Thinking Anglicans

Sussex Police close their investigation into Bishop George Bell

There are numerous reports in the media about this.

Olivia Rudgard in the Telegraph has Bishop George Bell investigation dropped by Sussex Police

Chichester Observer Police drop sex abuse investigation into Bishop Bell

Church Times Police drop latest investigation into George Bell

…The statement makes it clear that the police have no current safeguarding concerns, and that, therefore, no further investigation is necessary.

A spokeswoman for the Church of England’s national safeguarding team said that they had been conducting their own separate investigation since the new information was received in January. “We cannot make any further comment until the investigation is completed,” she said…

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Father DavidSimon SarmientoBill BroadheadKateJanet Fife Recent comment authors
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James Byron
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James Byron

Belatedly, appears that the local constabulary have remembered that it’s not their job to prosecute corpses. Better late than never, I guess.

We now await the findings of the church’s investigation, which will hopefully report in before the crack of doom; it’d also be good if it could consider the mere possibility of Bell’s innocence.

Richard Ashby
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Richard Ashby

If the police have decided to do nothing further, why is the church continuing to pursue this? It cannot pretend that it has an expertise not available to the police. Or is this a distraction from having to further account for the complete c***k up revealed by the Carlile report with further procrastination.

Father Ron Smith
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The cloak and dagger approach by the Church of England – to this and other matters of possible slander against a member of the clergy does nothing to dispel the atmosphere of mistrust that is often engendered against people whose lives, in every other respect, have been found blameless. Post-mortem accusations achieve little for the wellbeing of either the complainant or the Church. Let’s all hope that God’s judgement will be kind to us all.

Graham Hardy
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Graham Hardy

My answer to @Richard Ashby’s question is that the C of E cannot bring itself to say that the Head of its National Safeguarding Team, who oversaw the George Bell process, is incompetent. In my view, he should have resigned (or been sacked) immediately after the publication of the Carlile report. But to have done so would have created an unwelcome ‘wobble’ just before the IICSA turned its attention to the C of E, and (more likely than not) drew attention to the fact that its processes are still flawed and its personnel incompetent. Meanwhile, I am happy to report… Read more »

Michael Mulhern
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Michael Mulhern

“A spokeswoman for the Church of England’s national safeguarding team said that they had been conducting their own separate investigation…” That’s alright then. After all, this is a body that cuts procedural corners, ignores readily available evidence, and has shown itself more than capable of reaching unfounded conclusions in order to protect its reputation. I can sleep easily now.

Kate
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Kate

Of course the police are not investigating : Bishop Bell is dead, cannot be prosecuted and no third party has been implicated. Since he is dead they obviously have no safeguarding concerns.

However, all of that is entirely irrelevant to whether the allegations against Bishop Bell are true or false and it is entirely wrong to infer this either vindicates Bishop Bell or impugns the CofE investigation.

David Lamming
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David Lamming

Kate, the Sussex Police statement impugns the C of E investigation for the very reason you give. Since George Bell is dead (and has been for 60 years) and, as you say, the police can have no safeguarding concerns, it raises the question why the National Safeguarding Team (NST) involved them at all and announced publicly on 31 January 2018, in a statement condemned by Lord Carlile, that they had done so (“The Church of England’s National Safeguarding Team has received fresh information concerning Bishop George Bell. Sussex Police have been informed and we will work collaboratively with them.” See:… Read more »

Janet Fife
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Janet Fife

‘Post-mortem accusations achieve little for the wellbeing of either the complainant or the Church’ The Church’s handling of the Bell accusations has been disgraceful, from the first allegation being dismissed without investigation, to the later highly incompetent investigation, to its response to the Carlile report, and its reporting of ‘new information’. Justice for the accused is equally important as justice for victims. And it’s of vital importance, whether the accused is dead or alive. For complainants it very much matters that a thorough investigation is carried out with honesty and integrity. There is healing in the truth being acknowledged openly.… Read more »

Kate
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Kate

David, that’s really unfair to NST. They are criticised if they don’t promptly report matters to the police; you are criticising them for doing so. Without knowing the full circumstances, we don’t know why they did but, in their place, I would do so in case the police could identify any collaborators. Just because the police have concluded that they don’t need to be involved, does not mean that they should not have been informed in the first place. Also, the NST has a much broader responsibility than the police. For example, they need to determine whether there are any… Read more »

Bill Broadhead
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Bill Broadhead

‘There is healing in the truth being acknowledged openly.’ More wise words from Janet Fife, for which I am grateful.

Talking about truth and openness, has anyone seen this?

http://www.unadulteratedlove.net/blog/2018/4/20/clergy-blue-files-and-the-illegal-behaviour-of-bishops-and-their-chaplains

I was absolutely staggered. It shows that, whatever we have learned (or not) from safeguarding failures, the culture of institutional dissembling goes very, very deep indeed. If I were a clergy person I would be afraid. Very afraid.

Simon Sarmiento
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Yes, Bill, and I am about to publish a TA article that links to that story. It deserves its own thread here.

Father David
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Father David

I notice that several days have now passed since this joyful St. George’s Day news about Bishop George Bell has been made public and no reference has yet been made to it on the Chichester Diocesan Website! Hopefully this is a significant step along the way in restoring the good name and reputation of one of Chichester’s greatest bishops! Now all we need is the mysterious “fresh information” to be revealed and the “significant cloud” to be lifted.