Harvey Proctor George Bell
Church of England

Credible and True: the evidence against Harvey Proctor and Bishop George Bell

 

“Credible and true” is how the police described the evidence against former Tory MP Harvey Proctor. He had been taken in and questioned under the aegis of ‘Operation Midland’ – Scotland Yard’s investigation into allegations of a historic Westminster paedophile ring which serviced the needs of gay politicians throughout the 1970s and 80s, and then apparently kept their sordid assignations secret by murdering some of the boys who did the servicing. To be accused of being a serial child-murder and of the sexual abuse of children is a serious thing. You would expect the police to act on such an allegation, especially if they judged the evidence to be not only sufficiently credible to pass the file to the CPS, but true enough to secure a conviction.

But the investigation was halted, and the case against Harvey Proctor has been dropped. Having trashed the man’s name and splashed it about all over the media on the strength of one solitary, anonymous and uncorroborated allegation from decades ago, the Met told Harvey Proctor that he was no longer a suspected serial child-murderer and paedophile, and that everything was now just fine and dandy, thank you very much. The evidence that was once deemed to be both credible and true is now seemingly neither.

Harvey Proctor’s accuser was a man called ‘Nick’ (his real identity has not been disclosed). As a result of these allegations, Harvey Proctor has lost his livelihood and home. “I have been pilloried and the Metropolitan Police Service has enabled and allowed me to be wrongly depicted as a paedophile, child abuser and child murderer on the back of a liar,” he said. “Nothing the police do or say, no weasel words of regret, can remove that indelible stain. I hope they are proud of themselves for irreparably ruining my life.” Whatever he now does; however he proceeds; whichever way he turns, Harvey Proctor’s name will be forever associated with the whiff of paedophilia.

Credible and true is also how the Church of England found the evidence against Bishop George Bell, who has not been questioned because he is dead. Their investigation was “thorough” and “objective”, not least because they commissioned “experts” whose “independent reports” (ie credible) found “no reason to doubt the veracity of the claim(s)” against him (ie it was true). Bishop George Bell is also accused of historic paedophilia (in the 1940s and 50s), and this, again, is a serious thing – especially for a prince of the Church and a shepherd of the sheep. So you would expect the Church of England to act on such an allegation, especially if they judged the evidence to be not only sufficiently credible to pay the victim compensation in a civil case, but true enough to trash the man’s sainted reputation by causing his name to be expunged from buildings named in his honour.

George Bell’s accuser is a woman called ‘Carol’ (her real identity has not been disclosed), who has written about her treatment. The release of this primary testimony has not persuaded the Church of England to make public the “independent reports” they commissioned to secure their judgment. So, on the strength of one solitary, anonymous, uncorroborated allegation from decades ago, in a secret post mortem hearing at which the Bishop was afforded no defence, the Church of England deemed the evidence against George Bell to be both credible and true.

“But someone came forward who said that they had been abused by him,” explained the Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby. “And on the balance of probability at this distance it seemed clear to us, after very thorough investigation, that that was correct, and so we paid compensation and gave a profound and deeply-felt apology.”

“Nobody should imagine for one moment that any of us felt that George Bell could just be discarded. I mean he’s the greatest hero most of us have, and this has been an appalling shock and a terrible event to have had to deal with,” the Archbishop added. “But you have to listen to the survivors, you have to listen to those who’ve suffered and whose whole lives have often been destroyed and ruined by this.”

Except, of course, that “discarded” is precisely what George Bell has been. The evidence of his grave sin was judged to be both credible and true: “On the balance of probability at this distance it seemed clear to us,” the Archbishop of Canterbury insisted.

Issues of truth ought rightly to outweigh the bubble reputation. But truth demands justice, and justice must be seen to be done. The George Bell Group has determined that justice has not only not been seen to be done in this case; it has not been done at all:

We have concluded that on moral, pastoral and legal grounds the authorities of the Church of England clearly owe an apology, principally to the living relatives of Bishop Bell, and also to many people across the churches who have honoured his memory. We further invite all public institutions which have owned an association with the name of Bishop Bell to restore his name to the places where it was known and valued before 22 October 2015.

Might Carol be mistaken? Not at all, according to the experts who compiled their independent reports. Her recollection of events from the 1940s and 50s are engraved on her soul. Sexual abuse would be: there is scarcely a darker horror in the loss of innocence. ‘Carol’ has, however, issued an apology to former Archbishop of Canterbury Lord Carey, whose reputation she impugned by insisting that she had written to him to complain about the abuse she suffered. She said that she wrote to him 14 years ago. Except he wasn’t Archbishop of Canterbury in 2002. Wrong archbishop, you see. An honest mistake to make.

At least Harvey Proctor is alive and can write a book called Credible and True to set the record straight. Who can interrogate the credibility and truth of the Church of England’s evidence against Bishop George Bell when they refuse to disclose it?

  • PessimisticPurple

    C of E bishops are not princes of the Church. Otherwise, spot on.

  • preacher

    Indeed & quite odd that out of a veritable rats nest of high ranking paedophile abusers in the Dolphin Square allegations, the case has been dropped for lack of sufficient evidence to prosecute even one of the perpetrators. – Not One ? .

    • Ivan M

      The stories sounded so true that I actually believed there was some truth to them.

      • preacher

        Man has always preferred the darkness to the light because his deeds were evil brother, but there is one who will reveal all in the fullness of time & He is perfect, just & incorruptible.

  • Royinsouthwest

    Compare the attitude of the police to allegations of sexual abuse by well known people decades ago with their lack of action in widespread cases of sexual abuse by men with a certain background in Rotherham and several other towns. Some of the perpetrators have belatedly been brought to justice but what about the police offices, social workers etc. who were aware of the abuse but deliberately turned a blind eye to it over a period of a couple of decades? Has a single person lost his/her job or faced a charge for not doing their duty?

    There have been suggestions on the Internet that politicians deliberately ensured that plenty of publicity was given to investigations of allegations of historic sexual abuse cases involving celebrities in order to distract attention from the known cases of abuse had were ignored in the interests of “community cohesion.” Furthermore it has been alleged that certain sections of the media adopted a similar policy. An obvious example is the way the BBC covered the raid by the police on Cliff Richard’s house.

    • Ivan M

      Most certainly the case.

  • tjamesjones

    You’d think with the Panama leaks et al that we’d get to find out who Nick is.

  • Uncle Brian

    In this week’s Spectator there’s a review of a new book about the Bell case. The reviewer says at one point:

    A recent detailed review of the case showed that no effort had been made by the Church to consider the evidence for Bell: his voluminous papers and diaries had not been consulted, nor had living people who worked with him at that time (including one domestic chaplain, Adrian Carey, now aged 94, who spent virtually every waking moment with Bell for more than two of the years in which the abuse supposedly happened). His cause was given no legal advocate.

    The title of the book is George Bell, Bishop of Chichester: Church, State and Resistance in the Age of Dictatorship and the author is Andrew Chandler.

    http://www.spectator.co.uk/2016/04/george-bell-witness-to-the-truth/

  • CliveM

    I fear that both the courage and will required to look at this possible miscarriage will be lacking. The Cof E will be hoping that as long as it stays silent, this will fall out of view and be quietly forgotten about. Can anyone seriously believe the Church will risk being pilloried by the press, politicians and public, for a dead man?

  • Fred

    Having shown so little regard for the presumption of innocence concerning previous staff members: current staff members must know that a solitary unsubstantiated allegation could lead absolutely anywhere.

    Who would choose to work for such an organisation? Franz Kafka perhaps, as source material for another novel?

    That the ‘victim’ suffered abuse is entirely possible and possibly by a cleric. If the Archibishop wished to declare collective responsibility on that guess then fair enough.

  • RichardWSymonds

    The Archbishop and the Bishop of Chichester need a change of heart – fast. If not, they will dig an even deeper hole for themselves – and the Church they represent – a hole from which only God can dig them out.

  • len

    Anonymity before definite proof is established should be’ the bottom line’ in any investigation.. Anyone leaking information to the press about unconfirmed information should be held accountable …….

    • Anton

      Anybody willing to make public accusations under their real name should be free to do so and our libel laws are too fierce. Details of police investigations that get leaked are in fact often leaked by the police themselves when they have strong grounds to believe somebody is guilty but do not have evidence that is admissible in court. Private Eye used to get a lot of info that way and were actually sued remarkably infrequently given what they published.

      I recall that some of these allegations involved multiple accusers, yet now it is apparently down to one who is being assiduously discredited in the media. Conspiracy, or not? I am not referring to the Proctor or Bell cases.

      • len

        Agreed that ‘ Anybody willing to make public accusations under their real name should be free to do so’
        Not to sure about police releasing info on ‘strong grounds’ …thought they needed evidence to accuse someone?. Police are not infallible…..

        • Anton

          Evidence can be strong but inadmissible in court…

      • Royinsouthwest

        Did the Private Eye, its authors and editorial staff actually have enough money for them to be worth suing?

        • Anton

          Thy were often sued – just less often than one might expect given what they printed.

  • Malcolm Smith

    I am reminded of the police’s behaviour in the case of someone who was eventually proved guilty: Rolf Harris. The police announced they were investigating a prominent entertainer 84 years old, and many of us guessed who it might be. But the important point was that they withheld his name until almost the end, when they were pretty sure they had an iron cast case, and were ready to prosecute. And that was how it should have been. People should not have their names dragged through the mud on the basis of mere suspicion.
    And in the case of George Bell, I will say it again: it would have been charitable for the church to give the complainant the benefit of the doubt, and provide whatever compensation or counselling thought reasonable, but kept the whole thing confidential, in order to give the late bishop the benefit of the doubt as well.

  • Politically__Incorrect

    Compare these cases to the witch-hunts of the Middle Ages. No evidence was needed. An allegation equated to guilt. And while we don’t burn them at the stake, we certainly fry their reputations, livelihood, and deny them any chance of resuming a normal life. If the allegation has been made then society dictates you can never be innocent, even if you are.
    Society’s obsession with paedomania is unhealthy for those obsessed with it. Hardly a BBC news broadcast goes by without the obligatory paedo story/half-story/non-story. Presumably, as with watching public executions in days of old, it is intended to boost the watchers sense of self-righteousness by deflecting the conscience away from its owner’s own darker side. It is no surprise to me to see the police acting with injustice and incompetence, but it’s sad to see the archbishop also joining the public lust for retribution without recourse to proper and fair process.

    • Aran’Gar

      That isn’t entirely true, witchcraft trials, particularly in the Middle Ages tended to have rather high evidentiary standards.
      It was during the Reformation, and political and spiritual chaos (and I wouldn’t be surprised, a rise in witchcraft as well) that sparked the witch hunts, even so, there were usually standards, particularly when central authorities like the Inquisition got involved.

      It was only in cases like Salem where things were left to local actors on the ground that things got out of hand.

  • C Law

    It is worthy of note that the two accusers in these cases are referred to as “Nick” and “Carol”. This familiarity implicitly invites a sympthetic response. Why were they not referred to as “Mr. N” and “Ms. C” ? That would have been more impartial.

    • IanCad

      Good point; must be good folks if we’re on a first name basis.
      There is a horrible “Snitch” culture in the UK.

  • The Church of England should be grateful it don’t have the likes of ‘SNAP’ and ‘Bishops Accountability’ hounding it. Or, should it?

  • Findaráto

    Death should never protect a man’s reputation from investigation. But neither should he be convicted of a crime on the basis of a single witness’s testimony unless that testimony is corroborated by convincing physical evidence.

    People who are determined to exact revenge for slights real or imagined can spin quite a tale. And the experts who claim to be able to detect them do not inspire confidence. I always chuckle at TV shows like “Waking The Dead” when the “profiler” tells the team of investigators exactly who to look for and, surprise surprise, the perpetrator always fits the bill exactly. In real life these “experts” are just as sure of themselves. It’s like their psychology degrees have made them infallible. They’re the modern age’s priests and oracles and woe betide you if you question their pronouncements.

    NOBODY should be tried and convicted based on an “expert’s” opinion. One person’s conceited idea of his own infallibility does not establish guilt beyond reasonable doubt.

    If Bishop Bell has been convicted on the basis of uncorroborated testimony given by one woman, then his conviction is unsafe. Who’s to say this woman isn’t a practiced liar used to leading conceited “experts” by the nose and telling them exactly what they want to hear? If there’s no corroborating testimony or physical evidence to back up her story then Bell remains innocent until proven guilty.

    As the archbishop has declared his support for the verdict against Bell, are we sure there’s no “smoking gun” that corroborates his accuser’s story? Does she have the equivalent of Monica Lewinsky’s stained dress? Can she provide intimate details of the bishop’s anatomical peculiarities that only a sexual encounter could reveal? Even then, what proof can she provide that it wasn’t consensual?

    Welby isn’t a stupid man, which leads me to believe that he’s seen evidence but is unwilling to disclose it because it probably implicates others and he doesn’t want to deal with another major scandal. But if there is no evidence apart from an “expert’s” opinion, then he should be ashamed of himself for condemning a man whose guilt has not been established.

    Which isn’t to say Bell didn’t do it. But basic justice requires a minimum standard of proof publicly disclosed. Justice must be seen to be done. So why all the secrecy?

    • You confusing civil and criminal proceedings. One has the balance of probabilities as the standard for settling a claim. The other beyond a reasonable doubt for a finding of criminal guilt.

      • Findaráto

        Technically I suppose you’re right. But we’re talking about a man’s entire legacy here.

        Is it right to declare a man guilty, even if only on the balance of probabilities, without making the evidence that establishes that guilt public?

        One woman’s unsupported testimony should not be enough to decide even a civil case. There must be corroborating evidence. Why has it not been made public?

        The image this communicates is of a Church that’s willing to sacrifice a man’s reputation in order to avoid further scandal. “Believe me, he’s guilty” just doesn’t cut the mustard.

        Welby should know this. What happened to all his much-vaunted negotiation and concilation skills? He can’t just declare a man guilty and expect those who love and respect his memory to take it lying down.

        I have no horse in this race because I’m neither a Christian nor an Anglican, and I had no idea who Bell was before this affair blew up. Much as I appreciate the sex scandals that continue to destroy the Church’s credibility, there are plenty of patently guilty prelates out there who can be pilloried with justification. I neither need nor want an innocent target, and as far as I’m concerned, until proven guilty (civil proceedings notwithstanding) Bell remains innocent.

  • carl jacobs

    Who can interrogate the credibility and truth of the Church of England’s evidence against Bishop George Bell when they refuse to disclose it?

    But that is the point. You can’t examine what you don’t possess. And what benefit is it to the CoE for others to examine the evidence?

    You see. This is what happens when the lawyers get involved.

    • The Church of England settled a civil claim … on the balance of probabilities. The Church believed the woman’s testimony. They concluded … on the balance of probabilities … it was more likely than not she was telling the truth and had been sexually assaulted. So should they have refused to compensate her to guard George Bell’s reputation? Because he is dead and cannot defend himself?

      • carl jacobs

        The CoE settled the claim to make it go away. I don’t think it cared about guilt or innocence. It cared about potential liability and damage to its public reputation. It wanted most to protect itself. The most expedient path to achieving that goal was to “believe” the accuser (whether she was credible or not) and settle the claim. The CoE looks good. The case is buried. No possibility of embarrassing news stories. The only casualty is a Bishop long since dead. And his living relatives of course. But the lawyers for the CoE don’t have a fiduciary responsibility to the relatives of the dead. This is why people despise lawyers, you know. They make their living by finding ways to shift costs and other firms of harm to other people.

        The CoE investigates. It finds against the Bishop. And then it refuses to release the investigation in order to stonewall those who might want to defend the bishop’s reputation. No report means no response. No response means the story dies. The CoE is inoculated from harm.

        The whole episode stinks of lawyers.

        • If Jack may say so, that’s a rather nasty interpretation of the Church of England’s actions and the Archbishop of Canterbury’s words. It was all a small ‘p’ political exercise. Give her some money and shut her up. From memory, didn’t the Church counsellor actually recommend a civil claim? Are you sure this doesn’t reflect your jaundiced view of (American) lawyers?

          • carl jacobs

            You say “nasty.” I say “realistic.”

            didn’t the Church counsellor actually recommend a civil claim?

            I don’t know. But you know lawyers. They never say one thing in public and another thing in private. Never.

            Unless there is some tangible evidence, any accusation made 75 years after the fact and over 50 years after the death of the accused is inherently non-credible. It should not have even been received let alone investigated. And how do you investigate an alleged claim based on the memories of a small child 75 years after the alleged crime occurred when all the other principles are dead? The whole exercise was a farce. Which I am sure is why the report won’t be released. Keeping it secret means protecting its authority.

            No way a lawyers wants this case in court. Not after the debacle in the RCC. You never know what a jury would do. The accuser would be a sympathetic witness and the CoE would have no way to impeach her or defend against her accusation. Churches are unsympathetic defendents in the modern world. People are predisposed to assume guilt. The risk of liability was huge.

            That’s why I think the legal advice was “Settle and throw the Bishop under the bus.”. It’s a cheap way to make a dangerous problem go away.

          • You live in a different world to Happy Jack.

            You may or may not be correct about the lawyers in this particular instance. However, your hypothesis rests on an assumption that the Archbishop of Canterbury is also being dishonest and manipulative.

          • carl jacobs

            But that’s what politicians do, Jack. They find ways of saying disagreeable things in acceptably ambiguous ways. I’m well aware of the assumption you mentioned, and I do not shrink from it.

          • See, Jack just cannot accept Justin Welby would behave in such a manner. Jack disagrees with a lot he says on certain subjects, but has never doubted his integrity.

          • carl jacobs

            Heh. Ask the Global South Primates about Justin Welby and his promises.

          • Anton

            His predecessor broke a clear promise, hence that alternative synod, but has Welby – details please?

          • carl jacobs

            I was referring to his latest pledge to the Global South about TECs non-participation in the upcoming ACC meeting.

          • Anton

            Apart from the acronyms that you military men are fond of (!), that’s perfectly clear; thank you.

          • carl jacobs

            BTW. Do you actually believe there exists any reasonable way to investigate this charge? What could be done beyond taking her statement?

          • It’s not just a question of taking a statement. She would have had a number of meetings, over time, with people experienced and trained in this field and would have disclosed this alleged abuse to them.

            Does Jack believe the charge could be reasonably “investigated”? In truth, probably not, if all they had to go on was the adjudged credibility of the account of the accuser. We don’t know if there was more information available or if previous allegations or suspicions were on record. The investigation was confidential and can legitimately be withheld from the public.

            The Church heard this woman’s account and, whatever you say about lawyers, a senior cleric decided on the strength of it to accept she had “probably” been sexually abused by Bishop Bell. The Archbishop of Canterbury has endorsed this finding. What else could they do but settle?

          • carl jacobs

            What else could they do but settle?

            “Politely show her the door” comes to mind.

          • Findaráto

            “…people trained and experienced in this field…”

            Ah, experts!

            They’re infallible, aren’t they?

            Come to think of it, you claim to have had some psychology training yourself, don’t you Jack? So you really have no choice but to support this woman’s case. To dispute the findings of the experts who gave credence to her claims would be to place a question mark over your own right to pronounce judgment in similar cases. And that would never do.

            Jack doesn’t have a clue whether this woman was abused by Bell or not, but he’ll defend the right of experts to be believed in all circumstances because if they can be doubted, so can he. This whole intricate defence of Bell’s accuser is really just him defending his own credibility as an “expert”. That’s all that matters to him. Jack must be right because … well, just “because”.

          • Hmm … well, Jack was right about you, wasn’t he, Linus? Still smarting after all this time.

          • Royinsouthwest

            Are you saying British lawyers are better? Which profession do you think is responsible for “health and safety” being used to ban almost anything that could conceivably entail even the slightest risk?

      • It’s either hush money, because they don’t want further scandal. We’ve come this far let’s have out in the open the “independent reports”.

        Or they’ve paid out simply because of the many other cases that were in the victims’ favour so therefore this one must be too which is wrong really.

  • IanCad

    Too late for Bishop Bell – maybe they can remove the garbage bag covering his plaque.
    As for Harvey Procter, I’m sure the Duke and Duchess of Rutland are making arrangements for him to move back to their estate and resume his duties.

  • Inspector General

    Now, about ‘Nick’. The Inspector trusts a file is being prepared for the Director of Public Prosecutions as his outlandish claims made to the police cannot go unpunished, surely?

    • IanCad

      So right Inspector! The Ninth Commandment is too little heeded. It is a monstrous crime to falsely accuse, and generally goes unpunished.

      “—if the witness be a false witness, and hath testified falsely against his brother; Then shall ye do unto him, as he had thought to have done unto his brother:—“
      Deuteronomy 19:18,19.

    • Anton

      You know with certainty that they are false, then? I’m impressed: I don’t know either way.

      • Inspector General

        My dear fellow, giving ‘Nick’ his fifteen minutes of fame in open court is what that accuser truly deserves. There can be but three outcomes: Guilty, not guilty or the judge directing the jury to return not guilty, the English equivalent of the Scottish ‘not proven’. In the vernacular of a Glaswegian hard man – “Have ye got a problem with that, son”

        • Anton

          So you don’t know either? Would it be boorish of me to ask why you talked of his “outlandish claims… go[ing] unpunished”?

          • Inspector General

            You must forgive the Inspector. He was of the opinion that telling the police Harvey Proctor throttled a child to death, without a shred of evidence to back up the accusation, was a somewhat outlandish claim. Consequently, the police went down heavily on Proctor. The man lost a great deal from it, so he tells us. And young Nick gets to go home, possibly to concoct another fantasy. Perhaps YOU might star in the next one…

          • Anton

            “possibly to concoct another fantasy”

            So you KNOW the accusation was fantasy? I know nothing of the case, and I’d guess you don’t either.

          • Inspector General

            Look, old man, one is having trouble following your line of reasoning. Is it because you’re a scientist? One merely asks that Nick be dragged before a judge, and, well, judged for want of a better word…

          • Anton

            For what?

          • Inspector General

            One has replied to you – but it has vanished!

          • Inspector General

            Ah – here it is.

            You must forgive the Inspector. He was of the opinion that telling the police that Harvey Proctor throttled a child to death without a shred of evidence was a somewhat outlandish claim. Consequently, the police went down heavily on Proctor. The man lost a great deal from it, so he tells us. And young Nick gets to go home, possibly to concoct another fantasy. Perhaps YOU might star in the next one…

          • Anton

            Your phrase “another fantasy” implies that you know with certainty that it is false. Have you information to which the rest of us, who simply know nothing of the situation and make no judgement, are not privy?

          • Inspector General

            The penny has dropped. Cranmer…

  • This Carol woman, is or was she short of a bob or two when she came forward with her accusation? What was her financial situation?

    • sarky

      Apparently she is in her 70’s. Like I’ve said before, why would she put herself through all that, at her time of life, if it’s not true?

      • Pension pot getting a bit low?
        Or maybe it is true and she wants to unburden herself before she dies? Or she could have done it out of spite, she didn’t like him when she was a child?

        • sarky

          Then why wait?

          • IrishNeanderthal

            Riding the Savilator, maybe?

          • sarky

            Probs gave her the confidence to come forward.

  • carl jacobs

    It’s not natural for me to defend George Bell. It’s difficult for me to get beyond his criticism of the RAF during the war, and the implicit accusation he made against the aircrews who flew and fought and died by the thousands. Jus in Bello is a nice idea but the reality is that its applicability declines as the existential threat to the nation increases. In a war of survival, its reach asymptotically approaches zero. And Britain has never faced a greater threat to its existence than that presented by Hitler.

    But this case viscerally offends me. To think that a man’s reputation can be ripped from the grave and held up to public scorn upon a foundation of one uncorroborated statement that is 75 years old. It is evidence of institutional cowardice of the most craven sort. The women should have been told “The CoE can take no action on this. It would be unjust.” But then she would have gone to the media. There would have been headlines. And scandal. And bad public relations. And maybe a lawsuit. And certainly lawyers losing control of their sphincter muscles.

    “No, no, no. Settle. It’s far less risky to settle. Do some kind of investigation. You don’t even have to release the results. All you really have to do is interview her. You can just let people assume there is undisclosed evidence in the report. They will make this assumption if you admit he was guilty. They will assume something else must have corroborated the story or you would not have admitted his guilt. You can make reference to a “balance of probabilities” and that won’t even really be lying if you listen to her story and decide she is more likely telling the truth. Yes, it does mean destroying the man’s reputation. But he is dead, and his family will get over it. You have to think about the good of the CoE. Think of the damage this could do.”

    Advice from the Law Firm of Craven, Vulture, Cheatum, and Slugg

    • Or …. alternatively …. the woman’s allegation was believed as probably true and the Church felt morally obliged to offer compensation (£15k) and an apology.

      • carl jacobs

        Yes. And I’m sure they would make such a decision after consulting with Mrs Unicorn and her Care Bears.

        The Point: If a Just decision is impossible to render, then you don’t render a decision.

        • In principle, Jack agrees but the Church of England concluded a just decision could be reached.

          “But someone came forward who said that they had been abused by him,” explained the Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby. “And on the balance of probability at this distance it seemed clear to us, after very thorough investigation, that that was correct, and so we paid compensation and gave a profound and deeply-felt apology.”

          • carl jacobs

            There is no such thing as a just decision based upon one uncorroborated statement made 75 years after the fact.

          • Maybe, maybe not, that’s not your call.
            And, by the way, it’s Jack’s view that Bishop Bell was spot on in criticising area bombing of civilian populations as immoral and unchristian.

          • carl jacobs

            It is my call because it is an ethical and not a prudential judgment.

            And I’m well aware you would sell your nation into a thousand years of slavery just so you could say “But I didn’t bomb their cities. There may be corpses of my compatriots all around me but there is no blood on my hands.”

          • Do stop being so melodramatic. It’s doubtful that bombing cities and killing civilians made that much difference to the outcome of the war.

          • Anton

            The Germans lost WW1 and suffered no trauma at home ie inside their own borders, and within 21 years they continued that war. They lost WW2, in the process suffering deep trauma inside their borders, and have never since looked like doing it again.

          • So bomb and punish the civilian population and kill women, children and other non-combatants because national leaders wage war? There were other factors that prevented Western Europe and Germany engaging in warfare – not least NATO membership and the Cold War.

          • Anton

            The point is that after WW1 Germany would if it could (for it did), whereas that was no longer true after WW2.

            The entire country waged WW2, even though only men fought on the front line. Goebbels said so explicitly in his notorious “total war” speech. This was not like mediaeval warfare.

          • Are you seriously suggesting that area bombing of German civilian populations, regardless of military significance, was justifiable because it taught them a lesson and exacted revenge for the Holocaust?

          • Anton

            I’m looking at it in retrospect and saying I don’t regret it; don’t forget that they blitzed us, moreover. As for real time justification, the aim was to disrupt industry by rendering cities uninhabitable and by wrecking morale, since bombing of industrial areas was not proving effective due to insufficient accuracy and intelligence information. The aim was not mass murder – in contrast to the Holocaust, I might add.

          • So, you’re saying it is moral and Christian to wage war against civilian populations and to bomb woman, children, and other non-combatants – to wreck morale?

          • Anton

            Can’t you see the sentence where I said that “the aim was to disrupt industry by rendering cities uninhabitable and by wrecking morale, since bombing of industrial areas was not proving effective”?

          • Semantics. These were attacks on the civilian populations – a deliberate attempt to undermine Germany’s war effort and put pressure on the German government by attacking and killing non-combatants. It wasn’t a case of ‘collateral damage’ to innocents, but a deliberate policy.

          • Anton

            It was certainly “a deliberate attempt to undermine Germany’s war effort and put pressure on the German government”. Good point, in fact – they could always have surrendered! But I’m sorry that you regard a moral point as mere semantics, and sorry you have ignored the fact that the entire country was at war by the testimony of its own leaders. Adult non-elderly men in Germany’s armed forces were merely the spearhead.

          • The moral point is you do all you possibly can to avoid killing innocent people in warfare. You certainly don’t target them in order to further victory.

            “… the entire country was at war by the testimony of its own leaders.”
            Including children? Yeah, and we know the Nazi regime was honest and truthful at all times. The whole of Britain was behind our war effort, that did not justify the indiscriminate bombing of London.

          • Anton

            The only people deliberately murdering children were the Nazis murdering Jewish children. The Nazis wanted total war, they got it. There are no innocent people on this earth. To take this further, please say in regard to Germany: innocent of what?

          • “The only people deliberately murdering children were the Nazis murdering Jewish children.”

            Jack hasn’t used the term “murder”, but it’s good you recognise indiscriminate bombing for what it is – a breach of the 5th Commandment. The carpet bombing of cities, intending the loss of non-combatant life, is unjustified killing.

            There are no innocent people on this earth.
            Very deep and unworthy of a response.

          • Anton

            There was a war on, in case you’d forgotten.

            Consistency please: were you in CND?

          • As Jack said to Carl :

            The moral law isn’t set to one side during war. War does not mean that everything becomes acceptable in order to minimise casualties and win the war. The indiscriminate destruction of whole cities and the killing of their inhabitants, is a moral crime against God and man and it merits condemnation.

            The bombings of Dresden, Hiroshima and Nagasaki were not designed to destroy targets of military value while sparing civilian populations. They were deliberate attempts to put pressure on Germany and Japan by attacking non-combatants. This was the direct and intentional killing of innocent life and this is always gravely immoral.

            Was Jack in CND? No … but I can now see its merits. However, having the nuclear bomb appears to be the best way of ensuring it is never used.

          • Anton

            With your attitude you’d never use it, and as the enemy would know that fact we’d probably get nuked if you were in charge.

            The crux of this issue about bombing is in your word “innocent” civilians. I must ask: Innocent of what?

            Would you have supported ta Nuremberg-type process for Churchill, then? And Eisenhower, given that the Americans did the same thing by day that the RAF did at night?

          • “The crux of this issue about bombing is in your word “innocent” civilians. I must ask: Innocent of what?”
            Innocent of using aggression against Britain. You’re implying that everyone in a nation is collectively responsible for the actions of their government.

          • Anton

            “Innocent of using the tools of aggression against Britain. You’re implying that everyone in a nation is collectively responsible for the actions of their government.”

            You are inordinately fond of putting words in other people’s mouths. Before you suggest that the bomber crews should not have obeyed orders, consider that the German civilians making armaments could have done the same if they disagreed with their government.

            If Jack believes the bombings of Dresden, Hiroshima and Nagasaki were war crimes, would he have been glad to see Churchill and Eisenhower in a Nuremberg-type dock?

          • Making armaments is not the same as putting them to an immoral use. No Jack wouldn’t be glad to see either Churchill or Eisenhower in the dock for war crimes. This doesn’t mean they were not objective war crimes.

          • Anton

            So they were directly responsible for – ie, they ordered – actions that you regard as war crimes, yet you would not wish to see them prosecuted?

          • Jack has a forgiving nature – and they will answer before God.

          • carl jacobs

            Let me address these issues one at a time so the post doesn’t get too long.

            Dresden. In Feb 1945, the unoccupied portion of Germany was shaped sort of like a hour glass. Dresden was the last major railroad hub near the narrow part of the glass. The Red Army was advancing in that area and requested the Allies bomb Dresden to prevent the Germans from moving forces into the area to oppose the Russian advance. That was the primary reason for the bombing of Dresden – to support the Russian army. It was also the case that the US wanted to bomb Dresden to prevent German forces in the north from moving south. Allied commanders were worried about the possibility of a protracted guerrilla war in the mountains in the south of Germany.

            That was the primary purpose of the raid – to destroy the rail hub to restrict the motion of German forces. Dresden also had industry that supported the German war effort, albeit not a huge amount. The military necessity of the raid is simply not questionable. If you think the allies bombed Dresden just to burn down a city, you simply don’t understand the raid.

            You might say the raid was disproportionate, and I would ask “Compared to what?” You aren’t going to get very far arguing that the allies should have sent (say) half as many bombers. The purpose of the raid was to achieve the objective of the mission, and the number of bombers dispatched reflected a desire to get a good probability of success. If you think it was disproportionate, then you can offer up an alternate planning package to support your contention.

            But I know you can’t do that.

          • So the bombing of Dresden was to knock out the German railway network? In doing so, was it just coincidental the whole city was raised to the ground?

            Between 13 and 15 February 1945, 722 heavy bombers of the British Royal Air Force (RAF) and 527 of the United States Army Air Forces (USAAF) dropped more than 3,900 tons of high-explosive bombs and incendiary devices on the city.[1] The bombing and the resulting firestorm destroyed over 1,600 acres (6.5 km2) of the city centre. An estimated 22,700to 25,000[4] people were killed. Three more USAAF air raids followed, two occurring on 2 March aimed at the city’s railroad marshaling yard and one small raid on 17 April aimed at industrial areas.

            (Wiki)
            Bombing the railroad followed the main destruction of the city – as did bombing the industrial areas. Was this just poor quality targeting?

          • carl jacobs

            None of that changes anything I said, Jack. I described the military purpose of the mission. I don’t know why they planned the mission they way they did. Neither do you. I was addressing the operation reason behind the mission – which was decidedly military in purpose.

            But feel free to offer an alternative plan that would have lead to mission success while achieving whatever level of destruction you deem acceptable. I’m sure you know better than the people who planned the mission in 1945.

          • If your analysis is correct, perhaps A bombing raid on the railway network would have sufficed.

          • carl jacobs

            Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

            How do you think the US defeated Japan, Jack? Here’s a clue. Japan was not defeated because it lost a successive chain of defensive islands between 1942 and 1945.

            So what was it that actually crushed Japan? Feel free to point out all the war crimes.

            1. The US and and its allies torpedoed, bombed, strafed and otherwise sank essentially every ship in the Japanese merchant marine. In so doing we severed a resource-poor Japan from its overseas supplies. And not just iron for steel, or oil for fuel. We shut down the importation of food as well. We deliberately severed every sea connection to deprive Japan of anything and everything it needed – whether for domestic consumption of war production. It’s called siege warfare and it is indiscriminate in its effects.

            2. The US burned out almost every major city in Japan to destroy industry (both factory and home-based) and to displace workers from being able to live near surviving industry. We killed 500,000 people, destroyed hundreds of square miles of city, and made millions homeless. The goal was to shut down Japan industry in order to halt war production and collapse the Japanese economy.

            3. We released tactical aircraft and surface ships to seek out and destroy any targets of opportunity that might be useful to the Japanese economy or war effort – trains, bridges, pretty much anything that looked like a boat, factories and warehouses, dockyards, vehicles, even lighthouses. We intentionally sought to strip Japan naked of economic viability.

            4. The one major target type the US had not attacked was the transportation network. The Japanese were still able to move. But the fire raids had played out, and the transportation grid was next on the list. There was already a famine in parts of Japan. Hammering the transportation network was going to make it much worse. Of course, there was already going to be a huge famine in Japan in 1946 and the Japanese gov’t knew it.

            The combination of 1,2,3 caused the Japanese economy to implode by the middle of 1945 with all the attendant suffering of the Japanese people. Famine, disease, homelessness, death, shortages, deprivation. That’s what the US did to Japan in 1945. It was a brutal form of siege warfare. Unfortunately it didn’t induce the Japanese to surrender. There are some people who think the Japanese were trying to surrender but they are simply ignorant of the history. Some people in the gov’t were trying to surrender. They were discussing it in secret because they would have been assassinated by the army if their discussions had become known. Never forget that the Japanese gov’t had no authority over the Japanese military. But people do forget. They are transfixed by the “reality” of impending Japanese surrender.

            When people say “Japan was going to surrender anyways” what they mean is that the Japanese economy had already been crushed, and that Japan was on the verge of massive starvation. They do not mean that Japan had lost a bunch of battles on islands. Now, I want you to go through that list and tell me all the war crimes that you identified and correlate them with the contention that atomic bombings were unnecessary because Japan was already beaten. What exactly was it that reduced Japan to this level in the first place? If you have no war crimes, then you have to explain why Tokyo in March 1945 was acceptable whereas Hiroshima was not. If you do have war crimes in your list, then you have a big problem.

            Here is what I want you to do. I want you to mentally remove all those things the US did to end the war – those things that you labeled as war crimes – and answer this question: “How would the US have otherwise ended the war?”

          • You haven’t mentioned any military objective behind the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Was it simply terror? Sounds like the American strategy was to crush the people of Japan – military and civilian. Was that really the only viable way to end the war against Japan?

          • carl jacobs

            The atomic strikes had the same purpose as 500 B-29s armed with incendiaries. It was a different kind of weapon intended to achieve the same purpose. Both cities were significant military targets. The wreckage of the Mitsubishi works (for example) in Nagasaki are prominent in many photos. The cities could have been burned with fire raids to achieve the same purpose (and would have been if certain cities had not been spared for atomic strikes. Would that option have been morally acceptable?

            The atomic bombings ended the war because they invalidated the Japanese end game. The Japanese had to concentrate forces to bleed the Americans. But concentration made the mass vulnerable to atomic attack. The Americans no longer had to close for combat and so could not be bled. Hirohito saw that the Americans could stand off and obliterate japan from the air. That’s why he surrendered.

            And yes, it was the only viable option. Unless you wanted to fight a war of annihilation against an intact economy, or leave the gov’t in power.

          • Military targets? That doesn’t sound credible. The atomic bombs were unnecessary – they just sped things along by inducing fear and demonstrating the hopelessness of Japan’s position.

            We need to evaluate the morality of these acts in and of themselves – and not judge them according to their consequences. The morally ‘right action’ is not the action which produces the best possible consequences. Is it ever right to deliberately take an innocent life? Natural law and the 5th commandment answer “No”. It is the sin of murder.

          • Albert

            Good point, in fact – the German government could always have surrendered.

            Which of course, was never going to happen. the German government could not care less about the German people – as the end of the war showed.

            and sorry you have ignored the fact that the entire country was at war by the testimony of its own leaders.

            That may have been the testimony of the leaders, but it is not a fact in itself.

          • Anton

            Please look up the thread to my reference to Daniel Goldhagen’s book. As for a German surrender, it would have taken the forcible removal of Hitler and that very nearly happened. Also, people generally get the government they deserve.

          • Albert

            I think it’s pretty hard on the Germans to say they got the Government they deserved. I’m not sure that attempts to remove Hitler (I assume you are referring to July 1944 were to do with bombing, more to do with Russia.

          • Anton

            Several million Germans accede in their Leader’s demand that they engage in invasion of their neighbours followed by genocide, and you blame it all on Hitler?

          • Albert

            I was thinking more of how he came to power. But from 1939, each person has to take responsibility for his own part. The idea they were all equally deserving of what they got is absurd.

          • Anton

            Corporate responsibility is not, of course, synonymous with equal responsibility.

          • Albert

            And some Germans were not responsible at all. But all sat under the same allied bombs.

          • Anton

            For which many allied families were not responsible either, if you wish to play that game…

          • Albert

            But that does not advance any argument at all, as it stands.

          • Uncle Brian

            “Semantics”? Nonsense! You can’t wriggle out of answering Carl’s question as easily as that. Here it is again:

            At some point the only moral imperative that matters becomes winning the war. So tell me. Would you have risked defeat to avoid bombing Germany?

          • To avoid the immoral, indiscriminate killing of civilian populations? Yes. Bomb military targets – not non-combatants.

            “And why not say, as we are slanderously reported and as some claim that we say, “Let us do evil that good may come “? Their condemnation is just.”

            Do you also support abortion in situations where the mother’s life is at risk?

          • carl jacobs

            And so you admit I wasn’t being melodramatic after all.

          • Jack is confidant the war could have been won without resorting to immoral methods. And, if not, then we have to accept God’s Providence.

          • carl jacobs

            How virtuous of you to consign so many others to destruction for the sake of your pristine hands, You aren’t concerned with how many die, You’re concerned only with not being party to the killing. That isn’t rectitude. It’s moral narcissism. It’s one thing to consign yourself to the Providence of God. It’s quite another thing to consign others to the providence of God by virtue of your own decision – especially when you have sworn to protect them. The Sword that protects must not fail.

            Of course, it’s easy for you to say all this stuff in the abstract. I would be more impressed if you still said it while the SS Liebstandarte Division was driving by Buckingham Palace, and you suddenly had to live with the consequences of your decision. And you had to watch others live with the consequences of your decisions.

          • You asked and Jack replied. Don’t you believe national leaders should act according to their moral conscience? In a democracy, they can always be removed from office.

            In Britain the Prime Minister takes an oath of allegiance to the Queen, along with all other Members of Parliament. Besides, no oath could compel one to act against one’s moral code.

          • carl jacobs

            If a leader would voluntarily accept defeat at the hands of Hitler in order to uphold Jus In Bello, then he isn’t morally fit to lead the nation.

          • According to you, Carl. But then you are a moral consequentialist who holds that nation states are not bound by the Christian morality.

          • carl jacobs

            Yeah. I’m one of those consequentialists who thinks Option A of 100,000 dead is better than Option B of 20,000,000 dead.

            More fool me.

          • Yep, not forgetting America’s Manifest Destiny – “the last best, hope of earth.”

          • carl jacobs

            We certainly were the last best hope for those 300,000 POWs who were British or Commonwealth nationals. They would have all been dead by the end of 1945. That’s three times the number of the dead from Hiroshima. Ask them if they thought burning Hiroshima was doing evil that good may result.

          • A noble intention to end the war does not make immoral acts moral.

            Chris Stefanick writes in “The Fruit of the Bomb”:

            “It has been said that “the fruit of abortion is nuclear war.” The logic is that abortion creates a society where human life isn’t valued above all else, where the end justifies the means, and where moral absolutes can be obliterated by good intentions. All of that was engrained in our nation’s psyche 30 years before Roe v. Wade. I think it would be more accurate to say, “The fruit of nuclear war was abortion.”

            Father Fulton Sheen pinpointed the moral turning point of the USA to “8:15 in the morning, the 6th of August, 1945,” when the world changed.

            “(The dropping of the bomb on Hiroshima) blotted out boundaries. There was no longer a boundary between the military and the civilian, between the helper and the helped, between the wounded and the nurse and the doctor, and the living and the dead. For even the living who escaped the bomb were already half dead. So we broke down boundaries and limits and from that time on the world has said we want no one limiting me. … You want no restraint, no boundaries. I have to do what I want to do.”

            Did the indiscriminate killing of the innocent in the war pave the way for the abortion holocaust? How many lives were lost and saved?

          • carl jacobs

            Yes, well, you be sure to tell that to the 300,000 you would consign to death. You be sure to remind them of the noble sacrifice they will make so that you can uphold this great moral principle of sitting down and doing nothing. Such an honor for them to die in service to the presentation of your conscience. Surely they will understand why you sit and watch them die when you could have acted. Surely they will understand that they suffer an evil far less significant then the moral trauma you would experience by acting. And how fortunate for you that the magnitude of your virtue is only increased by the number of bodies left scattered on the field. For the more that die, the greater is the display of your manifest commitment to the greater good. Each additional death reveals your rectitude in even more glorious relief.

            And that 300,000? It’s only the beginning. There would be 30 times that number of bodies to display your noble virtue in service to the cause.

            pave the way for the abortion holocaust?

            Oh, for goodness sake …

          • You always fail to address Jack’s key point in these discussions: A good end does not justify an evil means. Or, as Paul writes: We cannot “do evil so that good may come.”

          • Anton

            You have to be able to live with yourself after the war is over. But you don’t have to live with the enemy afterwards. There was a war on in 1945, Jack.

          • More importantly, one has to face God and account for one’s action.

          • Anton

            The “you” to which I was referring was Christian.

          • Albert

            Which is not of course a description of the situation.

          • carl jacobs

            Yes, Albert. That is precisely the description of the situation.

          • Albert

            No it isn’t, because among other things, it is false to say that winning the war depended on bombing German civilians. On the contrary, it is unclear, as I have argued extensively elsewhere on this thread, that that bombing was an efficient use of our resources – i.e. we could have more effectively destroyed Hitler without it.

            Secondly, it is not a description of the moral situation.

            Thirdly, I think you have ducked HJ’s question about abortion.

          • carl jacobs

            Albert, that was a statement about Japan. Not Germany. If you know of some way that Japan could have been defeated without doing what the US did to Japan, you should share it with us. Just remember that “ending the war” means “causing the militarist Japanese gov’t to lose both face and power”. A treaty that allows the bushido military cult to stay in place is a war failure.

            I said that bombing Germany in the early years of the war was essential to keeping Britain in the war. Could WWII in Europe have been won without bombing Germany? Well, it was a bloody fight when the Germans had a heavily damaged war economy. What would it have been like if their economy had been fully intact?

            When a man chooses who lives and who dies according to the actions he will take, that is the very essence of a moral situation.

            And I didn’t duck HJs question on Abortion. I dismissed it as ridiculous.

          • Albert

            I said that bombing Germany in the early years of the war was essential to keeping Britain in the war.

            That is flatly and obviously false.

            When a man chooses who lives and who dies according to the actions he will take, that is the very essence of a moral situation.

            And you think it is a purely mathematical question – the difference between you and a hopeless secularist on this is nothing.

            And I didn’t duck HJs question on Abortion. I dismissed it as ridiculous.

            I cannot find that now – on what grounds is it to be dismissed as ridiculous?

          • CliveM

            “That is flatly and obviously false.”

            No it isn’t. It maybe open to challenge, it may even be wrong, but it is a valid interpretation of the events of the time.

          • Albert

            Okay, in the very least, I would say I have seen no evidence to defend it, and I have given (perhaps elsewhere on this thread) a lot of evidence to say it is false. What evidence do you bring in its defence?

          • Albert

            What is the moral standard or principle on which this judgement is based?

          • carl jacobs

            The fact that a leader has a fiduciary responsibility to protect, and that he therefore must consider the lives of his people more valuable than the lives of the enemy. Which is why he is fighting the war in the first place.

            I do not accept the idea of “noble defeat” as a principle worth defending. I will not trade the consequences of such defeat simply to uphold a principle that would be extinguished with my defeat. That’s why people like me win wars.

          • Albert

            I wonder why you think Jesus’ death on the cross was a victory. However a leader sees his people’s lives, he is not entitled simply to murder those who are not among his people.

          • Albert

            How virtuous of you to consign so many others to destruction for the sake of your pristine hands,

            An extraordinary comment coming from someone who is arguing for the bombing of innocent civilians. And notice how you let the Nazis off. It’s not their killing of people that is the cause of their deaths, but the unwillingness of HJ to kill their children first.

          • carl jacobs

            I was actually referring to the 400,000 POWs in Japanese hands – all of whom would have been dead by the end of 1945. The Japanese planned to kill them. This isn’t historically debatable. The only reason they lived was because of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Those men were non-combatants. An allied commander still had force protection responsibility for them. You would have him stand with his thumb up his ass while his people are systematically killed.

            In fact, your entire argument hangs upon a moral distinction between “doing” and “allowing” that I consider retrograde. It’s as if you think failing to act in the face of a great moral responsibility is itself not evil. “They may have died but I didn’t kill them” is a reprehensible viewpoint. That is the argument you present over and over again. It’s as if you think letting scores of friendly non-combatants die is an acceptable price to pay in order to spare one Japanese non-combatant. I don’t. Better to kill Japanese non-combatants and end the war. Better to prefer your own non-combatants and those of your allies. If one or the other has to die, then let the enemy die.

            Go through my post to Jack about how the Americans reduced Japan to the point of ruin, and answer my question. Hiroshima was neither morally nor militarily different from the fire raid on Tokyo in March 1945. If you reject the former, then you must reject the latter if you are to be consistent.

            So then. Answer my question. If you remove the tactics that had crushed Japan as a nation by July 1945, how would you have ended the war? And remember one thing. The impact of the fire raids and the blockade was the only reason an invasion was even feasible in Nov 1945.

          • Albert

            You don’t seem to get anything of Paul’s position on not doing evil that good may come of it. Murder is perhaps the great evil we can commit. And yet you seem happy to defend it. If you cannot act morally in a situation, you cannot act. That does make you responsible, it makes the unjust people responsible. If those men were killed, the people responsible would be the people who killed them. Your attempt to deflect responsibility from their murderers to other people is a disgrace.

            If you remove the tactics that had crushed Japan as a nation by July 1945, how would you have ended the war?

            If I was a military historian, then perhaps I would be able to do that. After all, your case about Britain is seriously flawed, so why should it be unbreakable with Japan?

          • Uncle Brian

            Thank you, Jack, for giving a straight answer to Carl’s question – though it had to be dragged out of you with forceps!

            And the answer to your question about abortion is Yes. It happens from time to time that, at the last moment, the doctors find they can save the mother’s life or the baby’s life, but not both. A very tough decision has to be made.

          • Albert

            The question is of course, an unreal one. That was not the choice at the time, indeed, diverting resources into bombing Germany was not only not effective, but also arguably inefficient.

          • CliveM

            “diverting resources into bombing Germany was not only not effective, but also arguably inefficient.”

            Really. Like to show evidence.

          • Albert

            I’m not an expert here, but this seems to be the case in Richard Overy’s The Bombing War One figure should be sufficient to put those disagreeing with me on the back foot: in 1942, the RAF killed two Germans for every bomber lost. In other words, bombing was killing more of our valuable young men than their’s (especially, when you take into account the fact that large numbers of these German dead were civilians, and so either not contributing to the German war effort or contributing rather less than our young men killed in the bombers).

            Details here:

            http://hitchensblog.mailonsunday.co.uk/2015/02/the-bombing-files-arguments-against-the-raf-bombing-of-german-civilians-summed-up.html

            A rather interesting comment at the end:

            It is my suspicion that the moral shrivelling of Britain since 1945, the increased violence and delinquency, the readiness to accept the abortion massacre, the general coarsening of culture and the growth of callousness have at least something to do with our willingness to shrug off – or even defend – Arthur Harris’s deliberate ‘de-housing’ of German civilians. The British people in 1939, told of what would be done in their name within six years, would have been incredulous and astonished. I am glad at least that people such as Bishop George Bell of Chichester raised powerful voices against it at the time, at some cost to themselves. We owe it to them to revisit the argument.

          • CliveM

            Albert

            That’s not a common definition of success I have typically seen applied to the allies bombing campaign. Usually it is judged against the targets it set for itself:
            1) Destroy German morale and bomb it out of the war.
            2) Destroy its production capability and starve it of the resources necessary to fight the war.
            3) to show the Germans (and more importantly our friends and allies, including the USA) that following Dunkirk we were still able to hit back.

            It is unarguable that the campaign failed with regards 1). Although it came might close following the destruction of Cologne. Speer said if the allies had immediately followed it up with five more such campaigns Germany would have lost the war. They didn’t, the resources weren’t available.

            3) was probably a success but wouldn’t justify the resources spent after 1942.

            2) is the most problematic and generates significant debate. The bombing campaign had three elements, terror attacks against civilians, like Cologne, specific targets like the Dambusters and the attacks on the Ruhr valley and strategic targets like Dresden.
            German production continued to increase through most of the war. However from a fairly low base and was initially badly organised. Speer changed all that and obtained significant improvements in efficiency. It is therefore hard to say I that the attacks were ineffective asH we would have to make a judgement not on what Germany produced, but what it could have produced, without the bombing campaign. However it is also undoubtedly true and generally accepted,that the campaign caused German war production to move from armaments of offensive capability, to defensive armaments. This starved the German army of resources and probably (it is hard to ever be certain) speeded up the collapse of the German army in the east. Resulting in a speeded up end to the war.

            One last point, although Harris gets the blame, it was the politicians who demanded and authorised the campaign.

          • Albert

            I wasn’t talking about success, but about whether it was efficient. Although it is clearly the case that bombing had a negative effect on elements of the German war effort, the question is, was that negative effect justifiable, given that to create that effect, huge efforts and resources were diverted from other things in our own.

            1. Clearly it was not likely to destroy civilian morale – we ought to have inferred that from our own experience. If anything, it will have had the opposite effect: pulled people together, made people realise the seriousness of the situation, hate the allies more etc. This, surely, had some effect in increasing German output as well as reducing it.
            3. We showed our seriousness particularly by putting the French fleet out of action – it was that that impressed the Americans. Bombing civilians risked an equally negative effect on the Americans. Winning the Battle of Britain was the most important thing for us, moreover, by the end of 1940 we had already routed the Italians in the North African Desert. As you say, even if we ignore all this and attribute the affect of 3 to the bombing, not the other actions, it wouldn’t justify the resources spent after 1942.

            That leaves 2. But of course, I am not objecting to making bombing of factories the objective, it was the deliberate bombing of civilians that is objectionable. So even if the RAF had not had objective 1, we would still have had the same effect as if we had 1. Then factor in any benefit being lessened by the comments I made about civilians in 1, and you can see that, a strong case can be made that this was an inefficient use of resources.

            Thus I stand by my original comment:

            Carl asks:

            At some point the only moral imperative that matters becomes winning the war. So tell me. Would you have risked defeat to avoid bombing Germany?

            And I replied:

            The question is of course, an unreal one. That was not the choice at the time, indeed, diverting resources into bombing Germany was not only not effective, but also arguably inefficient.

            Throw in the moral elements of the bombing campaign as actually waged, and it is hard to see how it can be justified. Throw in further the moral effects on the people doing it (us) and the post-war moral decline, and I find it hard to see why anyone has such strong opinions against those that I and HJ have been defending.

          • CliveM

            Albert,

            suggesting our moral decline post war is down to the bombing campaign is pure conjecture. It is arguable that post war Germany has shown some element of moral improvement despite its role in the holocaust (at least compared to the period 1933 to 1939).

            Efficient? Considering our lack of presense on the European mainline, it’s hard to see where the resourced could have been better used. Options were few. Bombing was the only offensive option available. The argument was whether it was the best use of the bombers. Truth is 1941 to 1943 with the equipment available and the equipments capabilities, blanket bombing was the only effective method open to the RAF. It was harder to justify 1944/45, when the RAF had the resources and more importantly the equipment to be more precise in its methods.
            It is also hard not to argue that some of the raids in 1945, seem to reek of Harris trying to give his pilots something to do. I exclude Dresden from that.

            War is inherently immoral. WW2 was more immoral than most (although it needed to be fought). I think the best we can do is learn the lessons, not condemn those who had to live through it and needed to use any means to win it. We know now that the bombing wouldn’t win the war by itself, in 1939 it was widely believed that it could.

          • Albert

            suggesting our moral decline post war is down to the bombing campaign is pure conjecture. It is arguable that post war Germany has shown some element of moral improvement despite its role in the holocaust (at least compared to the period 1933 to 1939).

            Germany, like all European nations is reacting against WWII. We rightly uphold it as our finest hour, so it has a different effect on us. What all saw though, was that ends justifies the means models of action are effective. That has a negative effect on a moral culture.

            Efficient? Considering our lack of presense on the European mainline, it’s hard to see where the resourced could have been better used.

            The obvious thing would be to divert our resources to where we were actually fighting the Germans. North Africa – but we nearly lost N.Africa – what if all those resources had been diverted to fighting Rommel? Might we have driven him out earlier?

            Truth is 1941 to 1943 with the equipment available and the equipments capabilities, blanket bombing was the only effective method open to the RAF.

            Whether the civilian deaths entailed by targeting factories can be justified is a prudential judgement. My beef is with the deliberate targeting of civilians. I do not accept that that was justifiable or efficient.

            I think the best we can do is learn the lessons, not condemn those who had to live through it and needed to use any means to win it.

            I thought this discussion was actually about whether Carl who did not live through WWII could condemn Bishop Bell who did live through WWII for opposing bomber command during WWII?!

            We know now that the bombing wouldn’t win the war by itself, in 1939 it was widely believed that it could.

            The evidence of our own experience in 1940 was that it could not. Churchill had given a speech saying that it would have taken Hitler 10 years to destroy London at the rate he was bombing it.

            War is inherently immoral.

            A just war is not inherently immoral.

          • CliveM

            Sorry we did not know that in 1940. Churchills comment simply reflected the level of resource Germany had thrown at it. It doesn’t suggest that more resource wouldn’t be more successful.

            People bombed Germany for several reasons, but mainly because they thought it would work. To say they believed otherwise in 1940 is simply wrong.

            As I say it maybe moral to fight a war, but war itself is always a failure. It involves killing people horribly. People die frightened and in pain. Resource is wasted. In that way war itself is inherently immoral.

          • Albert

            Sorry we did not know that in 1940. Churchills comment

            I wasn’t just referring to Churchill’s comment, but the effect it had had on the British.

            People bombed Germany for several reasons, but mainly because they thought it would work. To say they believed otherwise in 1940 is simply wrong.

            Well, let me quote a primary source from the time, no less an authority than Bomber Harris:

            There are a lot of people who say that bombing cannot win the war. My reply to that is that it has never been tried… and we shall see.

            If a lot of people were saying bombing cannot win the war, and even bomber Harris is left saying “it has never been tried and we shall see” then it is plainly not simply wrong to say they thought it would work. Some people hoped it might – but I understand the mathematicians knew it wouldn’t.

          • CliveM

            Albert

            If you want a proper understanding of Harris’s beliefs, read Bomber Harris by Henry Probert. He was a true believer in the policy. The quote you’ve selected was a rhetorical response to critics. It actually meant “how do you know, it’s never been tried”!
            He believed in the policy to the point of obsession.

          • Albert

            All of that may be true but your claim was:

            People bombed Germany for several reasons, but mainly because they thought it would work. To say they believed otherwise in 1940 is simply wrong

            But people did think differently from that in 1940. Perhaps Harris didn’t, but his quote shows that many people believed it wouldn’t work. Indeed, we now know (if memory serves) that Lindemann had skewed the maths – i.e. that other mathematicians knew it wouldn’t work.

          • CliveM

            But in the main those responsible for the decision did believe. I never said that everyone agrees.

          • Albert

            But this then fits into a conversation in which some have claimed that it was necessary to win the war and/or that it was believed that it was necessary to win the war.

            Now it may well be that those in charge did believe this, but, given the grave wrong that is done in bombing civilians – children amongst them – did they have sufficient reason to believe that this policy would be successful to justify it? Given the fact that it had never been tried, that insofar as it had been tried against us, it had failed, and that plenty of people disagreed about it then, it seems hard to justify the action at the time (even supposing one isn’t a Christian and thinks contrary to scripture that it is possible to do evil that good may come of it).

            On top of that, much of the criticism that has been directed at HJ and me (and George Bell) is that, our position is immoral for opposing it. But that position surely cannot be defending in the light of all this evidence, moral and historical. It seems obvious that it didn’t win the war, wasn’t necessary for Britain to continue the war, it has not been demonstrated that it was an efficient use of our resources (in 1942 it was killing more of our men than their’s!), and yet all these thing are necessary to justify the policy even at a non-Christian bar of utilitarianism (which is a pretty low bar!).

          • CliveM

            But I haven’t accused you (or HJ) of being immoral. I have tried to be fair and nuanced in my discussion with you. I have conceded that the policy failed in one key area of its objectives.

            What I feel I am arguing against is assertion, which is unsupported, although not necessarily wrong.

            I do disagree with a lot of what you said however!!

          • Albert

            But I haven’t accused you (or HJ) of being immoral.

            Don’t worry, I wasn’t directing that at you! It was other contributors.

            What I feel I am arguing against is assertion, which is unsupported, although not necessarily wrong.

            Well, I’ve even given at least one piece of mathematical evidence. I haven’t seen much on the other side! If you want a fuller case, try here:

            http://hitchensblog.mailonsunday.co.uk/2015/02/the-bombing-files-arguments-against-the-raf-bombing-of-german-civilians-summed-up.html

            Plenty of evidence in that!

          • CliveM

            Albert,

            Apologies for the delay in response. I have read the article by Mr Hitchin’s and find it a bit of a curates egg!

            As I am sure you understand, it would be difficult (time wise) to respond to everything he says (and let’s be honest I probably don’t have the necessary knowledge!!)

            Hitchins polemic is clever but extremely partial. An example, with regards the hoped for damage to civilian morale, is his statement that many people (rightly) pointed out that it was ineffective and would not result in the collapse of the Nazi regime. In the context of the statement he appears to imply that people who believed to the contrary were either stupid or wicked. This is highly unfair. People who believed otherwise did have evidence for their position. Germany never produced a heavy bomber, so its raids on the UK were much more limited in their effectiveness. Even so, the initial effects on the civilian population of the bombing on Coventry and London gave the authorities grave cause for concern. Some of what we believe about the Blitz is myth, people didn’t simply stoically put up with it with a cheery grin! Following the raids which destroyed large parts of Coventry’s centre, a significant proportion of the population fled. Initially there was fear, anger at the Government, concern about our ability to fight the war and defeatism. Germany experienced the same, but greatly magnified, following the bombing of Cologne May 1942 and more seriously the fire storming of Hamburg July 1943. In this context it is not unreasonable to suggest that this gave reasonable grounds for hoping that sustained bombing of this type would have a serious effect on German morale (the Germans were certainly worried that it would). It didn’t, but to imply that this was the only valid view in early May 1940 is dishonest of Hitchins.

            Which brings me to another point. Hitchins makes the argument that the ‘mass bombing’ only got under way following the entry of the USA in the war (December 1941) and the ‘irreversible’ defeat of Germany at the battle of Stalingrad (ended Feb 1943, a prime example of being wise after the event). He makes this point to try and undermine the argument bombing was used because our survival was at stake. However he then later makes the claim that Britain started the bombing first ‘definitely begun by the RAF 11th May 1940’! The campaign started May 1940 (to use his own date) prior to the USA’s entry into the war by 7 months and Germany’s defeat at Stalingrad by the best part of 21 months. It is this date that you need to use to assess the point about survival being at stake. His use of the 1943 date is simply a straw man. By this stage of the war, the continued justification for the bombing campaign had turned to its hoped for shortening of the war, its destruction of German resources and its effect on morale. But no longer because Britain’s survival depended upon it. Harris it has to be said, still believed it could win the war by itself.

            Now in fairness he uses this date because Harris himself stated (later after the war), that he only had the necessary resources for an effective and sustained campaign from March 1943. But his comment is entirely unrelated as to why the campaign was started in 1940, and needs to be seen in the context of the situation in 1943. To suggest otherwise is at best misguided. Actually the first 10000 bomber raid was on Cologne May 1942, but then Harris was never happy!

            Of course people had arguments about the effectiveness, the morality and purpose of the bombing campaign. But what that doesn’t do is to undermine the argument that those who argued for it, believed their argument to be true (as Hitchins appears to be doing at times). Or that they had valid grounds for believing what they did. My real objection to so many of his arguments is the unwillingness to accept that the picture was not as clear as he suggests. He also doesn’t allow for the fact that the campaign and reasons for it evolved, making some of his points misplaced.

            In 1940 I would have supported the campaign. By mid-1943 latest, the RAF had both the equipment (the Lancaster bomber, new sights) and tactics to have moved onto a more precise and targeted approach to the campaign. Harris was obsessively stubborn and borderline insubordinate and should have been replaced. He was imaginatively too inflexible to change his approach and someone with more vision needed to be in position. (sadly the RAF was quite badly lead in both Fighter and Bomber Command at this time). But the argument for me is not that the campaign wasn’t effective, but that it should and could have been more so.

          • Albert

            Thank you for a very full and considered reply. Mr Hitchens may be unfair in his interpretation of the evidence, but it is the evidence that I am interested in. For myself, the whole project was morally wrong insofar as it deliberately targeted civilians. But against this claim has come a number of others, that it was necessary to win the war, not to lose the war etc. The evidence obviously only deals with these questions, not the moral ones. I think that there is sufficient evidence to imply that, even if one were to take the view that bombing of civilians is acceptable, it remained wrong because there was sufficient reason to think it would be ineffective, and indeed an inefficient diverting of limited and valuable resources. Thus I think that the policy cannot be defended at the bar of morality or at the bar of prudence. All of this of course ignores the potential damage to the peace that would follow.

            The argument about the timings of the campaign is interesting. I suspect that what Hitchens means is that the RAF started targeting civilians in 1940, but that it was only later that mass bombings became possible. This of course supports the contention that it was evident that bombing of civilians in 1940 was ineffective (and therefore immoral), since the small amount of bombs that could be dropped could hardly achieve the intended effect. I think it is implausible that victory rested on the morale boast given by such bombings -especially as they tended to result in reprisals.

            None of this means that, had I been running the country, I would not have ordered these bombings. I suspect that had I been around in 1940 I would have cheered them going off. But that’s because I am a sinner, not because it was the right policy.

          • CliveM

            Albert

            Thank you.

            It has been an interesting conversation, sadly I haven’t been able to convince you :0)

          • Albert

            Don’t worry. As I saw it as a moral question, I don’t think there is any evidence that would! Thank you for the discussion.

          • Albert

            The Germans lost WW1 and suffered no trauma at home

            The naval blockade of Germany was so bad that somewhere between 400 000 and 700 000 Germans died of starvation. That’s potentially more than died from bombing in WWII.

          • Anton

            By “trauma” I meant invasion and its consequences, or bombing; something that instantly shocks.

          • Albert

            Germany or parts of it, were occupied after WWI.

          • Anton

            Orderly occupation is not the same as a fighting invasion. I recognise that I was not clear enough in specifying what I meant by “trauma”. I trust that that is settled now.

          • Albert

            That is settled now, I think that a country in which people are literally starving to death, then get occupied, impoverished, suffer further invasion of the Ruhr (in which many Germans were killed or evicted) and then hyperinflation is one which is reasonably able to describe itself as suffering trauma.

          • Anton

            I was adapting it from its medical use in which trauma is inflicted in a sudden catastrophic event, and I have already made the necessary clarification above.

          • Albert

            Fine – but with such a precise definition, it’s hard to see how the original point you were making still stands.

          • Anton

            I’ve clarified plenty but modified nothing. What point do you query?

          • Albert

            I’m a little left wondering what your point is! That somehow bombing Germany prevented WWIII?

          • Anton

            You responded to it. If you can’t be bothered at this point, I certainly can’t!

          • Albert

            I’m more puzzled than lacking in will.

          • carl jacobs

            I’m not being melodramatic. I’m accurately stating your position. You are free to repudiate it. You are not free to deny it.

          • The moral law isn’t set to one side during war. War does not mean that everything becomes acceptable in order to minimise casualties and win the war. The indiscriminate destruction of whole cities and the killing of their inhabitants, is a moral crime against God and man and it merits condemnation.

            The bombings of Dresden, Hiroshima and Nagasaki were not designed to destroy targets of military value while sparing civilian populations. They were deliberate attempts to put pressure on Germany and Japan by attacking non-combatants. This was the direct and intentional killing of innocent life and this is always gravely immoral.

          • IrishNeanderthal

            Here is a bit from Electric Universe by David Bodanis (ISBN 1400045509). Chapter 7 deals with Britain’s radar defences in WW2 and Chapter 8 deals with how radar was used to allow the area bombing of Germany.

            To understand this, one must take into account the rôle of Churchill’s scientific adviser, Frederick Lindemann (aka Lord Cherwell) who firstly came close to scuppering Britain’s radar project before it got going, and then foisted ‘Bomber’ Harris on to Churchill. According to Bodanis, Lindemann was an angry status-obsessed ex-academic who had the knack of making upper-class individuals feel that they were as wise as the greatest thinkers. Churchill’s very limited scientific education meant that he had no way of recognizing Lindemann’s incompetence.

            The next bits are snipped and chopped from the two chapters.

            The inventor of radar, Robert Watson-Watt, had the RAF’s support, but like any outsider, he needed a stronger protector in the government bureaucracy. As his first memos floated along the corridors of Whitehall, they ended up by Henry Tizard, a superb administrator. Tizard had test-flown World War I Sopwith Camels, been a lecturer in thermodynamics at Oxford, then head of Imperial College.

            Tizard had been an excellent, scrappy lightweight boxer in his youth. Alas, in 1908, when Lindemann and Tizard had been young researcher, visiting Berlin, they had once agreed to settle a point of honour in the boxing ring. Lindemann was a much larger man and couldn’t bear it that the wiry Tizard had pummelled him; he refused to shake hands afterward. [note: a similar thing had occurred between Henry VIII and François Premier at the Field of the Cloth of Gold]

            Churchill pushed Lindemann onto Tizard’s committee, and Lindemann immediately explained that he knew for a fact the newfangled radar defenses they were planning were never going to work effectively. Now in London, Lindemann slowed the constructions that Watson Watt was preparing for several months until, through some deft bureaucratic footwork, Tizard managed to get Lindemann expelled. He created a dangerous lifelong enemy but for the time being he had also cleared the way for Watson Watt to proceed.

            . . . . .

            It’s doubtful that there was a more disagreeable character on the Allied military side in World War II than Harris. He could be kind to his immediate fa mily, but he had few friends and no hobbies. He never read a book, and he never listened to music He had only one great passion in his life, and it was a hatred. It wasn’t directed against Germany. It seems – from the evidence of his actions – that it was directed against blue-collar workers.

            Many officers aware of his plans were appalled at what he wanted to do … and Watson Watt was frantic. This was never what he’d devised radar for, but he was just an underling now, and despite a last desperate rush of words and memos, he could merely watch as the remarkable defensive weapon [note: effectively the ability to nullify the Germans’ cruder radar defences] he’d helped create was lifted from his control. He even tried getting Henry Tizard to help him. Tizard was the man who’d headed the original committee that created Britain’s radar system, and that had been so crucial in the 1940 Battle of Britain. Tizard also despised Harris, and now he started building alliances that in normal times might have been enough to stop him. But everything had to get past the man Tizard had humiliated at the radar committee in 1936 – and Lindemann had the exclusive ear of the prime minister now. It was with the greatest pleasure that Lindemann ensured nothing Tizard proposed was seriously considered by the government.

            By early 1943, Tizard and Watson Watt knew they had lost. At one point Harris sponsored a talk at Bomber Command’s Buckinghamshire HQ on the Ethics of Bombing. After the talk, the Bomber Command chaplain Rev. John Collins stood up and said that, on the contrary, this was the Bombing of Ethics. But he was firmly corrected, and no one else there dared to speak in his support.

            . . . . .

          • carl jacobs

            I’m not concerned about 1943. I’m concerned about 1940 – when the only thing that mattered was keeping Britain in the war. The UK had to strike back. It could not allow its population to be starved by the U Boats, bombed by the Luftwaffe and otherwise generally have the sh*t kicked out of it without striking back. For the sake of morale, the British Gov’t had to give the British people some vision of possible offensive action.

            At some point the only moral imperative that matters becomes winning the war. So tell me. Would you have risked defeat to avoid bombing Germany?

          • IrishNeanderthal

            I don’t like “would you” questions. As an Indian friend remarked about the introduction of same-sex marriage, “you’re damned if you do and you’re damned if you don’t”

            I see that the atomic bombing of Japan has cropped up down below. I read somewhere recently that what forced Truman’s hand was the threat of imminent Soviet invasion of that country. Imagine Japan being divided like Korea.

            I would like to ask one question, though. Are you communicating with us across the Atlantic?

          • carl jacobs

            The Soviets were incapable of invading Japan. They didn’t have the ships for transport. Unless the US Navy carried them they weren’t getting anywhere.

            The atomic bombing was set in the context of the general crisis of “How do we end the war?” The proposed invasion was going to be a terrible blood letting. Decoded Japanese messages painted a grim picture. The Japanese had correctly discerned US invasion plans. They had more soldiers on Kyushu than the US had in its invasion force. They had husbanded something like 5000 kamikaze planes with which to attack the fleet. The US military was deeply divided about what to do. It was in the midst of this debate that the atomic bombs became available for use.

            Yes, I am an American.

          • IrishNeanderthal

            Too many conflicting sources and opinions about the Soviets and Japan for myself to pass judgement on that.

            When I was young, we had a rose variety “General MacArthur” in our garden. One of the most fragrant roses I have ever encountered, but not a strong variety and very prone to black spot, and it has effectively disappeared.

            I regularly read The Federalist, but the comments section often gets too heated for my taste. That was the trigger for my question.

          • carl jacobs

            There is no dispute about the complete absence of a Russian fleet in the Pacific ocean in 1945.

          • Albert

            This is all very dubious. British morale in 1940 did not rest on bombing Germany. It rested on things like Dunkirk, winning the Battle of Britain, the power of the Royal Navy, belief in the rightness of the cause, belief in British uniqueness, and, if Churchill’s speeches are any evidence, a sense of divine providence.

            Of course, what would have made a real difference to British morale would have been if the cousins had got off their American backsides and joined us in defending Western democracy, a little earlier.

          • carl jacobs

            It’s not dubious at all. You don’t maintain morale by performing successful evacuations and winning defensive battles. Sitting off the coast of Europe and being starved and pummeled was a sure road to defeat. You must take the war to the enemy.

            And you should be grateful we got there at all. It was your own fault you were in that situation. You had ample opportunity to stop Hitler when he was weak and vulnerable. Instead you purchased “peace in our time,”

            Ironic title screen: “One man saved us from the greatest war of all.”

          • Albert

            Actually, Dunkirk was largely regarded as a victory – it was a terrific morale boost. This was followed by the Battle of Britain which showed us that we could defeat him. If anything, being pummelled by the enemy increased Britain’s determination – a point that shows the futility of bombing civilians in the war.

            All of this was in place without bombing German cities. What your post reflects is a lack of the cultural understanding that one gets from having daily access to large numbers of historical primary sources. I grew up surrounded by people who were adults at the time – I even met a D-Day vet just the other day! Bombing people is not something that comes up as something gave people good morale. In fact, some people from that era felt it was wrong and tarnishing our efforts. What made people cheer was watching the RAF shoot down the Germans above the skies of Souther England. My grandmother used to tell me how they would watch from the ground and cheer and when the RAF got one. (She would then add, “We forgot about the man who was inside.”)

            As for Chamberlain, it’s wrong to say Munich got us into the mess – we couldn’t have stopped Hitler then anyway, as we were insufficiently rearmed. The fact is, the League of Nations was not up to the job, because it lacked one thing:

            https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:The_Gap_in_the_Bridge.png

          • Anton

            I agree with you about Bell and Carl about the war!

          • Uncle Brian

            And I agree with you and Carl about the war. The British nation has every reason to be grateful to Winston Churchill for overruling the wrongheaded arguments put forward at the time by Bishop Bell, among others.

          • Uncle Brian

            The term “very thorough investigation” seems to be something of an overstatement.

            A recent detailed review of the case showed that no effort had been made by the Church to consider the evidence for Bell: his voluminous papers and diaries had not been consulted, nor had living people who worked with him at that time (including one domestic chaplain, Adrian Carey, now aged 94, who spent virtually every waking moment with Bell for more than two of the years in which the abuse supposedly happened). His cause was given no legal advocate.

            http://www.spectator.co.uk/201

          • The said “detailed review” having been completed by his supporters. So, if he is guilty, his diaries and papers would contain evidence of this? That’s what paedophiles do, keep written notes. If not, he’s innocent. And his pal would have witnessed any crimes?

          • Uncle Brian

            That’s what paedophiles do, keep written notes.

            I suspect there are no such written notes. If there were, Archbishop Welby would have no reason to keep them a secret.

          • Albert

            Two points:
            1. Balance of probability at this distance is not enough.
            2. There wasn’t a thorough investigation.

          • The implication of what you’re arguing is that anyone who comes forward alleging historic abuse without some form of corroborating evidence or witnesses should be shown the door. The very nature of these crimes are that they are not witnessed and evidence will not be available – just personal testimony.

          • Albert

            We are presumed innocent until proven guilty. If the case cannot be justly heard then it should not heard. The voice of one person against a dead man, without corroborating evidence is not plainly not acceptable.

          • It was the best the Church of England had to go n the claims could not just be dismissed.

          • Albert

            If there isn’t enough evidence, then they could not proceed. That’s the way all cases work. Sometimes, that results in victims not getting justice. It is the price we pay for the principle that we are innocent until proven guilty by a fair trial. There is also a natural right to one’s good name. For all these reasons, the CofE acted profoundly unjustly.

    • Many a true word said in jest. I bet you’re not that far off the mark.

    • Anton

      In England we speak of the law firm Sue, Grabbit and Runne.

      • carl jacobs

        The most famous in the US is probably the Law Firm of Dewey, Cheatum, and Howe.

        From Click and Clack, the Tappet Brothers. Otherwise known as the hosts of “Car Talk” which is one of the greatest radio shows in US history.

    • Albert

      It is evidence of institutional cowardice of the most craven sort.

      Exactly. It all comes down to protecting the institution. In the past institutions covered up abuse to protect the institution, now they accept guilt on behalf of her faithful servants, without adequate evidence. It’s the same basic aim, but resulting in opposite conclusions, and not because of any real change of heart: the institution must be protected at all costs.

  • Sybaseguru

    Having provided evidence supporting a colleague in a recent church accusation, the woman then changed her accusation to say it happened two years earlier! This was after a 6 month investigation by church authorities. My take on it was she fancied the guy and got rebuffed so decided to get revenge.

  • CliveM

    The problem the CofE have is the investigation was flawed and they have found themselves trapped by the result of it. Can you imagine the outcry if they had ignored the recommendation? It would be equally difficult to order another investigation as it would be interpreted as a cover up. Once the result of the investigation became known, they had no other option.

    • Anton

      They could commission an investigation by a respected outside body.

      • Aran’Gar

        But what is there to investigate at this point?
        The woman said what she said, and frankly if there are any inconsistencies with her testimony that is actually to be expected given these are ancient childhood memories.
        It would be more suspicious if her story were absolutely perfect. There really isn’t anything more to look at, we have her testimony and we have that of Bell’s supporters, nothing more.

        • Anton

          I agree. But you and I have the luxury of being able to say “We don’t know.” The church had to make *decisions*.

  • Uncle Brian

    A curious snippet from Archbishop Welby’s Wikipedia page:

    In July 2013, following the report of the Parliamentary Commission on Banking Standards Commission, Welby explained that senior bank executives avoided being given information about difficult issues to allow them to “plead ignorance.”[16] He also said he would possibly have behaved in the same way and warned against punishing by naming and shaming individual bankers which he compared to the behaviour of a lynch mob.[16]

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Justin_Welby

    • Findaráto

      Plausible deniability, eh?

      You have a politician leading your Church. May God, if he exists, help you.

      • Uncle Brian

        Thank you, Findarato. Welby seems to be pushing deniability about as far as it can go, and maybe further. When he was making a speech in the House of Lords, he condemned the “naming and shaming” of errant bankers as “the behaviour of a lynch mob”. Now, by his decision to “name and shame” Bishop Bell, Welby has morphed into the leader of the lynch mob. His excuse, I suppose, is that the victim he is gleefully stringing up is only the corpse of a long-dead bishop rather than a living banker.

        • Findaráto

          Gleefully? I doubt there’s much glee in his attitude towards this situation.

          Remember, Bell may really be guilty and Welby may have seen convincing proof of that. In which case I’m sure he feels as sickened by it as anyone else would.

          I don’t know why the evidence is being withheld if it exists. One can only assume there are compelling reasons to do so. They may not be good reasons, but they must be compelling. And Welby wouldn’t be the first archbishop to attempt to cover up something that might threaten to blow his Church apart, now would he?

          If however there is no such evidence and Bell has been convicted on the strength of one dubious witness’s testimony, then it seems to me that an honourable man – and Welby is, I think, in as far as his position and character allow him to be, an honourable man – would feel sickened at having to publicly sully a dead man’s reputation. Again, there must be a compelling reason to do so.

          That’s the real issue here. What is Welby trying to hide? Who is he trying to protect?

          You’d have thought that after years of sex abuse scandals, the Church would realise by now that the only way forward is complete disclosure and transparency. Whatever skeletons are still rattling about in the Church’s closet, they will be uncovered sooner or later, and if Welby is implicated in any sort of cover up, he can expect no mercy from any quarter.

          Again, I think he knows this. I think he’s an honourable man who’s trying to deal with an impossible situation, which is forcing him to play the kind of politics that will end up destroying him. He should take a leaf out of Williams’s book and resign before it all blows up in his face. Only then, who would take the job on?

          I know! We have the perfect candidate right here. All hail Hipster Bish! One wag of his magic beard will send Chwist’s enemies flying and westore ultimate balance to the Force. Go on Justin! Fall on your lightsabre and make way for new blood. Hipster Bish to the wescue! Is it a bird? Is it a plane? No, it’s Hipster Bish…

          • sarky

            I’m sure he would have some beautiful robes knitted for him!

          • Findaráto

            Head to toe rainbow colours, I bet. All the better to beguile those evil sinners who’ve stolen God’s symbol of covenant with Noah to use as the logo of their wicked cult. You know who I mean, those idolators who call themselves “gay” but are really ordinary heterosexuals who pretend to fancy their own gender just to be bloody-minded.

            Imagine Hipster Bish flying at you waving his crozier (topped with a pink triangle, of course) and crying “Wepent! Wepent! Woe upon ye workers of wepwobate wickedness! Cwoss evewything including your willies or wwithe and thwash in God’s wighteous and unwemitting wetwibution! Fowever!!!”

            It doesn’t bear thinking about really. They say laughter is the most dangerous weapon. We can chuckle about it now, but this love child of Biggus Dickus and the Rev. Mervyn Noote could well turn out to be the Church’s most lethal strategy yet…

  • len

    I wonder how many people going through the justice system are told to plead guilty(although innocent) to get a lighter sentence if things go against them?.

    ‘Truth’ seems to be a some debatable commodity nowadays……

    • IanCad

      I didn’t know that plea bargaining was done over here.
      It is one of the reasons US jails are so full. A judicial outrage.

      • A third off one’s sentence for a guilty plea.

        • Anton

          On which side of the Atlantic do you mean, please, Jack?

          • In Britain.

          • Anton

            Many thanks.

          • IanCad

            I had no idea. What an absolute perversion of justice.

      • Ivan M

        The bloody US justice system has double jeopardy embedded in it. So that if they don’t catch you for A, they’ll catch you for item E on the charge sheet. That and the system of snitching, rewarded and encouraged by the system ensures as you say, that the prisons are full.

  • preacher

    The accusations against Bishop Bell should not have been accepted.
    Firstly: He was unable to present a case for his own defence.
    Secondly: The time lapse should have been seen as too long.
    Thirdly: Even Mosaic law demanded two or three witnesses before a case was proved.
    Fourthly: It seems there were witnesses for the defence whose testimony was not believed.

    IMO in the light of the above the case should have been rejected as unprovable.

    • Findaráto

      Jimmy Savile wasn’t there to defend himself either. Does that mean his crimes should have been buried with him?

      Death is no defence against wrongdoing. It may well be that a higher standard of evidence is required to convict a deceased person because as they can’t defend themselves, their guilt must be established beyond reasonable doubt, even in civil cases. But if it can be established, there’s no reason why death should prevent this.

      Crime isn’t just about the criminal, you know. Victims have a right to be heard and to redress, even if those who have wronged them are dead. Or should German and Austrian Jews just stop bitching about Hitler and drop their claims to have their stolen property returned to them?

      • Dreadnaught

        How does a meagre cash settlement take away any of the trauma this person may have suffered? I hope she gave it to a Childrens’ Charity; it would have been even more appropriate given the unproven circumstances for the CoE to have made the donation on their own behalf, instead of tacitly agreeing the the dead man’s guilt.

        • Findaráto

          It’s not about the money. Or at least that’s what they always say. It’s about having their suffering recognized and justice being done.

          In some cases this may well be true. In others it clearly is not. We don’t know into which category the “victim” in this case falls. She may be genuine. But the opaque manner in which “justice” has been rendered makes it seem as though something fishy is going on. It does not lend credibility to the verdict.

          All in all if I were the victim I think I’d be regretting what will almost certainly turn out to be a pyrrhic victory. Who knows what her situation is and perhaps £15,000 really will make a difference in her life, but is it worth being pilloried – even anonymously – in the press and online for such a measly amount of money? Even if she feels vindicated by her victory, how long before the accusations of a miscarriage of justice start to eat away at her sense of a wrong righted?

          If she is genuine – or genuinely loopy – then I hope at least she’s being shielded from discussions such as these.

        • Aran’Gar

          I read her testimony awhile ago, she seems genuinely peeved that people don’t believe her, so it does seem personal.

          I wouldn’t necessarily say that I disbelieve her claim that SOMETHING happened, and in such cases there can be a lot of repression keeping someone from going forward before many years have passed.

          Just as an example I contracted an STI when I was 9-10 and it took over 13 years for me to finally call it what it was, I mean I went to the doctor and everything and I never forgot all that even after it cleared up, but it took that long to be able to call it an STI and finally begin to admit to myself what happened to me as a child. At the time I was far too ashamed to tell anyone about it.

          The problem is that there can be quite a bit of malleability to childhood memories and I suspect the molestation she suffered was both less than what she now thinks it was, and quite probably someone else was responsible. A lot of the facts about Bell didn’t really add up and that is the problem, if all we have is the testimony of a little girl from over half a century ago we cannot really rely on it when it comes down to destroying an entire reputation and carrying out a damnatio memoriae. She probably thinks it was Bell because someone clerical looking once molested her and Bell’s was the famous name she kept hearing about in that area so she decided it must have been him.

      • preacher

        The evidence & number of witnesses were manifold in Savile’s case, plus the fact that the time element was shorter. If there hadn’t been a cover up Savile would have been alive to face prosecution.
        The two cases are completely different, your second paragraph I feel emphasises the point I am making when you state that guilt must be established beyond reasonable doubt in the case of a deceased person who cannot obviously defend themselves.
        The other case of the Nazis is again totally different to Bell’s. The reasons being obvious for the same reasons previously stated.
        Of course those persecuted should seek & receive redress from their persecutors, but the stolen property has in many cases ceased to exist or been hidden by perpetrators.

        • Findaráto

          We agree that the burden of proof in cases such as Bell’s should be heavy indeed. From the details given it’s hard to see exactly how his guilt was proven.

          Even though this kind of thing works to the advantage of the position I support, at the end of the day we all lose when men who may be innocent are declared guilty on the basis of insufficient evidence.

          What will happen to the next unfortunate prelate whose robe may have swished against the ankle of a psychotic parishioner while processing up the aisle one fine morning in 1963? Will his children find their dead father’s memory being attacked in 2016 by a madwoman with a vendetta funded by the tabloid press – or worse, some “Justice For Wimmyn” group with a chip on their shoulder the size of Camille Paglia’s ego? Will the entire hierarchy just cave in to the most unreasonable demands to make it all go away?

          That’s the impression this kind of thing gives. No wonder traddies feel like they’re under siege…

          • The Explorer

            You don’t like Camille Paglia, do you?

          • Findaráto

            Nobody likes Camille Paglia. She doesn’t want you to. She likes being disliked. It’s what drives her entire personality.

            Talk to the woman for 5 minutes and you’ll see what I mean.

          • A role model for you, Linus.

          • Ivan M

            As a Catholic agnostic she can teach him a thing or two. Linus has matured somewhat though there is no telling when he will revert to form.

          • preacher

            Agreed & of course any of us could find ourselves caught in the same trap. Thank God I’m not a traditionalist, but we are all at risk of false allegations.

      • Dreadnaught

        Or should German and Austrian Jews just stop bitching about Hitler and drop their claims to have their stolen property returned to them?
        Is there a doubt about this? – I think not.

    • Dreadnaught

      Thirdly: Even Mosaic law demanded two or three witnesses before a case was proved.
      I wondered where the Muslims got that one as being necessary to prove rape – obvious really. The human race must soon all realise religion is a complete con.

      • dannybhoy

        “The human race must soon all realise religion is a complete con”
        There are religious adherents who would cheerfully throttle you for saying that! The reality is that many religious believers are perfectly happy to live in the modern world with their ancient beliefs.
        It is the Western (Christian)world that gave birth to science, and the exploration of the natural world, to the idea of the value of the individual and progress.
        This imo is why we have this tension between Christian faith and science. It doesn’t really exist in the rest of the world, because other cultures just accept the findings of Western science and adapt them to their needs without necessarily feeling that their religion is threatened by the underlying assumptions.

        • Dreadnaught

          There are religious adherents who would cheerfully throttle you for saying that!
          Much less than that I would have thought Dan.

          • dannybhoy

            You mean much more surely..
            Here’s a little clip to ponder..

            Gruesomeness for gruesomeness sake is just a form of pornography.
            I think you’re ex military so you will know how much savagery is going on… today.
            This is the followup..
            http://www.jewishpress.com/news/breaking-news/report-syrian-heart-eating-rebel-killed/2016/04/06/

          • Dreadnaught

            Dan I said all religion is a con; some more violent than others in this present day. Look what happened to Rushdie for writing a book that referenced Islam’s own ‘Satanic verses’.

          • dannybhoy

            Yes, we gave him 24/7/365 protection.
            I know you think religion is a con. I would say that organised religion is a distortion of the essence of any religion.
            True Christianity is a relationship with God through Christ Jesus. There has been no greater teacher and exemplifier of a faith than Him.
            I have absolute confidence that it is Him I will fall down before one day.

          • dannybhoy

            Oh come on Dreaders…
            You writing a book?

          • Dreadnaught

            Had to answer the phone o hasty one 🙂

          • Dreadnaught

            The closest I can get to respecting ‘religion’ is the Quaker method which to me seems as about human conscience and inward honesty alebeit wrapped in a Christian heritage.

          • dannybhoy

            Well you might be surprised to know that most true Christians embrace those same principle. Christian people engage with denominational churches they most feel at home with, but true Christians would always accept that conscience and integrity (and accountability) trumps any group loyalty.
            Danny has no particular denominational affiliation.

          • Dreadnaught

            Dan the point I am making is that there are billions of good people getting by without religion and simply applying the golden rule.

          • dannybhoy

            Mmm.
            The Golden Rule..
            “Golden Rule, precept in the Gospel of Matthew (7:12): “In everything, do to others what you would have them do to you. . . .” This rule of conduct is a summary of the Christian’s duty to his neighbour and states a fundamental ethical principle. ”

            http://www.britannica.com/topic/Golden-Rule

            “The golden rule is closely associated with Christian ethics though its origins go further back and graces Asian culture as well. Normally we interpret the golden rule as telling us how to act. But in practice its greater role may be psychological, alerting us to everyday self-absorption, and the failure to consider our impacts on others. The rule reminds us also that we are peers to others who deserve comparable consideration. It suggests a general orientation toward others, an outlook for seeing our relations with them. At the least, we should not impact others negatively, treating their interests as secondary.”
            http://www.iep.utm.edu/goldrule/

            Of course there is a poor quality Chinese tin rule available to well meaning ex servicemen who comment v e r y s l ow l y…. :0)

          • Dreadnaught

            The golden rule is common across all humanity so its no surprise it was included as a religious invention.

          • Dreadnaught

            Sadly this is really old news. And yes its war-porn. The Japanese were quite partial to a bit of fresh liver too in WW2 but did not record it. I first saw (as news) similar happening in the West Bank when they over-ran a Jewish building.

          • dannybhoy

            Scary stuff man. But all the more reason why I even as a wheezy old geezer accept that ultimately you have to take up arms to defend what you value.

      • preacher

        O.K Dread, you are entitled to your opinions about religion, no one would deny that. But we are talking about the principles of law here not religious belief.
        Ancient but good laws that protect the innocent from false accusations are good laws. Unless they are abused for personal gain by either the claimants perjury, or those responsible for law enforcement being prejudiced against the accused or anxious to close the case blocking vital evidence that could have a bearing for the defendant.

        • Dreadnaught

          Guilty verdicts have been returned based on circumstantial evidence. Where in law is the three witness condition?

          • preacher

            Yes & there have been many miscarriages of justice because of them. Are you seriously suggesting that witnesses are not essential to proving cases ?.

          • Dreadnaught

            I thought we were talking about the Mosaic requirement for three witness for a rape.

          • preacher

            Most laws are imperfect, due to those who are entrusted to enforce them. I chose the Mosaic laws as although they were good, they were still open to abuse by witnesses being bribed or holding personal hatred for the accused. But the more unbiased witnesses in any case, the better.

          • Dreadnaught

            I’m afraid my hackles went up immediately knowing that this is still the requirement in Islam. Well I would wouldn’t I?

          • preacher

            No probs, hackles have a habit of doing that – even mine ! LOL .

          • David Harkness

            Dn, there are other laws for rape in the ot. Witnesses are not required.

      • The Explorer

        In the days before DNA, it would not be unreasonable, surely, to want witnesses? Otherwise, it’s one person’s word against another’s.

        The Islamic stipulation of four witnesses for sexual misdemeanours seems to derive from the time when Muhammad’s wife Aisha was accused of infidelity. Allah told Muhammad to require four witnesses. Four witnesses could not be found, and the accusation collapsed. Normally, though, it works against women. Four men to testify against another man on behalf of a woman: forget it.

        • Ivan M

          That is the workaround that countless rabbis and imans must have used to spare the miscreants. The Mosaic similar to the Shariah being merciless systems of laws, the village rabbi endeavours to give every benefit of doubt. For example – I picked this up from Harry’s Place – apparently according to Leviticus, if both parents agree that their son is an impious, unfilial son of a gun, they can have him stoned in the village square. But both parents must be of one mind. Any inconsistency means that there is not enough evidence to convict. We can see how Jews became such good lawyers from this.

      • Martin

        Dreadnaught

        All human religions are a con, even that one that places its adherent on the throne and his intellect as the authority. The one called Atheism.

        However, Christianity isn’t a con.

        • Dreadnaught

          This is a matter of personal opinion and you are free to believe what you will. Does your version of atheism extend to Buddhists and Animists too?

          • Martin

            Dreadnaught

            Atheism isn’t much different from any other false religion.

          • Dreadnaught

            You know that is completely false; it litrally A (without) and theism (religious as in the supernatural sense). You are deliberately conflating belief in anything ie believing that 1+1=2 as the equivalent of a religious belief and equating not believing in the supernatural as a positive belief; which is a nonsense. Be off with you, you shaman of linguistic distortion.

          • Martin

            Dreadnaught

            Atheism does not really exist, indeed it cannot for all mankind knows that God exists and is presented with plenty of additional evidence of God’s existence. What the word effectively means is that those who know God exists pretend it doesn’t.

    • Martin

      Preacher

      What’s with the ‘even’? I’d have said that the Mosaic law was somewhat advanced in requiring witnesses.

      • preacher

        Merely making the point that although good laws exist in many forms & in many places, they are subject to those people who enforce them to be honest, unbiased & impartial to work in defending the innocent. Mosaic law was advanced for its time & required at least two or three witnesses to prove guilt or innocence before the courts. But as we know at the Lord’s trial this procedure failed because the witnesses were false & their testimonies didn’t concur, plus the judges were not impartial, honest or unbiased. Thus no problem with the law, but with the people entrusted to enforce it.

        • Martin

          Preacher

          Of course law is only as good as its practitioners, so the law wasn’t actually at fault.

  • The Explorer

    Maybe she’s an innocent victim. Maybe she isn’t. Maybe she’s a pawn in a long-range strategy to get the bishops out of the House of Lords by discrediting those who haven’t managed to discredit themselves.

    • Findaráto

      Have bishops been any more discredited than peers in general?

      When you look at some of the basket cases cashing in on their generous daily allowance by the simple expedient of placing their august behinds on those cold red leather benches for less than 5 minutes a day, the bad behaviour of the Lords Spiritual pales into insignificance.

      Of course the bishops should lose their seats, but not because of bad behaviour. Rather because in a democratic society there is no place for a State religion, and certainly no need for any religion to be represented in Parliament.

      Indeed the entire concept of the upper chamber is ridiculously out of date. Elect them or get rid of them all.

      If Christians want to participate in government and the legislative process, let them stand for election like everyone else.

      • The Explorer

        Leaving aside how the inmates get there, I’d say there are varying attitudes to the House of Lords.

        1. Dunno what it is, mate.

        2. Keep it as it is.

        3. Add imams, temple priests, gurus, humanist philosophers, Jedi Knights, Satanists etc in proportion to their incidence within the general population.

        4. Abolish it altogether.

        5. Retain it without the Lords Spiritual.

        Those pressing for disestablishment obviously want rid of the bishops. Whether the Bell episode is part of that strategy, I don’t know. But it’s not unreasonable to speculate that it might be.

      • chiefofsinners

        In a so-called democracy where 30% of the electorate don’t vote at a general election and 87% don’t vote for their local police commisioner, do we really want to elect Lords too? Perhaps there’s a role for appointing the great and the good. They are less likely to make decisions for political expediency and also less likely to be corrupt.

        • Findaráto

          Less likely to be corrupt?

          You don’t know many peers, do you?

          Ignorance is bliss, I suppose.

          • Ivan M

            Having fellows who do nothing is a lot better than democratically elected demagogues who push through legislation on the basis of having won about 20% of the entire voting cohort.

          • chiefofsinners

            It seems to me that the numbers of MPs being caught on the take is greater than the number of Lords. And there are more Lords.

          • Findaráto

            The number of MPs getting caught is greater than the number of lords, but as on average lords are older and more experiened, perhaps they’re just better at hiding their transgressions.

      • IanCad

        Findars,
        Democracy, of itself, is a substitute for religion.
        The unshakeable belief that in majority lies truth.

        • Findaráto

          If anyone believes that majorities are always right then democracy is his religion. If he believes that majorities are majorities, then his view of democracy is more balanced and realistic.

          The religious brain sees a phantom called “truth” in every shadow and under every stone. But it’s just a hallucination. It doesn’t really exist.

          • The Explorer

            Is it true that truth doesn’t really exist?

          • Findaráto

            Show me a handful of truth and I’ll show you a fistful of dogmatic belief.

          • Ivan M

            Is that the truth or are you lying again?

          • The Explorer

            Water is wet. We experience darkness at night. Charles Darwin was British. Two atomic bombs were dropped on Japanese cities.

          • Findaráto

            Water can be dry.
            https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dry_water

            When there is a full moon, we experience light at night.

            Are you sure Charles Darwin was British? Can you be absolutely sure he wasn’t born in France and smuggled into his mother’s Shropshire bed in a warming pan? If a queen of England could do it, why not a provincial notable’s wife?

            Or perhaps he wasn’t born at all. Perhaps he was hatched by the Lizard Queen (in those days it would have been Shar-Lot, ancestress of the current head saurian Li-Li-Bet) and planted in Shropshire to start the task of destroying and subverting human culture from within.

            Who can tell which of these options is the truth? Can you? Do you have proof that Darwin wasn’t a French foundling substituted for a stillborn son? Do you have proof that he wasn’t a shape-shifting lizard child whose life work was to undermine the people’s faith in Christianity and make it easier for our alien overlords to dominate us?

            Of course given the wealth of documentary evidence we have for Darwin being born in quite a normal manner to his British mother in her British home, it’s quite understandable that you would believe him to be British. But do you absolutely know this to be the truth?

            Granted the likelihood of him being British is extremely high. But there is a difference between truth and probability. Quite a big one.

            The sames is true for the so-called atomic bombs exploded over Japan. Are you sure it wasn’t the Lizard People experimenting with anti-matter technology and when it went wrong the Americans just took the credit and said they’d dropped atomic bombs when really their nuclear program was nowhere near ready to produce viable weapons?

            Your truth is really just probability, nothing more.

          • The Explorer

            Yes indeed. As you say, all examples of dogmatic belief: and dogmatic beliefs shared,a sit happens, by a lot of religion us unbelievers. Next time I order sparkling water in a restaurant, I’ll have to specify the wet variety; although, do you know, I’ve never been given the option of dry water? Even with a full moon, it feels dark relative to sunlight. If Darwin was really French, that would account for a lot. I don’t want to knock one of your cherished beliefs, but I don’t personally believe in the Lizard People.

            Anyway, your statement that truth doesn’t exist. If that is true, then your statement is untrue. If your statement is untrue, then truth might exist.

            It’s all fascinating stuff: do things continue to exist when we aren’t looking at them? Christians are okay because they think God’s looking at everything, but atheists have got a real problem. As someone said, Descartes’ problem about whether he existed or not, arose because he was well fed, and had time to worry about that kind of stuff. In which case we may rejoice at how much famine there is the world: its victims are too preoccupied with trying to keep themselves and their kids alive to doubt their own existence.

          • Findaráto

            Idle hands make the devil’s work, eh?

            The reverse of that coin is that poverty dulls the mind.

            And did I say that truth doesn’t exist? No, I merely said that if you show me what you call truth, I will show you dogmatic belief. And I have.

          • The Explorer

            I nearly said, “To tell you the truth, yes you did.”

            “It’s just a hallucination. It doesn’t exist.”

          • Findaráto

            The truth you see is a hallucination, because you’re not equipped to see the truth, if indeed such a thing exists. So what you take for the truth is really dogmatic belief, but as you’re determined to call it the truth, what you’re seeing is a hallucination. It doesn’t exist. It is not what you think it is. It’s something quite different, if indeed it exists at all.

          • The Explorer

            The time it takes to boil an egg is the same whether you’re a religious believer or an atheist.

          • Findaráto

            Are you sure?

            Let’s examine that claim, shall we?

            Religious believers have, on average, lower IQs than those who do not believe in God.

            This would mean the believer’s manner of proceeding to boil the egg might be significantly less efficient than that of the atheist. He might not calculate the optimum quantity of water to use. And the optimum temperature of that water, and also of the egg. He might also neglect to add salt to the water and thus reduce the amount of energy needed to bring it to the boil while raising the boiling temperature to around 102°C, which would of course cook the egg significantly more quickly.

            In fact the average atheist might well be able to boil an egg anywhere between 10-20% faster than the average believer.

            So you see, another of one of your truths is reveal as a mere dogmatic belief. We are not all equal when it comes to boiling eggs and this can be easily proven.

          • The Explorer

            Yes, these are weighty objections. There’s also things like altitude, and surface temperature of egg at different times of year. As for the intelligence issue, how do we measure average belief and unbelief, and have we allowed for cultural biases in the IQ test?

            Perhaps all we can say is that if an egg is immersed in boiling water (with or without salt in it), then over time (and regardless of the beliefs of the individual placing the egg) the interior of the egg will grow hard. And once we have done this enough times with more or less the same result, we can even say that this is a truth.

          • Findaráto

            But see how you have been forced to modify your “truth” in the face of only a very few objections. What you believed to be true has been revealed to be untrue, which reveals that your entire world view is constructed on dogmatic belief.

            Which probably doesn’t bother you that much because you’ll dogmatically refute the accusation and without proof or justification of any kind simply say “I believe therefore it is”.

            And there you have religion in a nutshell. The ultimate triumph of the ego. It’s the world seen through the lens of the self glorified. Christianity gets close enough to the reality of what it is to feel uneasy about it. It tries to preempt charges of self-deification by engaging in a public show of self-denigration. But it’s just a mask. Underneath all the piety and selflessness, there’s quiet confidence in your own centrality, indispensibility and immortality. You’re like Prince William dressing up as a homeless person and spending a night under the arches as a propaganda stunt to make everyone believe you’re selfless and holy. But underneath the rags is a handsome prince who’ll be sleeping in a palace tomorrow night, and every night after that. Or at least that’s what you believe.

            Shame for you it’s all just a dogmatic fantasy.

          • The Explorer

            “What you believed to be true has been revealed to be untrue.” Not really: a general statement has been made more precise. Like modifying that there are twenty or so people in the room to there are nineteen people. The first is fine as an approximation, but not if there’s a fire and exact numbers are needed.

            Re the “untrue”, please can you clarify: are you denying that if an egg is placed in boiling water in due course the interior of the egg will become hard?

          • Findaráto

            Ah I see, so you weren’t telling the truth at all. You were just making a general statement that seemed vaguely right, without really bothering to think about it.

            So I see what you mean by “true” then. It’s whatever you think supports the argument you’re making at any given time. Your truth can be changed and altered at any time and in any way as long as it supports your argument.

            So really you are the ultimate arbiter of truth. Which means you must be God! You won’t admit it and keep on saying you’re just a sinner because that’s what Christianity teaches you to say in order to avoid charges of self-deification. But deep down you know who you really are.

          • The Explorer

            A general statement is not necessarily untrue; it’s simply less precise than a precise statement.

            Believers and unbelievers alike can observe that a cooked egg hardens. They have equal access to that truth, and can share many other truths in common where observability is the factor.

            It’s easier to prove something demonstrable like a boiled egg than it is to demonstrate the existence of God.

            However, there is then the question of why a cooked egg hardens, time after time. Why should it be so? What is the law that governs it? Those who began the scientific revolution looked for laws in Nature because they believed in a Law Giver.

  • Albert

    no reason to doubt the veracity of the claim(s)

    This is just an argumentum ad ignorantiam isn’t it? The burden of proof rests on those making the accusation. You do not have to show there is reason to doubt the veracity of claims against you. Rather, the person making the accusation has, independently, to establish the truth of the claims they have made. The fact that someone can find “no reason to doubt the veracity of the claims”, is not sufficient to demonstrate the claims are true.

    After all, there are many reasons why the CofE may not have found reason to doubt veracity of claims. For example, they may not have looked in the right places or asked the right people. And disgracefully, that is manifestly the case here: neither the diaries of the Bishop Bell have been checked nor the recollections of his chaplains have been sought, to say nothing more.

    In any case, as Dr C points out, there is every reason to doubt the veracity of the complainant: she claimed she had written to Dr Carey 14 years ago. It turns out she was wrong – she didn’t. If she can be confused over what she did as an adult, only 14 years ago, how can it be indubitable that she is not confused over what someone may have done to her as a child 70 years ago?

    None of this means she wasn’t abused, it doesn’t mean she is telling lies, it doesn’t even mean (unfortunately) that Bishop Bell did not abuse her. It does mean that it is wrong to believe that Bishop Bell abused her, and until evidence is produced to the contrary, I will continue to hold Bishop Bell as innocent and one of the most remarkable and impressive churchmen of the last century.

    • This woman claims to have been sexually assaulted by Bishop Bell from the age of five years old over a period of four years. She would have remembered her assailant and her published account of the abuse and her reaction seems very credible. The Church of England accepted her account of the abuse. What would the Bishop’s private papers and diaries have shown?

      She also said she informed the Bishop of Chichester in 1995 of the abuse, but no action was taken. She also claims to have written to the office of Rowan Williams when he was Archbishop of Canterbury. So she got the name of the Archbishop wrong. This hardly fatally undermines her credibility.

      • I can’t believe anybody hasn’t done any simple detective work and examined Bell’s diaries for the four years in question matching his whereabouts to put him at the scene of alleged crimes, then examining his entries for any evidence of his state of mind at that time. He could have unburdened himself in some sort of cryptic way therein which could then be corroborated by questioning his friends and the chaplains at the time if they are still alive. Has any member of the Church investigative department put any effort into clearing his name at all or did they simply take it as an open and shut case?

        • Anton

          If it happened, the accuser is not going to be able to remember the exact dates so long after.

          • Albert

            Yes, which is why one normally has a statute of limitations. It is so often the case that an innocent person can prove their innocence by making it clear that he couldn’t possibly have committed the crime because he wasn’t there at the time. Therefore, if the accusations are from so long ago that this kind of defence cannot be mounted, then it is highly questionable whether the accusations should be accepted.

          • Anton

            The authorities *haven’t* accepted them. But, more generally, I find no statute of limitation in the Law of Moses.

          • Albert

            The Law of Moses does not permit conviction on the basis of one accusation:

            A single witness shall not prevail against a man for any crime or for any wrong in connection with any offence that he has committed; only on the evidence of two witnesses, or of three witnesses, shall a charge be sustained. Deut.19.15.

            For all practical purposes, when we consider the damage done to Bell’s name, the taking down of memorials etc., it is clear that the authorities have accepted the accusations.

          • Anton

            I know that too about the Law of Moses, although God recognised the implausibility of witnesses to adultery, at least, and would personally give the answer in a trial by ordeal (Numbers 5; this is what Joseph was commended for sparing Mary from before the angel conveyed the truth to him).

            The point, which I’ve made more than once on this thread and am happy to repeat, is that we don’t have to make a decision but the CoE did have to. Anybody charged with making that decision will have familiarised himself with a lot more information, albeit peripheral, than we have.

          • Albert

            The point about the Law of Moses is that it prevents conviction on the basis of inadequate evidence. It may be that the CofE did have more evidence than we do, but what is evident is that they did not check all the evidence and that is reprehensible. Moreover, having more evidence is not the same as having sufficient evidence. As they clearly did not have sufficient evidence (or at least, did not do a thorough enough investigation) their actions were plainly wrong. It seems likely, as Carl has pointed out, that they were motivated by a desire to defend the institution – the very motivation that motivated cover-ups in the past.

            Bell was a soft target, because he was dead.

          • Anton

            Without necessarily disagreeing, this should be about more than law.

          • Albert

            I agree with that, but the law in this case provides a moral guide – we don’t convict people without proper evidence. Similarly, we shouldn’t defame their characters without proper evidence. The Catechism of the Catholic Church puts it like this:

            ARTICLE 8

            THE EIGHTH COMMANDMENT

            You shall not bear false witness against your neighbour.

            It was said to the men of old, “You shall not swear falsely, but shall perform to the Lord what you have sworn.”

            2464 The eighth commandment forbids misrepresenting the truth in our relations with others. This moral prescription flows from the vocation of the holy people to bear witness to their God who is the truth and wills the truth. Offences against the truth express by word or deed a refusal to commit oneself to moral uprightness: they are fundamental infidelities to God and, in this sense, they undermine the foundations of the covenant.

            2477 Respect for the reputation of persons forbids every attitude and word likely to cause them unjust injury. He becomes guilty:

            – of rash judgment who, even tacitly, assumes as true, without sufficient foundation, the moral fault of a neighbour;

            – of detraction who, without objectively valid reason, discloses another’s faults and failings to persons who did not know them;

            – of calumny who, by remarks contrary to the truth, harms the reputation of others and gives occasion for false judgments concerning them.

            2478 To avoid rash judgment, everyone should be careful to interpret insofar as possible his neighbour’s thoughts, words, and deeds in a favourable way.

            2479 Detraction and calumny destroy the reputation and honour of one’s neighbour. Honour is the social witness given to human dignity, and everyone enjoys a natural right to the honour of his name and reputation and to respect. Thus, detraction and calumny offend against the virtues of justice and charity.

            Now, this kind of teaching has sometimes got the Church into trouble, because, as a result of it, it has sometimes not acted to protect children from abusing priests. But George Bell has been dead for nearly 60 years. He isn’t a risk to children, and so he should simply have been entitled to his reputation being left intact, unless, or until, (a) a proper investigation has taken place and (b) that investigation, considering both sides, provides sufficient evidence of guilt. Since (a) has not taken place, (b) cannot be established.

          • Anton

            But I support Carol’s freedom of speech (perhaps provided she gives her real name).

          • Albert

            Nothing here prevents someone who have been abused by another from making an accusation.The issue here is what the Church should have done with the information. Defaming a man’s character after insufficient investigation, is not on.

          • Anton

            I agree that the CoE hasn’t handled it well. I do think it was in a trickier position than most one-siders here (I’m not thinking specifically of you) seem to think.

          • Albert

            That may well be true, but then again, it may not be true. We don’t know. All we know is that the CofE has defamed an otherwise good man after his death, and that the investigation into the matter was inadequate.

          • Anton

            I don’t know if the CoE has further information, such as interviews with Carol in which she spoke of usually-covered scars on his body, for instance. We don’t even know what we don’t know, which is why I prefer to comment on how these cases should be handled rather than on the case of Bell.

          • Albert

            That’s a fair comment, but even if she did know such things, it wouldn’t prove that he had abused her, unless we knew for certain there wasn’t any other way that she could have known such things, and it was certain (from wider investigation) that he was able to have done these things. For example, it may appear that, from knowing he had a particular birth mark that she must have seen him naked, but it could be explained by her mother being his nurse, who, for fun, used to tell her things like that.

            It’s a bit like DNA testing. We are told that the chances of the DNA match found at the scene of a crime in London, are one in say a million. That sounds impressive, until you factor in the size of the population of London (nine million) plus those who have commuted, and you find there are multiple matches of entirely innocent people. Now if those innocent people can be excluded as having been somewhere else for example, the apparently strong evidence (one in a million) of them being the criminal, has to be discarded.

            The point is, improbable connections cannot stand as evidence, in the face of real alibis. But if no one has checked the possible alibis (and they clearly haven’t) then the conclusion cannot be drawn. So I don’t agree: it is hard to see what evidence there could be, at this distance, which would prove, irrespective of his diaries and other witnesses, that he did not have an alibi. And if there were, you wouldn’t talk about “balance of probabilities, at this distance.”

          • Anton

            Alibis apply to particular dates and times and I doubt that the accuser is specifying those. The fact is, we don’t know what else she might be able to say (and have said to the CoE) that makes it more plausible. As I’m not in the CoE hierarchy and don’t have to comment on the probabilities in this case, I’m not going to; a course I commend to various others here. And I’d like to repeat that there should be more to this than law. But none of these comments is intended as head-on disagreement.

            Re DNA, testing is getting better every year and soon it will be essentially unique (unless you have a twin).

          • Albert

            Again, that’s very fair, but the difficulty of naming occasions is part of the reason why one has a statute of limitations – otherwise, it is difficult to check the innocence even of an innocent person, and so a miscarriage of justice is a risk.

            I would repeat that, if all the CofE can talk about is “balance of probabilities at this distance” then the CofE did not have sufficient evidence to condemn +Bell, especially as they didn’t talk to the people who worked closely with him or check his diaries.

          • Examining the Church’s appointment diaries for his schedules might reveal that he could have been too busy to be around and waiting on the stairs for ‘Carol’, and employees time records for when Elsie the relative worked and stayed overnight at the Bishop’s palace could shed light too. What job/s did she do that she couldn’t refuse Bishop Bell’s offer to read her niece a bedtime story in the evening? Comparing with Bell’s personal diaries would shed further light to the situation and their lifestyle.

            Bell was married, did he have an active sex life? Is his wife Henrietta still alive? He would have been aged 65 to 69 so well past his sexual prime. Why would an almost elderly gent suddenly start molesting a five year old girl?
            Isn’t it more likely that if she did sit on his lap for a story that she herself wriggled around as little children are likely to do?

            Why didn’t ‘Carol’ as a five to nine year old not do what children do when they don’t want to go somewhere or do something, scream, shout and throw a tantrum every time she had to go along with her aunt whom she said she had told. If she told her aunt then why not her mother too?

            ‘Carol’ didn’t report him to the police.Why? She tried her luck in contacting the Church in 1995 when society had become more receptive to sexual abuse cases but had no luck, then again in 2010 still no luck then once again in 2013 on another new Archbishop where she succeeded as the panic stricken Welby just paid out. After which she went to the local rag to get her story out and get a bit more cash.

          • Anton

            There are well known answers to the generic questions you ask about why children don’t make a fuss in realtime, or even as soon as they grow up. The CoE had to make a decision; we don’t, thankfully, and we don’t have the information to do so either. To make a decision when you don’t have to and when you don’t have the necessary information is unwise.

            Suppose for the sake of hypothesis that it is true. What then of your comment?

          • What about it?
            I am not making a decision, simply trying to get a picture of events then.
            I think the people need answers as to why the Church made the decision it did. If it is true we need to know how and why they were able to come to the decision. They are a public organisation and the accused was a public figure. The Church can’t just drop this bombshell and expect nobody to question why and ask to see the proof they used.

          • Anton

            When we don’t know, our comments should not be unfair to either side. Is yours fair to Carol?

          • “The Argus” and other media have painted her side, can one not question it? I thought this is what HG was wanting to do here?

          • Anton

            Questioning is not problematic. Over-committing to one or other conclusion, in the absence of information warranting that, is.

            What I am saying is that, if more information comes in that tips the balance, one should not have previously written anything that one then finds embarrassing, or unfair to either side.

          • Yes I do get it, so do you know something we don’t?

          • Anton

            If I did then I’d be more definite!

      • The Explorer

        I read her interview when it first came out. As I remember, the Bishop of Chichester replied to her but she did not have the response. Roman Willams had no recollection, but apparently his office replied to her and she did not keep the email. Carey’s name did not feature at all. That confusion happened after he weighed in on the side of Bell.

      • Albert

        The misremembering of abuse, is, as far as I am aware, quite a common problem. People end up accusing the wrong person, perhaps because it is psychologically hard to believe it was the person it really was. Regarding her claims about which AofC it was, remember, unless there is clear, corroborating evidence, and the evidence for the defence has been carefully examined, the burden of proof rests on demonstrating her credibility, not on assuming it. The fact that she sometimes confuses one person with another, is exactly the point: her veracity has not been demonstrated, but has been called into question, even in recent years, on exactly the point where she might go wrong.

        What could Bell’s private papers and diaries show? That he wasn’t in the right places at the right times. Remember: this is not even her word against his – he is dead and cannot answer back. Were he alive, these things would be considered. Moreover, there has been no questioning of those who worked with Bell closely on a daily basis.

        No one would submit themselves to judgement on these terms, but as Jesus says For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you. That is to say, Bell should not have been judged on these terms, unless those who have agreed with the judgement are prepared to accept so little evidence and defence as grounds for convicting themselves. Since they obviously wouldn’t, there can be no doubt that this judgement cannot be defended at the bar of Christian moral belief, and not by any legal standard.

  • len

    Innocent until the accusation is made .Then the trial by media.
    Is this the’ justice system ‘we want?.