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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".

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