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'Inquiry rushed judgement into abuse claims against bishop'

The Church of England has apologised to the relatives of a bishop for the way it investigated child abuse claims made against him decades after his death.

An independent review by Lord Carlile of Berriew found the inquiry into claims made against George Bell was too quick to accept the allegations of the complainant and name the bishop to show that it was not covering up evidence.

Claims made by a woman known only as "Carol" of abuse by Bishop Bell when she was aged between five and eight in the 1950s led the Church to issue an apology and pay her £16,800 in compensation in 2013.

The initial inquiry led to the cancellation of a planned statue in Canterbury Cathedral celebrating the bishop's work helping to rescue Jewish children transported out of Germany during the Second World War, and his name was also removed from a room at the University of Chichester, while a building in the town was also renamed.

In his review, Lord Carlile accepted that the Church acted in good faith, trying to do right by "Carol", but he also found that the interests of Bishop Bell were not treated appropriately, and in the rush to be transparent, Bishop Bell's reputation was essentially trashed.

However, on Friday the Church of England rejected Lord Carlile's recommendation that the reputation of the accused should be protected, arguing that the Church is "committed to transparency".

Police warn public over missing mental health patient

A mental health patient who has been missing from a care unit in Chichester for more than a day should not be approached by the public, police have warned.

Jason Merriman Credit: Sussex Police

Jason Merriman, 43, is a compulsory patient at The Oaklands Centre for Acute Care in Chichester, West Sussex. He went out on unescorted leave at 12.45pm on Friday and has failed to return, a Sussex Police spokesman said.

Inspector Robert Moore said: "Jason's behaviour may be erratic and irrational due to his mental condition."

Mr Merriman is white, 6ft 2in, broad, with short brown hair. He was last seen wearing a dark blue long-sleeved sweatshirt, green camouflage trousers and black training shoes with white socks.

He has links across the south coast including Chichester, Southampton, and Brighton, and he might visit the Isle of Wight, the spokesman added.


Assisted suicide and the law

Assisted suicide remains a criminal offence in England and Wales, punishable by up to 14 years in prison, but individual decisions on prosecution are now made on the circumstances in each case.

Assisted suicide guidelines were issued in 2010 Credit: Anthony Devlin/PA

Guidelines were issued in 2010 by the Director of Public Prosecutions Keir Starmer, QC which clarified the position on assisted suicide.

It was indicated that anyone acting with compassion to help end the life of someone who has decided they cannot go on would be unlikely to face criminal charges.

Pair arrested over 'suicide plan' released on bail

A pensioner and her 25-year-old son have been released on bail after they were arrested on suspicion of encouraging or assisting a suicide.

A Sussex Police spokesman said: "It is an offence to encourage or assist suicide under the Coroners and Justice Act 2009 and officers are investigating whether any crime has been committed or is likely to be committed if they do not take action."

Pair arrested on suspicion of assisting a suicide

A 65-year-old woman and a 25-year-old man have been arrested on suspicion of encouraging or assisting a suicide.

Sussex Police confirmed the pair were arrested in the Chichester area and it has been reported that they had planned to accompany a 71-year-old man to Switzerland to end his life.

Police are investigating to see if the man is able to decide to travel himself.

A Sussex Police spokesperson said: “The investigation is looking into what steps, if any, the suspects had made in taking the man out of the country.

“If it is confirmed the man had the mental capacity to make decisions for himself then we would not be able to prevent him travelling.”