Thinking Anglicans

Lord Carlile named as independent reviewer in George Bell case

Updated Wednesday morning to add press reports

Church of England press release

Lord Carlile named as independent reviewer in George Bell case
22 November 2016

Lord Carlile of Berriew has been named as the independent reviewer of the processes used in the Bishop George Bell case. The lessons learnt review, commissioned by the Church of England’s National Safeguarding Team, in accordance with the House of Bishops’ guidance on all complex cases, is expected to be completed by the end of the summer.

In 2015 the Bishop of Chichester issued a formal apology following the settlement of a legal civil claim regarding allegations of sexual abuse by Bishop Bell, who was Bishop of Chichester from 1929 until shortly before his death in 1958.

The aim of the review will be to look at the processes surrounding the allegations which were first brought in 1995 to the diocese of Chichester, with the same allegations brought again, this time to Lambeth Palace, in 2013. It will also consider the processes, including the commissioning of independent expert reports and archival and other investigations, which were used to inform the decision to settle the case, in order to learn lessons which can applied to the handling of similar safeguarding cases in future. The full Terms of Reference are set out below.

Lord Carlile CBE QC is a Member of the House of Lords, having served as a Liberal Democrat Member of Parliament from 1983-1997. He was the Independent Reviewer of Terrorism Legislation between 2001 and 2011. He has a strong interest in cyber-related issues especially regarding National Security. (see full biography below). An executive summary of the review will be published once Lord Carlile has completed his work.

The Bishop of Bath and Wells, Peter Hancock, the Church of England’s lead bishop on safeguarding, said: “I am grateful to Lord Carlile for agreeing to undertake the review, which will take a detailed look into how the Church handled the George Bell case; as with all serious cases there are always lessons to be learnt. The Church of England takes all safeguarding issues very seriously and we will continue to listen to everyone affected in this case while we await the findings of the review. The diocese of Chichester continues to be in touch and offer support to the survivor known as Carol, who brought the allegations.”

[continued below the fold]

Press reports

Harriet Sherwood The Guardian Church of England appoints Lord Carlile to review George Bell claim

John Bingham The Telegraph Ex-terror reviewer Lord Carlile to re-examine Bishop Bell sex abuse decision

BBC News Bishop George Bell case: Lord Carlile to lead review

Chichester Observer Top QC will review the Bishop George Bell case

[press release continued]

NOTES

Previous statements

October 2015: Statement on George Bell

June 2016: Announcement of independent review

TERMS OF REFERENCE

Background

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.

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 learnt 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.

Scope of the review

The review will cover the following periods:

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
2012 when the complainant wrote to Lambeth Palace and the actions taken by the Church of England as a result of this complaint
2013 when the complainant wrote to the Archbishop of Canterbury and the actions taken by the Church as a result of this complaint
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.

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 detail.

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 finalised.

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.

BIOGRAPHY– Lord Carlile of Berriew C.B.E., Q.C.

Alex Carlile was born in Wales in 1948. After education at Epsom College he graduated LLB AKC at King’s College London. Lord Carlile was called to the Bar by Gray’s Inn (where he is now a Bencher) in 1970 and became a Q.C. in 1984, at the age of 36. Until 2009 he was the Honorary Recorder of the City of Hereford. He sits as a Recorder of the Crown Court, as a Deputy High Court Judge, and as a Chairman of the Competition Appeal Tribunal. Between 2001-2011, he was the Independent Reviewer of Terrorism Legislation; the Independent Reviewer of the Government’s new PREVENT policy and remains the independent reviewer of National Security policy in Northern Ireland.

From 1983-1997 he was the Liberal (then Liberal Democrat) MP for Montgomeryshire in Mid Wales. During that time he served as spokesperson on a range of issues, including Home Affairs and the Law. He was Leader of the Welsh Liberal Democrats from 1992-7.

He was appointed a Life Peer in 1999 and was awarded the CBE in 2012 for services to national security.

Lord Carlile is involved in numerous charities, including the Royal Medical Foundation of Epsom College, and The White Ensign Association. He has a particular interest in mental health issues, and was a co-founder of the Welsh charity Rekindle. He is the Chairman of the Lloyd’s of London Enforcement Board and is a non-executive director of a listed major agricultural merchanting company, Wynnstay Group plc. He is chairman of the not for profit company Design for Homes and is a founder director of SC Strategy Ltd, a strategy and public policy consultancy.

Lord Carlile is the President of The Security Institute, a Fellow of King’s College London, and a Fellow of the Industry and Parliament Trust. He holds Honorary Doctorates of Laws in universities in Manchester, Wales and Hungary.

30
Leave a Reply

avatar
3000
30 Comment threads
0 Thread replies
0 Followers
 
Most reacted comment
Hottest comment thread
13 Comment authors
Martyn PercyFather DavidKateDavid LammingJames Byron Recent comment authors
  Subscribe  
newest oldest
Notify of
James Byron
Guest
James Byron

Mixed bag: Carlile appears to be well-qualified reviewer (if on the establishment side); but his terms of reference have been carefully written to dance around the main issues of contention, the presumption of innocence and open justice. The repeated use of “survivor” is instructive, as it can only be read as a presumption of guilt: if “Carol” is a survivor of abuse, then ipso facto, Bell must be guilty. “Complainant,” also used, is a much better, neutral term, that neither assumes guilt, nor denies it. This review, authorized by the CoE, framed by them, conducted by a reviewer chosen by… Read more »

Father David
Guest
Father David

Who’s paying the fees and how much?

RevPeterM
Guest
RevPeterM

So we get the same-old same-old from the critics. This is not an appeal against conviction, so the tendentious case for the defence produced by the Bell Group isn’t too relevant. The purpose of the review is to look at how the structures of the Church responded to a complaint over some 20 years and to see what lessons can be learnt by the Church. As such it is part of a responsibly run protection system.

James Byron
Guest
James Byron

“So we get the same-old same-old from the critics.” Yes, ’cause the grounds for criticism don’t diminish with time. A “responsibly run” system wouldn’t treat accusation as proof, produce an investigation so bungled that to call it “amateur” would be to give it undue praise, then accuse people who raised concerns about the travesty of due process of smearing the complainant. No, it’s not an appeal against conviction, since England doesn’t, as yet, try dead people. The contempt for due process and open justice does, however, have terrifying implications for the living. If the principles that underlie the presumption of… Read more »

Simon Butler
Guest
Simon Butler

The Church of England pays for the review; it is our review into our behaviour; as such we pay. There is a review after every safeguarding case; in complex cases, the review is independent.

Simon Sarmiento
Guest

James Byron complains about the use of the term “survivor”. I think the point in this particular case is not whether abuse occurred, but by whom it was perpetrated.

Father David
Guest
Father David

Are you suggesting Simon that this may well be a case of mistaken identity and that Bishop George Bell has been posthumously misidentified and that the alleged abuse may well have been carried out by someone else? Certainly on the strength of the very weak contradictory evidence such an accusation against Bishop Bell would surely have been thrown out of court.

Pam
Guest
Pam

My thoughts and prayers are with Carol during this time. From reading of his qualifications, Lord Carlile sounds most suitable for this very important task.

David Lamming
Guest
David Lamming

As one of those calling for this review (see my questions at General Synod in York on 8 July 2016), and also pressing for the reviewer to be a senior lawyer, I think we should warmly welcome this announcement (belated though it is, coming nearly 5 months after the announcement on 28 June 2016 that there was to be such a review), as I did when interviewed about the review on the BBC1 ‘Breakfast’ programme at 6.20 am this morning (no doubt too early for many!) The George Bell Group, in their review of the case in March 2016, called… Read more »

James Byron
Guest
James Byron

Simon, another person could well be the guilty party (or, in the alternative, despite the issues with the published testimony, Bell himself could be guilty), but to date, the only person that “Carol” has publicly accused is Bell. In this context, “survivor” implies his guilt.

“Complainant” or similar does the job perfectly well without implying guilt, or dismissing the complaint.

Simon Sarmiento
Guest

James, if you examine the terms of reference you will see that the word Complainant is frequently used.

I’m prepared to cut the Bp of Bath and Wells a tiny bit of slack here.

John Scrivener
Guest
John Scrivener

Simon Sarmiento: ‘I’m prepared to cut the Bp of Bath and Wells a tiny bit of slack here’ Fair enough. But your earlier post defended the use of ‘survivor’ on the grounds that the question ‘was not whether abuse occurred, but by whom it was perpetrated’. You appeared to mean by this that it was accepted by all that there had been abuse, but not accepted by all that Bell had been responsible (or proved to have been responsible). This seemed to imply that someone else (in the household?) had assaulted the child, and that Bell had been mistakenly identified.… Read more »

James Byron
Guest
James Byron

Simon, yup, “complainant” is also used by the release, and that’s a positive sign, as is the CoE’s willingness to consider releasing the evidence with names redacted. I’m happy to cut Hancock some slack if he’s onboard with upholding due process with the same evident and commendable passion he has for safeguarding.

Simon Sarmiento
Guest

i have no private sources of information on this topic. I believe that this idea of a wrong identification can be found, or is at least implicit, in the voluminous material that the George Bell Group has published. It seems to me a more plausible explanation than that nothing at all happened.

RevPeterM
Guest
RevPeterM

Same-old same-old because the same old disbelief is as strong as ever. The woman must be mistaken, if not about the abuse, then about the perpetrator (so let’s call her a complainant). There is no evidence for this, even that impersonation is common with such paedophiles, but such speculation is preferred.
After all, the woman, a child at the time, can’t be expected to get it right, much better to take the word of the great and good, albeit absent and ignorant.

Alastair Newman
Guest

I had also picked up on this idea of wrong identification from materials produced by the Bell Group. It also sounds to me more plausible than the other alternative proffered that nothing happened at all.

Kate
Guest
Kate

I think this is a truly appalling development. I know survivors of abuse. I know the scars abuse leaves. Our undivided priority ought to be the survivor who probably thought she (I think?) had at last got some sort of closure. Now people are trying to rip that from her. Why? Apparently either to save the reputation of a dead man past-caring or to check the Church has decent process in place. Neither in any way offset the ongoing damage and hurt to the survivor. I’m disgusted. Then there is the spurious appeal to innocence until proven guilty. That’s irrelevant… Read more »

James Byron
Guest
James Byron

Kate, you highlight why therapeutic and legal priorities are simply incompatible: therapy rightly puts the well-being of the patient first and foremost; the law, with multiple interested parties, cannot do so. “Carol” didn’t just seek closure: she chose to sue the church. The church could, if it wished, have fought the claim, and forced her to prove her case in open court, by a preponderance of the evidence. Her attorney would’ve advised her of all this upfront, and she knowingly accepted the risks. If the well-being of complainants is grounds to accept accusations at face-value, it sets a precedent that… Read more »

Martyn Percy
Guest
Martyn Percy

Just a brief reply to Kate on Thursday, and to RevPeteM. Yes, I do agree that it is wrong and iniquitous of the church or any other public body to try and deny abuse when it has clearly taken place. However, in the Bell case, the complainant’s recollections appear to be factually wrong in several key areas, which would suggest – at least – a case of mistaken identity. Moreover, the ‘process’ that paid out to the complainant does not appear to have taken any significant account of Bell’s diaries, which show he was not in the country when some… Read more »

Pam
Guest
Pam

Kate, I very much agree with what you are saying. I think, though, that reviewing the processes of this case is appropriate, especially by someone of the calibre of Lord Carlile. You are correct in stating that survivors of abuse, already traumatised, face a difficult task if they decide to come forward with their story.

Kate
Guest
Kate

“Kate, you highlight why therapeutic and legal priorities are simply incompatible: therapy rightly puts the well-being of the patient first and foremost; the law, with multiple interested parties, cannot do so.” Actually all the legal cases have concluded. This is not about the law at all. This is about certain people disliking the outcome of the legal process and pressuring the Church into doing something else. Now it comes down to a contest between two things: 1. The recovery of the survivor 2. The wish of certain people to vindicate their own very different memories of George Bell As Christians,… Read more »

James Byron
Guest
James Byron

Kate, one of those people is his niece, who only found out about the allegations via the media. What of her well-being? This is entirely about the law, its underlying principles, and how the church rode roughshod over them. It twisted a claim against its mishandling of the case into a public denunciation of Bell on the basis of secret, anonymous hearsay. The allegations were never tested by a court. If truth should be disregarded to protect the welfare of a complainant, it sets a precedent that doesn’t stay neatly confined to dead people. Exactly the same arguments can be… Read more »

Kate
Guest
Kate

You surely don’t believe that a review is going to discover some absolute truth?

Cliff Richard has said his reputation may never recover:

http://news.sky.com/story/sir-cliff-richard-fears-reputation-will-never-recover-after-sex-claims-10621462

A review like this can have no positive impact on the reputation of the late George Bell but it is likely to adversely affect the survivor. It simply cannot be justified.

Simon Kershaw
Admin

Bishop Bell is commemorated in the calendar of the Church of England. At some point a decision will have to be made as to whether his name should continue there or not — ultimately this is a decision for the General Synod, requiring 2/3 majorities in all three Houses under the liturgical revision procedure. The review may well have some bearing on whether this process should be begun or not. So there could well be fairly considerable impact on his reputation in the longer term.

James Byron
Guest
James Byron

Absolute truth’s impossible and unnecessary, Kate. The review can certainly set the record straight about Bell, and ensure that this never happens again. I don’t see any reason to believe that it’s an exercise in futility: the work of the George Bell Group’s already done much to rehabilitate his reputation. As for the adverse effect on the complainant, “Carol” chose to subject her accusation to scrutiny by filing suit, and, had the diocese not chosen to settle, accepted the risk of being cross-examined in open court. She clearly believed that she was able to face that. Her welfare must, of… Read more »

David Lamming
Guest
David Lamming

Kate, the problem is that it would appear from the 22 October 2015 statement that Core Group who investigated Carol’s complaint started from the incorrect premise of accepting the complaint as true and then looking to see if there was any evidence to contradict it. That such an approach is flawed was exposed by Baroness Butler-Sloss in her speech in the House of Lords on 30 June 2016 and, more recently, by Sir Richard Henriques in his independent review into the Met Police handling of non-recent sexual offence allegations against persons of public prominence. You contend that “if innocence until… Read more »

Martyn Percy
Guest
Martyn Percy

A few follow-up comments, if I may, in the wake of the exchange between Kate and James Byron. First, ‘Carol’, the complainant, did not go to the police. In the first instance, she sought redress directly from the church, without going through any normal legal channels. Second, one cannot help but wonder what the police might have done with such a case had they been presented with it? The police and the courts need more than allegations to entertain a possible prosecution. They need proof, and witnesses too, if possible. As it happens, there are living witnesses who knew Bell… Read more »

Kate
Guest
Kate

I am so sorry but I find the counter-arguments truly bizarre on a Christian forum. Bishop Bell is dead. He has received justice from the Lord who knows not only all the facts but also of any repentance. Moreover, to us as Christians what does it matter to us whether he was an abuser or not? If he was, then we unconditionally forgive him and our opinion of him is entirely unchanged – or at least should be. As Christians, once he is dead and there is no risk to anybody, we have zero interest in whether he abused the… Read more »

Father David
Guest
Father David

Excellent comments and corrections from the Dean of Christ Church, Oxford. Let us hope and pray that as the investigation gets under way Lord Carlisle will prove to be Mr. Valiant for Truth.

Martyn Percy
Guest
Martyn Percy

To pick up Kate’s last points. No-one wants to deter victims of abuse coming forward. We know all too well how much it costs victims of sexual abuse to tell their story and seek justice. But I also know people who have been falsely accused of abuse. Their lives were ripped apart by the allegations: marriages foundering or failing; the accused losing their work and homes; or taken ill with severe stress, manifest in physical and mental health symptoms. I do urge us to be attentive to the issues this raises – legally and in terms of justice. Readers might… Read more »