Church of Eng­land must ex­on­er­ate Bishop Bell

The Daily Telegraph - - Letters to the editor -

SIR – The let­ter from lead­ing his­to­ri­ans on the Bishop Bell case (“Arch­bishop crit­i­cised for ‘dan­ger­ous’ pae­dophile claim”, re­port, Jan­u­ary 18) elo­quently calls upon the Church to cor­rect the state­ments it is­sued fol­low­ing the dev­as­tat­ing cri­tique of its pro­cesses by the Carlile re­port.

As a re­tired child pro­tec­tion so­lic­i­tor, I would frame the de­gree of ex­on­er­a­tion of Bell from a le­gal per­spec­tive in the fol­low­ing way.

Had Bishop Bell been alive to­day and had he daugh­ters, they would have been re­moved from his care upon the al­le­ga­tions be­ing made. Fol­low­ing the eval­u­a­tions of Pro­fes­sor An­thony Maden, the ex­pert psy­chi­a­trist cho­sen by the Church, and the re­view by an em­i­nent lawyer such as Lord Carlile, those chil­dren would un­ques­tion­ably have been re­turned to his care im­me­di­ately. There would be no le­gal ba­sis to do oth­er­wise.

On what grounds, there­fore, does the Church of Eng­land frame its claim to un­der­stand th­ese things bet­ter than the courts? Lord Carlile makes it quite clear that the Church’s lawyers and its na­tional safe­guard­ing team did not un­der­stand the law, failed to un­der­stand the ex­perts’ re­port, mis­rep­re­sented that re­port’s con­clu­sions and did not fol­low the rudi­ments of good prac­tice in this spe­cial­ist field.

Any opin­ion from the House of Bish­ops based upon guid­ance from such ad­vis­ers is ex­traor­di­nar­ily shaky. Martin Sewell

Mem­ber of Gen­eral Synod Gravesend, Kent

SIR – The Arch­bishop of Can­ter­bury seems to be dig­ging him­self into a hole.

Re­ply­ing to the sup­port­ers of Bishop Bell, he re­jects the ar­gu­ment: “I knew him and can­not pos­si­bly be­lieve him guilty.” In­stead, he favours: “I didn’t know him and can­not pos­si­bly be­lieve him in­no­cent.” Jill Davies

Northamp­ton

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