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Fresh details on Bishop George Bell triggers new investigation

Wed 31 Jan 2018
By Tola Mbakwe

The Church of England has announced there will be a new investigation regarding sexual allegations against former Bishop George Bell.

The Church of England's National Safeguarding Team said it received "fresh information" concerning the former Bishop of Chichester, who died 60 years ago.

The new information, which has not been disclosed to the public, comes after the publication of the Carlile Review, which found the Church was too quick to accept the allegations of the Bishop Bell's complainant "without serious investigation or inquiry".

 

The Church said it will commission an "independent investigation" of the developments, adding: "As this is a confidential matter we will not be able to say any more about this until inquiries have concluded."

Sussex Police said: "The information will be assessed in order to establish what further inquiries need to be made."

Neither the force or the Church has confirmed whether the information contains a new allegation against Bell. So far the woman, only known as Carol, has been the only complainant in the case.

The Church's inquiry into the allegations was criticised for failing to investigate the victim's claims or seek witnesses who had known or worked for Bishop Bell during his tenure as Bishop of Chichester between 1929 and 1958.

The inquiry led to a statue planned for Canterbury Cathedral to celebrate his work in helping rescue Jewish children from Germany during the Second World War being scrapped.

His name was removed from a room at the University of Chichester and another building in the town renamed.

Lambeth Palace commissioned the review of the original investigation after Bishop Bell's supporters said not enough was done to substantiate the complainant's allegations.

Lord Carlile said his review was not to establish the truth of Carol's claims, but to investigate the Church's handling of the case and establish best practice for handling future complaints.

He said a trained legal professional should be involved in future investigations into child sexual abuse and advocates should represent both the complainant and the dead member of the clergy.

He recommended where a settlement was reached without admission of liability, the identity of the alleged abuser should be confidential.

But Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby disagreed and said the Church was "committed to "transparency".

Supporters who form The George Bell Group said his memory was "thoroughly vindicated" by the findings.

On Wednesday Bishop Peter Hancock, who leads on safeguarding for the Church, said everyone would like the matter to "come to a conclusion" and the Church had accepted the "main thrust" of Lord Carlile's recommendations and was developing an "action plan".

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