Top QC will review the Bishop George Bell case

Bishop Bell
Bishop Bell

Lord Carlile of Berriew has been named as the independent reviewer of the processes used in the Bishop George Bell case.

Lord Carlile CBE QC will conduct the ‘lessons learnt review’, commissioned by the Church of England’s National Safeguarding Team, in accordance with the House of Bishops’ guidance on all complex cases, in June.

In 2015 the Bishop of Chichester issued a formal apology following the settlement of a legal civil claim regarding allegations of sexual abuse by Bishop Bell, who was Bishop of Chichester from 1929 until 1958.

In a statement the Church of England said: “The aim of the review will be to look at the processes surrounding the allegations which were first brought in 1995 to the diocese of Chichester, with the same allegations brought again, this time to Lambeth Palace, in 2013.

“It will also consider the processes, including the commissioning of independent expert reports and archival and other investigations, which were used to inform the decision to settle the case, in order to learn lessons which can applied to the handling of similar safeguarding cases in future.”

Lord Carlile CBE QC is a Member of the House of Lords, having served as a Liberal Democrat Member of Parliament from 1983 to 1997.

He was the independent reviewer of Terrorism Legislation from 2001-2011.

Lord Carlile told the Observer: “The review I have been asked to conduct will be conducted on an evidence basis and I shall welcome any additional evidence anyone is able to offer.

“I hope the results of my review will be ready to be released late next summer and I shall be examining all the relevant issues.”

The Bishop of Bath and Wells, Peter Hancock, thanked Lord Carlile for agreeing to undertake the review and said the diocese of Chichester ‘continues to support the survivor, known as Carol, who brought the allegations’.