Carlile Report: Bishop George Bell has been traduced, and the blame lies squarely with Church House and Lambeth Palace

Dec 17, 2017 by

by Martin Sewell, from Archbishop Cranmer:

“The George Bell case represents the perfect storm from which injustice emerges. We had a church fearful and sensitive to allegations that it might be covering up abuse, a plausible complainant, a long dead Bishop with no living heirs, and a church culture which had abandoned the presumption of innocence in favour of asserting that all complainants are entitled to be believed.”

During the campaign to secure a review of the case of Bishop George Bell, I summarised the origins of the latest sorry story to hit the Church of England in the above terms, but there was one other factor that I did not include because I needed the endorsement of a report before I made it. Now that we have the Report from Lord Carlile, it clearly confirms that there was a fundamental failure of the church as it went about investigating and evaluating the facts before it. The investigation was so poor that it not only did not do justice – it could not do justice.

The Core Group

The problem centres round the assembly of a ‘Core Group’ which, as a former Child Protection Lawyer, is very familiar to me. Such a body is regularly brought together to manage the cases of children suspected of having suffered or being likely to have suffered significant harm, and they routinely gather and evaluate the evidence of whether a child has been abused, and then consider what should be done about it. The real experts in Core Group management are local authority Children’s Services lawyers, who can attend several such meetings every month.

When the Bell story first broke, his defenders asked about the processes by which the Core Group had reached its conclusions. The Church of England instantly covered its processes in a cloak of secrecy. Now we know why.

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