pizzey opened her first women’s refuge [[shortly
afterwards] and did not publish her ground- breaking book on domestic violence
(Scream Quietly or the Neighbours will Hear) until about 1975. There is no need to
invoke a personality defect or any other psychological characteristic to explain why a
woman of that era stayed so long with a violent husband – particularly when she did in
fact leave him at a time when there was probably little or no support for her to call
The Claimant strikes me as a sympathetic and in many ways admirable woman. She
does not suffer from a personality disorder. I have no doubt that she is sincere in her
beliefs. Nevertheless it remains my view that the possibility of false memories in this
case cannot be excluded.
The facts are for the Court to determine. I do not believe that psychiatric or other expert
evidence is likely to be of further assistance in establishing whether or not these
allegations are true.
In an attempt to assist the Court, for the purposes of diagnosis I assume the Court
finds the Claimant was abused as she now alleges.
179. As noted previously, the issue of credibility was not part of the instructions given
to Dr Freedman, and accordingly was not addressed as an issue in her report.
Paula Jefferson, plainly a key adviser to but not a member of the Group,
informed the meeting of Professor Maden’s good reputation for balance. She
said that there was no reason to regard Carol as making anything up, but that
false memories can occur. This fell short of the professor’s view that he could
not exclude the risk of false memories in this case. Colin Perkins provided his
interpretation of the full report, which he had read – that much of the
reservations raised by Professor Maden were about causation and quantum;
and that the unreliability of memory was not specific to Carol but is something
that is raised in general with these types of claims. He had read a lot of accounts
of this nature: false accounts tend to be an amalgamation of the worst
newspaper headlines. Carol had given a consistent account, so his view was
that it was unlikely that it was entirely false.
180. In my view, the members of the Group who had not read the full report were left
in no position to question what they were told.
181. Given the comments of Professor Maden cited above, had there been full
knowledge of them in the Group, my expectation would have been that the
majority would have steered back towards a fuller evidential investigation of the
claim. This is an important example of what, earlier in this review, I called
182. Arun Arora raised the issue of the standard of civil proof, the balance of
probabilities. Mr Perkins then read from the police’s view set out in paragraph
137 above. He said that they believed Carol, and that there was nothing to
challenge her credibility. If the evidence is considered credible, then it is
reported as a detected crime, as had happened in this case. However, Mr Arora
added that there could be a number of reasons why a crime would be reported
as detected, including police statistics, and this should be kept in mind.
183. Gabrielle Higgins responded in relation to the balance of probabilities. She
pointed out that there had been no other allegations: Mr Tilby responded that
there might be only a single victim. Ms. Higgins emphasised Carol’s very young
age at the time complained of, the possibility of false memory, and the possible
contradiction between Carol saying to Professor Maden that Bishop Bell told
her to tell nobody, but that she said she had told [the person she visited]. In Ms.
Higgins’s view, false memory could be an issue; and she reported that the
Bishop of Chichester was uncomfortable about accepting the claim. Paula
Jefferson suggested that a Court if hearing the case would take into account
the misgivings expressed by Ms. Higgins.
184. John Rees asked if costs (and presumably some damages) could be paid on a
‘no liability’ basis.
185. There was a discussion of a possible settlement involving a confidentiality
clause. Paula Jefferson observed that they were difficult to enforce. In any
event, the Archbishop’s Visitation Report to the Diocese had recommended
strongly that confidentiality clauses should not be added to settlements.
186. There was then a vote among those present. A majority expressed the view
that, on the balance of probabilities, indecency had taken place and this
therefore justified considering a settlement.
187. There followed a discussion about the issue of an apology, and that this should
be by letter from the Bishop of Chichester, or possibly face to face. However,
this was a matter for further consideration.
188. Once again, this Core Group meeting progressed without adequate advocacy
or significant consideration of the interests of Bishop Bell, or of the real
adequacy of what was described as the investigation. Nor was detailed
consideration given to the possibility of an attempt to deny liability, to see
whether a claim would actually be pursued or not. Indeed, the possibility of
fighting the claim was not considered in a structured way at any time.
189. As indicated above, the possibility of a confidential settlement was rejected. I
consider this further at paragraphs 51-52 above and 268 below.
190. Not considered at any time was a litigation risk or ‘nuisance value’ settlement
with a clear denial of liability, referred to further below. This would have involved
paying a sum of damages and costs on the clear and explicit basis that it was
a less costly option than fighting the case.
191. There followed further delay. During that period, in June 2015, there was further
publicity adverse to the Diocese, when a retired Eastbourne vicar Robert Coles
had sixteen months’ imprisonment added to a previous eight year sentence for
offences relating to boys.
192. The fourth meeting of the Core Group was on the 28 July 2015. This meeting
was attended by a diminishing number of members. Kate Singleton, a member
of the Church safeguarding staff was added. Saira Salimi and the Bishop of
Horsham attended. From the previous meeting, Bishop Stock, John Rees (who
may well have been indisposed), Gemma Wordsworth (who worked mornings
only) and Gabrielle Higgins dialled into the meeting. .
193. On this occasion, the agenda was short. The solicitor Paula Jefferson had been
negotiating with Tracey Emmott. The claim could be settled for damages of
between £15-20,000. An offer had been made of £16,800. As part of the
settlement, Claimant’s costs of around £15,000 would be payable in addition to
the damages. There would be a written letter of apology from the Bishop of
Chichester. There was no desire for publicity on Carol’s part personally, and
her solicitor would have to be forewarned of any press release.
194. The meeting decided to progress with the settlement, if possible by the end of
the following month. There should be a joint letter signed by The Archbishop of
Canterbury and The Bishop of Chichester, and the latter should offer to meet
Carol in September. A draft of the letter was to be circulated to the Group
presumably for the purpose of comment, to include recognition of ‘acts of
indecency’, acknowledging her correct recollection of abuse, and referring to
the poor response in 1995.
195. There was a discussion of the issue of public announcement. Several contraindications
were mentioned, including that there was no other reported victim
nor any history of other concerns. On the other side of the equation, the meeting
addressed the ‘Principle of Transparency – in the interests of episcopal
openness’, and also the understanding that Carol’s solicitor was likely to make
some form of public notification.
196. The meeting’s decision was as follows:
On the balance of probabilities, the Core Group believed that we could not rule out
other victims, who may be of a similar age to the complainant. It was agreed to seek
a third party independent professional opinion based on an anonymous outline of the
case. GT to contact Donald Findlater from Lucy Faithfull Foundation in the first
instance, CP to formulate a summary of the case to be shared.
It was agreed that given any form of public acknowledgement, that there would be
potentially large scale media interest given subject’s involvement with Kinder
Transport, Jewish Community and Holocaust Education Trust.
197. Arun Arora was to draft the initial version of the media statement, and to consult
the press officer at Lambeth Palace and the Communications Officer in
Chichester. Colin Perkins was to notify public authorities of the intention to
release a media statement. A ‘mapping exercise’ was to be undertaken about
areas of involvement (impact) and possible family members. Carol was to be
forewarned of any media release after settlement. The Group was to reconvene
on 9 September at Church House in London to consider in more detail the
impact of public disclosure based on the mapping exercise and agree the
198. The Core Group next met (fifth meeting) on the 9 September. On this occasion
The Bishop at Lambeth, Jane Dodds, Gemma Wordsworth and a minute taker
were those present who had not attended the previous meeting. The Bishop of
Horsham had attended the previous meeting but was absent this time.
Apologies were given by John Rees, and by Ailsa Anderson. Ms. Anderson was
Head of Communications as Lambeth Palace; it is puzzling as to why she gave
apologies, as she had never featured in the Core Group before.
199. Of those who attended the very first Core Group meeting of the 9 May 2014,
absent on the 9 September 2015 were The Bishop of Chichester, The Bishop
of Horsham, Angela Sibson, John Booth and Jill Sandham. All of these five
individuals held significant roles and might have made contributions if present.
Apparently the Bishop of Chichester and John Booth were not invited to this
meeting; and I have been told that Angela Sibson and Jill Sandham no longer
held significant roles.
200. At this meeting it was revealed that the Lucy Faithfull Foundation, who had been
asked to help, would not be able to provide a full, independent risk assessment
of the kind discussed at the previous meeting: they were not willing to be quoted
even if they provided information because no formal risk assessment was being
201. Carol’s solicitors had agreed a settlement in the sum of £16,800 damages plus
£15,000 solicitor’s costs. A letter of apology from The Bishop of Chichester was
to be delivered personally by the Bishop to Carol. She would like to engage with
Church communications, and wished to receive a timeline of action and any
202. The draft apology letter had been discussed and changed in a series of emails
and had been agreed in principle. Colin Perkins was concerned that the letter
should be ‘heartfelt’, and that it was better to let staff to set the parameters and
the Bishop to write the letter. There would be a separate and public apology
statement by the Church. This strategy was supported fully by The Archbishop
203. It was emphasised at the meeting that the Church should be seen to have a
robustly supportive policy for survivors.
204. There was a perceived problem that people such as the journalist Peter
Hitchens, who recently had described Bishop Bell as a personal hero, would
regard the Church as ‘caving in’ and would cause a media storm if the Church
was insufficiently robust in its position. In this context, it was recommended that
it was important that the Church openly should say that it had ‘settled a claim’,
so that it was clear ‘there has been a legal test and an investigative threshold
has been set’.
205. Arun Arora advised that they needed a report or academic journal article
supporting the position that ‘an offender like GB’ was very likely to reoffend,
and therefore there were very likely to be other victims – this would support the
need for disclosure. They needed to be able to quote the names of
experts/papers etc. if/when asked by the press to explain their decisions.
Without established expertise, he said, they could be accused of jumping to
conclusions, and could be challenged by the House of Bishops. The Church
could not afford to look as shambolic as the police in the Ted Heath case.
Rachel Harden said they needed a one-line answer to the question as to the
evidential basis on which they settled the claim. Paula Jefferson responded that
they had obtained an independent psychiatric report and had tested the
206. Rachel Harden is minuted as having stated that they had failed to identify any
living members of Bishop Bell’s family, and that the risk of family coming
forward was low. This was later revised in the Minutes to read:
A review of records at Lambeth Palace Library was undertaken. RH confirmed that the
Bells had no children. However, there may be nieces or nephews alive and their
descendants who may or may not come forward.
207. That confirms that there was no or almost no effort to identify descendants.
Some do exist, as I was able to discover with ease.
208. There was an extensive discussion about the Bishop Bell name day and his
name on buildings and institutions. The removal of these items of recognition
would be a painful process.
209. The communications strategy was discussed, with a target date of the 30
September for the press release.
210. On the 10 September 2015 Paula Jefferson produced a Note summarising the
reasons for negotiating a settlement, with the relevant background information.
Material extracts from the Note are at Annex F below.
211. On the 17 September 2015 The Bishop of Chichester The Rt Revd Dr Martin
Warner wrote to Carol the letter of apology contained in Annex A below.
212. On the 7 October Peter Ball was sentenced to a term of imprisonment for
offences of misconduct in public office arising from sexual abuse of young men
under his episcopal influence. That case generated an enormous amount of
[H] Subsequent investigations for the purposes of this review
213. I interpose at this point what a reasonably organised investigation might have
revealed to assist the Core Group. By a reasonably organised investigation, I
mean one in which an appropriate and proportionate call for evidence, and
other communications strategy, is followed. This is based on what I discovered
during my review.
The woman I shall call ‘Pauline’.
214. Shortly after the existence of my review was publicised, I received an email
from a woman I shall call Pauline. She lives in the United States, where she
made her home many years ago. She is married to an American and had her
family there, but retains family and other contacts in the UK. Late in 2016 a
British friend told her about the recent media interest in Bishop Bell, and on
request provided her with my address. She wrote to me, initially by post.
Subsequently we were in email contact, and she came to see me when visiting
the UK in May 2017. Pauline seems a balanced and sensible person, and there
is objective evidence from her recollections of names and the premises, and
from the electoral register, to support her basic account.
215. Pauline was born in 1941, so in the period 1948-52 was between 7 and 11
years old. Unusually for the time, as told to her she was effectively adopted
(though not legally adopted) through an informal procedure at 5 days old by a
single woman, whom I shall describe (as does she) as her mother. Her mother
was housekeeper in the Bishop’s Palace at Chichester. There was a cook, but
the cook did not remain to serve dinner in the evenings to Bishop Bell and his
wife, and any guests. That was part of the job of Pauline’s mother – to serve,
clear and wash the dishes. Sometimes, as a small girl, Pauline ‘helped’ her in
216. Pauline and her mother lived in the palace itself. They shared a bedroom on an
upper floor, and they had a sitting room of their own. Pauline went to school
locally, to an Infants’ School then a Primary School. She passed the 11 Plus.
At that point her mother obtained a job in another household and they left the
palace. She remembers and named correctly other staff working in the palace
and living there or in the grounds. She remembered the name of [the person
Carol visited]. However, she did not recall Carol. This does not mean that Carol
was not there from time to time: however, if Pauline is correct it would suggest
that her visits were not so frequent as to have made her a significant presence.
217. Pauline remembers Bishop Bell clearly, she says. Her recollection is that the
Bishop spent a great deal of time in his study. She was correct in naming the
Bishop’s secretary, and that the secretary had a desk near the entrance to the
Bishop’s study. She never entered the study. The Bishop ‘was always in black
– he usually wore his bishop’s uniform’. ‘He was always very nice: he’d pat me
on the head and ask me how I was doing’. She said the Bishop was always
kind to her, and she felt nothing remotely weird about him. As an adult her
reflection is that Bishop Bell was scholarly and dignified. Pauline got on very
well with his wife Mrs Henrietta Bell, with whom she remembered picking apples
and pink roses.
218. Pauline was allowed to have friends to play. They played outside in the
extensive grounds, where the gardeners always were really kind to her. She
played often with the small grandson of one of the gardeners. She remembered
playing cowboys and Indians in the grounds, with a skipping rope for stirrups.
219. Sometimes there were children’s parties for the children of the clergy, and
Pauline always was invited.
220. It is at least very possible, and in my view likely, that Pauline’s recollection
broadly is correct. I tested her account, and found it compelling. This does not
necessarily negate what Carol has said – and it is not my role to choose
between them. Nevertheless, had the Core Group been aware of this evidence,
they might well have approached their task differently. I consider that an inquiry
into the facts by somebody with criminal investigative experience could well
have found her, especially after a call for evidence.
Canon Adrian Carey.
221. I met Mr Carey at his home in February 2017. Although 95 years old, he had a
clear though incomplete memory of the relevant matters. Unfortunately, he died
in July 2017.
222. Canon Carey worked as Bishop’s Chaplain to Bishop Bell from a date in 1950,
September as he thought. His role brought him very close to the bishop.
Although Bishop Bell had a very experienced secretary, who dealt with
diocesan matters, diary and other detailed arrangements, the young Revd.
Carey performed the role of a private secretary and religious adviser. He lived
in the Palace.
223. Canon Carey remembered no children living in or frequently visiting the Palace,
and had no recollection of Carol or Pauline. He said that when he first read
about Carol and her allegations, he thought there had been no such person in
224. He saw Bishop Bell with children at Christmas parties organised by Mrs Bell.
The bishop was a shy man, not noticeably comfortable with children. He
described Bishop Bell and his wife as being very close, often teasing each
225. Nothing at all occurred that ever made him doubt Bishop Bell’s probity. He was
very religious, thoughtful and proper, in Canon Carey’s opinion.
Kindertransport, and evacuees from London
226. It is well documented that Bishop Bell was instrumental in what became known
as the Kindertransport, which rescued Jewish children from Germany and
brought them to the UK for fostering and education.
227. It has not been possible with the time or resources available to me to find living
survivors of the children who were accommodated and educated in the
Chichester palace during the later WW2 years. However, there is no doubt that
boys and girls were there, and were accessible to him on a daily basis. A search
of such sources as there are contains no adverse comments concerning him.
228. On the 29 July 2015 Colin Perkins described to Graham Tilby advice he had
obtained in relation to this issue, as follows:
Further to yesterday’s meeting I had a brief discussion with Miriam Rich this morning.
As I explained yesterday, when this issue first emerged I approached Miriam at
Elizabeth Hall’s instigation to discuss the potential impact of this case within the Jewish
community, given 1) the profile of the person in question and the esteem with which
he is held within the Jewish community, 2) the specific history of his involvement with
Kindertransport, and 3) the information we have which suggests that he and his wife
had Kindertransport children living with them during the war, and the possibility that
any victims from within this group may come forward within the Jewish community,
rather than to us or the public authorities.
Miriam does a much better job than I could do at explaining why an approach to the
Jewish community is important before this becomes public, and who within that
community we should speak with. She is happy to have a half-hour telephone
conference with myself and you to talk through these issues. Like a lot of people she
is away for much of August although she is around on Monday and Tuesday next
week, and will be back for early September too.
She is a consultant. She is happy to offer us the aforementioned phone conversation
‘for free’, as it were, although if we were to decide that we would like to utilise her to
approach key leaders in the Jewish community and/or to craft any specific messages
we may like to issue (for instance, she said that there will very probably be some
interest in this matter from the Jewish press in the UK), clearly there would be a charge
for that. But, she wouldn’t charge for the phone call, based on our previous relationship
with her (she knows this Diocese well, and both Jacqui Phillips and Arun Aurora have
met her last year. She also spoke at a conference in 2013 that Rachel organised).
I would recommend that the phone call is a good idea – like I said, I just can’t explain
as well as her why this is important and I did feel yesterday (and have done at previous
meetings) that I just wasn’t getting that across at all. Could I try and set that call up,
please? If so, are you around on Monday or Tuesday (perhaps around lunchtime) for
half an hour, or if not could we book a call in for the first week of September?
Diocesan Safeguarding Adviser
229. Though there was further contact with Miriam Rich, a search or enquiry was not
pursued for survivors or their and others’ written testimonies.
230. On the 9 October 2015 Colin Perkins recorded in a note that a large number of
evacuees from London had studied in the palace from 1940, and that evidence
(photographs of beds) suggested they lived there too. Press photographs he
had seen showed them all to be girls.
231. Mr Perkins had discovered an article from the Chichester Observer dated the
17 February 1983 in which a Mrs Suneps was cited as saying:
“I was boarded out with several families and got to know the Bishop when he made
his Palace into a school for evacuee children ..[he] had quite a lot to put up with from
us kids for about four-and-a-half years. We used to tear around the Palace and pinch
his apples, but he was always very nice and patient with us….Both the Bishop and his
wife were very kind … The Bishop often talked to the children and they learned a lot
from him… He was a wonderful man and I have very good memories of him.”
232. Mr Perkins’s conclusion from the above was as follows:
Clearly Mrs Suneps recalls GB in very positive terms. As we know this does not
undermine the conclusion we have reached. What this evidence does show, however,
is very clearly that GB had considerable access to children during a long period during
the war, and whilst he was not living at the Palace for much of this period, he was a
sufficiently regular visitor.
233. I regret that I do not understand the above comment, that the conclusion of the
Core Group was not undermined. The fact that Bishop Bell had access to many
young girls during WWII, that he had contact with them, and that no complaints
had emerged from that period, could have been the source of evidence in court
proceedings. Certainly it should have been regarded as a factor in the Core
Group’s decision making process. It was not so regarded.
[I] The Apology and Statement
234. On the 17 September 2015 the Bishop of Chichester wrote to Carol as follows
(also reproduced in Annex A below):
17 September 2015
I am writing to express my deep sorrow regarding the matters you wrote about in your
email to the Archbishop of Canterbury in April 2013. You reported being abused by
the former Bishop of Chichester, George Bell, when you were a very young child
visiting the Palace with …… The abuse of children is a criminal act and a devastating
betrayal of trust that should never occur in any situation, particularly in the Church.
No-one should have to live with memories such as these and I am truly sorry that this
has been your experience.
I understand that in 1995 you approached Eric Kemp, the Bishop of Chichester at the
time, giving a clear and unambiguous account of your memories of being abused. The
response you received fell a long way short, not just of what is expected now, but of
what we now appreciate you should have had a right to expect then. No-one reading
that letter could have been in any doubt that you were referring to serious sexual abuse
by a senior figure in the Church of England, and whilst Bishop Bell was long since
dead by that time, every effort should have been made to respond to you appropriately.
The church, like other institutions across the country, have learnt much in recent years
about the importance of responding with compassion and transparency. The fact that
your experience in 1995 fell so far short of this only adds to my very deep regret.
When you wrote to the Archbishop in April 2013, your email was passed to the Diocese
of Chichester. I understand that you received support from our safeguarding team,
particularly Gemma Wordsworth, and I hope that this has been helpful. I understand
that you spoke with Sussex Police at the time, giving a full account to them of your
memories of abuse. I recognise that the two years of waiting since then have been
very difficult, and that at times you may have felt that people in the Church were hoping
that you would go away. Please accept my reassurance that this has not been the
case; there were many steps that needed to be taken in order to be able to respond
as we have now done. Please let me thank you for your patience whilst this occurred.
Along with my colleagues throughout the church, I am committed to ensuring that the
past is handled with honesty and transparency. You have shown great courage in
coming forward to report your memories of abuse, particularly given the response you
received in 1995. When victims of abuse tell us about what happened to them, it
contributes to the on-going work to change the church’s culture. Again, I hope that you
find it encouraging to know that in reporting your memories of abuse, you have helped
reinforce to the church that no-one is ‘above suspicion’, and that abuse is intolerable
and must be rooted out.
Once again, please accept my deepest apologies that you have had to live with these
memories. I understand that you have continued contact with Gemma Wordsworth,
who will be able to offer you further support if you require.
235. On the 22 October 2015 The Church issued the following statement (also
reproduced in Annex A below):
Statement on the Rt. Revd George Bell (1883 -1958)
The Bishop of Chichester has issued a formal apology following the settlement of a
legal civil claim regarding sexual abuse against the Right Reverend George Bell, who
was Bishop of Chichester from 1929 until his death on 3rd October 1958.
The allegations against Bell date from the late 1940s and early 1950s and concern
allegations of sexual offences against an individual who was at the time a young child.
Following settlement of the claim the serving Bishop of Chichester, the Right Reverend
Dr. Martin Warner, wrote to the survivor formally apologising and expressing his “deep
sorrow” acknowledging 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.”
Bishop Warner paid tribute to the survivor’s courage in coming forward to report the
abuse and notes that “along with my colleagues throughout the church, I am
committed to ensuring that the past is handled with honesty and transparency.”
Tracey Emmott, the solicitor for the survivor, today issued the following statement on
behalf of her client:
“The new culture of openness in the Church of England is genuinely refreshing and
seems to represent a proper recognition of the dark secrets of its past, many of which
may still not have come to light. While my client is glad this case is over, they remain
bitter that their 1995 complaint was not properly listened to or dealt with until my client
made contact with Archbishop Justin Welby’s office in 2013. That failure to respond
properly was very damaging, and combined with the abuse that was suffered has had
a profound effect on my client’s life. For my client, the compensation finally received
does not change anything. How could any amount of money possibly compensate for
childhood abuse? However, my client recognises that it represents a token of
apology. What mattered to my client most and has brought more closure than
anything was the personal letter my client has recently received from the Bishop of
The survivor first reported the abuse to the then Bishop of Chichester, Eric Kemp, in
August 1995. Bishop Kemp responded to the correspondence offering pastoral
support but did not refer the matter to the police or, so far as is known, investigate the
matter further. It was not until contact with Lambeth Palace in 2013 that the survivor
was put in touch with the safeguarding team at the Diocese of Chichester who referred
the matter to the police and offered personal support and counselling to the survivor.
In his letter to the survivor Bishop Warner acknowledges that the response from the
Diocese of Chichester in 1995, when the survivor first came forward, “fell a long way
short, not just of what is expected now, but of what we now appreciate you should
have had a right to expect then.”
In accordance with the recommendations of the Church Commissaries’ report into the
Diocese of Chichester in 2012 the settlement does not impose any form of
“confidentiality agreement” restriction regarding public disclosure upon the individual.
In this case the survivor has expressed the desire to remain anonymous.
Following a meeting between the survivor and Sussex police in 2013, it was confirmed
by the police that the information obtained from their enquiries would have justified,
had he still been alive, Bishop Bell’s arrest and interview, on suspicion of serious
sexual offences, followed by release on bail, further enquiries and the subsequent
submission of a police report to the CPS.
A formal claim for compensation was submitted in April 2014 and was settled in late
September of this year. The settlement followed a thorough pre-litigation process
during which further investigations into the claim took place including the
commissioning of expert independent reports. None of those reports found any reason
to doubt the veracity of the claim.
The Church of England takes any allegations of abuse very seriously and is committed
to being a safe place for all. Any survivors or those with information about churchrelated
abuse must always feel free to come forward knowing that they will be listened
to in confidence.
Should anyone have further information or need to discuss the personal impact of this
news the Church has worked with the NSPCC to set up a confidential helpline no.
0800 389 5344.
A copy of this statement can be found on the Church of England website and the
Diocese of Chichester website.
236. The media responses to the statement and letter are instructive. Two, in
addition to the article at Annex B below, are set out in Annex G. Despite a
passing reference in the media, not contained in the above statement, to the
balance of probabilities, the message was extremely clear.
237. Carol, and the wider public, were left in no doubt whatsoever that it was
accepted that Bishop Bell was guilty of what was alleged against him. I have
underlined certain passages in the statement in paragraph 235 above. The
statement provided the following conclusions:
(i) The allegations had been investigated, and a proper process followed.
(ii) The allegations had been proved; therefore
(iii) There was no doubt that Bishop Bell had abused Carol.
238. I have received strong and well-argued representations from the George Bell
Group, and others, who support Bishop Bell and reject the processes and
decision of the Church. I do not set them out in detail because, for the most
part, they rely on his reputation and character – which I summarised above. In
particular, it was pointed out by them that, although Carol says she reported
abuse contemporaneously to [the person she visited] that cannot be proved
because [that person] died many years ago.
239. I received representations from a senior lawyer specialising in defamation and
reputational cases, who has a personal interest in this case. He made the
following (and other) persuasive points to me:
i. The Church does not challenge Carol’s belief in her story. The question is
whether others should have believed it.
ii. Any subsequent attempts, post-announcement, by the Church to leave
the impression that they were not convinced by Carol were unsustainable
given the statement of the 22 October 2015.
iii. The reference to potential arrest left the false impression that arrest could
be equated with guilt.
iv. The use of the term ‘survivor’ for Carol contained the clear inference that
the case against Bishop Bell was proved.
v. In effect, the Church reversed the burden of proof without taking real steps
for the case for Bishop Bell to be developed and investigated.
vi. There was nothing that could really be described as any inquiry into or
investigation of the facts.
vii. The failure to find and interview Canon Carey was a serious deficiency,
given that he had lived and worked in the Bishop’s Palace at the material
viii. The fact that the post-statement publicity has flushed out no other
complaints is significant.
240. The lawyer reminded me that a settlement of a civil case on condition of
confidentiality, with repayment of damages and costs in the event of breach of
confidentiality by the claimant, is enforceable in law.
[J] Views of Core Group Members, as expressed during this review
241. I held four meetings with Core Group members, in order to meet almost all who
had been involved at any stage.
242. The material parts of the summaries of my meetings with them (as noted by
independent assistants, who took notes in different formats) are at Annex H. In
order to have a full understanding of my findings in relation to the Group, I
recommend strongly reading the Annex. I have excluded individual identities
save where I think it important for a full understanding.
243. As mentioned above, I also met the solicitor advising the Core Group, Paula
Jefferson. The material parts of a lengthy discussion are at Annex I below. She
was most helpful, describing extremely clearly her role as civil solicitor and her
part in the Core Group’s process.
244. I have been provided with access to the entirety of Paula Jefferson’s file, of over
500 pages, and have been through every document. Given the large volume,
and the existence of legal professional privilege, in general terms I do not think
it would be appropriate to annexe the whole file. In Annex F she set out for the
Core Group her advice that the case should be settled, given the civil standard
of proof of the balance of probabilities. That was her carefully considered and
conscientious judgement. Based on the incomplete information under
consideration at the time, her conclusion arguably was justified. However, I
regret that the Core Group failed to carry out sufficient investigation into the
facts: had they done so, her advice might well have been different.
245. Ms. Jefferson’s file reveals lengthy exchanges about the approach to and
contents of the letter of apology and media content. This includes some
expressions of concern about the approach, but there was never any real doubt
that whatever was said and published was based upon acceptance that Bishop
Bell had abused Carol.
246. The supporters of Bishop Bell complain that they were not given information
that might have enabled them to obtain and provide evidence on his behalf. I
doubt that greater (and necessarily very cautious) disclosure of information to
them would have made any difference to the outcome, given the limited critical
scrutiny carried out by the Core Group. There is no doubt that lessons can be
learned, as set out in section [B] above, but they are less about disclosure than
the due process of a structured, fair and proportionate analysis of cases,
especially when the alleged perpetrator is dead and the potential for important
contemporaneous evidence is affected by the passage of years.
[K] Conclusions from Core Group records and
review meetings with members
247. In this section it is important to list some potential evidence that either was not
considered, or was considered as a possibility at various times but not obtained
by the Group.
248. There was no statement from family members confirming Carol’s close
relationship to [the person she visited], or other family evidence. This was
considered at the meeting of the 10 July 2014 but not pursued. Paula Jefferson
expressed surprise that [ ], Carol’s brother, to whom she says she is close and
to whom she has said she revealed the abuse, provided no evidence to confirm
the relationship [with the person she visited].
249. The description Carol gave of the Palace was considered at the same meeting
but not pursued because she had been taken to the Palace by an independent
counsellor after the claim was made. Plans of the Palace before 1952 were
found to be available, but not until after the claim was settled. There was no reinterview
of Carol, which might have ascertained evidentially material detail
a) How did she get into the Palace? (e.g. ……or via yard)
b) Which stairs was she referring to? Could she describe them?
c) Which kitchen was she abused in (see 1995 letter)?
d) Where was she when not with Bishop Bell?
e) Was she ever abused in the Cathedral (referred to in Professor Maden’s
250. Examination of the contemporaneous electoral register (which remains
available) was not made. This provides names of adult permanent residents
who chose to be registered for electoral purposes on the Palace’s premises.
251. Adrian Carey’s availability and evidence were not discovered until after
settlement. The existence of another girl who certainly lived at the material time
in the domestic quarters of the Palace, and was of a similar age to Carol, was
not discovered until this Review was publicised.
252. The detailed observations of Andrew Chandler (Bishop Bell’s biographer) and
of others known to support Bishop Bell, were not obtained.
253. The minutes do not disclose the placing before the Core Group of any
statement or report from any counsellor Carol had seen. I have been told and
accept that counselling records ‘were seen in full’. However, I do not know who
read them (other than the solicitor Paula Jefferson) or what analysis or
discussion there was of them.
254. I derive the following conclusions from the whole of the picture given to me by
Core Group members, and from the Group’s Minutes:
i. The Core Group was set up in an unmethodical and unplanned way, with
neither terms of reference nor any clear direction as to how it would
operate. As a result, it became a confused and unstructured process, as
several members confirmed.
ii. Some members explicitly made it clear to me that they had no coherent
notion of their roles or what was expected of them.
iii. There was no consideration of the need for consistency of attendance or
iv. The members did not all see the same documents, nor all the documents
relevant to their task.
v. There was no organised or valuable inquiry or investigation into the merits
of the allegations, and the standpoint of Bishop Bell was never given parity
vi. Indeed, the clear impression left is that the process was predicated on his
guilt of what Carol alleged.
vii. Despite some reservations, the process largely assumed the eventual
public release of Bishop Bell’s name, and a summary of the alleged
viii. There was no focus on any special issues arising from the fact that Bishop
Bell died in 1958.
ix. There was no real attempt to inform any surviving member of his family.
x. No criminal law expert was instructed to be part of nor to advise the group.
xi. It was not fully clear that the psychiatrists respectively were instructed on
a different basis.
xii. The discussion and approval of the apology letter and media statement
was poorly structured and based on a false premise that disclosure was
xiii. There was inadequate consideration of matters arising in this particular
case that might have justified denying liability altogether, including the
issue of the time bar for a claim.
xiv. There was inadequate consideration of matters arising in this particular
case that might have justified a settlement of Carol’s claim on the basis of
litigation risk, with a confidentiality clause including repayment for breach.
[L] Was the settlement, with full publicity, appropriate?
255. I am satisfied that the Church were right to involve their solicitor in all material
aspects of the Core Group process. She is very experienced and competent. I
have also borne in mind that, despite what I regard as poor organisation of the
process, members of the Group themselves had many skills and extensive
256. In my view the delay by Carol in making even her 1995 complaint might have
been relied upon successfully in bringing Carol’s proposed proceedings to an
end. However, I understand the reasons for not having taken this point, and on
balance support the decision.
257. I have set out criticisms above. Were I to ignore those criticisms, and create an
imaginary scenario in which nothing else could or should have been considered
or done by the Core Group, despite Professor Maden’s views on credibility I
can see how the judgement could be made that Carol’s case would be accepted
by a court on the balance of probabilities.
258. That said, if the criticisms are substantially valid, in my judgement the decision
to settle the case in the form and manner followed was indefensibly wrong. In
giving that view, again I emphasise that it is not part of my terms of reference
to venture an opinion as to whether Carol was telling the truth. Mine is (I hope)
an objective exercise about the conduct of a potential piece of litigation.
259. An investigation would have demonstrated significant and previously
unconsidered evidence. I have set out the main factors above.
260. It is not clear to me what advice Carol would have been given had liability been
denied. With all relevant evidence available, I suggest that such denial of
liability would have been the right initial response by the Church.
261. Had outright denial of liability been rejected, given the likely recognition by both
sides and their advisers that the case was not strong but potentially expensive
in legal costs, there would have been a respectable basis for a true and
undisguised ‘litigation risk’ settlement. That is a settlement at less than full
value, without any admission of liability, on the basis that it was an economical
way of resolving the case without recourse to court hearings. Such settlements
are not uncommon. The settlement documentation explicitly would have
explained that liability was denied. In fact, this was the stated basis of the
settlement. However, the way it was dealt with conveyed a completely different
impression, as is clear from the apology and statement referred to above, and
all the attendant publicity. The world at large was left with the impression that
this was a settlement on the basis that the allegations were true. In the context
of this case, in my judgement the apology should not have given, though a face
to face explanation might have been justified.
262. In addition, a confidentiality clause could have been included providing for
repayment of damages and costs in the event of breach. I am advised that,
whilst the confidentiality cannot be enforced, the repayment aspect of such
clauses is enforceable. Given that Carol has said on more than one occasion
that she was not looking for any publicity, it is reasonable to conclude that the
confidentiality would have held. If broken, cogent reasons for that form of
settlement could have been given. As stated in paragraph 52 above, this would
not have involved defiance or breach of the 2012 Commissaries’ instructions.
263. The course described would have protected the legitimate interests of Bishop
Bell, which were never engaged with seriously by the Core Group. In this case
he would not have been, and should not have been, cast out into the moral
wilderness in any public statements by the Church.
264. As to publicity, I was able to discuss this in a meeting with The Most Revd Justin
Welby, The Archbishop of Canterbury. He emphasised to me that it was
important that the public announcement was issued by the Diocese of
Chichester, not the Church of England as a whole – in fact his recollection was
in error, as the public statement was made jointly by the Church and the
Diocese. He described this as an important distinction. I suspect that the
distinction is a little lost in a wider audience, and matters little.
265. The Archbishop was kept updated intermittently about the case. Primarily, he
said, Chichester was dealing with it. The number of allegations of sexual abuse
within that diocese was ‘overwhelming’ – disproportionate to other areas.
Covering things up was completely unacceptable. It had plagued the Church
for years, is immoral, and had caused a loss of trouble. Consequently, there
was an appalling mess that might be costly. Once the Bishop Bell decision was
made, he felt passionately that the Church should be transparent. The press
release had been drafted by the national director of communications, with the
Chichester and national members of the Core Group able to comment on the
drafting. Thus all were responsible and accountable for the impression left.
266. I asked the Archbishop if there was a proper and adequate investigation of the
case. He replied that, if there was not, they would have to apologise and look
at their practices. They needed clear recommendations, especially in relation
to allegations against those who are dead.
267. I am sure that The Archbishop does not think it appropriate to support the
publication of what may be an unjustified and probably irreparable criticism of
anyone, whether a celebrated bishop or not.
268. I regard this as a case, perhaps a relatively rare one, in which steps should and
could have been taken to retain full confidentiality, with a clear underlying basis
for explaining why it was done. For Bishop Bell’s reputation to be
catastrophically affected in the way that occurred was just wrong.
[M] Later Meetings including some members of the Core group
269. Following the settlement and the ensuing publicity and controversy, on the 30
March 2016 a meeting took place including some members of the Core Group,
and other senior Church officers who had not been members of the Group. It
was chaired by Bishop Stock, the Bishop at Lambeth.
270. Part of the discussion was about the adequacy of the investigation, which on
one occasion had been described on Radio Kent as ‘a very thorough
investigation’ leading to a ‘profound and deeply felt apology’. Reference was
made to the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse, and how the Church
would work with that Inquiry. There was a clear wish to learn whatever lessons
were available from the case and experience. It was noted that there had not
been a consistent chair of the Core Group throughout the process.
271. A further meeting was held on the 22 June 2016, again with a varying
membership. On that occasion the Group was notified that the Diocese of
Chichester requested that there should be an independent review by a Queen’s
[N] The Henriques Report on Operation Midland
272. Annex K below contains an extract from the report, to the Metropolitan Police
Commissioner, by The Hon Sir Richard Henriques dated the 31 October 2016
concerning allegations of non-recent sexual offences. In his report Sir Richard
refers to an earlier report, dated the 30 April 2015, by Dame Elish Angiolini DBE
QC on the Investigation and Prosecution of Rape in London.
273. Although the Henriques report post-dates the events material to this review,
nevertheless it is worth citation as agreement with the view that the appropriate
mind-set and designation where a complaint has been made is complainant
until the matter is undisputed or proved in a court. Otherwise there is a danger
of assuming that all complainants are victims therefore accurate and truthful.
An acceptable alternative, given the intimation of civil proceedings in this case,
would have been claimant.
274. In my judgement this is a case in which the use of terms such as survivor and
victim contributed to decisions which might otherwise have been scrutinised
with greater critical examination.
[O] House of Lords debate 30 June 2016
275. On the 30 June 2016 a debate took place in the House of Lords in which
concerns were aired about non-recent child abuse cases. Lord Lexden, moving
the debate, called for statutory guidelines to be introduced in connection with
the investigation of such cases, including the naming of those against whom
allegations were made. The case of Bishop Bell was discussed extensively in
276. Annex J below contains an extract from the debate, in the form of the speeches
of Lord Lexden and The Bishop of Chelmsford.
277. I should explain that on each sitting day the House of Lords commences with
prayers, led usually by the day’s ‘duty bishop’, one of the two Church of England
Archbishops and twenty-four Bishops who sit in the Lords. On the day of this
debate, The Bishop of Chelmsford was the duty bishop, and was briefed for a
short period before the debate on the Bishop Bell case, in which he had no
previous part. He should not be blamed for his limited knowledge of the detail
of the case, though a bishop with such knowledge could have spoken in the
278. The Bishop of Chelmsford said:
The Church, through a safeguarding core group which considered the evidence
against him, tested over a period of 18 months the allegations made by someone
referred to as “Carol” so far as possible over such a distance of time. Of course, as
has been said, the process was greatly hampered by the fact that Bishop Bell and
others were dead
279. If my conclusions concerning the Core Group’s activities are correct, it was not
justified to claim that the allegations had been ‘tested … so far as possible’. It
is unfortunate that the weaknesses of the process were allowed perpetuation
in a Parliamentary debate.
18 The full debate can be found at https://hansard.parliament.uk/Lords/2016-06-
[P] Meeting between Carol and The Bishop of Chichester
on the 1 August 2016
280. By the 1 August 2016 it had become known that the Church had decided to
appoint a review of the way it had dealt with Carol’s case. In order to explain
this, on that date The Bishop of Chichester, with Gemma Wordsworth, met
Carol in Chichester. Gemma Wordsworth had been in regular and appropriate
contact with Carol since the apology and announcement of the 22 October
281. After general conversation, the Bishop explained to Carol that the Church stood
by its earlier apology to her, but ‘the Church is not able to state that they have
found him guilty as this would require a judge and jury which was not possible
due to his passing’. Carol acknowledged this, and gave her opinion of the then
current problem of alleged abusers’ names being released to the media prior to
being tried, and the impact upon them and their families and friends as against
the recognition that in some cases this can provide other survivors with the
courage to come forward.
282. Despite Carol’s very dignified response in the exchange described above, the
world at large would not have recognised that the Church had not found Bishop
Bell guilty. The comment reveals further the problems created by the process
under discussion in this review.
[Q] Lessons learned and changes made by the Church
283. These are set out in section [B] above. It is my ultimate conclusion any
settlement of this case, in the light of the facts insofar as they were
ascertainable, should have been with a clear denial of liability, and with a
confidentiality clause with repayment in the event of breach.
284. I support the conclusions of the report for the Church of England by Dame Moira
Gibb DBE in her report Independent Report into the Church’s Handling of the
Peter Ball Case19.
285. I support too the changes in relation to safeguarding inquiries concerning living
clergy set out in the Safeguarding (Clergy Risk Assessment) Regulations 2016,
passed by the House of Bishops.
286. I have been provided with other recent documents, most notably several
iterations of Practice Guidance: Responding to, assessing and managing
safeguarding concerns or allegations against Church Officers20. The latest
draft is detailed, running to 90 pages. It is intended to replace earlier guidance
which, though moderately specific as to the establishment and nature of Core
Groups, plainly did not provide sufficient guidance for the fair disposal of the
Bishop Bell case.
287. That document is intended as a step by step guide for safeguarding concerns
and cases arising in the Church of England, including complaints against
288. Explicitly, the draft Practice Guidance cover situations where there are
concerns or allegations that relate to someone who is deceased. An addendum
is being developed to cover that situation.
289. That said, the document provides a carefully considered and structured system.
The responsibilities of the Diocesan Bishops and Archbishops, and of the
Diocesan Safeguarding Advisers and others are described and clear.
290. Core Groups are provided for. The purpose of the Core Group is described as:
To oversee and manage the response to a safeguarding concern or allegation in line
with the House of Bishops policy and practice guidance, ensuring that the rights of the
victim/survivor and the respondent to a fair and thorough investigation can be upheld.
19 22 June 2017, available on the website http://www.churchofengland.org
20 draft for House of Bishops May 2017: I was told that this is likely to be the final version or very close to it.
291. In late 2016 a triage system for abuse related correspondence was introduced
at Lambeth Palace. Emails concerning abuse are now referred immediately to
the Provincial Safeguarding Adviser, a recently created role. I am confident that
this system works.
292. Subject to the replacement throughout the text of ‘victim/survivor’ with
‘complainant’ consistent with the recommendation described above of Sir
Richard Henriques, the document is sound for cases against living persons.
293. The text also provides for investigations to occur where required, including the
provision of an assigned investigator; and sets out detailed steps for responding
to complaints and allegations. Where apologies are required, formal advice is
given in the document so that they are drafted and given in a careful and
Lord Carlile of Berriew, CBE, Q.C.