Tag Archives: The Times



Sir Richard Henriques


  • Controversial instruction is contained in new College of Policing guidance 

  • Comes despite warnings after disastrous inquiry into VIP sex abuse claims 

  • Claims of fantasist Carl Beech were notoriously called ‘credible and true’ 

Police are still being advised to automatically believe alleged abuse victims in new guidelines despite warnings from a senior judge in his review of the ‘Nick the fantasist’ case.

The College of Policing guidance, which was published today, controversially tells detectives investigating claims of child abuse that ‘the intention is that victims are believed’.

Sir Richard Henriques, in his review of how police handled claims of VIP sex abuse from the fantasist Carl Beech, called for the instruction to be withdrawn because suspects are innocent until proven guilty.

Beech’s slurs were described as ‘credible and true’ by a senior officer, and went on to trash the reputations of esteemed public figures including D-Day hero Lord Bramall, former Home Secretary Leon Brittan, ex-Prime Minister Sir Edward Heath and former Tory MP Harvey Proctor.

The new guidance comes despite warnings from retired judge Sir Richard Henriques, in his review of how police handled claims of VIP sex abuse from the fantasist Carl Beech (pictured in a police interview from 2016)

The new guidance comes despite warnings from retired judge Sir Richard Henriques, in his review of how police handled claims of VIP sex abuse from the fantasist Carl Beech (pictured in a police interview from 2016)

Sir Richard criticised the decision to keep the guidance, telling The Times: ‘They’ve learnt nothing at all from Nick.

‘The whole basis of their explanation for believing Nick is that they were driven to believe by the protocol that was in existence.’

The guidance was produced by the College of Policing and senior officers in Operation Hydrant, which leads the investigation of historic abuse allegations.

It was today defended by Hydrant chief Simon Bailey, who insisted officers did not apply ‘blind belief’.

He said that victims were constantly told by their abusers they would never be believed, and they would never come to the police if they did not feel they would be listened to.

The new guidance also urges officers not to go ‘trawling’ for abuse victims but to use prior investigation to approach specific groups of possible victims or witnesses.

It also advises the, when releasing information about a suspect who has died, officers must ‘make it clear that there police are making no judgments about guilt’.

Wiltshire Police was criticised for holding a press conference outside the late former Prime Minister’s Edward Heath’s home in 2015 to announce they were investigating claims he was a paedophile, before urging other alleged victims to come forward.

The force later said that, if the politician had been alive, he would have been interviewed about seven disclosures under criminal caution.

Carl Beech – the fantasist and paedophile known by the pseudonym ‘Nick’ – was sentenced to eighteen years in prison in July 2019 to his false claims, including against Sir Edward.

Sir Richard criticised the decision to keep the guidance, saying: 'They've learnt nothing at all from Nick'

Sir Richard criticised the decision to keep the guidance, saying: ‘They’ve learnt nothing at all from Nick’

Sir Richard’s report on Scotland Yard’s investigation, Operation Midland, advised that ‘the instruction to believe a victim’s account should cease’.

He said people who make allegations to police should be called complainants, not victims, so not to imply guilt. The report, commissioned by the Met, was handed to senior commanders in 2016 but was finally published in full in October 2019.

It exposed the appalling failures of senior officers who believed Nick’s false allegations as they mounted a bungled £2.5 million investigation which ruined the lives of war hero Lord Bramall, Lord Brittan and Mr Proctor.

Police decided to automatically believe claims of sexual abuse in the wake of the Jimmy Savile scandal, when it emerged that credible rape reports had been dismissed.

But the approach led to the Met notoriously describing as ‘credible and true’ the false allegations made by Beech, which were also backed in Parliament by the Labour MP Tom Watson.

The 51-year-old falsely alleged that between the ages of seven and 16 he had been collected by car from his various schools in the country and driven to London, where he and other young boys were raped, burned, stabbed and tortured.

He claimed the offences were committed in the Carlton Club or in the apartment block in Pimlico called Dolphin Square. Afterwards, Nick would be returned by car to his home, where he lived alone with his mother.

He had originally made allegations to Wiltshire Police, who had interviewed him but concluded he lacked credibility.

His mother was also questioned and told them she had no knowledge of any unauthorised absence from school and had never seen any bloodstained underwear or similar sign of sexual abuse.

Yet Met officers listening to his claims were not given his earlier interviews so missed the large number of inconsistencies.

Beech's slurs were notoriously called 'credible and true' during a press conference outside New Scotland Yard

Beech’s slurs were notoriously called ‘credible and true’ during a press conference outside New Scotland Yard

Sir Richard said they then continued investigating his claims ‘in a disordered and chaotic manner and littered with mistakes’.

In his new book, From Crime To Crime, which was serialised in the Daily Mail, the former judge wrote: ‘They failed to ask Nick for his computers or mobile phone.

‘They ignored the fact that his medical records disclosed no injury consistent with his allegations in his personal online blog that his feet were stabbed and burned, poppies pinned to his bare chest and numerous bones broken.

‘They had no regard to the inherent improbability of men of the highest standing and impeccable character having behaved in the manner alleged.’

Moving on the notorious ‘credible and true’ press conference, he continued: ‘Instead the police made a public appeal for information, with a senior officer, Detective Superintendent Kenny McDonald, standing outside New Scotland Yard and telling a press conference that they believed Nick’s allegations to be both ‘credible and true’.

‘The words should never have been uttered, and the officer himself later admitted they were inappropriate, saying he selected the wrong words in the heat of an interview.

‘But there was no correction for many months, by which time, as we will see below, two completely bogus potential witnesses had come forward with more lies purporting to support ‘Nick’.’




Dear Editor

The Chief Constable of Norfolk Simon Bailey states [‘Officers told to believe sex abuse claims despite fantasist scandal’, Times, Aug 6]:

“We shouldn’t allow one investigation to be the basis upon which we ignore a substantial body of evidence that talks about the importance of being believed”

The professional approach is to neither believe nor disbelieve the complainant and their allegation. There is no right or entitlement for a complainant to be believed, but there is a right and entitlement for a complainant to be treated with respect, to take their allegation seriously, to listen with compassion, and to record the facts clearly.

Yours sincerely

Richard W. Symonds

The Bell Society




So the Archbishops of Canterbury and York “have issued a rare joint apology” for the Church of England’s misguided declaration that those in civil partnerships should not have sex. (“Archbishops ‘very sorry’ for sex advice”, Jan 31).  This, they now acknowledge, “has jeopardised trust” among the general public.

Apologies from clergy, especially senior ones, are rare indeed in my experience.

The Archbishops have one further apology to make while they are in the mood – to admirers and relatives of Bishop George Bell of Chichester (died 1958).  The saintly bishop was accused a few years ago of paedophilia on extremely uncertain grounds given his previously entirely blameless reputation.  Against all reason Archbishop Welby still considers Bell to be ‘under a cloud’.  This unjustified slur has been long overdue for removal, and the present moment would be a good time to achieve that.

Tim Hudson

West Sussex,

Nov 29 2019 – “Church apology for historical antisemitism” – Times Letters by Bishop Gavin Ashenden [published] + Richard W. Symonds (unpublished)

Dear Editor

Bishop Gavin Ashenden’s reference to Bishop George Bell’s “confrontation” in the 1930’s (‘Church’s apology for historical antisemitism’, letters, Nov 22), reminds me of the latter’s September 1939 article in Fortnightly Review: ‘The Church’s Function in War-time’:

“The Church ought to declare what is just. It has a right to prophesy, to analyse the issues which lie behind a particular conflict, and to rebuke the aggressor…”

No mention of apology – just repentance.


Yours sincerely


Richard W. Symonds

The Bell Society


“But can you apologise for the massacre of Bishop Bell’s reputation, Archbishop? We can all apologise for something we can do nothing about – that’s easy – but find it hard to apologise for something we can do something about. Matthew 7 v 5 applies to us all” ~ Richard W. Symonds

Welby “can apologise when it suits” ~ Peter Crosskey

“Now try saying sorry for your own mistakes, Archbishop…” – Peter Hitchens – Mail on Sunday

I do worry about Archbishop Justin Welby. 

Does he know anything? Does he understand his own religion? 

There he lies flat on his face in the Indian city of Amritsar, regretting a massacre he didn’t carry out 100 years ago. 

It was pretty thoroughly condemned at the time, and its culprit was forced to resign.

Archbishop Justin Welby laid flat on his face in the Indian city of Amritsar


Archbishop Justin Welby laid flat on his face in the Indian city of Amritsar

Christianity is about recognising your own faults, Archbishop. 

Get some practice. Explicitly and fully apologise for your Church’s decision to publicly smear the great, late Bishop George Bell, now shown beyond doubt to be the result of a one-sided, sloppy kangaroo court.

No need to lie on the floor.

Just say sorry for a foolish, unfair mistake, and the vanity that has prevented you from admitting it.

September 12 2019 – Times Letter Submission – Coburg, Bonhoeffer, Bell and Ashdown – Unpublished [Amended and re-submitted elsewhere]



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Dear Editor

There is much for which we can be thankful in the life and work of Paddy Ashdown (“Service of thanksgiving for Lord Ashdown of Norton-sub-Hamdon”, Times, Sept 11) – not least his well-researched last book “Nein! Standing Up To Hitler 1935-1944”.

Lord Ashdown concludes in his Epilogue:

“There are also, as Dietrich Bonhoeffer and Bishop Bell argued, moral questions to be addressed here”

Some of those “questions” will be addressed next month at the Coburg Conference in Chichester*, which “will focus on Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s and George Bell’s work, and what it can teach us, in the light of today’s political situation”.

Yours sincerely

Richard W. Symonds

The Bell Society

* October 10th to 14th 2019. Venue: 4 Canon Lane (formerly George Bell House), Chichester Cathedral Precinct, Chichester, West Sussex




Dear Editor

Earlier this month, at Westminster Abbey, there was a Service of Thanksgiving for the politician and diplomat Lord ‘Paddy’ Ashdown who died last year.

In the Epilogue of his last book – “Nein! Standing Up To Hitler 1935-1944” – Lord Ashdown concludes:

“There are also, as Dietrich Bonhoeffer and Bishop Bell argued, moral questions to be addressed here”

Later next month, in Chichester Cathedral*, some of those questions will be addressed at the ecumenical Coburg Conference, which “will focus on Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s and George Bell’s work, and what it can teach us in the light of today’s political situation”.

Yours sincerely


Richard W. Symonds

The Bell Society


* October 10th to 14th 2019. Venue: 4 Canon Lane (formerly George Bell House), Chichester Cathedral Precinct, Chichester, West Sussex

SEPT 13 2019 UPDATE (Evening)

The Coburg Conference (10-14 October) will take place in Chichester Cathedral and  ‘other venues’, such as Vicars’ Hall, but NOT including 4 Canon Lane (George Bell House before 2015 name-change – Ed) ~ Secretary of Chichester Cathedral Precentor


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


Chichester under fire over George Bell claims

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

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

Bishop George Bell
Jimmy JamesBishop George Bell

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

December 19 2017 – “Welby was wrong to leave a stain on Bishop Bell’s memory” – Andrew Chandler – The Times



 the times

Welby was wrong to leave a stain on Bishop Bell’s memory

On Friday the Church of England released an independent review into how it handled an allegation of child sex abuse made against a bishop who died in 1958. This was no ordinary bishop. In the eyes of the historian Ian Kershaw, George Bell, the “impressive and extraordinary” bishop of Chichester between 1929 and 1958, was “possibly the most distinctive English clergyman of the 20th century”.

The review, though intricate, was also damning. Its author, Lord Carlile of Berriew, found that the investigation of the allegation made against Bell had been “inappropriate and impermissable” and resulted in a financial settlement which was “indefensibly wrong”.

The Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, acknowledged the catalogue of great deeds that defined Bell’s public career but insisted that “a significant cloud” still hung over him. This he reinforced blandly but purposefully by adding: “No human being is entirely good or bad. Bishop Bell was in many ways a hero. He is also accused of great wickedness.”

Everyone has the right to think for themselves and one should not deny such a right to the archbishop. But it is clear that on this occasion he has entered dubious, if not discreditable, territory. Welby and the other bishops who commented on this case have not spoken as individuals but have invested the authority of their office in a shocking opinion. For them an allegation is something that takes on a life of its own and which can even be commended and perpetuated, regardless of due process and the presumption of innocence on which society depends.

In this matter at least, the church is an institution in the grip of a rigid “safeguarding” agenda which has acquired an almost ideological force. Into this context the figure of Bishop Bell has tumbled. How many others, living and dead, might be added?

Should the archbishop now possess the right and the moral authority to judge, let alone exonerate, when his eyes are more firmly fixed on the corporate constructions of the organisation over which he presides?

Justin Welby faces a crucial test in this matter. It is a test of his integrity as Archbishop of Canterbury. The cloud that hangs in the air today is not to be found over Bishop Bell, but over Lambeth Palace.

Andrew Chandler is the biographer of George Bell and is professor of modern history at the University of Chichester

Former Goddard Inquiry “out of control” – The Times – Front Page -September 6 2016


Royal Court of Justice

Dame Lowell Goddard…the judge who quit as its chief [National Public Inquiry into Child Sex Abuse, previously called The Goddard Inquiry] last month…said that she had quit…to challenge the basis and scale of the inquiry…The new head is Professor Alexis Jay, a social work specialist who is backed by a panel, victims of sex abuse and other expert advisers

“Ultimately…I had to face a situation I could not solve and which would continue unless challenged. I resigned to make that challenge occur” said Dame Lowell.