Bishop Bell: the complainant’s payoff

Last year the #BishopofChichester, #DrMartinWarner, paid off a complainant who alleged that she had been abused by his great predecessor, #BishopGeorge Bell, over sixty years ago. Dr Warner also apologised to the complainant, to whom he persistently refers as “the survivor”.

Dr Warner has never revealed anything about the details of the payment, except that it did not come from diocesan funds, nor would he state the amount paid, though it was generally thought to be £15,000, a low amount for this type of settlement.

But some information did come out at the #GeneralSynod of the Church of England, on 8 July this year. The published transcript shows that the First Church Estates Commissioner, Sir #AndreasWhittamSmith, said (in answer to a question from #David Lamming):

The Commissioners contributed to the settlement of the claim, but did not pay the whole. The damages paid were £16,800 and the claimant’s legal costs were £15,000. In addition, the Diocese of Chichester’s costs were £18,000. These figures include the costs of a medical expert instructed by the claimant and another instructed by the Diocese of Chichester. The Commissioners paid £29,800 towards the damages and costs, with the balance being funded by a donation from a private individual, not an insurer or another Church institution.

Mr Lamming then asked:

whether insurers were asked to contribute to the settlement and if so whether they declined to do so,…..and will you please state the particular speciality of the medical experts instructed respectively by the claimants and by the diocese of Chichester.

Sir Andreas at first said that he could add nothing to his first answer, though when pressed by Mr Martin Sewell he did add:

I’ve no idea whether an insurer was involved. We were not told about such a case.

He said the #DioceseofChichester would know the answer, but when asked if the information would be made available, rounded off:

I cannot speak for the diocese of Chichester, I’m afraid.

These exchanges give some ground for optimism to the growing number of people who are concerned about the Church’s conduct of the whole affair. The question about the type of medical expertise involved remained unanswered, but at least the amounts paid are now on the public record (though not the identity of the munificent private individual who contributed £20,000).

As usually happens, more information will gradually be winkled out, though it may be a slow business.

@ClarkeMicah @MartynPercy @jwArchbishop @FACTUKOrg

Follow me on Twitter: @ChristoHill3




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