Old Scandal Returns
In 1983 a group of wealthy laity in the Diocese of Chichester were conned into giving money to assist Derry Mainwaring Knight escape a Satanist organisation in which he claimed to be trapped. The local vicar, the Rev John Baker, believed him and persuaded parishioners to help. Bishop Eric Kemp got the police to investigate and it turned out that Knight had raised more than £250,000 by fraud, much of it in Sussex. Knight claimed that fellow cult members were Enoch Powell, Leo Abse, and Willie Whitelaw. A journalist who investigated the scandal interviewed Dominic Walker, then an incumbent in Brighton, who said he had counselled people involved in Satanic cults who had named famous people as members. According to the blog, ‘Swallowing the Camel’, quoted by David Aaronovitch in The Times, the interview with Walker was mentioned in a letter to the Bishop of Durham by a sex abuse campaigner who demanded that the C of E take action. The church duly passed on to the police nonsensical claims for which there was no evidence resulting in sensational press coverage so that, as Aaronovitch put it, ‘Enoch Powell’s reputation was trashed by the 30-year-old inventions of a convicted con man’. In a statement the C of E has said that Powell’s name first entered the public domain in connection with Satanic cults in a story published by the Daily Mail but that doesn’t excuse the church for giving the story legs. There were, of course, real cases of abuse in the Diocese of Chichester, some of which, it is claimed, involved Bishop Peter Ball. Allegations against Bishop Ball must have been known to the diocese but were not revealed until Archbishop Rowan Williams ordered a visitation. Maybe the Church is over-reacting now because of past cover-ups. Bishop Martin Warner has admitted cover-ups but not said who was responsible.