Position is not defensible

It is mind-blowing that the Church of England can possibly think its position over the handling of an abuse claim against the late Bishop George Bell is in any way defensible.

Subsequent to the Carlile report, it now claims to have ‘some more information’ relating to the case, which it is not prepared to divulge.

It is thus not only ignoring Lord Carlile’s recommendations about further procedures, but in his own words is also ignoring ‘due process of the rule of law’.

It is probably also hoping that by such tactics, supporters and potential witnesses will go away or, indeed, die off – as one key witness already has.

One has to question why, again, the Church authorities are not prepared to publicise the so-called ‘new information’ in advance of an investigation, or to allow surviving family members their own legal representation. The answer could be that they are afraid that an outside QC would simply rip the case to pieces.

Indeed, this may be the reason why they refused to allow Lord Carlile’s remit to extend to an actual verdict in the first place. And with the IICSA inquiry into other cases in the Diocese of Chichester about to take place, they do not dare to appear politically incorrect.

The Carmi report of 2004, not published until 2014, makes it abundantly clear that for decades there have been ample opportunities for sexual abuse to occur in the wider cathedral context at the hands of a very wide range of potential perpetrators – of whom the bishop himself was not one.