Monday, 20 November 2017

Church denies delay in publishing Carlile report on George Bell

Church of England press release

Timing of publication of independent review of the processes used in the Bishop George Bell case

A spokesperson for the National Safeguarding Team said: “We received the draft of Lord Carlile’s report in October and now, according to the Terms of Reference of the review, are at the stage of responding with feedback from those who contributed. This is quite an intensive process and includes issues over factual accuracy and identification of ‘Carol’. As the review website notes, the final version of the report will then be presented to the National Safeguarding Steering Group before publication. This is the process with all independent reviews, there is a period of a few months between receiving the first draft and final publication.”

Background:

Appointment of Lord Carlile on 22 November 2016

Full text of his terms of reference

Extract from Frequently Asked Questions on the Carlile Bell website:

When will the review be finished?

It is planned that the Review will be completed by end of July 2017 and published as soon as possible after that.

Who will see the final report? Will I get to see it?

The report will first be presented to the Church of England, National Safeguarding Steering Group. It will then be published in full.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Monday, 20 November 2017 at 2:03pm GMT | TrackBack
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Categorised as: Church of England
Comments

Meh, I'm sure this will be suitably massaged to spare the diocese and wider church the worst embarrassment. Was always gonna be. They have, after all, controlled the process from the off, including the selection of the reviewer and his remit.

I'm far more concerned that, in future, fundamental principles of justice are recognized and applied. Oh, and apologies from several bishops who denounced those who defended them would be nice.

Posted by: James Byron on Monday, 20 November 2017 at 3:31pm GMT

Good to have that clarified. My comment on a previous thread can be withdrawn, as my concerns are satisfied, at leas for the present.

Posted by: Edward Prebble on Monday, 20 November 2017 at 10:09pm GMT

Alas, Bishop Bell is no position to respond with feedback; others must do this on his behalf. Peter Hitchens (aka Mr. Valiant for Truth) writes - "All I want to see is an admission that the procedure was (as it was) quite unjust, and immediate steps taken to re-establish the good name of George Bell".
It is to be hoped that the Carlile Report and the feedback responses will be published before October 3rd, 2018 - the 60th (Diamond Anniversary) of George Bell's Heavenly Birthday.
"Then magnify the Lord and raise
Anthems of joy and holy praise
For Christ's brave saints of ancient days:
Alleluya."

Posted by: Father David on Tuesday, 21 November 2017 at 5:16am GMT

When did Lord Carlile deliver his report?

Has anyone asked him?

Posted by: Jeremy on Tuesday, 21 November 2017 at 5:16am GMT

I too would like to see Bell's good name restored, but have constantly reminded myself that he may have been guilty. Thanks to the factual findings of an independent report, I don't currently believe the accusation, but they appeared to be working off of newspaper interviews. Witnesses are only human, and can make even major errors while ultimately prevailing.

The best thing, by far, would be some kind of public hearing in which the surviving witnesses are questioned, and the evidence is examined. "Carol" has been promised anonymity and so that promise must be respected, but trials subjected to gag orders are reported daily. It should be possible to achieve both ends.

Posted by: James Byron on Tuesday, 21 November 2017 at 12:47pm GMT

"trials subjected to gag orders are reported daily."

Only because the reporting of them is subject to the fairly savage criminal penalties available to judges for contempt of court, so reporting restrictions can be imposed and enforced. Your extra-judicial hearing would have no more legal standing than a meeting of the WI, and therefore anyone who wished to report it, or speculate about the identity of the witnesses, or simply publish photographs of everyone going in or out of the building, and could do so with complete impunity.

Posted by: Interested Observer on Tuesday, 21 November 2017 at 4:59pm GMT

If English newspapers are legally free to publish "Carol's" identity, Interested Observer, they could've done so long ago. They haven't, and there's no reason to believe that's gonna change.

In any case, "Carol's" evidence, if any more's required, could easily be taken in private, well away from any inquiry. If she doesn't wish to be involved, that's of course her right. In that case, any inquiry can proceed on what's already available.

What alternative would you suggest? Leaving this twisting in the wind helps no-one.

Posted by: James Byron on Tuesday, 21 November 2017 at 10:53pm GMT

"If English newspapers are legally free to publish "Carol's" identity, Interested Observer, they could've done so long ago."

They are free to do so, but don't, out of common decency. The same does not apply to (for example) Guido Fawkes, who would publish material relating to enquiries into public figures in an instant if they knew it and there was no legal risk. Trials enjoy substantial protections. Extra-judicial private "courts" do not.

"In any case, "Carol's" evidence, if any more's required, could easily be taken in private, well away from any inquiry."

So just like the current situation, in fact. Could you make your mind up: is the evidence to be given in public, or in private?

Posted by: Interested Observer on Wednesday, 22 November 2017 at 11:36am GMT

"Could you make your mind up: is the evidence to be given in public, or in private?"

It's not either/or: the majority of any inquiry can be public, with sensitive evidence taken in private, as routinely happens in court.

This is a world away from the current mess, where the CoE's conducted the entire investigation and determination behind a cloak of secrecy, and "Carol's" statements to newspapers are being picked over by independent reports. It's the worst of all worlds.

I've accepted that Bell may be guilty, and that, due to promises made, "Carol's" anonymity must be preserved. Whatever's causing you to take the tone you are, it's misplaced: I'm only interested in ensuring that the best possible solution for all parties is reached.

Posted by: James Byron on Wednesday, 22 November 2017 at 1:20pm GMT

Surely, the answer to both Interested Observer and James Byron is to wait patiently for Lord Carlile's report. As a QC and a Deputy High Court Judge he is far better qualified to evaluate evidence.

Posted by: Rowland Wateridge on Wednesday, 22 November 2017 at 7:24pm GMT

All the evidence I have seen reported indicates that Bishop Bell could not possibly have been guilty. Whether that is so or not, this matter was handled utterly disgracefully by Church authorities. I hope the strongest, frankest apology will be forthcoming, as early as possible, not least for intemperate, unjustified actions not only by the Church but by some Church institutions that have reflected on one of our greatest bishops - and a very courageous one, and that some useful lessons are learnt.

Posted by: Broad Churchman on Thursday, 23 November 2017 at 6:01am GMT

Well said, Broad Church, such evidence as was in the public domain was confused, to say the least, if not contradictory, and would have been thrown out of court at any public hearing.
As Mr. Wateridge rightly states - we must all wait for the eventual publication of Lord Carlile's report but it is a long time in being made public. When it is published I hope that it will assist in restoring the reputation of Bishop Bell whom you correctly describe as "one of our greatest bishops".

Posted by: Father David on Thursday, 23 November 2017 at 11:54am GMT

Rowland, as I understand the review's terms of reference, it wasn't asked to rule on Bell's guilt, but on the church's procedures. We'll of course await the report; but, that being so, a separate official finding may prove necessary.

It would've been better all round if the diocese and wider church had never offered an opinion on Bell's guilt, and had simply paid compensation for the earlier handling of the complaint. But we are where we are.

Posted by: James Byron on Thursday, 23 November 2017 at 12:33pm GMT

I can't envisage any forum which would be able to "rule" or decide the question of "guilt". At best it could only be a debate of the issues. I think we have to leave all further discussion until Lord Carlile's report.

Posted by: Rowland Wateridge on Friday, 24 November 2017 at 10:22am GMT
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