PA/PA Wire

Former Chichester choristers defend George Bell's reputation

Mon 22 Jan 2018
By Cara Bentley

Ten Chichester Cathedral choristers from the 1940s and 50s have said they are delighted with a report which finds former Bishop George Bell was treated unfairly regarding allegations of sexual assault.

They wrote in a letter to The Times: "We choristers had a fair sense of George Bell as a man whose fundamental integrity we saw; and throughout our life have continued to value."

They also explained that they doubt the claims of assault, having witnessed his character as well as genuine abuse.

"We, alas, had some real experience of what a paedophile could be: a master was relieved of this post and replaced without police involvement when one of us went with his parents to tell the dean what was happening," they said.

"We never accepted that 'Carol' identified Bishop Bell rightly as her abuser."

They added that the Church of England has a responsibility to restore Bishop Bell's reputation, saying he: "spoke out bravely and worked tirelessly".

The group cited his work during the Second World War welcoming Jewish refugees to his Bishop's palace.

The choristers also wrote a letter in The Times in 2015, protesting against his defamation.

They have now urged Most Rev Justin Welby, Archbishop of Canterbury, as well as other bishops to recognise why George Bell has been held in high regard.

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