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Danny Lawson/PA Wire
UK News

Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby accused of making 'dangerous' George Bell comments

Sir Ian Kershaw and six other historians accused the Most Rev Justin Welby of assuming an allegation against George Bell was correct, by apologising to his alleged victim in 2015.

They also criticised the Anglican leader's response to a review by Lord Carlisle of Berriew which found failings in how the Church of England responded to a claim the former Bishop of Chichester abused a girl - only known as Carol - during the 1950s.

Archbishop Justin stopped short of fully apologising for the Church's response, and he pointed out that George Bell was "accused of great wickedness".

The historians - including Charmian Brinson, Andrew Chandler, John Charmley, Michael J Hughes, Jeremy Noakes and Keith Robbins - investigated the allegation and concluded there was "no credible evidence" that Bell was guilty.

The Church of England apologised to relatives of George Bell last month after the Carlisle review concluded Church leaders had been "deficient".

But the academies said Archbishop Justin Welby's comments were "irresponsible and dangerous", and damaging for the Archbishop of Canterbury's office.

They said: "We therefore urge you, in all sincerity, to repudiate what you have said before more damage is done and thus to restore the esteem in which the high, historic office to which you have been called has been held".

Lambeth Palace has told Premier it may respond to the historians' letter at a later date.

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