Advice for the Archbishop on the Bell case

The Archbishop of Canterbury has incurred much criticism for his failure to accept recommendations in the report of Lord Carlile of Berriew QC on the case of Bishop Bell, which he himself commissioned. A senior bishop has now indicated the course that Justin Welby ought to follow, as Alistair Lexden pointed out in a letter printed in The Spectator on 3 February.

Sir: Unfortunately the Archbishop of Canterbury was not in the House of Lords on 22 January when I called on the Church to accept the Carlile Report’s central conclusion that, in the absence of convincing evidence against the great Bishop Bell, his name should never have been publicly besmirched (The Spectator’s Notes, 27 Jan.). Lambeth should heed the wise words of the Bishop of Peterborough who said that ‘where the complainant has a right to be anonymous, there seems to be a case for the respondent also to be anonymous… until there is overwhelming evidence to suggest guilt’.

If the Archbishop expressed belated remorse for not adopting such a course, which is in accordance with official police advice, he might begin to calm the furore that he has aroused.

Alistair Lexden
House of Lords