Thou shalt not bear false witness against your neighbour. The Church of England defiled the ninth commandment by shamefully bearing false witness against one of its most saintly and heroic bishops. Over a decade later, it has been forced to swallow its pride and cough up a feeble apology for the way it handled accusations of sexual abuse against Bishop George Bell.

The CofE slandered, smeared and destroyed the impeccable reputation of a cleric who had the courage of his convictions to stand up to Adolf Hitler. This is the conclusion of the Lord Carlile review published this week. It points a damning finger at the CofE for failing ‘to follow a process that was fair and equitable to both sides’.


The CofE condemned Bishop George Bell exclusively on the basis of a single entirely uncorroborated witness decades after the alleged sexual abuse was said to have occurred.

It violated the sanctity of one of the most hallowed tenets of jurisprudence dating back to the sixth century Digest of Justinian and held sacred in Canon law, Islamic law and English common law. This is the presumption of innocence – that a defendant is innocent until proven guilty.

It refused to recognise the fact that the defendant had been dead for decades and could not defend himself.

It infringed Bishop Bell’s human rights as set out in Article 10 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Article 6 of the European Convention of Human Rights and the Sixth Amendment to the United States Constitution by denying the defendant the right to a fair trial.

It debased the humanity of the alleged victim ‘Carol’ by letting her accuse Bishop Bell under the cloak of anonymity and paying her compensation in an out-of-court settlement.

It made a mockery of centuries of legal precedence by allowing the accuser to remain anonymous. The right of an accused to confront his or her accusers is enshrined in the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, the European Convention of Human Rights, the American Convention on Human Rights, the Statute for the International Criminal Court and Statutes of the International Criminal Tribunals for the Former Yugoslavia and Rwanda.



The right to face your accuser has been described as ‘basic to any civilised notion of a fair trial’ and ‘one of the fundamental guarantees of life and liberty’. It dates back to ancient Rome. The Emperor Trajan declared in AD 112: ‘Anonymous accusations must not be admitted in evidence as against any one, as it is introducing a dangerous precedent.’ Geoffrey Robertson QC condemned the use of anonymous witnesses as ‘a fundamental breach of the right to a fair trial’, stating that ‘no trial can be fair if the defendant is not allowed to know his accuser’.

The Church of England played fast and loose with the due process of the criminal justice system by failing to let the accusations and evidence be rigorously tested through cross-examination, a system regarded by the jurist J H Wigmore as ‘the greatest legal engine ever invented for the discovery of truth’.

It prioritised political expediency and public relations spin-doctoring over a quest for truth and justice. Like the Gadarene swine rushing down the hillside, its Child Protection Gestapo went on a cleansing spree and adopted a scorched earth policy on buildings, schools and other institutions named after Bell.

It turned a deaf ear for quite some time to columns written in the media by honourable journalists such as Peter Hitchens and to the voices of respected historians such as Andrew Chandler and faithful laity such as Richard Symonds, who persevered while working tirelessly to see justice done and the good name of Bishop Bell restored.

It was totally blind to the cognitive dissonance between the towering ministry and godliness of Bishop George Bell and the credibility of those who had borne witness to his sterling character on the one hand, clashing with the cacophonous note of a lone voice making an accusation completely out of sync with the moral fibre exhibited by Bishop Bell throughout his life and ministry.

Last year, I wrote a column on how the Church of England smears saints and shields scoundrels. I followed up with another column on how the Church of England had mastered the art of the non-apology, after the embarrassing revelation that bishops were instructed only to give partial apologies – if at all – to victims of sexual abuse to avoid being sued. Earlier this year, I pointed out how the Safeguarding industry in the Church of England has become a witch-hunt.

There is one factor that sticks out like a sore gangrenous thumb in all these incidents. It is the unconcealed contempt the CofE has displayed for the fundamental principles of justice and fairness laid down in the canonical texts of the Bible that have been at the heart of much of Western jurisprudence.

If only the CofE had stuck its nose into the yellowed pages of this consecrated collection of jurisprudence [from the Latin iuris (of law, of right) + prudentia (knowledge, wisdom, foresight, discretion)] it would not have egg on its face and ignominy in its chronicles. The Bible is bursting with legal principles that were staring the bishops in the eyeballs.

‘You shall not spread a false report. You shall not join hands with a wicked man to be a malicious witness. You shall not fall in with the many to do evil, nor shall you bear witness in a lawsuit, siding with the many, so as to pervert justice,’ says the Book of Exodus. The CofE sided with the ‘many’ by siding with the dominant orthodoxy of the day that rushes to the rescue of every boy who cries ‘Wolf!’ and every girl who cries ‘Abuser!’

‘If a malicious witness arises to accuse a person of wrongdoing, then both parties to the dispute shall appear before the Lord, before the priests and the judges who are in office in those days,’ says the Book of Deuteronomy. Even if Bell’s accuser was not a malicious witness, there was no way both parties could appear in court.

‘A single witness shall not suffice against a person for any crime or for any wrong in connection with any offence that he has committed. Only on the evidence of two witnesses or of three witnesses shall a charge be established,’ states Deuteronomy. ‘Do not admit a charge against a presbyter except on the evidence of two or three witnesses,’ writes the apostle Paul to Timothy. The CofE did not bother to corroborate accusations against Bell.

The right to face your accuser is best illustrated in the Acts of the Apostles. Paul is awaiting trial and is brought before King Agrippa II and Porcius Festus, Procurator of Judea. The chief priests and the elders petition the Roman rulers for a sentence of condemnation against Paul. Festus reports to Agrippa his response to the Jewish leaders: ‘I answered them that it was not the custom of the Romans to give up anyone before the accused met the accusers face to face and had opportunity to make his defence concerning the charge laid against him.’

It is a devastating indictment of the CofE that the judicial process conducted by the pagan administration of ancient Rome against the apostle Paul proved to be more just and fair than the judicial farce and charade conducted by the CofE against Bishop George Bell. An apology will not suffice. The CofE needs to repent.

79 COMMENTS

  1. The Carlile Review is a huge slap in the face for Justin Welby, Archfool of Canterbury, who has not only refused to apologise to Bishop Bell’s family and for the biggest balls up of his career, but has thumbed his nose at the report and at the basic principles of justice by claiming: ‘No human being is entirely good or bad. Bishop Bell was in many ways a hero. He is also accused of great wickedness. Good acts do not diminish evil ones, nor do evil ones make it right to forget the good. Whatever is thought about the accusations, the whole person and whole life should be kept in mind.’ This is utterly shameful. Welby is insinuating that Bell is still guilty. Welby should resign.

    • I agree. Who is going to show some responsibility here?

      Lord Carlile says that the committee investigating was ; ‘overly fearful of once again failing to listen to survivors of abuse. As a result, it over-corrected by rushing to judgement against the long-dead Bishop’.

      Lets see someone on that panel on TV explaining what happened.

    • Welby doesn’t seem to realise that one evil act destroys all the goodness of previously committed good acts. Contrary to Welby’s claim, an evil act will make all the good ones forgotten. That’s how the C of E has acted in removing Bell’s name from anything he is associated with.

      • The practice of renaming any building or street that bears the name of someone fallen from grace, or removing them from playlists and tv repeats, reminds me of Stalin’s airbrushing of former colleagues from history. It’s shocking because, good or bad, these people, their memorials, songs and film parts existed. Nothing can change that. Trying to black out every sign that they were once respected or popular is, again, an Orwellian attempt to control the contents of our minds by erasing memory.

    • Exactly and how did Welby, so quickly, ascend from being a Shell executive to Archbishop? Perhaps it was a divine calling!

  2. The CofE only anticipated today’s practice of dealing with accusations of sexual misconduct, where the anonymity of such accusers, even unto not being told what exactly he was accused of, led to the suicide of the Welsh Labour politician Carl Sargeant.

    One wonders if the CofE will ask for the money back they gave to “Carol” …

  3. The most depressing thing about this sordid story of proveably false and uncorroborated allegations is the mincing non-apology from the Archbishop of Canterbury, Wilby. His pronouncement demonstrates his total unsuitability for his Office and the poisonous failure to recognise the unsustainable destruction of Bell’s impeccable character and his legacy diminishes Wilby to the stature of a dwarf.

  4. Thank you Rev Gomes for this most excellent summary of the Bishop Bell case. Your analysis confirms a suspicion that I have long held that the hierarchy of today’s Church of England is so far removed from the Way of Christ that it is hastening its own destruction.
    If Archbishop Welby had even the slightest shred of integrity, he would accept that his charade has been unmasked and resign without further delay.

  5. The cynic in me thinks the CofE was hoping for a “quick sale” in the business of condemning Bishop George Bell. Ie. Hoped they could wrap up the affair fast thus protecting their PR image.

    He was not known and popular so no one miss him. And once the CofE had completed the task of erasing him from history it would have left them some new buildings to rename.

    They didn’t bargain on the tireless hard work of Peter Hitchens who brought this miscarriage of justice to light and reminded the public that the presumption of innocence is paramount,especially when evidence is lacking.

    • The appalling litany of cowardly expedience has its parallel in the case of Liam Allen in which the integrity of the prosecuting barrister during the trial for rape saved a young and very much alive man from prison. The police had suppressed evidence that exonerated Mr. Allen when it came to light the prosecuting barrister pointed it should be shared with the defence. The case “collapsed”. The point is that without the integrity of that Barrister effectively destroying his own case its possible justice would not have been done. In this one suspects there is a general process of injustice going on as the “victim” is “believed” and due processes ignored lest they get in the way. This process of “quick sale” appears widespread. One cannot escape the feeling that the same cavalier approach will be found to have been used in the trials of the living especially elderly men accused of crimes in their youth.

      • The police and CPS use of the term “victim” instead of complainant and their assertion that complainants “will be believed”, is simply prejudice and renders them unfit to investigate. Costly and justice busting charades like those instigated by the fantasist “Nick” are the result. I doubt that any of the police involved will be prosecuted for withholding evidence but they should be. Through political mismanagement they appear to have lost sight of their raison d’etre, hi-jacked by radical numpties of the progressive kind who think that their silly utopian ideal justifies any means. And whilst the police and CPS continue to degrade the principles and the rule of law the politicians presiding over that vandalism do nothing. No questions in the House, except where they can be framed for party political gain. The nature of those involved is just to shrug and carry on.

        • There is another case ongoing, where the falsely accused is trying to fight back and unmask the malevolent and corrupt among the police force and the CPS. This is Mark Pearson. He is asking for financial support to take on the legal challenge. A shame that it has to come to this, but in the absence of justice, money has to provide the voice on behalf of the innocent.

          https://gogetfunding.com/innocence/

          • I remember that one. Another alleged incident which in the “old days” would have been dismissed on report as frivolous and should have been but the police are now so craven and risk averse in the face of strident feminism that they dare not do that. And because the accused was tried and acquitted the original complainant won’t face prosecution for a false or malicious allegation and causing a complete waste of taxpayers money.

        • I seem to remember that in the ‘old days’ the police would not name the person arrested at least until the case came to court.

          When the police wished to signal to the media that they had apprehended someone the euphemism used was “A man is helping police with their enquiries”.

  6. The principles described above, presumption of innocence, dismissal of anonymous evidence, right to face an accuser, cross examination, are being gradually eroded by the very people entrusted to maintain them. And this is being done in the interests of a narrow, partisan, divisive and utterly bogus political agenda – third wave feminism – based on exaggerated grievance and a manufactured “oppression”. All those who rule over us, elected or otherwise, and much of the media, are complicit in this subversion. From which no justice will come.

    • You are right. The most devastating indictment is Dr Gomes’ final para. Wow! As a Christian, I would feel safer being tried in a Roman court of law than being tried by one of the C of E’s kangaroo courts!

    • Dead right. The malignant ideology of Feminism has usurped and perverted our concept of morality. We shall not again know justice until Feminism has been widely recognised as a tool of Satan and firmly cast out from our deliberations about morality and ethics.

    • Another abuse is the postponement of a trial, sometimes for years, in the hope that the police can find more witnesses. The accusers are not identified but the accused is named in the papers and becomes a social outcast. Even if he is eventually acquitted his life may have been ruined.

      • The brand could yet be saved if the remaining few, guided by prayer, returned to conservative and Biblical Christianity. This would, in effect, constitute a miracle, but all things are possible for God. All that it required is listening to God, i.e. prayer.

  7. The church, which should be a beacon to the society, has become a reflection of the society. This is exactly the same as the witch hunts which the Jimmy Savile affair triggered. It is a form of mass hysteria that everyone who had any allegation made against them, is guilty
    This has played out so many times over the last few years, where the justice system has been jettisoned for mob rule.
    The Bishops unfortunately are no longer Godly men – they have been political appointments for a number of years. The C of E cannot continue in its present form, but a true element will rise from the ashes.

    • Absolutely correct. The Bishops are no longer Godly men. The reformed Church of England urgently needs another reformation. The Church of England needs to return to its Biblical roots. Today’s climate of moral relativism does not suit 95% of the population, who do not benefit from living in depravity. If robust and Biblical Christianity were preached from the pulpit, the revival of our Anglican Church would be like nothing else in history.

      • Very good point. The CofE has become an apologist and servile.
        It offers no guidance and furnishes no good example.

      • I suspect that the CoE is the destination for graduates who think that being a vicar would be more fun than being a lawyer or an EU bureaucrat. After all, how could someone with genuine religious belief even survive on today’s university campuses?

    • As a Roman Catholic, I have looked at the CofE from the outside and I have always seen it as a reflection of Society. (To avoid hopefully any accusations of sectarianism, I am only referring to my adult lifetime). I am therefore not surprised at anything that it does like this.

      Of course having watched the CofE behave like this, I can see that the current leadership of the RC Church is determined to follow.

      • Not to be too facetious-sounding here, but what you said about the RC Church put me in mind of an old Kenneth More-era Father Brown episode, in which he’s introduced to some Lady Muckamuck type as “Father Brown,” to which she inquires, “Church of England?” He replies, “No, Rome– next best thing…”

      • Yes, I as a Lutheran also look from the outside, and it is a reflection, sadly it is not, as it once was, a reflection of the best of the English, butr of their worst, slandering, pandering, and more. I too see much of the CofE in my own church, and so am very careful about throwing stones, but the truth must be said.

    • The CoE as far as the MSM, particularly the BBC, is concerned is a sort of comedy drama.

      The only clergy who seem to get on the box regularly are the one who used to be half of the Communards pop duo and the loud, blonde female one who gives the reason for entering the Church as being she fancied the son of a vicar.

      I am an agnostic but I somehow think that the clergy should consist of serious, reflective people.

  8. There is a common element here which underpins the case of Bishop Bell, the Allen case of last week, the fantasies of the evil ‘Nick’ and ‘Jane’ etc, etc, etc. It is easy to accuse when hidden behind a heavy curtain of anonymity. It is time this was brought to an end and the light of common day was allowed to shine forth. We need to know who these people are and we need to readdress the balance, which means that the living like Liam Allan, Harvey Proctor etc can sue their false accusers for slander and the Police and CPS. And one other point: if you don’t have the balls to accuse across an open court, in the light of common day, you damn well don’t deserve a penny in ‘compensation’. It is money that fuels most of this nonsense.

    • Andy, I could not agree more. Open justice simply cannot function where there is anonymity. And the fact that an alleged ‘victim’ may enjoy anonymity while launching an accusation AGAINST A DEAD MAN shows how degraded our concept of justice has become.

      In order to rescue the criminal law from its current state of degradation, and in order to prevent yet further miscarriages of justice, we ought without delay return to the status quo prior to 1976 where neither complainant nor defendant was entitled to anonymity of any kind.

    • Daylight is still the best disinfectant. If you are not willing to make your accusations publicly, I (and a proper legal establishment) have no reason to take cognizance of them, they are simply rumor, with no basis for action.

      • Absolutely. Anonymous accusations are meaningless… and should be treated as such. If a person cannot take responsibility for their words, then they are highly likely to be lying or at least stretching the truth out of shape for some nefarious purpose.

  9. George Bell made many enemies – no doubt not a few influential ones such as Winston Churchill – by his public wartime opposition to the British policy of deliberate bombing of German (and, I believe, Italian) civilians. It has been alleged that this robbed him of serious consideration for the position of Archbishop of Canterbury. The British establishment has a very long memory…Is there no connection between that enmity and the uncritical adoption of a safe and modish smear?

  10. We should not be encouraging people to make allegations of historic abuse with glad cries of”Come forth, and you will be believed”. We should be saying, “Your allegations must be corroborated”, and the Limitation Act applied with full rigour to civil claims.
    I am very well aware that Savile was in a very different league of awfulness to many of the other men the subject of these allegations.
    However, those allegations did not appear, at least not in the public domain, on his death. They did not start coming out until the value of his estate was published. I also remember the Daily Mail publishing an interview with the former Headmistress of one of the approved schools involved, a lady who was by then in her mid nineties and as sharp as a tack. She did not consider the girls to be innocent victims; they were in her school, she said, because they were beyond parental control and they were bad.
    The Mail journalist apologised for these “outdated views” but still published it.

  11. Welby’s half-hearted and qualified statement on this marks him as anything but Christian.
    Now there’s a surprise.

  12. “Innocent until proven guilty” obviously does not apply to the media, whose reporters jump quickly to publish and assume guilt whenever a public figure is accused of wrongdoing. It “tars and feathers” a person’s reputation, which in the case of political figures, can cause one to lose an election. Witness what just happened in Alabama USA.

  13. Well said, well documented, and completely correct. Not a lot else to say about it, at least that would make it through moderation. There’s an American custom that applies here:

    types
    deletes,
    types,
    deletes

    I will note that the church’s action here also attempts to denigrate many other Christian heroes, such as Dietrich Bonhoeffer, whose last message was to Bishop Bell, before his judicial murder. Sad to see a once proper church attempt to receive cheap grace for itself.

  14. The whole issue of child abuse, and indeed sexual abuse generally, is that the matter is pre-judged by referring to the person involved as “the victim” rather than the complainant. This is quite obvious in the Bishop Bell case and it would seem that no-one questioned the so-called victim’s veracity.

    The media now makes this worse by apparently regarding the person complained about as guilty, regardless as to whether any evidence is produced. This is particularly apparent in the US where it would seem that almost every female in the film industry has jumped onto the bandwagon by tweeting “Me Too” to allegations of sexual abuse by Harvey Weinstein. Regardless of whether the allegations were true or not, none have actually been proven in court and this would seem to be a gross injustice. It’s exactly the same with these on-going cases in Parliament, make an allegation and it seems that this is taken as fact by the media, and hence many of the readers using the old adage “No smoke without fire” as their excuse.

    • The twisting often gets worse in the US. Yesterday, a young man attempted to rob a man waiting with his family for the light to turn, in Chicago. The man, a licensed concealed carrier, shot and killed him, and has been released without charge by the police, as is routine. (Although that action is not routine enough, yet.) The kicker is that the media is referring to the armed robber as the victim instead of (as he clearly is) the perpetrator.

    • Because the “no smoke without fire” saying is so often untrue, we also have the sayings about “smoke and mirrors” and “blowing smoke.”

  15. There is much in this article which is equally applicable to the way the majority of sexual assault cases are now handled. In short, the accused is increasingly required to prove his innocence. The Liam Allan case is more than just a failure of the police to disclose evidence. There appears to be a widespread view that, had this evidence not eventually come to light, Liam Allan would probably have gone to prison for a long time. But the evidence which emerged was purely exculpatory. Clearly he was being required to prove his innocence.

  16. We’ve been here before, in the US with the daycare scandal, and over here with the satanic abuse scandal and the Orkney scandal. Discredited experts will escape justice and hide behind “we were only trying to help”, and the families and individuals whose lives are destroyed will be ignored.

  17. Justin Welby does not realise this that in God’s economy he will get measure for measure and a heaped measure! What one sows, one reaps. He continues to act in the most arrogant manner and behaves as if he is above God’s law…. how foolish and blind… !!!!The Bible says that the wicked thinks that God does not see. But then it also says,” the One who has created the eye does He not see? the One who planted the ear does He not hear?” Mr. Welby, turn back from your evil ways before it is too late… God is merciful even to the wicked if they repent.

    • I agree with your assessment of Welby in general, but I am not sure of his part in this particular injustice other than not stepping in quickly and correcting it. Reminds me of the original sin… the silence of Adam was deafening.

      • Sadly, as usual, Welby has been complicit in this case and the rot has seeped down from the highest levels. If you read a very detailed analysis of the entire fiasco written by Martin Sewell, you will see how Welby is entirely culpable. http://archbishopcranmer.com/carlile-report-bishop-george-bell-traduced-blame-lies-squarely-church-house-lambeth-palace/ The headline reads: Carlile Report: Bishop George Bell has been traduced, and the blame lies squarely with Church House and Lambeth Palace. Bishop Gavin Ashenden has just written a highly critical piece excoriating Welby and calling on him to resign for his role in the Bell case. https://ashenden.org/2017/12/17/justin-welby-must-apologise-or-resign/ The most nauseating aspect of Welby’s behaviour is that he not only refused to apologise, but also continued to insinuate that Bishop Bell was at fault and his good name had not really been cleared by the Carlile Report.

        • Gavin Welby must be one of the most ungodly men ever to ascend to the archbishopric. He is clearly doing everything he can, by way of distraction and misinformation, to ensure the CofE continues its descent into moral decay and depravity. His aim is to ensure the destruction of traditional Anglican belief.
          The CofE teaches postmodernism and feminism.
          The university teaches postmodernism and feminism.
          The schools teach postmodernism and feminism.
          Does anyone else notice a pattern here?

          • Justin Welby is going further in leading the church into the valley of death. He is encouraging his own Anglican schools to teach transgenderism.

  18. Historic sex crimes have become a cancer within English justice which lacks a statute of limitations that recognises the impossibility of corroborating claims that may be decades old and in the cases of Bell and Heath involve men who are dead. The pursuit of these allegations has given the police so many black eyes that perhaps the fashion will pass. In the meantime parliament should pass a statute that takes account of the fallibility of memory and the survivability of evidence and protects the dead from allegations they cannot defend themselves against.

    The church says that it is committed to transparency but we do not know what Carol alleged and she was questioned privately. It has finished up with the worst of all worlds. Bell’s reputation has been smeared and now rehabilitated at Carol’s expense since her story is no longer fully credited and the bishops have been seen to tackle the whole issue incompetently.

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