Police apology to family of Bishop George Bell

The Sussex Police has conceded mistakes were made in its handling of the abuse allegations made against Bishop George Bell,

The Sussex Police has conceded mistakes were made in its handling of the abuse allegations made against the Rt. Rev. George Bell, the late Bishop of Chichester and one of the leading figures in the Church of England in the Twentieth Century. On 5 Aug 2016 the BBC reported the police were  to “apologise” for distress caused to the niece of Bishop Bell by a media release about alleged abuse by the cleric. The apology came in the wake of an inquiry made in October 2015 by journalist Peter Hitchens. However, the BBC reported the police were not apologising for their investigation or for the content of their media release about the investigation. A spokesman for the Sussex Police told Anglican Ink that Det Supt Jeremy Graves, head of the force’s professional standards department, would apologise to the bishop’s niece Barbara Whitley “because the force did not take steps to contact any living relatives of Bishop Bell to let them know that our statement about our investigation was to be made public by the Church of England last October. However the letter does not apologise for the police investigation or for the statement itself. It apologies specifically and solely for our not trying to ensure in advance that any surviving relatives knew of our intended statement …” Hitchens and Miss Whitley objected to the Sussex Police’s statement that in light of the evidence turned over to them by the diocese in 2013, “the information obtained from our enquiries would have justified, had he still been alive, Bishop Bell’s arrest and interview under caution, on suspicion of sexual offences, followed by release on bail, further enquiries, and the possible subsequent submission of a police report to the CPS.”

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