Thinking Anglicans

Sexual abuse survivors respond to SCIE report

In response to the report linked in the preceding article, the following press release has been issued:

SURVIVORS RESPONSE TO CHURCH ABUSE REPORT

Sent on behalf of MACSAS* and a number of survivors of abuse in a church context

Thursday 4th April 2019  

Today’s report from the Social Care Institute for Excellence (SCIE) illustrates the Church of England’s comprehensive failure in the treatment of victims of its own abuse. The church’s leaders should now be putting their hands up to their collective and individual failure to respond authentically and honestly to survivors.

SCIE’s independent research indicates that less than one in five people who reported abuse in the church say that they received a satisfactory response, and more than half never received any meaningful response at all. [2.1.1] The report also speaks of the church’s failure to understand the lifelong impact of abuse, and its failure to keep the victim at the centre of its response. [8.1.2]

Those of us whose lives have been devastated by clergy abuse know this from long and bitter experience. We are victimized first by our abusers, and again by the church’s “defensive responses” to criticism of its failings.

For many years the Church of England has responded to the crisis of clergy abuse by saying “You can trust us. We’ve got this in hand.” The SCIE report confirms what we have known all along – that the church can no longer be trusted to manage disclosures of abuse. We repeat our call that this work should be handed over to a fully independent body. The church’s General Synod must be allowed proper time to debate these findings – preferably at an Extraordinary Meeting at which survivors can contribute their expertise, as recommended by the report.

Notes

The full report can be found at http://tinyurl.com/yyfqxvlj

The Church of England’s response can be found at http://tinyurl.com/y425ykd4

*MACSAS (Minister and Clergy Sexual Abuse Survivors)     www.macsas.org.uk

For more information contact Andrew Graystone    

07772 710090

andrew.graystone1@btinternet.com

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Richard W. SymondsMark BennetSusannah ClarkAnthony ArcherJohn Swanson Recent comment authors
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Matthew Ineson
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Matthew Ineson

They should resign and all safeguarding handed over to an independent body. The church ‘hierarchy’ won’t want this of course. It opens too many cans of worms….

Stanley Monkhouse
Guest

The majority of English people, I suggest, know nothing of all this, not because they don’t care about abuse, but because the Church of England is completely irrelevant to them—it’s much less important to them than, say, what’s happening in Corrie or Eastenders or Holby. And if this topic is raised—I know from experience—the response is “what do you expect from vicars?” Mr Ineson is absolutely right—the sooner safeguarding is in the hands of an independent body, the better. The church is manifestly, perhaps criminally, incompetent.

Susannah Clark
Guest
Susannah Clark

Something which sits a little uncomfortably with me, is I wonder how ‘Carol’ feels about the huge campaign to ‘rehabilitate’ George Bell? My instinct tells me there needs to be process to adequately protect and independently attempt to seek out truth and do justice both for the possible survivors, and those who have claims laid against them. How do you square that circle? If I had been ‘Carol’ and **IF** her allegations of abuse are true, how devastating that George Bell – her alleged abuser has been lionised and championed by so many people. I’m not saying he shouldn’t be… Read more »

Richard W. Symonds
Guest

Susannah, you are not alone in being worried for ‘Carol’. It is fully acknowledged, by all those concerned, she was abused as a child by someone within the Chichester Cathedral precincts. Thus, she must be fully supported in every way possible. No-one is seriously questioning that. But what is being seriously questioned is whether the abuser was the wartime Bishop of Chichester George Bell. There is now clear evidence emerging that it was a case of mistaken identity. If you add that to the shocking findings of the Carlile and Briden Reports, what emerges is a monstrous miscarriage of justice… Read more »

Richard W. Symonds
Guest

If anyone is interested in following the “evidence emerging that it was a case of mistaken identity”, the following article might be of value as a starting-point:

https://theukdatabase.com/2014/07/09/terence-banks-chichesterhammersmith/

Susannah Clark
Guest
Susannah Clark

“There is now clear evidence emerging that it was a case of mistaken identity.” Thank you for the link, Richard. Without making any judgment at all about George Bell, because I am in no position to do so, the link you provided does not seem to me in any way to provide “clear evidence”. Yes it is clear evidence that there was a paedophile – attracted to boys – committing foul crimes at Chichester. But it is not “clear evidence” that therefore he was the person who abused ‘Carol’. I wonder what ‘Carol’ herself thinks about that suggestion? Who is… Read more »

Richard W. Symonds
Guest

Thank you for your reply Susannah. After 4 years campaigning on this issue, I have learned many things. One of those things is not to indulge in “wishful thinking” and concentrate on facts – not opinions and speculations. So, I respectfully strongly disagree with you. The Church is not vigorously pursuing the case of mistaken identity in the Bishop Bell injustice. Why? I am trying to make the case of mistaken identity – based on facts – following on from Geoffrey Boys presentation at the ‘Rebuilding Bridges’ conference last February. It has not been possible for me – as a… Read more »

Susannah Clark
Guest
Susannah Clark

“I have been told – from an extremely reliable source – that Terence Banks admitted at this trial in May 2001 that his father Eric (and others) sexually abused him as a child. If that is correct, that would put Eric Banks ‘in the frame’ as the most likely abuser of ‘Carol’ when she was a child. If that is correct, then that is proof enough – as I see it – that Bishop Bell was mistakenly identified as the abuser of ‘Carol’.” I’m really sorry, Richard, but I see no logic in this at all – only obsession. I… Read more »

Kate
Guest
Kate

I absolutely agree. I deplore the championing of the reputation of the reputation of a dead man over the feelings of a living woman. I am further discomfited that most of those championing George Bell seem to be men too.

Richard W. Symonds
Guest

Kate, I’m sorry, but I really cannot allow you get away with such ill-informed c…comments. The critical issues at stake have nothing whatever to do with “the reputation of a dead man over the feelings of a living woman”. As for you being “discomfited that most of those championing George Bell seem to be men too”, I’m afraid to say that only betrays how sadly and badly ill-informed you actually are. Even though I might well be wasting my time, I am more than happy to provide you with a long list of women who are campaigning far more vigorously… Read more »

Peterpi -- Peter Gross
Guest
Peterpi -- Peter Gross

Amen and thank you, Kate!
There does seem to be an enormous push to rehabilitate Bishop George Bell — at the expense of “Carol”. Oh, it must be mistaken identity. Oh, another individual has admitted to being a pedophile — so it can’t be Bishop Bell. Just for the record, more than one person at a time can commit egregious acts.
Because Carol can’t possibly be correct, … can she?
I mean “Carol” was just an ordinary parishioner, and Bishop Bell was such an amazing bishop. He couldn’t have any dark side.

Richard W. Symonds
Guest

Mr Gross, it isn’t doubted ‘Carol’ was abused as a very young child. She is believed. What is being doubted is her belief it was Bishop Bell. And evidence clearly shows that doubt is well-founded.

Rowland Wateridge
Guest
Rowland Wateridge

Dear Peter Gross: I intended to steer clear of further comment on this subject, but given the more generous nature which you showed in earlier posts, I’m surprised that you should make this – sorry to be blunt – unworthy comment “such an amazing bishop”. Everyone accepts that Carol was abused, and we all sympathise with her (1) for that fact and (2) that the Church badly mishandled her claims initially, and then further, much later, managed to bungle the ‘official investigation’ which didn’t result in justice being achieved. It took Lord Carlile QC to sort out the resulting mess… Read more »

Richard W. Symonds
Guest

Mr Wateridge rightly says: “The question of possible mistaken identity isn’t to be dismissed so lightly. What is lacking…is input from people with the experience of investigating allegations of abuse…plus the necessary skills in evaluating evidence….Preparing a detailed chronology is the first and essential step in investigating these sad cases” A “detailed chronology” has already been prepared: https://richardwsymonds.wordpress.com/2016/12/17/justice-for-bishop-george-bell-of-chichester-october-2015-to-october-2017/ All it requires is someone “with the experience of investigating allegations of abuse…plus the necessary skills in evaluating evidence” to dissect this material to make a powerful, legal case of mistaken identity. The Church itself is best placed to do this –… Read more »

Richard W. Symonds
Guest

Joanna Bogle – the Roman Catholic writer and broadcaster – was Chair of the first of the three ‘Rebuilding Bridges’ conferences in February 2018. She also talked about the critical need to research, investigate and evaluate the exact details of when, where and who was in the Chichester Cathedral precincts at the time http://rebuildingbridges.org.uk/conference-proceedings/discussion/ “I would like to pick up the point about it not being a complex case. In one sense it is complex, years have elapsed, but I would like to add to this because this was my initial interest – I am an historian and most of… Read more »

Rowland Wateridge
Guest
Rowland Wateridge

Having spent much of the last two decades of my working life doing precisely the kind of investigations which Joanna Bogle describes, I can support much of what she says. But the “fiddly work” is extremely complex – maybe for the historian as she suggests, or, I would suggest better, a forensic lawyer with wider experience of many cases than the historian is likely to have met and the necessary knowledge how to access confidential material. Much of my work involved allegations made against alleged abusers who were deceased. As the survivors are, to the best, of my knowledge still… Read more »

Richard Ashby
Guest
Richard Ashby

I hesitate to join in this discussion but linking the issue of Bishop Bell to that of Terrence Banks is a massive red herring. A cursory examination of the dates would indicate that there can be no way in which the two cases are linked.

Richard W. Symonds
Guest

Mr Ashby, there is no “massive red herring” here – except the one which stinks from the head down. As explained above, it is the father of Terence Banks who is most likely to be the abuser of ‘Carol’ – thus the two cases are directly linked. We already know Banks Jnr was abused as a child by “a teacher and other adults”. I am seeking confirmation that one of those adults was Banks Snr – and I have little doubt I will receive that confirmation very soon. In any event, even with the evidence already collated – not just… Read more »

Susannah Clark
Guest
Susannah Clark

” it can now safely be said the abuser of ‘Carol’ was NOT Bishop Bell.

It was a case of mistaken identity.”

Sorry, Richard, but this is just guesswork. There is zero evidence to back up your claim.

Richard W. Symonds
Guest

I very strongly disagree with you Susannah. But if you are are unhappy with my analysis, logic, reasoning and/or writing style, then I would encourage you to read the analysis, logic, reasoning and/or writing style of the George Bell Group:
https://anglicanmainstream.org/george-bell-group/
or
The Carmi Report, or
The Henriques Report, or
The Carlile Report, or
The Briden Report

Richard W. Symonds
Guest

Sorry, Susannah, but this is just not guesswork. There is considerable evidence to back up my claim.

Susannah Clark
Guest
Susannah Clark

Richard, thank you for this discourse. I am not trying to be hostile, merely logical. You claim ‘Carol’s’ assertion that she was abused by George Bell “WAS” a case of mistaken identity. You assert that as a fact. I suggest to you that that is guesswork, not fact. On the basis of the link you gave me – that there was someone else abusing boys at the time (I presume you mean Terence Banks’ father) – I questioned how you can so firmly state as fact that ‘Carol’ identified George Bell incorrectly. You replied “Sorry, Susannah, but this is just… Read more »

Richard W. Symonds
Guest

Susannah, you say: “I’m just looking for the logic with which you may support your claim. It’s not logical to say that because some guy was abusing his son, therefore George Bell was not the abuser of ‘Carol’” “Logic” is only a servant – not the master – in terms of seeking and finding the truth. In this case, no one will ever know the truth as to who was the abuser of ‘Carol’ when she was a child. Nobody can prove it was Bishop Bell. Nobody can prove it wasn’t Bishop Bell. So, in the absence of proof, we… Read more »

Susannah Clark
Guest
Susannah Clark

Richard, hi. You say: “Nobody can prove it was Bishop Bell. Nobody can prove it wasn’t Bishop Bell.” But you also say: “It can now safely be said the abuser of ‘Carol’ was NOT Bishop Bell. It was a case of mistaken identity.” How are those two statements compatible? In the absence of proof, how can you ‘safely’ and surely say he didn’t abuse the poor woman, and state as fact that it was a case of mistaken identity? I find your ‘safe’ assertion of fact unsafe. It’s certainly unsafe for ‘Carol’ and has no place in any process. Logic… Read more »

Richard W. Symonds
Guest

Hi Susanna. My ‘passion’ (eg feelings & emotions) springs more from a very deep sense of injustice than anything else. The former Archbishop of Carey George Carey expresses this far better than myself – in his letter to the Bishop of Chichester Martin Warner: “In the case of George Bell you have stated that ‘George Bell cannot be proven guilty’. Ipso facto, under our law, he is innocent…I do so hope that you will find a way to finish off that statement that ‘George Bell cannot be proven guilty’ with the corresponding conclusion ‘therefore he must be considered entirely innocent’… Read more »

Susannah Clark
Guest
Susannah Clark

Richard, I recognise and respect your desire for justice. Given the way this case was handled, people have significant grounds for feeling aggrieved, not for themselves but potentially for all victims and wrongly accused, and their relatives. For the very reason that people suffer abuse, or suffer false accusations, it’s vital improved process is introduced. However I believe that, however emotive these issues, impartiality is essential as well as very precise analysis and reporting (as far as that is possible). I have challenged you on your assertion that this “WAS” a case of mistaken identity, but you haven’t actually responded… Read more »

Richard W. Symonds
Guest

Susannah, you say: “It’s a fact that George Bell may or may not be guilty and that uncertainty remains. We owe ‘Carol’ that recognition” I take very serious issue with that last sentence. As I have already said, the professional approach is to neither believe nor disbelieve ‘Carol’ and her allegation. There is no right or entitlement for ‘Carol’ to be believed that it was Bishop Bell who abused her, but there is a right and entitlement for ‘Carol’ to be treated with respect, to take her allegation seriously, to listen to her with compassion, and to record the facts… Read more »

John Swanson
Guest
John Swanson

“Bishop Bell cannot be proven guilty thus, ipso facto, he is innocent in law – and the law must be upheld. No uncertainty can or should remain.”

Richard, various people have explained why the “innocent until proven guilty” principle applies in criminal law but not in other contexts. You seem to me to be making a comment that is valid in the criminal law context, but then to be seeking to extend that to other contexts where it simply doesn’t apply.

Richard W. Symonds
Guest

John, I agree with you the Presumption of Innocence principle “applies in criminal law but not in other contexts”, but I do not agree with you “it simply doesn’t apply” in the Bishop Bell case. As I read it (as a non-lawyer), ‘Carol’ has made an accusation against Bishop Bell which would be considered a criminal act if he was alive; therefore criminal law can act as a general guideline. Regarding the deceased Bishop Bell, the Church decided to take the route of civil law ‘on the balance of probabilities’. But one of their basic mistakes – or fundamental errors… Read more »

Richard W. Symonds
Guest

May I just add something which relates, perhaps, to one of my prinary motivations for immersing myself in this injustice. I am not really driven (blinded?) by the fact Bishop Bell was such a great bishop – almost a saint – so it is impossible to believe he could possibly be paedophile. It is more to do with this: What if my late father, or one of my living sons, were accused of such evil acts…and I knew (and had evidence) they were not guilty of those crimes? What would I do – or try and do? What would you… Read more »

Susannah Clark
Guest
Susannah Clark

Richard, 1. Bishop Bell’s niece *knows* (with evidence) that ‘Carol’ is mistaken and her uncle is innocent? That’s not true, is it? She can’t. She wasn’t there. 2. If my father (who died when I was young) was accused of abuse against an ordinary decent woman, I would simply want to know what actually happened as far as possible. It’s not about my father being proved ‘innocent’ in the absence of evidence one way or the other. It’s about a decency of process, and that decency should extend to the accuser, because how would I know she wasn’t telling the… Read more »

Richard W. Symonds
Guest

Susannah, 1. This was a hypothetical example. I wasn’t equating it with Bishop Bell’s niece Barbara Whitley. But a double problem is highlighted by your mention of Bishop Bell’s niece and ‘Carol’. Both think they are right. ‘Carol’ thinks Bishop Bell is guilty. Barbara Whitley thinks Bishop Bell is innocent. Both are deeply upset. Both of them cannot be right. One is wrong. Which one? 2. If a deceased, loved father is accused of abusing a particular child at a given time – with the story splashed over all the front pages – and a living member of that loving… Read more »

Richard Ashby
Guest
Richard Ashby

My apologies. Somehow I had missed your previous postings. Although I am aware of various speculations in this area I was not aware that they had either gone beyond speculation nor that they had been committed to print. And while I have no wish to defend Eric Banks, who I knew, neither would I wish to see the same errors repeated with him as have been made with Bishop Bell.

Richard W. Symonds
Guest

Mr Ashby, I also very much share your wish not “to see the same errors repeated with him (Eric Banks) as have been made with Bishop Bell”.

That is why I am being very careful in my analysis of this article about his son Terence (and seek confirmation on certain details):

https://theukdatabase.com/2014/07/09/terence-banks-chichesterhammersmith/

Bishop of Chichester Martin Warner has said of the Bishop Bell case: “The legitimate quest for certainty has been defeated by the nature of the case and the passage of time”.

That is clearly nonsense.

Janet Fife
Guest
Janet Fife

As far as I recollect the findings of Lord Carlile’s review, he did suggest it might have been a case of mistaken identity. And he certainly suggested that Bell was not guilty; more clearly in his comments after publication than in the report itself. Unfortunately, the Church has a track record of refusing to accept the findings of the various independent reviews which it has commissioned. And when it does appear to accept findings, it fails to implement them (as with the Eliot Report). There’s more than a touch of Sir Humphrey in the way the Church deals with these… Read more »

Interested Observer
Guest
Interested Observer

What worries me about a lot of the “historic abuse” investigations is that the innocent are punished on behalf of the uninvestigated guilty, and the less innocent are going to be punished for the wrong crimes. To take an related example elsewhere both denominationally and geographically, it’s pretty clear that George Pell was blind to abuse happening around him, and then acted to minimise and deflect subsequent allegations; equally, the things he has actually been convicted of look pretty thin. But the jury probably convicted him on the basis of his perceived past behaviour, not what he was actually on… Read more »

John Swanson
Guest
John Swanson

I think there should indeed be unease about the effect of the Bell fiasco on, not just Carol, but the cause of child protection (and safeguarding more generally) as a whole. It seems pretty likely that Bell did not abuse anyone, and it seems pretty much certain that, regardless of the way the facts turned out, the CofE process was lamentable and unfair. That has led many people to defend Bell. So far, so good. Some of the people who are defending Bell are people with a passion for justice and truth wherever it is found, people who are likely… Read more »

Richard W. Symonds
Guest

Mr Swanson, you say “…’innocent until proven guilty’ is a fine principle in the right place, but it is, it seems to me, fundamentally incompatible with the safeguarding principle that protecting vulnerable people is the top priority”. I do not agree it is “fundamentally incompatible”. This reminds me of what Poland’s new mayor in Gdansk recently stated when a famed priest’s statue was toppled amid ‘paedomania’ riots in the capital: “While I value the presumption of innocence principle, there can only be one decision given the current level of emotions”. This is a dangerous statement. Why? Because the presumption of… Read more »

Interested Observer
Guest
Interested Observer

“Because the presumption of innocence – not the presumption of guilt – must be held sacred” We clearly don’t do that. If a surgeon is thought to be operating incompetently, or a pilot is thought to be unsafe, they are suspended pending investigation. That’s always claimed to be “without prejudice” but it has devastating effects on their lives and careers even if they are subsequently exonerated. But should we allow pilots who are thought to be unsafe to fly commercial airlines because their right to be assumed innocent is sacred? If there is credible suspicion against someone in safeguarding terms,… Read more »

Susannah Clark
Guest
Susannah Clark

“It seems pretty likely that Bell did not abuse anyone…”

With all due respect to George Bell, and indeed to you John, why is it “pretty likely”?

Richard W. Symonds
Guest

“The Bishop of Chichester Martin Warner, who presided over the original discredited investigation, claimed he was unable to speak with any certainty owing to the ‘passage of time’. Sadly, I am drawn to the conclusion that both the Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby – who has not yet withdrawn his statement about there being a ‘significant cloud’ over Bishop Bell’s name – and the Bishop of Chichester [notwithstanding the presumption of innocence; the findings of an independent group of academics; nor the detailed reports by Lord Carlile, and more recently – with regard to a subsequent case – by Timothy… Read more »

Barry
Guest
Barry

Susannah, I always read your contributions with interest and profit, but this time I am not altogether with you. What is at issue in the Bishop Bell case is evidence, and the evidence submitted to support Carol’s claims that she was abused by him does not meet standards which would hold up in a court where, as Mr Symonds says, we must assume innocence until compelling evidence of guilt is presented. However much we may dislike the idea, the law must be concerned with evidence and not feeling. Furthermore, everything that is known about Bishop Bell’s character, his convictions and… Read more »

Susannah Clark
Guest
Susannah Clark

It does not sound discourteous at all, Barry, and I thank you for your comments. The evidence is indeed “at issue” in the Bishop Bell case, but also “at issue” is a woman who has been abused, and who believes she is clear who abused her. I am completely open-minded about what may have actually happened, and I think that is the only sensible position to take. As I see it, there are two overriding people in this case who need protection. The primary one is ‘Carol’. The secondary one is Bishop Bell’s niece. In the absence of corroborating evidence,… Read more »

Janet Fife
Guest
Janet Fife

Susannah, have you read the Carlile Report, and Lord Carlile’s subsequent comments? I am a campaigner on behalf of abuse victims, as you may be aware; and on reading the report I was convinced that Bell was innocent. The probability is indeed that it was a case of mistaken identity. It might have been someone who lived in the Close, a man on the Bishop’s staff, or even someone who claimed to be the Bishop. We don’t know. But the evidence really doesn’t point to Bell. Victims and survivors aren’t served by the assumption that every allegation of abuse must… Read more »

Susannah Clark
Guest
Susannah Clark

Yes Janet, I have read the Carlile Report. But I fail to see – in the absence of witnesses or a film of the event – how anyone can say with any certainty that George Bell was innocent. There is no certainty at all. I don’t see why you claim there is a ‘probability’ that it’s a case of ‘mistaken identity’. It seems reasonable to say there is a ‘possibility’ of mistaken identity – but unless you are saying that the majority of complainants about abuse years ago have mistaken the identity of their abusers (which I think you would… Read more »

peterpi - Peter Gross
Guest
peterpi - Peter Gross

Thank you, Susannah Clark You write elegant defenses of your point of view. On the one hand, we have Bishop George Bell and his long career of good works. They are to be treated with respect. On the other hand, we have “Carol” and her accusation, which also deserves respect. This far out from the actual events, I don’t know if we can “definitively” narrow it down to more than that. That circle cannot be squared. From that basis, I think it is close to being callous to simply assume that “Carol” was mistaken in her identification, with nothing to… Read more »

Richard W. Symonds
Guest

The professional approach is to neither believe nor disbelieve the complainant and their allegation [eg ‘Carol’]. 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. It would appear the Church regarded ‘Carol’ as a victim to be believed at all costs. There seems to have been a panicked rush to judgement in which an astonishing lack of judgement was made manifest. Bishop Bell was an easy target,… Read more »

Rowland Wateridge
Guest
Rowland Wateridge

I think this is generally a fair comment. The ‘problem’ – or a problem – is that the burden of proof in deciding claims is the civil one ‘on the balance of probabilities’ – which someone on an earlier thread described as “unrealistic and unreasonable”, notwithstanding that it is the law of the land. In the case of a deceased abuser (or alleged abuser) unable to give evidence on his/ her own behalf, it might be felt that the civil test is too generous. Lord Carlile considered the point, and upheld that the civil one is the appropriate standard. I… Read more »

Rowland Wateridge
Guest
Rowland Wateridge

I hadn’t seen Susannah Clark’s or Richard Symonds’ posts before offering my contribution. May I add, from my earlier reply to Peter Gross:

… Carol is to be fully supported. Many of us have said this all along. The Church’s pastoral duties and the investigation of allegations are not incompatible, but the two functions are different and should be carried out by the people properly qualified to do them.

Richard W. Symonds
Guest

The two functions [pastoral duties and investigation of allegations] should be separated immediately, before any further pain and suffering is inflicted on the abused – and those falsely and wrongfully accused of abuse. The damage already done is immeasurable. As Stanley Monkhouse has already said [in the second post of this long thread]: “Mr Ineson is absolutely right—the sooner safeguarding is in the hands of an independent body, the better. The church is manifestly, perhaps criminally, incompetent”. The Church is ‘marking its own homework’ when it comes to Safeguarding. That can never be right. The second function (investigation of allegations)… Read more »

John Swanson
Guest
John Swanson

The discussion about what the evidence shows has progressed considerably elsewhere in this thread since my comment, but just to answer your question: I emphatically do not think Bell’s innocence is “pretty likely” because of his status as a bishop or his reputation as a good man. I think it is “pretty likely” based on Carlile’s conclusions and on the various suggestions that have emerged about the layout of the palace and the dates. I do not know whether he is innocent or guilty, it’s just the sense I have of where the available evidence probably points. But the point… Read more »

Richard W. Symonds
Guest

“My sense is that the obvious failings in process over Bell have given some people a validation for their scepticism about safeguarding procedures in general”

Not without good reason.

No-one is safe (child, adult, abused, abuser or wrongfully accused) under the Church’s present safeguarding procedures. They are ‘marking their own homework’.

The sooner such matters are the responsibility of an independent body the better.

Anthony Archer
Guest
Anthony Archer

While I believe there is good progress on driving culture change, the writing is on the wall for the future of the Church of England marking its own homework. IICSA is highly likely to recommend an independent safeguarding body, given the myriad failures over non-recent cases, most of which seem to me to require a completely fresh start. The Church will have to pay. I don’t know what the current aggregate spend on safeguarding is (a good question for General Synod), both the NST and individual dioceses, but I doubt the budget for a new body would be much less… Read more »

Susannah Clark
Guest
Susannah Clark

John, although I don’t attribute those traits to anyone posting here in this thread, I think that final sentence of yours is a very acute observation. And I appreciate the precision of your words. Like it or not, what we have here in this case is a woman not being believed, and if I may say so as a woman myself, predominantly male voices intent on ‘mansplaining’ why the man with the reputation should be believed but the (by all reports) good and decent woman should not be. When that extends to stating as FACT that her claims are wrong… Read more »

Susannah Clark
Guest
Susannah Clark

I’m going to stop commenting further on this thread, because I have commented a lot, and probably drowned out other voices, for which I apologise. To be fair on myself, I have not made a single comment on the Bishop Bell case before, and my only remarks have been on this page in the past two or three days. I avoided commenting over the past few years. I just don’t think anyone can say, or should say, that there is any certainty in the case of Bishop Bell. And I believe that ‘Carol’ must continue to be taken seriously in… Read more »

Richard W. Symonds
Guest

“The precise and actual fact at the heart of this case is that we can have no final certainty about what happened” Indeed – and that’s why we have a justice system with its ‘checks & balances’, defence & prosecution, judges & juries, law courts & evidence-building et al. It’s not a perfect system by any means, but it’s preferable to the ‘Rule of the Mob’ ‘Kangaroo Courts’ and the ‘Court of Public Opinion & Prejudice’. The Church – and others – seem to have lost sight of that fact, especially in the Bishop Bell case. Talking of FACT, this… Read more »

Richard W. Symonds
Guest

The Church’s biggest mistake – and it is a very serious one with serious consequences – has been to reinforce the idea in the mind of the elderly ‘Carol’ that Bishop Bell was her abuser when she was a child – and no one else.

Richard W. Symonds
Guest

The strongest of childhood memories can never be a concrete fact.

‘Carol’ has the right to be listened to and be taken seriously. She does not have the right to be believed that it was Bishop Bell – and only Bishop Bell – who abused her. That does a disservice both to her and Bishop Bell – and many others.

Mark Bennet
Guest
Mark Bennet

I have no idea why so many of the comments on this report revert to discussions of known high-profile cases (or one specific high-profile case) – this is something the report itself does well to avoid, so it can address specific issues of current and future practice. If those who care enough to comment on this thread can’t get hold of the weight of the material in the report, why do we imagine we can expect bishops and others to do any better? There is here a substantial challenge to the church (that is all of us, not just bishops)… Read more »

Richard W. Symonds
Guest

Fine words Mr Bennet – but fine words are not enough. I can’t see any real progress being made if those at the top of the ‘safeguarding tree’ are unable to admit they were wrong and/or refuse to put things right…as in the Bishop Bell case (and many others)

Mark Bennet
Guest
Mark Bennet

You might do better to refer to section 8.4 of the report to make your case – then we would be on topic.

Richard W. Symonds
Guest

Thank you Mr Bennet for your specific referral to Section 8.4 of the SCIE Abuse report: “People stressed that what they need to see is the Church responding with urgency and thoroughness, with openness and honesty. They need to see humility and readiness from all individuals to acknowledge past failings, regardless of the person’s current status within the Church….a blame culture often inhibits such openness and honesty about mistakes. The Church has potentially additional inhibitors, not least the question of how acceptable it is deemed to be for a person of God to get things wrong in life” Archbishop of… Read more »

Richard W. Symonds
Guest

“there will be a great deal of fine tuning to do as institutional expertise grows and if/when the culture of the church in relation to safeguarding changes”

I can see neither growth nor change until, for example, the practice of virtue-signalling and scapegoating is replaced by humility and apology – from the top down.

Richard W. Symonds
Guest

Even though much of the evidence has been burnt:

https://www.christiantoday.com/article/clergy-burnt-church-files-after-being-accused-of-covering-up-abuse-inquiry-hears/127645.htm

more evidence is emerging that a known paedophile was living within the Cathedral precincts at the time ‘Carol’ was abused as a young child – by a man in black “wearing gaiters”. It was not Bishop Bell.