Tag Archives: The Mail on Sunday

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

https://www.christiantoday.com/article/chichester-under-fire-over-george-bell-claims/121998.htm

Chichester under fire over George Bell claims

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

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

Bishop George Bell
Jimmy JamesBishop George Bell

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

October 8 2017 – “The Exculpation of Bishop Bell” – ‘4 Draft Resolutions’ – The Lychgate – Ifield Village – Wednesday October 11 2017 – 2pm to 5pm

THE BELL SOCIETY

Press-Release

“THE EXCULPATION OF BISHOP BELL”

[FOLLOWING THE CARLILE REVIEW]

The Lychgate – Ifield Village – Wednesday October 11 2017 – 2pm to 5pm

 

4 Draft Resolutions

Resolution 1: Restoring the name “George Bell House” in Chichester

https://richardwsymonds.wordpress.com/2017/09/08/september-8-2017-carlile-review-on-bishop-bell-imminent/

Resolution 2: Withdrawing Booklet “Chichester Cathedral – Society and Faith” from the Cathedral Bookshop

https://richardwsymonds.wordpress.com/2016/11/16/bishop-bell-letter-delivered-to-bishop-of-chichester-november-16-2016/comment-page-1/

Resolution 3: Updating The Bell Petition to mark the passing of the 10th Duke of Richmond [Petition signatory] 

https://you.38degrees.org.uk/petitions/justice-for-bishop-george-bell-of-chichester#

Resolution 4: Publishing The Bell Chronology to mark Bishop Bell’s 59th Anniversary [October 3]

richardwsymonds.wordpress.com/2016/12/17/justice-for-bishop-george-bell-of-chichester-october-2015-to-october-2017/

 

“Having acted so unjustly and unfairly towards Bishop George Bell in the recent past, it is hoped the Church will now be anxious to uphold English law [which states anyone who is not found guilty is thereafter presumed innocent], and act accordingly.

“There is very little doubt ‘Carol’ was abused as a child by a cleric within the Diocese of Chichester; but there is great doubt – and always has been – it was Bishop Bell. The findings of the Carlile Review give credence to those doubts”

~ Richard W. Symonds. The Bell Society

 

IMG_9510

This Portrait is in storage within the Cathedral Library [September 9 2017] – No Public Access [except on Heritage Open Days eg September 9 2017] – “Bishop Bell has a worldwide reputation for his tireless work for international reconciliation, the arts, education, and church unity. The House that bears his name provides a place where work in these areas can continue and prosper. The generosity of an Anglican Order, the Community of the Servants of the Cross (CSC) has enabled the purchase of the House. Canon Peter Kefford (Treasurer of Chichester Cathedral 2003-2009) was the prime initiator in establishing George Bell House as a centre for Education, Vocation and Reconciliation” Photograph: Howard Coster, 1953. It is the last portrait photograph of Bishop Bell.

GBH-Exterior-with-Cathedral

4 Canon Lane [to be re-named George Bell House?]

http://www.chichestercathedral.org.uk/visiting/_folder1/

 

UPDATES

October 9 2017 – “Church of England’s handling of allegations against Bishop Bell ‘flawed and unfair’” – The Justice Gap – Jon Robins

 

 

For more information on this News Release, please contact:

Richard W. Symonds

The Bell Society

2 Lychgate Cottages

Ifield Street, Ifield Village

Crawley, West Sussex

Tel: 07540 309592 (Text only – Very deaf)

Email: richardsy5@aol.com

Peter Hitchens on Bishop Bell – “Finally…one brave bishop says sorry” – Sunday – November 20 2016

http://hitchensblog.mailonsunday.co.uk

Finally… one brave bishop says sorry 

Is the panic over? Are we beginning to realise that child abuse allegations – just like all other crimes – must be fairly investigated?

The resignation-prone Child Abuse Inquiry is in trouble precisely because it was based on a crowd-pleasing frenzy. The police are in difficulty because they forgot their job is open-minded investigation – assume nothing, believe nobody, check everything.

Now there is a flicker of good news from the Church of England too.

Trying to look tough on priestly child abuse when it had been feeble, the Church shamefully smeared one of its greatest figures – the late Bishop Bell of Chichester – as a paedophile. This was on the basis of a single, ancient uncorroborated allegation.

Since then, they have angrily refused to consider powerful expert evidence in his defence, or to admit that the secret kangaroo court which condemned Bishop Bell without hearing his side was at fault. Instead, they have attacked their critics, including me.

But there are at last signs that they too are recovering a sense of justice.

Yesterday, after months of shilly-shallying, the Bishop of Chelmsford apologised to me for falsely claiming that I and others had made hurtful comments about George Bell’s accuser, now an elderly lady.

The Bishop had made this baseless claim in the House of Lords, while trying to defend the Church’s behaviour.

It was typical of their refusal to recognise that they might be mistaken. They had a rigid groupthink which led them to believe the worst about their critics.

But the Bishop has now written to me to say ‘I am sorry that I said an untruth about you. I am seeking to make amends.’ And I have in turn forgiven him for what he said. I hope his courageous and Christian decision to break ranks with his rigid-minded colleagues will help to get a fair hearing for George Bell.

For I also learn that the Church is about to name the head of an independent review of these unproven allegations. About time. I took on this case more than a year ago because I fear that the old safeguards of English law are being destroyed. Without them, this country would be a tyranny.

Much of the damage was being done with public support, because of a mass panic about paedophilia. We all go on about how 17th Century witch-hunts and 20th Century McCarthyism were wrong. And so they were.

But would we recognise such things if they happened in our own time? Or stop them? Let’s see.