Skip to main content

IICSA published its final Report in October 2022. This website was last updated in January 2023.

IICSA Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse

The Anglican Church Investigation Report


B.4.5: Allegations against deceased individuals

29. The Church does not keep records about the number of allegations made against deceased individuals.[1]

30. If a claim relates to an individual for whom there would have been a valid insurance policy were they alive, it is dealt with by the EIO and the principles and procedures set out above would apply. If the claim relates to a deceased bishop – such as Victor Whitsey, Peter Ball or George Bell – it is managed by the Church Commissioners, whose role is to ensure proper investigation before taking decisions about settlement.[2]

31. The Church Commissioners (who are responsible for payment of compensation in claims which are not insured) are considering introducing mediation as part of their process for redress.[3]

The first George Bell case and the Carlile review

32. A complainant known as Carol alleged in 1995 and again in 2013 that she was abused by the late George Bell, former Bishop of Chichester. When Carol sued the Church for damages in 2014, a core group was convened. The Church settled Carol’s claim, apologised and issued a public statement.

33. Lord Carlile of Berriew was instructed by the Church to consider its response to the allegations. In his report (dated December 2017), he was critical of the Church’s actions, particularly in making a public statement about the allegations and the settlement reached. In the Chichester/Peter Ball Investigation Report, the Inquiry expressed concern about a number of Lord Carlile’s conclusions. These included that:

  • a confidentiality clause should have been included in the settlement;
  • considerable weight” should have been given to the “high esteem” in which George Bell was held; and
  • the core group was criticised for relying on the evidence of “a single complainant”.[4]

34. Lord Carlile’s recommendations only apply to a small minority of claims, those that are uninsured or where no claim is issued.[5] There may also be claims where there was no insurance policy in place.

35. In Mr Bonehill’s view, the process suggested by Lord Carlile was not consistent with the approach that an insurer would take in insured cases, and that it was “something that certainly we would not be able to support”.[6]

35.1. Lord Carlile recommended the assistance of advice from a lawyer with practical knowledge of criminal law and procedure. Although civil claims are judged on the balance of probabilities, Lord Carlile stated that “the examination of a case of this kind against the criminal standard is a useful and instructive exercise”.[7] Mr Bonehill said that this would not be considered relevant to an insured claim because the standard of proof is the balance of probabilities.[8]

35.2. Lord Carlile stated that the core group was wrong to dismiss the defence of limitation.[9] Mr Bonehill did not agree and repeated the EIO’s position that limitation should be used very sparingly.[10]

35.3. Lord Carlile considered that where a claim was settled without admission of liability the settlement should generally include a confidentiality provision. The EIO does not and never has insisted on confidentiality provisions unless they are sought by the complainant, but there is no distinction between claims settled with liability and without.[11] In Mr Bonehill’s view:

serious consideration would need to be given to enforcing such a clause. In reality, it is difficult to imagine a situation where it would be considered ethically proper for an organisation to seek to claw back a damages and costs payment from an individual who, potentially, has been a victim/survivor of abuse”.[12]

The second George Bell case

36. Following the publication of Lord Carlile’s report, a further allegation of abuse by Bishop George Bell was made by an individual known as Alison. This second George Bell case is the most recent example of how the Church of England manages an uninsured allegation against a deceased individual.

37. The National Safeguarding Team convened a core group to oversee and manage the response to the allegation, to comply with Lord Carlile’s recommendations.[13]

38. A former detective superintendent, Raymond Galloway, was appointed to undertake an investigation. His investigation was thorough and included as many witnesses as possible.[14] An independent consultant was also appointed to represent the interests of Bishop Bell’s family, with an independent sexual and domestic violence adviser to ensure that Alison’s viewpoint was heard.[15] Both were subsequently represented by counsel during the process. A senior ecclesiastical judge, Timothy Briden, was appointed as the decision-maker in relation to the complaint.[16]

39. The core group concluded that no reasonable tribunal could find that the allegations were proven on the balance of probabilities. Mr Briden concluded that no further allegations were proven on the balance of probabilities.[17]

Back to top