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Source: (consider it) Thread: The Carlile Report and George Bell
L'organist
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So Lord Carlile of Berriew has taken a look at some of the George Bell affair and issued his report. As some of us had already worked out, the church - at all levels - was spectacularly cack-handed in the way it dealt with the whole thing and subsequent attempts to try to justify its actions have been worse.

No proper investigation, no attempt to trace anyone who could cast light on the period in question, etc, etc, etc. To this day, no-one from either the diocese or Lambeth has taken the trouble to speak to George Bell's domestic chaplain, or the niece of the Bell's housekeeper who lived in the Palace in Chichester.

IMV its one thing for the church to fall over itself to try to make amends for not listening to complaints in past years, its quite another to decide - as seems to have been the case - that it is preferable to drag a deceased man's name and reputation through the mud in the name of expediency and being seen to have "learned lessons".

It is clear from reading the report that, far from it being an open-and-shut case of George Bell being an abuser, there is serious doubt that the complainant (who, Carlile makes very clear, should NOT have been described as a "victim") had any grounds to make the complaint, or even whether she had ever been to the Palace in Chichester. Evidence from medical professionals, and others, was ignored in favour of seeking to minimise any payment made to the complainant.

Even now Lambeth is issuing statements saying they disagree with Carlile's conclusions: unbelievable; and Peter Hancock, lead bishop on safeguarding, issues a statement saying
quote:
We recognise that Carol has suffered pain, as have surviving relatives of Bishop Bell. We are sorry that the Church has added to that pain through its handling of this case.
In other words, he still refuses to even mention the possibility that there has been serious character assassination purely in the name of expediency and saving money. Meanwhile poor old Martin Warner, bishop of Chichester, is pushed front-and-centre to try to steer between the scylla of stating there may have been a false accusation and charybdis of acknowledging that the systems and processes of the CofE are fatally flawed.

It is beyond high time that the CofE stopped being so amateurish and put its administrative house in order. Before that happens, George Bell should be restored to his previous position of esteem, commemorated in the liturgical calendar, and all those institutions which were hastily re-named return to their original title.

[ 16. December 2017, 11:03: Message edited by: L'organist ]

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Rara temporum felicitate ubi sentire quae velis et quae sentias dicere licet

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Barnabas62
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Early warning. Please remember Commandment 7 and our relative poverty, and be very careful how you comment, directly or indirectly, about the character and actions of folks who are still alive.

It's a valid topic for serious discussion and there is information in the public domain. But handle with care.

Barnabas62
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L'organist
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Thanks for the hostly advice, duly noted and will be adhered to.

But in raising the point about referring to the person making the allegation in the case of George Bell, Carlile himself makes the point that they should have been referred to throughout as a "complainant", not as a victim; in this he was echoing the advice and ruling of Sir Richard Henriques in his Report on the debacle of the Metropolitan Police's Operation Midland and other investigations.

Lord Carlile links the allegations made against George Bell with those made about Lord Brittan and Lord Bramall in relation to the likelihood of them being correctly made and in being badly handled.

What I was trying to point out in my first post is that not only does mud stick, but in the case of statements emanating from some CofE figures they seem unwilling to desist from trying to ensure that at least some of the mud flung is kept on the reputation of George Bell: in other words, neither ++Justin, +Hancock or +Warner seem able to issue a statement that even goes the limited distance of stating that they may have been wrong about Bell.

And that is the ultimate injustice because George Bell isn't here to defend himself and the CofE seems not only unable but entirely unwilling to accept that it may have got it wrong; the very limited terms of the enquiry that Lord Carlile was asked to make shows that very clearly.

It has been abundantly clear for decades that the CofE is lousy at dealing with people who allege clerical abuse; what the Bell affair has shown is that it is equally lousy at dealing with situations where people are, for whatever reason, wrongly accused of abuse. And in both cases the CofE seems unwilling to admit that it is in the wrong.

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Bishops Finger
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Alas, the Church of England is a company of poor, perishing, miserable sinners.

As are we all, which, I think, is why Our Blessed Lord warned about casting the first stone.

IJ

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mr cheesy
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It seems to me that there is a inherent problem that Lord Carlile of Berriew seemed to skate neatly over this morning whilst interviewed on the radio about his report: you can't defame the dead. And a dead man has no right to judicial process to "clear his name".

The only facts that we have are that someone accused George Bell of abuse decades after he died, that it took a long time for the church to recognise that these are/were credible and that the events described were a long, long time ago.

Now for all that Lord Carlile of Berriew blusters, the reality is that we actually can't tell what George Bell did or didn't do 60 years ago. The witness is/was apparently coherent and credible.

The church might be able to say that the accusations are out-of-character, but this has never stopped abusers before. The church might not be able to find corroborating evidence, but then what evidence would we expect to find 60 years later? The church might indeed have conducted a deficient investigation, but then it is quite hard to see what else they could have done other than listen to the witness report and determine that it sounded credible.

The opprobrium being flung at the Anglican structures, and at the Archbishop of Canterbury personally, seem to me to be quite far off the mark.

The church has a crappy record on believing people making reports of abuse. And the church isn't a historical or detective agency.

George Bell might well be an angelic figure in Anglican circles, but that doesn't in itself mean that a victim shouldn't be heard when the reports seem believable.

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arse

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Bishops Finger
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My sympathies are with the victim, of course, but also with +Martin Warner, trying to make sense of it all.

He started off as a server at Our Place - bet he wishes he'd stayed there.

IJ

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Our words are giants when they do us an injury, and dwarfs when they do us a service. (Wilkie Collins)

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Doc Tor
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I don't think the CofE, or any institution, needs a record on believing people making reports of abuse.

What they need is a record on taking such reports seriously and investigating them thoroughly and compassionately. As soon as we adopt the paradigm that all reports are believed (to be true), we start throwing innocent people under the bus.

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Forward the New Republic

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mr cheesy
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quote:
Originally posted by Doc Tor:
As soon as we adopt the paradigm that all reports are believed (to be true), we start throwing innocent people under the bus.

This particular guy is dead. That bus left long ago.

Unless you have some specific ideas about how an institution is supposed to verify a claim made about events 60 years ago, I'm not sure what you're suggesting should be done.

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arse

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Doc Tor
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quote:
Originally posted by mr cheesy:
quote:
Originally posted by Doc Tor:
As soon as we adopt the paradigm that all reports are believed (to be true), we start throwing innocent people under the bus.

This particular guy is dead. That bus left long ago.

Unless you have some specific ideas about how an institution is supposed to verify a claim made about events 60 years ago, I'm not sure what you're suggesting should be done.

By taking such claims seriously but not being credulous. Investigate the claim, and do the best possible job of either confirming or refuting it.

Yes, I'm aware that Bell is dead. So are a lot of people. I wouldn't want their posthumous reputation trashed by unsubstantiated accusations any more than I'd want them to lie untroubled by their hidden abuses.

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Forward the New Republic

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Dafyd
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In commemorating Bell we aren't just commemorating the man; we are commemorating his witness: his ecumenism; his opposition to anti-Semitism and Nazism; his opposition to indiscriminate methods of war and punishment of the whole German people. If we treat the man's reputation unjustly we treat his witness unjustly too.

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we remain, thanks to original sin, much in love with talking about, rather than with, one another. Rowan Williams

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Oscar the Grouch

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The stark reality is that the way this whole business has been handled means that we are never likely to get to the bottom of what actually happened.

I am fully prepared to believe that SOMETHING happened; I don't think "Carol" has made this all up. But equally I am aware that over a long period of time, memory alone cannot be 100% reliable. I have had personal experience of this just recently, when an event I attended as a child which I would have sworn took place in one manner has been proved to me beyond doubt to have happened in a very different way. In short - something I thought I had a clear memory of was shown to be wrong in significant ways. I don't want to belittle "Carol" or her pain, simply to point out that memory alone cannot be regarded as reliable, no matter how vivid that memory may be.

Regardless of the truth (or otherwise) of the matter, the C of E hierarchy come out of this looking extremely stupid and it ill-behoves them to try and dismiss Lord Carlile's criticisms and recommendations.

quote:
It is beyond high time that the CofE stopped being so amateurish and put its administrative house in order. Before that happens, George Bell should be restored to his previous position of esteem, commemorated in the liturgical calendar, and all those institutions which were hastily re-named return to their original title.
I agree with L'organist on this. As things stand at the moment, there is no justification for ditching all the things relating to Bishop Bell. To continue to do so will simply confirm that Welby et al are still determined to throw him under a bus for their own convenience.

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wild haggis
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Yes, he's dead, so can't speak up for himself. He may/may not be guilty. There are such things as false allegations. Why has this lady waited so long? How can you prove one way or another - if the alleged abuser is dead?

We don't know all the facts. There are one or two issues with the story...... But how can we possibly judge at this distance?

Yes, CofE in those days was lax.....but so was everyone else, including many parents who regularly beat, belted and slapped their kids never mind anything else. Do we then judge them all at this length of time? Mine would end up in prison for physical/emotional abuse today! Where do we stop?

We need to spend our energy in looking at more recent cases where people do need to be brought to justice. We need to ensure that we tighten up Safeguarding (not just of children) in churches. No use in condemning or tut-tutting if we don;t ensure users are safe.

Many churches still don't have policies or procedures, especially some of the New Churches. It's no good having a policy that has no procedures that are kept up to date or actions not enacted upon. That is what we need to be looking at - not historic cases where a person can't defend themselves nor justice carried out because they are dead.

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wild haggis

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Amos

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I've read the report in its entirety with its addenda, and agree with L'Organist and Dafyd.

My impression from cheesy's post is that he or she has not read the report.

It seems to me that Lord Carlile is better at lawyering than Hancock, Welby, and Warner are at being bishops.

There. I hope that keeps the Ship on the right side of the law.

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L'organist
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There is a further area of profound concern which is this:

The allegation levelled against George Bell was handled from 2014 onwards according to protocols that the CofE have decided should be the way forward for all such situations such as this - that a "Core Group" should be set up by the relevant diocese to investigate allegations, pass things on to the police (if they have not already been informed), liaise with the claimant, review all and any evidence uncovered, seek independent reports from medical professionals if any claim for compensation is sought, take legal advice about any such claim for compensation, etc.

Lord Carlile's review makes it clear that in the Bell case this "Core Group" was, in effect, no such thing: it had a membership that changed, most meetings took place without everyone in the group being present - maybe I'd better quote the report here
quote:
I derive the following conclusions from the whole of the picture given to me by Core Group members, and from the Group’s Minutes:
  • The Core Group was set up in an unmethodical and unplanned way, with neither terms of reference nor any clear direction as to how it would operate.
  • As a result, it became a confused and unstructured process, as several members confirmed.
  • Some members explicitly made it clear to me that they had no coherent notion of their roles or what was expected of them.
  • There was no consideration of the need for consistency of attendance or membership.
  • The members did not all see the same documents, nor all the documents relevant to their task.
  • There was no organised or valuable inquiry or investigation into the merits of the allegations, and the standpoint of Bishop Bell was never given parity or proportionality.
  • Indeed, the clear impression left is that the process was predicated on his guilt of what Carol alleged.
  • Despite some reservations, the process largely assumed the eventual public release of Bishop Bell’s name, and a summary of the alleged
    circumstances.
  • There was no focus on any special issues arising from the fact that Bishop Bell died in 1958.
  • There was no real attempt to inform any surviving member of his family.
  • No criminal law expert was instructed to be part of nor to advise the group.
  • It was not fully clear that the psychiatrists respectively were instructed on
    a different basis.
  • The discussion and approval of the apology letter and media statement was poorly structured and based on a false premise that disclosure was inevitable.
  • There was inadequate consideration of matters arising in this particular case that might have justified denying liability altogether, including the
    issue of the time bar for a claim.
  • There was inadequate consideration of matters arising in this particular case that might have justified a settlement of Carol’s claim on the basis of
    litigation risk, with a confidentiality clause including repayment for breach.

The is 15 major criticisms - not some minor differences, which is the impression that has been given by Bishop Hancock and Lambeth.

The first five points, in particular, should fill anyone with alarm since they show that even in the one area where one might have thought the CofE had at least some expertise - the setting-up and servicing of a committee - the whole process was chaotic and sub-standard.

Rather than trying to belittle Lord Carlile, or to protect its own back, what the hierarchy of the CofE should do now in relation to safeguarding is to acknowledge that it isn't up to the task and bring in real experts, not task well-meaning (?) clerics and diocesan staff with the job. Instead we get a statement from Bishop Hancock which includes this
quote:
... it is clear from the report and minutes of Core Group meetings that much professional care and discussion were taken over both agreeing the settlement with Carol and the decision to make this public.
In other words, the CofE's "Lead Safeguarding Bishop" thinks professional care and discussion were present in a group with a membership that had significant changes over a short period and some of whose members had no clear idea of what their purpose was - that was what they told Lord Carlile!

As for the criticism levelled at me for my OP (and others have levelled at Carlile) about the difficulty in investigating the claim made by "Carol" I can only quote the report again
quote:
Had the evidence my review has obtained without any particular difficulty (see section [H] below) been available to the Church and the CPS, I doubt that the test for a prosecution would have been passed. Had a prosecution been brought on the basis of that evidence, founded upon my experience and observations I judge the prospects of a successful prosecution as low. I would have expected experienced criminal counsel to have advised accordingly.
In other words, had the diocese bothered to check in Crockford whether or not George Bell's chaplain was still alive (he was) they could have asked for his recollections - Carlile did. Carlile also traced some of the complainant's family members - again, something neither the diocese nor Sussex Constabulary had even attempted.

Moreover, in cases such as this the release of details of the alleged abuser are frequently followed by an influx of other allegations: this did not happen in the case of George Bell. That is highly unusual and, while not guaranteeing innocence it does point towards it being more likely. There was someone who got in touch with Lord Carlile when his enquiry was announced - "Pauline" who, as a child of a domestic servant, "lived-in" at the Palace for the first 11 years of her life, which covered the entire period when the alleged abuse was supposed to have happened. To cut a long story short, I'll quote Carlile again
quote:
It is at least very possible, and in my view likely, that Pauline’s recollection broadly is correct. I tested her account, and
found it compelling. This does not necessarily negate what Carol has said – and it is not my role to choose between them. Nevertheless, had the Core Group been aware of this evidence, they might well have approached their task differently. I consider that an inquiry into the facts by somebody with criminal investigative experience could well have found her, especially after a call for evidence.

Can someone please explain to me how, after reading that (and much, much more) Lambeth Palace thinks it appropriate and right to issue a statement referring to "great wickedness" in relation to George Bell, all the while sticking to its guns that the decisions made in this case were fair and right.

If anyone - anyone - thinks this report is going to improve the public perception of the CofE in relation to clerical abuse they're deluding themselves. OK, so bad enough: but when reasoned (and reasonable) criticisms are levelled at the CofE it decides it "doesn't accept" them.

Mission anyone?

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Kaplan Corday
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quote:
Originally posted by Dafyd:
In commemorating Bell we aren't just commemorating the man; we are commemorating his witness: his ecumenism; his opposition to anti-Semitism and Nazism; his opposition to indiscriminate methods of war and punishment of the whole German people. If we treat the man's reputation unjustly we treat his witness unjustly too.

This raises once again the question of whether, and to what extent, a person's positive achievements can be negated by their (alleged) sexual failings.

Does George Orwell's use of young Burmese and Moroccan prostitutes negate in any way his anti-totalitarianism, for example, or Martin Luther King's serial adultery compromise his anti-racism?

I wrote a magazine article on this theme some years ago when Field Marshal William Slim, who defeated the Japanese in Burma, was accused of molesting some boys at an orphanage during his term as governor-general in Australia during the 1950s.

Is it too much to hope that we can simply and simultaneously commend the good in a person's life and condemn the bad?

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Amos

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In this case, 'the bad' is one uninvestigated allegation. Let's not forget that.

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Barnabas62
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I agree with L'organist's latest post. There were massive process errors in the operations of the Core Group. At the very least, that should be acknowledged, and not minimised.

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L'organist
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posted by Kaplan Corday
quote:
Is it too much to hope that we can simply and simultaneously commend the good in a person's life and condemn the bad?
The answer to your question is of course not.

Bus that is not what we are being asked to do in the case of George Bell. In his case, schools and other institutions have been re-named; his day of commemoration has been removed from the lectionary and liturgical calendar; friends and relatives who wish to remember a much loved man by placing flowers at his memorial in Chichester Cathedral have them removed and are told they are not allowed to remember this man. That goes way beyond what is reasonable even if there was overwhelming proof that the allegation was correct and proven.

The statements issued from 2015 have been loaded and unfair, calling the claimant a "survivor" and a "victim" without a shred of proof. In press briefings we were told that the claimant had not expressed any desire for monetary compensation, yet that is totally untrue: from first to last, every communication has mentioned compensation and two in relation to sums that might be obtained if they went to the Press. I feel bound to ask why Lambeth and the diocese were at such pains to either ignore or deny that was done: could it be that they assumed the rest of us would let it to unchecked and unquestioned?

In the name of simple justice this whole case needs to be re-examined and by a very different group from the rag-tag-and-bobtail crew - aka the Core Group - who have so far done both bell and "Carol" such dis-service so far. To properly and rigorously investigate cannot reach a definitive verdict, but it would be able to point to the probability of whether or not the allegation is true. And that is not to say that it would label the complainant as truthful or otherwise: but it would be a chance to give both of the people named in this allegation equal status.

To those who would say "Let it rest: George Bell is dead, has been for decades, and cannot be hurt by the allegation or smearing of his memory" I would say this: would you feel so sanguine if it were your father or much-loved Godfather?

In the meantime, if the CofE is genuinely interested in putting in-place rigorous and fair procedures for the investigation of abuse it must take on-board the work of Lord Carlile - dare I say they could do a lot worse than ask him to draft for them a set of protocols to be followed in such cases. Certainly, on the evidence of not only Lord Carlile's investigation but their reaction to it, the offices in Lambeth and the lead bishop for safeguarding appear to be entirely unsuitable to perform any such task.

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Callan
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I think, in the real world, we can hardly claim that someone was simultaneously a saint and a child molester.

I also think, that when I worked in law enforcement, if my colleagues had presented a case to a judge with the sort of omissions that were present in the case of George Bell, the case would have been thrown out and they would have been looking at a move from Investigation to a new and exciting career managing the Reprographics room.

I can understand why those involved wanted to demonstrate a decisive break with the past. But what they have appeared to have demonstrated is the truth of Martin Luther's dictum that human beings resemble a drunk, trying to mount a horse. Having fallen off one side they promptly remount, only to fall off the other.

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Kaplan Corday
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I was not assuming Bell's guilt in my last post,
which is why I included the word "alleged" in parenthesis.

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Barnabas62
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quote:
Originally posted by L'organist:

In the meantime, if the CofE is genuinely interested in putting in-place rigorous and fair procedures for the investigation of abuse it must take on-board the work of Lord Carlile - dare I say they could do a lot worse than ask him to draft for them a set of protocols to be followed in such cases.

Agreed again.

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Kwesi
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quote:
mr cheesy: Now for all that Lord Carlile of Berriew blusters, the reality is that we actually can't tell what George Bell did or didn't do 60 years ago.
.........errrrr, doesn't this come under 'innocent until proved guilty'?
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mr cheesy
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quote:
Originally posted by L'organist:


Bus that is not what we are being asked to do in the case of George Bell. In his case, schools and other institutions have been re-named; his day of commemoration has been removed from the lectionary and liturgical calendar;

Yeah. I can see this is painful for some, but I struggle to see this as being as bad as you're suggesting. Again, we don't actually know the truth of the allegations, if at some point in the future it was possible to be absolutely sure that they were true, it would be uncomfortable to have these things in place.

The alternative that you are suggesting appears to be to continue with these things until such time as overwhelming proof emerges that the individual isn't worthy of them.

quote:
friends and relatives who wish to remember a much loved man by placing flowers at his memorial in Chichester Cathedral have them removed and are told they are not allowed to remember this man.
This does seem harsh and unnecessary if it is true.

quote:
That goes way beyond what is reasonable even if there was overwhelming proof that the allegation was correct and proven.
The flower thing does. The former, not so much.

quote:
The statements issued from 2015 have been loaded and unfair, calling the claimant a "survivor" and a "victim" without a shred of proof.
This isn't quite true - the witness statement is proof, and the individual concerned has been determined to be a coherent witness. What there is missing is corroborating proof, but again it is hard to see what there could be so long after the event.

A couple of people were not spoken to by the review. But in-and-of-itself that doesn't prove that the events didn't happen.

quote:
In press briefings we were told that the claimant had not expressed any desire for monetary compensation, yet that is totally untrue: from first to last, every communication has mentioned compensation and two in relation to sums that might be obtained if they went to the Press. I feel bound to ask why Lambeth and the diocese were at such pains to either ignore or deny that was done: could it be that they assumed the rest of us would let it to unchecked and unquestioned?
No idea. That's pretty weird.

quote:
In the name of simple justice this whole case needs to be re-examined and by a very different group from the rag-tag-and-bobtail crew - aka the Core Group - who have so far done both bell and "Carol" such dis-service so far. To properly and rigorously investigate cannot reach a definitive verdict, but it would be able to point to the probability of whether or not the allegation is true. And that is not to say that it would label the complainant as truthful or otherwise: but it would be a chance to give both of the people named in this allegation equal status.
How exactly are you imagining that a new group would be able to come to a firm (balance of probabilities) conclusion about something that happened 60 years ago? Most of the relevant witnesses are dead, paperwork is likely missing and there are strong personal reasons for some to defend the name of Bell (including, let's be clear Lord Carlile of Berriew who was baptised by him).

I see the criticism that the original group wasn't properly set up, but then we're talking about something that happened a very long time ago. Unless one is planning to engage professional historians and researchers - and even then accept that firm conclusions may not be possible because the information isn't available - it is hard to see how this group could be set up.

quote:
To those who would say "Let it rest: George Bell is dead, has been for decades, and cannot be hurt by the allegation or smearing of his memory" I would say this: would you feel so sanguine if it were your father or much-loved Godfather?
The honest truth is that I'm in no position to tell whether an allegation made about someone I know 60 years ago is true or not. The fact that I might have known the person well is not, in-and-of-itself, proof that it didn't happen.

The only two facts we have in this case are (a) someone has made an allegation and (b) it isn't possible to refute or prove the allegations either way from this distance. Personal feelings about the saintliness of the accused are understandable, of course.

quote:

In the meantime, if the CofE is genuinely interested in putting in-place rigorous and fair procedures for the investigation of abuse it must take on-board the work of Lord Carlile - dare I say they could do a lot worse than ask him to draft for them a set of protocols to be followed in such cases.

I don't believe this at all. Carlile is clearly an interested party and clearly wanted to set up an impossible investigation about an allegation of events 60 years ago. His views are tainted by his passion for the subject of the allegation.

quote:
Certainly, on the evidence of not only Lord Carlile's investigation but their reaction to it, the offices in Lambeth and the lead bishop for safeguarding appear to be entirely unsuitable to perform any such task.
Harsh and unhelpful. In this incident, the person offering the allegation has been believed and assisted over-and-above the rights of a dead cleric.

Imagine the alternative; the woman being told that her allegation couldn't possibly be true because George Bell was a good man, because his old housekeeper said that it didn't happen and because the guy is in the Anglican lectionary.

I'm sure that this decision hurt, but it is not credible to suggest that the structure could have done anything else - without the risk of pushing away others making claims about historical abuse.

[ 18. December 2017, 09:07: Message edited by: Barnabas62 ]

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mr cheesy
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quote:
Originally posted by Kwesi:
.........errrrr, doesn't this come under 'innocent until proved guilty'?

No.

It is possible that Jimmy Savile would have gotten off if some/all of his crimes had come to court. Let's not forget that individually the claims against him are built up from eyewitness statements.

I think most of us accept he was a monster even if there wasn't enough to build a criminal case.

Now imagine that the events had happened 60 years ago, that a small handful of witnesses survived and that there was a passionate group who wanted to preserve his memory.

I think even with the widespread crimes of Jimmy Savile, it would likely be hard to prove beyond reasonable doubt, or even on the balance of probabilities, that he had done them. And we'd probably be relying on a few uncorroborated witnesses.

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hatless

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A Bishop George Bell Group was formed in response to these allegations which has a website with some interesting material on it here

Bell was Bonhoeffer’s contact in the UK. Bell was a member of the House of Lords, and in the event of a successful military coup, he would have been contacted to open negotiations for a German surrender. Bonhoeffer met him to discuss these matters at a conference in Sweden in 1942, and they formed a friendship.

Bonhoeffer’s last statement was a hurried message to Bell via Sigismund Payne Best a fellow prisoner and British agent, “This is the end, for me the beginning of life.” But Bell recorded a fuller version, “Tell him that for me this is the end but also the beginning. With him I believe in the principle of our Universal Christian brotherhood which rises above all national interests, and that our victory is certain - tell him too that I have never forgotten his words at our last meeting.”

Bell’s reputation is not his alone, but is entangled with the life of the wider Church and the ecumenical hopes formed in response to WW2.

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Doc Tor
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Even Saville was innocent until proven guilty.

The evidence against him was overwhelming, and the cover-ups that led to his crimes going unprosecuted during his lifetime extensive.

Either everyone, or no one, deserves a presumption of innocence. The complainant was a credible witness, and I expect his housekeeper at the time would also be a credible witness telling the obverse of the story.

I've no dog in this fight, except that as a member of the CofE, I prefer to see the church authorities and administrators act with some degree of competence, rather than conduct a somewhat shambolic 'investigation' which misses even the most basic procedures and fact-checking.

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mr cheesy
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quote:
Originally posted by Doc Tor:
Even Saville was innocent until proven guilty.

Yes - when he was alive.

Since his death there has basically been free rein to publish the stories - which nobody seriously are suggesting are untrue.

quote:
The evidence against him was overwhelming, and the cover-ups that led to his crimes going unprosecuted during his lifetime extensive.
IANAL but I have heard several times police and lawyers saying that it might have been hard to get a conviction. Certainly Savile thought nobody could touch him.

quote:
Either everyone, or no one, deserves a presumption of innocence. The complainant was a credible witness, and I expect his housekeeper at the time would also be a credible witness telling the obverse of the story.
Really.

So if someone accuses you of something and you present your wife as a character witness, you think that they're of equal value?

Is it not at least possible that the housekeeper saw one side of someone and a witness saw another?

The only way that one could definitively disprove an allegation would be to show that facts - such as dates and events - were not possible and didn't match up. Simply providing a counter-narrative of someone's goodness is not evidence.

quote:
I've no dog in this fight, except that as a member of the CofE, I prefer to see the church authorities and administrators act with some degree of competence, rather than conduct a somewhat shambolic 'investigation' which misses even the most basic procedures and fact-checking.
Again, you seem to be vastly underestimating the effort and difficultly of proving anything about a named individual from a distance of 60 years.

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arse

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mr cheesy
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quote:
Originally posted by hatless:


Bonhoeffer’s last statement was a hurried message to Bell via Sigismund Payne Best a fellow prisoner and British agent, “This is the end, for me the beginning of life.” But Bell recorded a fuller version, “Tell him that for me this is the end but also the beginning. With him I believe in the principle of our Universal Christian brotherhood which rises above all national interests, and that our victory is certain - tell him too that I have never forgotten his words at our last meeting.”

I wonder how Bell justified this interpolation. Is the suggestion that Best passed on other statements?

Bonhoeffer is an interesting case study - despite the study and availability of information about him, it still doesn't seem possible for professionals to agree on some widely accepted facts about him.

Most historians seem to accept he had a role in an assassination attempt, some seem to think this wasn't possible. Many see the eyewitness claims about his death as authoritative, some say that the details are not possible.

Most of these were based on information which emerged from near the time. How much harder would it be to establish what had happened from a distance of 60 years?

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arse

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Marvin the Martian

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quote:
Originally posted by mr cheesy:
The alternative that you are suggesting appears to be to continue with these things until such time as overwhelming proof emerges that the individual isn't worthy of them.

Sounds OK to me. And certainly better than the alternative of not commemorating the good that people have done unless we can be absolutely sure that they were entirely without sin.

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Barnabas62
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quote:
Originally posted by mr cheesy:

quote:

In the meantime, if the CofE is genuinely interested in putting in-place rigorous and fair procedures for the investigation of abuse it must take on-board the work of Lord Carlile - dare I say they could do a lot worse than ask him to draft for them a set of protocols to be followed in such cases.

I don't believe this at all. Carlile is clearly an interested party and clearly wanted to set up an impossible investigation about an allegation of events 60 years ago. His views are tainted by his passion for the subject of the allegation.

A useful link.

Note this.

quote:
The review, commissioned by the NST on the recommendation of the Bishop of Chichester, was carried out by Lord Carlile of Berriew. As he writes in the introduction, his purpose was not to determine the truthfulness of the woman referred to as Carol in the report, nor the guilt or innocence of Bishop Bell, but to examine the procedures followed by the Church of England.
.

If Carlile was not to be trusted to write an objective report on process, then the fault lies with the NST in their commissioning of the report.

So far as the objectivity of the report is concerned, the apologies from Archbishop Justin Welby, Bishop Peter Hancock and Bishop Martin Warner go a very long way to confirming that.

On this point, why do you think his views are tainted? And even if they are, does that mean that he cannot produce an objective report on the failure of process? Bias is normal; those charged with the responsibility for objective reporting know that they need to work to set any pre-judgments aside in favour of looking at what actually happened.

I've read the report in detail. Personally, I can see no evidence that its criticisms of process are affected by prejudice. YMMV.

[ 18. December 2017, 09:48: Message edited by: Barnabas62 ]

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Doc Tor
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quote:
Originally posted by mr cheesy:
snip

So I have no idea why you're going so hardball on this, but you simply seem to have forgotten both the Golden Rule, and any form of jurisprudence.

There are very good reasons why we shouldn't behave like a drunkard trying to mount a horse (falling off one side, only to immediately remount and fall off the other).

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hatless

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quote:
Originally posted by mr cheesy:
quote:
Originally posted by hatless:


Bonhoeffer’s last statement was a hurried message to Bell via Sigismund Payne Best a fellow prisoner and British agent, “This is the end, for me the beginning of life.” But Bell recorded a fuller version, “Tell him that for me this is the end but also the beginning. With him I believe in the principle of our Universal Christian brotherhood which rises above all national interests, and that our victory is certain - tell him too that I have never forgotten his words at our last meeting.”

I wonder how Bell justified this interpolation. Is the suggestion that Best passed on other statements?

Bonhoeffer is an interesting case study - despite the study and availability of information about him, it still doesn't seem possible for professionals to agree on some widely accepted facts about him.

Most historians seem to accept he had a role in an assassination attempt, some seem to think this wasn't possible. Many see the eyewitness claims about his death as authoritative, some say that the details are not possible.

Most of these were based on information which emerged from near the time. How much harder would it be to establish what had happened from a distance of 60 years?

Payne Best went to see Bell, and each of them wrote their recollections of the conversation, Bell first, Payne Best in a later autobiography. He didn’t know much about the relationship between Bell and Bonhoeffer.

Bonhoeffer’s life is very well documented. There is an interesting controversy about the manner of his execution, though, which has recently surfaced on his Wikipedia page.

The classic account is from a doctor, told to Bonhoeffer’s friend and biographer, Bethge, which speaks of this ‘lovable man’ kneeling in prayer, then climbing the steps to the scaffold and being dead within minutes in complete submission to God.

However, conspirators were usually hanged with wire, often being taken down before death for additional barbarities. Bonhoeffer’s group included Admiral Canares and General Oster, who we might expect to get the full works. The executions took six hours. There are no steps at Flossenburg. The doctor who spoke to Bethge was responsible for reviving people after hanging, so will have wanted to sanitise his account.

You have to make a judgment. It may well be that scholars avoided public discussion of these things until after the deaths of Bethge in 2000 and Bonhoeffer’s twin, Sabine in 1999.

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My crazy theology in novel form

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L'organist
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Mr Cheesy: I don't want it to seem like we're playing a private game of tennis but...
quote:
...the witness statement is proof, and the individual concerned has been determined to be a coherent witness.
No witness statement is “proof” of anything other than (assuming it has been transcribed accurately and is agreed as so being) the fact that it has been made: it isn’t even proof that it is made in good faith.
quote:
What there is missing is corroborating proof, but again it is hard to see what there could be so long after the event.
Not so: Lord Carlile found people with ease; moreover he didn’t even have to look for one person – she got in touch with him from the USA after it was publicised that he was undertaking his review. And she was the most compelling witness since she lived in the palace in Chichester for the entire period when “Carol” alleges abuse took place.

Further: George Bell’s life has been well-documented and, as Lord Carlile points out, this was a great help because it meant potential witnesses were readily and easily identified – for example the large group of Kindertransport children who lived at the palace.

quote:
A couple of people were not spoken to by the review. But in-and-of-itself that doesn't prove that the events didn't happen.

There are, literally, hundreds of people who were available, easily traced if someone – either the Core Group or the local constabulary – had the will to do it: agreed it doesn’t prove things didn’t happen but (as has been noted by many, many criminologists over the years) the type of abuse alleged is not of the “one-off” variety involving usually only one child.

quote:
How exactly are you imagining that a new group would be able to come to a firm (balance of probabilities) conclusion about something that happened 60 years ago? Most of the relevant witnesses are dead...
Simple: interview people like “Pauline” formally: look at the contact Lord Carlile had with the domestic chaplain; seek out the children of gardeners and other cathedral staff who were around the palace gardens; former choristers – frankly there are potentially hundreds of people who can be found.
quote:
... paperwork is likely missing
Paperwork is not missing: there is a massive archive of his own papers, most of the office paperwork still exists, and there is more with the several authors who have written about Bell, plus those who have written about those with whom GB had significant interaction, such as Bonhoeffer, etc, etc, etc.
quote:
... and there are strong personal reasons for some to defend the name of Bell (including, let's be clear Lord Carlile of Berriew who was baptised by him).
You imply that people who seek to stand-up for the reputation of GB have some private reason for so doing: has it never occurred to you it could be in the name of simple justice and fairness.

As for Lord Carlile: he was not baptised by George Bell for the simple reason that he is JEWISH.

quote:
I see the criticism that the original group wasn't properly set up, but then we're talking about something that happened a very long time ago. Unless one is planning to engage professional historians and researchers - and even then accept that firm conclusions may not be possible because the information isn't available - it is hard to see how this group could be set up.

Not so: the “Core Group” was set up in 2014. In any case, it should have been blindingly obvious to anyone tasked with an allegation dating back more than 50 years that an investigator would be required in exactly the same way as if the alleged event happened last week. I don't think that citing length of time and "difficulty" really cuts the mustard.
It should be noted that from start to finish no meeting of the Core Group was attended by all of its named members: personally, I find that astonishing even without taking into account the incredible sensitivity of the reasons for its being set-up in the first place.

The criticism from Lord Carlile isn’t only about how the group was set up: it was that various people sent deputies or were appointed half-way through its meetings. It was that where proper investigation took place – getting a report from a forensic psychiatrist in particular – a member of the Group took it upon themselves to draw-up a summary to present to the Group, rather than letting members see the whole thing; members of the group werent told who had drawn-up the summary which reported a “conclusion” that was not given by the expert and differed from his opinion in several key areas. Lets be quite clear about this: if this had happened in a criminal case it would likely have been viewed as potential evidence tampering.

quote:
Personal feelings about the saintliness of the accused are understandable, of course.
I hope you didn't mean to sound patronising...

I have no personal feelings about George Bell: I never met the man, I have never been part of any organisation or group dedicated to his works or defending his reputation. What I do have is a passionate commitment to the principle of innocence until proven guilty (what used to be called fairness) and believe that everyone deserves to have equal status before the law or any other investigatory body or process.

quote:
quote:
in an earlier post of mine
In the meantime, if the CofE is genuinely interested in putting in-place rigorous and fair procedures for the investigation of abuse it must take on-board the work of Lord Carlile - dare I say they could do a lot worse than ask him to draft for them a set of protocols to be followed in such cases.

I don't believe this at all. Carlile is clearly an interested party and clearly wanted to set up an impossible investigation about an allegation of events 60 years ago. His views are tainted by his passion for the subject of the allegation.

How and why have you reached the conclusion that Lord Carlile is an “interested party”? The only thing that he mentions that might relate to your remarkable statements above is that he thought it curious to task him to look solely at processes in what was clearly a very delicate and sensitive situation (evidenced by the setting up of the George Bell Group among other things) which was crying out for cool, calm investigation.

What Alex Carlile has is a passion for the law and the principle of justice for all, something which you think is a taint – remarkable.

quote:
quote:
in an earlier post of mine
Certainly, on the evidence of not only Lord Carlile's investigation but their reaction to it, the offices in Lambeth and the lead bishop for safeguarding appear to be entirely unsuitable to perform any such task.

Harsh and unhelpful. In this incident, the person offering the allegation has been believed and assisted over-and-above the rights of a dead cleric.
“By their fruits... etc”: or to put in the vernacular, If it looks like a duck, waddles like a duck, is feathered like a duck, and quacks like a duck – ITS A DUCK.

When you use the word “believed” you get to the central problem with this allegation and others levelled in similarly well-publicised cases where the use of words like “credible”, “belief”, and “victim” have been used without due care. There can be a world of difference between something being possible and something being credible; finding a statement believable does not automatically render it fact; and anyone can allege or claim that something happened, but that doesn’t mean they are a victim.

Meanwhile indiscriminate use of words like "sin" and "wickedness" in relation to George Bell have shown absolute bias on the part of the CofE towards their own man: this was entirely unnecessary and unfair, and it has been repeated in statements from Bishop Hancock and Lambeth in the past few days.

quote:
Imagine the alternative; the woman being told that her allegation couldn't possibly be true because George Bell was a good man, because his old housekeeper said that it didn't happen and because the guy is in the Anglican lectionary.
I would not and have not suggested that the complainant should have been told her allegation was impossible: I have suggested that it should have been treated with due respect, which would have meant it was properly investigated. Frankly, to effectively say “We believe you dear, here is compensation” is not only wrong to the reputation of the person being casually labelled an abuser, it is patronising to the complainant.
quote:
I'm sure that this decision hurt, but it is not credible to suggest that the structure could have done anything else - without the risk of pushing away others making claims about historical abuse.

Yes they could and should have done something else: they should have treated “Carol” seriously, they should have treated her allegation seriously and acted accordingly by investigating thoroughly.

Dammit, all they had to do was look in the one reference book in every CofE office – Crockford’s Clerical Directory – to find the domestic chaplain who was still alive a full four years after the second complaint was made. Its easier than using a telephone directory to find a CofE priest, it even gives their full work history.

Please – read the report and look up Lord Carlile.

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Rara temporum felicitate ubi sentire quae velis et quae sentias dicere licet

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Erroneous Monk
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quote:
Originally posted by Doc Tor:
So I have no idea why you're going so hardball on this...

One reason might be that if the complainant or any close family are still alive, then this must be at least as hard for them as it is for those who love and respect the late Bishop.

This is an awful situation and the only way it could have been better would have been for as objective and independent an investigation to have been done as possible in the first place. That didn't happen, and it's right that the CoE get toasted for that.

But just as we have no grounds for assuming the late Bishop is guilty, we also have no grounds - unless I've missed something? - for assuming that the complainant was making a maliciously false complaint.

There needs to be a way to respect both. I'm not sure I know what that is.

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And I shot a man in Tesco, just to watch him die.

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mr cheesy
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I made a mistake. The comments I heard were by Desmond Browne QC, not Lord Carlile.

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arse

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Barnabas62
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Posting on the fly from my mobile. Lord Carlile is indeed the son of Polish Jewish refugees, but I found a link to an interview in which he described himself as a baptised and confirmed member of the C of E. He also said he wasn't religious. I'll provide the link later.

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L'organist
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posted by Erroneous Monk
quote:
...if the complainant or any close family are still alive, then this must be at least as hard for them as it is for those who love and respect the late Bishop.
The complainant is still alive, and there are also extant siblings.

In fact in a couple of her communications "Carol" refers to a sibling as having been aware of what she alleged happened. When this was later investigated the sibling said they had no recollection whatever about it; in fact they went further and refused to support her allegation - make of that what you wish.

quote:
This is an awful situation and the only way it could have been better would have been for as objective and independent an investigation to have been done as possible in the first place. That didn't happen, and it's right that the CoE get toasted for that.
What investigation that did take place found no evidence or suggestion the allegation was true.
quote:
But just as we have no grounds for assuming the late Bishop is guilty, we also have no grounds - unless I've missed something? - for assuming that the complainant was making a maliciously false complaint.

Questionable. [material removed by host]
quote:
I am going to tell my story and sell it to the highest bidder to gain compensation. (1995)
...at least other churches offer some sort of compensation for ruined childhood by disgusting perverts (2012)
I think the church owes me something in the way of compensation for all iv suffered (2013)

While that may not show malicious intent or motivation it does show that the idea of monetary gain/reward was there. In addition initial offers of counselling were either not taken up or were actively rebuffed.

And one of the matters raised by the forensic psychiatrist (in the report which the Core Group only received in summary) was the possibility of false memory syndrome...

[ 18. December 2017, 17:04: Message edited by: Eutychus ]

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Eutychus
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hosting/

[intervention to remove potential breaches of C7, content removed]
/hosting

[ 18. December 2017, 17:07: Message edited by: Eutychus ]

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Bishops Finger
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I fail to see how any inquiry, however well-conducted, can possibly arrive at the truth of an affair such as this after so many years have elapsed, and, of course, given the fact that Bishop Bell is long dead.

That's not to say that investigations can't or shouldn't be made, but with a strong caveat.

IJ

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Kwesi
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mr cheesy seems to forget that the onus is on Bell’s accusers to prove their case not for his supporters to prove him innocent.

Not being an Anglican and largely ignorant of the life and times of Bishop Bell I have even less of a dog in this fight than Doc Tor. I have, however, a bias towards the principle of a presumption of innocence until proved guilty and an aversion to guilt by accusation. The weight of accusation against Savile is such that I would be reluctant to enter the trenches on his behalf, but that against Bell seems to rest on the unproven testimony of a single complainant.

One can understand that the Church of England acted as it did because it did not wish to give the impression that it was in denial regarding sexual misconduct by its clergy and agents, as has been egregiously the case with the Romans. Regarding Bishop Bell, however, it seems pretty clear that its motives led it to become blind to the weakness of the evidence against the Bishop, and like many bureaucracies was, and seemingly still is, reluctant to admit to its mistake. There is, however, a positive consequence in that it has highlighted the virtues of Bishop Bell which would otherwise be forgotten if ever known by people like myself.

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Amos

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# 44

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The letters are reproduced in full in the Carlile Report.

[material removed by host]

[ 18. December 2017, 17:06: Message edited by: Eutychus ]

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At the end of the day we face our Maker alongside Jesus--ken

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BroJames
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# 9636

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The psychiatrist (professor Made) who was asked to consider credibility is quoted in the report as saying
quote:
I have no reason to believe that the material allegations are a conscious fabrication.
On the other hand, he also says
quote:
The distorting and sometimes creative nature of recall has been recognised since the work of Bartlett in the 1940s… It is a consistent finding of research in this field that these problems with recall are unrelated to questions of honesty, integrity, intelligence or level of education. The consequence is that neither the individual nor anybody else can test the reliability and accuracy of a recollection except by reference to other sources of information.
As far as the process was concerned the fundamental problem - once the complaint was raised in 1995 was the then Bishop of Chichester's failure to take appropriate action. There was then a further delay in 2012, which the complainant felt was just sweeping her complaint under the carpet.

The second problem was that the core group did not function effectively. There was enormous lack of consistency of those who were present in the group from one meeting to the next. It was initially instigated by the diocesan safeguarding officer, but it is not clear that anyone really oversaw its working.

The report's recommendation arising from this is
quote:
Each such group should have one person nominated at the beginning as Chair who is expected to chair all meetings throughout. Groups should be established with as continuous and permanent a membership as possible.
In fact the core group was chaired in different phases by two people whose membership of the group didn't fully (?if at all) overlap in time.

Further down the line, it then looks as though those coming later into the picture accepted the core group's evaluation of the situation, although Lord Carlile clearly identifies that the flawed process had led to a conclusion that wasn't fully defensible.

The changing membership of the group was, I think, highly problematic. It looks as though only 2 members of the group made all the meetings. Some members were only appointed part way through and so on. A table of attendances is revealing (A = absent, - = not appointed, p= partial attendance, t = attendance by telephone)
code:
	.	A	1	A	3	4	A
. B A 2 3 4 5
. C 1 2 3 4 5
. D 1 2p 3 4t A
. E 1 2 A 4 A
. F 1 2 3 4 5
. G 1 A 3 4 5
. H 1 2 A 4 A
. I 1 2 A 4 5
. J 1 2 3 4 A
. K A 2 3 4t 5
. L 1 2p A 4 5
. M - 2 3 4 5
. N - 2 A 4 5
. O - - 3 4 A
. P - - 3 4t 5
. Q - - - 4 5

To some extent the actions and statements that followed flowed quite naturally from the conclusion that the core group appears to have reached. It's not clear that the group understood that its process was flawed, let alone communicated that to the others who then interacted with its conclusions.
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Barnabas62
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Thread locked temporarily, for some Hostly editing of content in accordance with Commandment 7. Will be re-opened shortly.

Barnabas62
Purgatory Host

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Who is it that you seek? How then shall we live? How shall we sing the Lord's song in a strange land?

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Eutychus
From the edge
# 3081

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hosting/

And, we're back.

After consultation backstage we have taken the exceptional step of redacting some parts of some posts and deleting one post entirely.

I'm also re-stating my previous follow-up to Barnabas62's earlier host post:

Discussing the report is fine. Note, however, that Lord Carlile has refrained from judging guilt or innocence of either "Carol" or Bishop Bell, so we should too.

If discussion tips over into allegations that go beyond the report and into Commandment 7 territory, questionable content will be deleted and/or the thread locked without further notice, and the admins alerted.

We take an extremely dim view of people playing fast and loose with Commandment 7.

/hosting

[ 18. December 2017, 17:14: Message edited by: Eutychus ]

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Let's remember that we are to build the Kingdom of God, not drive people away - pastor Frank Pomeroy

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mr cheesy
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# 3330

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Hum. Well this makes it tricky to see what we can actually discuss on this thread.

It seems to me that in paras 36-40 is making a statement about what he thinks the principles of the original Core Group should have been and taking into account what he says in para 52 and what he says should have been given considerable weight in para 56, it is hard to conclude that he isn't actually making a judgement about the allegation - which appears to be beyond the scope of the review in para 35, even though he repeats that he shouldn't be doing so.

Paras 214-220 make statements that might easily be irrelevant (for obvious reasons, although perhaps difficult to spell out here), particularly given the central sentence of para 216. Weight is also given in 221-225 to something important yet not remembered (para 223) which is taken as fact a few paras before.

In contrast other information such as that in para 5 is determined to be unsubstantiated - with the implication that a missing memory from 60 years ago by two people is worth more than something reported by a source to a journalist. And the lack of contact from the journalist or source is given some special status even though the journalist morally if not legally cannot reveal the source if they want to remain hidden. It is also entirely possible, for example, that the person mentioned in that para is sick or otherwise unable/unwilling to engage with Lord Carlile. Either way, there is more than one witness.

The clear suggestion from these paras is that if the Core Group had known about their contents, they would not have come to the conclusion that they did.

I also note that the person who made the complaint has reiterated it to The Argus saying: “The fact is, it happened whether he would have been found guilty or not, whatever Lord Carlile says.”

Furthermore Lord Carlile says in that piece: "Of course there are cases – occasionally, and I have to say occasionally – where only one person has been abused, but with the kind of abuse that was complained of here it’s very unusual for there to be only one person who’s been abused."

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arse

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irreverend tod
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If the Church wants to be taken seriously it needs to leave investigation of criminal allegations to the police from the outset. Any attempt to 'investigate' could lead to accusations of tampering with or withholding evidence or attempting to pervert the course of justice. If I thought anything of that nature was going on in our shed I would involve the police. Lets face it who would call the police to take communion if the vicar was off?

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Diocesan Arsonist and Lead thief to the Church of England.

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Alan Cresswell

Mad Scientist 先生
# 31

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quote:
Originally posted by mr cheesy:
Hum. Well this makes it tricky to see what we can actually discuss on this thread.

How about just about anything in or related to the report that doesn't approach potential libel? Just a suggestion.

Actually, let's make it an official suggestion.

Alan
Ship of Fools Admin

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Oscar the Grouch

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# 1916

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quote:
Originally posted by Kwesi:
One can understand that the Church of England acted as it did because it did not wish to give the impression that it was in denial regarding sexual misconduct by its clergy and agents, as has been egregiously the case with the Romans.

It seems pretty clear from Lord Carlile's report that the C of E hierarchy's anxiety stemmed more from the fact that Chichester Diocese had a well-known track record for serious child safety failings and that the events surrounding Bishop Peter Ball were very much in the news at the time.

It is therefore understandable (to a degree) that the Powers That Be felt the need to move swiftly in the case of Bishop Bell. Another fiasco along the lines of Peter Ball couldn't be countenanced. Sadly, as Carlile clearly sets out, this meant that they went far too far in the opposite direction. I wonder if things might have been different had Bishop Bell been the Diocesan Bishop of any other diocese than Chichester?

One of the problems that I now have is that the C of E hierarchy seem to have come to a rather mule-like decision that having passed judgement so swiftly and decisively on Bishop Bell, they cannot now back up from that position, even when presented with clear evidence that the whole process was severely flawed from start to finish. What is wrong with simply saying "we made a mistake, but at least we did so with the best of intentions"? I - for one - would find such a statement acceptable and even refreshing.

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Faradiu, dundeibáwa weyu lárigi weyu

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BroJames
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ISTM that from the hierarchy’s POV it’s not at all simple. Carlile says the complaint wasn’t adequately investigated. He also says that a fairly simple investigation might have led the group to a different decision about where the probabilities lie. I think he has been scrupulous in identifying enough other evidence that should have been found to support his conclusions about the failures of the enquiry, but he doesn’t say that he has found everything that could be found, nor does he attempt to weigh the evidence and come to a conclusion. His argument is that if they had come to a different view they might still have sought to come to a settlement with the complainant, but could have sought a confidentiality clause.

On the basis of what is in the report the apology would now have to be along the lines of: We believe the complainant has a genuine belief that she was abused but we are no longer able to find enough evidence to confirm or deny this. If such abuse took place as she remembers it was a wicked act. We are sorry that the complaint was not taken seriously when it was first raised in 1995, and for the delay in 2012. We recognise that the delay was hurtful for the complainant [but we do not believe a better response in 1995 would have enabled a different outcome to the investigation*]. We are sorry too that the conduct of the enquiry has harmed the reputation of Bishop Bell who may not have deserved it. We continue to be determined to take such complaints seriously, and we will be changing our practice in the light of this report to ensure proper investigations are carried out in a way that is as fair as possible to all concerned, living or dead. [* if this is true]

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Gee D
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quote:
Originally posted by irreverend tod:
If the Church wants to be taken seriously it needs to leave investigation of criminal allegations to the police from the outset. Any attempt to 'investigate' could lead to accusations of tampering with or withholding evidence or attempting to pervert the course of justice. If I thought anything of that nature was going on in our shed I would involve the police. Lets face it who would call the police to take communion if the vicar was off?

Since the Royal Commission here started hearings, let alone reported, I think that's become the approach of churches, schools and other institutions. Tell the police asap so the allegations can be looked into by those whose role is to investigate alleged crimes, and further so it can't be said that you're trying to hide something. A bit hard to get the police interested when the alleged perpetrator has been dead these last 40 years though.

To a complete outsider, the conduct of the C of E in 1995 appears to have been totally inadequate. Sweeping these things under the carpet is not the right way to deal with them, as so many institutions here have found out during the Royal Commission. The response in 2012 looks to fall into much the same category. This may serve as a good prompt to review the whole Core Group procedure generally along the lines others above have suggested but starting with mandatory reporting to the police. Perhaps steps could be taken to establish liaison with the area police force to have a particular person to whom the complainant could be referred. Assistance could be offered to a complainant in making contact.

As a sideline, leaving the initial investigation to the police has the benefit of not muddying the waters in any subsequent criminal proceedings. There have been criminal appeal cases here where convictions have been overturned as unsafe; inappropriate suggestions may well have been made to a complainant or witness during the course of taking statements.

In the meantime, and until there is some decent evidence produced, we'll continue to remember Bp Bell on 3 October for his fearless work in decrying anti-semitism, nazism, the rescue of the children and the area bombing of Germany, as well as in the area of ecumenism.

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Not every Anglican in Sydney is Sydney Anglican

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