Thinking Anglicans

Church announces review into Bishop Whitsey case

The Church of England has today announced an Independent lessons learnt review into Bishop Whitsey case.

His Hon David Pearl has been appointed by the National Safeguarding Team as chair of the independent lessons learnt review into the Whitsey case. The Church supported a police investigation into allegations of sexual offences against children and adults by the late Bishop Hubert Victor Whitsey. The allegations dated from 1974 onwards when he was Bishop of Chester and from 1981 while he was retired and living in Blackburn diocese. Bishop Whitsey died in 1987.

The review is expected to be carried out in two phases and will include the case of Gordon Dickenson, once other Church processes have concluded. Dickenson, a former chaplain to Bishop Whitsey, was jailed in March after admitting sexually assaulting a boy in the 1970s.

Commenting on his appointment David Pearl said: “I am committed to ensuring that this Review will be both independent and transparent. The Review will examine all relevant documents and will hear from everyone who wishes to provide evidence to the Review.”…

The Terms of Reference of the Review are also published.

The Diocese of Chester has published this: Victor Whitsey Statement
[Note: this statement is much older and is not in response to today’s announcement.]

Joint statement from Archbishop of York and Bishop of Chester

“We can confirm that we have supported the police on an investigation into allegations of sexual offences against children and adults by the late Bishop Hubert Victor Whitsey (pictured right). The allegations date from 1974 onwards when he was Bishop of Chester and from 1981 while he was retired and living in Blackburn diocese. Bishop Whitsey died in 1987.

“We are deeply sorry and apologise to those individuals who have come forward to share their account of abuse by a bishop in the Church of England who was in a position of power and authority.  We appreciate that it is very difficult for individuals to come forward and to give their account. Sexual abuse is a heinous crime – and is an absolute and shameful breach of trust.  We acknowledge that for survivors, the effects of sexual abuse are lifelong.  We are offering pastoral support to all those who have come forward and continue to hold them all in our prayers.

We have supported the police investigation Operation Coverage, which has been comprehensive, and they have informed us that “should Right Reverend Hubert Victor Whitsey have been alive today, then the Police would have spoken to him in relation to 10 of the witness allegations.”

Anyone affected by today’s news should call the CCPAS helpline on 0303 003 11 11 who can offer help and signpost to church-related support and information or alternatively call the NSPCC 0808 800 5000. Anyone with further information on the case should go direct to the police on 101.

The Church will consider what lessons can be learnt from this case and whether any action needs to be taken as a result of what these enquiries have shown.”

 

Page last updated: 17th Oct 2017 11:01 AM

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Richard W. SymondsSimon Sarmientorobert marshallRowland WateridgeInterested Observer Recent comment authors
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Rowland Wateridge
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Rowland Wateridge

It’s important to read the terms of reference. Lessons have clearly been learned from the Bishop Bell case – a welcome sign. The crucial need for including a chronology has at last been recognised.

Richard W. Symonds
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Richard W. Symonds

Future Safeguarding Conferences, Seminars and Training Courses will be indebted to Bishop Bell for providing them with a primary care study on ‘How Not To Do Safeguarding.

The crucial need for a Chronology will also be fully recognised in the future – something which the present Church hierarchy chooses to ignore in the Bell Bell case:

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

Rowland Wateridge
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Rowland Wateridge

That’s a different kind of chronology which we discussed on an earlier thread – essentially it deals with Bishop Bell’s reputation. The chronology essential to investigating acts of alleged abuse is a factual one: names of people, dates and places, i.e., where they were on those dates, dates from contemporary documents, diaries, public records etc., etc. It’s a forensic analysis, and what one expects the police and other investigators do as a matter of course. That, I am certain, is what will be required by this review. My experience has been that a chronology can support a survivor’s claim –… Read more »

Richard W. Symonds
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Richard W. Symonds

A 14-Point ‘Mistaken Identity’ Report is in preparation to address the points you raise – regarding Bishop Bell:

https://richardwsymonds.wordpress.com/2019/05/05/bishop-bell-anniversary-report-to-be-released-on-oct-3-2019-the-case-for-mistaken-identity/

Interested Observer
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Interested Observer

It’s a very interesting set of terms of reference. At 7.4 it explicitly says that the purpose is not to make a finding of fact, although inevitably there will be some balance of probabilities assumptions. The purpose of the review is explicitly to deal with why the allegations were not dealt with effectively or transparently, not (or at least, only incidentally) whether the accusations have merit. Even if the bishop were are honest as the day is long, the accusations should nonetheless have been dealt with effectively; they were not. One reason amongst many why the Bell case is sui… Read more »

Rowland Wateridge
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Rowland Wateridge

7.4 actually states:
7.4 The Reviewer will not be able to make formal findings of fact but is asked to give a view, informed by his professional judgment, as to what version of events seems most likely, on the balance of probabilities.

Not quite the same as your summary. It’s a more explicit instruction. He is “asked to give a view” on the balance of probabilities which is essentially what a judge does in a civil court hearing, applying the standard burden of proof in such cases. (In this context ‘asked’ means ‘instructed’.)

Richard W. Symonds
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Richard W. Symonds

Following completion of the short Report for The Bell Society- “Footprints In The Sand”:

https://richardwsymonds.wordpress.com/2019/05/20/may-20-2019-footprints-in-the-sand-tracking-changes-in-online-content-chichester-cathedral-website-a-short-report-for-the-bell-society-by-peter-crosskey/

another report is in preparation:

“How Not To Do Safeguarding – 7 Easy Steps”

robert marshall
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robert marshall

That page last updated date!! – I think you need to link here https://www.chester.anglican.org/news/terms-of-independent-lessons-learnt-review-announced.php

Richard W. Symonds
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Richard W. Symonds

“The Church will consider what lessons can be learnt from this case and whether any action needs to be taken as a result of what these enquiries have shown.”

If the Church thinks people are going to wait around for them while they “consider”, they would be very wrong.