Inquiry into child abuse allegations against Bishop Bell deficient, says review

A Church of England inquiry into child abuse allegations against one of its most respected bishops almost 60 years after his death has been criticised as deficient by an independent review.

The review, led by Lord Carlile of Berriew, found the inquiry into Bishop George Bell was too quick to accept the allegations of the complainant "without serious investigation or inquiry".

Claims made by a woman known only as "Carol" of abuse by Bishop Bell when she was aged between five and eight in the 1950s led the Church to issue an apology and pay £15,000 in compensation.

But the inquiry was widely criticised for failing to investigate the victim's claims or seek witnesses who had known or worked for Bishop Bell during his tenure as Bishop of Chichester between 1929 and 1958.

Bishop Bell passed away a few months after his retirement.

The inquiry led to the cancellation of a planned statue in Canterbury Cathedral celebrating the bishop's work helping to rescue Jewish children transported out of Germany during the Second World War.

Bishop Bell's name was also removed from a room at the University of Chichester, while a building in the town was also renamed.

Lambeth Palace commissioned a review of the original investigation following criticism from Bishop Bell's supporters that not enough was done to substantiate the complainant's allegations, and after no other alleged victims came forward despite a helpline being set up.

Lord Carlile emphasised that the review was not to establish the truth of Carol's claims, but only to investigate the Church's handling of the case and establish best practice for handling future complaints.