Bishop ac­cused of child sex abuse ‘will have good name re­stored’ by in­quiry

The Scottish Mail on Sunday - - News - By Jonathan Pe­tre

A CEL­E­BRATED bishop whose rep­u­ta­tion was de­stroyed when the Church of Eng­land la­belled him a pae­dophile is set to have his good name re­stored, The Mail on Sun­day has learned.

An of­fi­cial re­view of the han­dling of abuse al­le­ga­tions against the late Bishop Ge­orge Bell will crit­i­cise the orig­i­nal Church in­ves­ti­ga­tion as flawed and un­fair, it is un­der­stood.

Bishop Bell, pic­tured, the wartime Bishop of Chich­ester who died in 1958, was praised for speak­ing out against Hitler in the 1930s – and he was granted the Angli­can equiv­a­lent of a Saint’s Day, an an­nual com­mem­o­ra­tion.

But to the fury of devo­tees, his char­ac­ter was black­ened when the Church de­clared two years ago that ‘on the bal­ance of prob­a­bil­i­ties’ he had sex­u­ally as­saulted a child in the late 1940s and early 1950s.

Se­nior Church of­fi­cials apol­o­gised and paid £15,000 com­pen­sa­tion to the anony­mous com­plainant, known only as ‘Carol’, who said she had been mo­lested dur­ing vis­its to the Bishop’s Palace in Chich­ester.

But in­sid­ers said the re­view, com­mis­sioned last year af­ter crit­i­cism of the Church’s han­dling of the case and which was led by top lawyer Lord Carlile, is be­lieved to be crit­i­cal of the in­ves­ti­ga­tion, al­though it does not rule on the bishop’s guilt or in­no­cence.

Lord Carlile handed his re­port to the Arch­bishop of Can­ter­bury last week. The Church of Eng­land said it would is­sue a re­sponse when it was pub­lished.

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