Sussex

Petition seeks 'justice' for 'abuse' Bishop George Bell

Rt Rev George Bell Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption The Rt Rev George Bell was Bishop of Chichester from 1929 until his death in 1958

More than 2,000 people have signed a petition calling for the Church of England to re-examine the case against a former Bishop of Chichester.

Last year the church acknowledged that a woman had been sexually abused by the late George Bell in the 1940s and 1950s when she was a child.

It apologised and paid compensation to the victim.

Campaigners supporting the bishop said the case should be reopened as there was "a strong case for his defence".

Dr Ruth Hildebrandt Grayson, a supporter of the George Bell Group, said: "In light of the fact that a strong case for the late bishop's defence has now been assembled by a number of people with close connections to him, there is no excuse for the church to delay a fresh investigation any further."

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A spokesman for Lambeth Palace said: "The Church of England takes all safeguarding issues very seriously and is committed to listening to everyone affected and we have worked closely with the Bell Group in the details of receiving the petition.

"An independent review of the processes used in the George Bell case has been announced in accordance with House of Bishops guidance on all complex cases."

He added that it continued to offer support "to the survivor who brought the allegations".

The petition calls on the Church of England "to allow a fuller investigation before considering the case against Bishop Bell closed", including "re-examining the evidence" against him.

It says the church has "a responsibility to ensure fair and just procedures are in place for the future".

The petition, organised by the George Bell Group, was delivered to Lambeth Palace.

George Bell was Bishop of Chichester from 1929 until his death in October 1958.

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