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Lesley Pardoe / Alamy Stock Photo
Lesley Pardoe / Alamy Stock Photo
World News

Bishop George Bell's name restored to Chichester Cathedral building after 'prayerful consideration'

by Kelly Valencia

The name of a building in Chichester Cathedral will be changed back to George Bell House, after several years of campaigning by defenders of Bishop Bell.

In 2016, the Chapter of Chichester Cathedral announced it was changing the name of the building to 4 Canon Lane, after Bishop George Bell, who is considered by some as one of the most important figures in the history of the Church of England in the 20th century, was investigated for sexually abusing a young girl by the Church of England in the 1950s.

However, a 2017 review found the church's investigation had been "deficient," unfair to both sides, and had "rushed to judgment" when they concluded Bishop Bell had allegedly abused the girl.

A year later, Sussex Police closed their investigation after fresh information was passed on to them by the Church of England’s National Safeguarding Team. At the time, Sussex Police said: "The information was assessed, and a proportionate investigation has been carried out to clarify the circumstances. This was done thoroughly and sensitively, although, of course, further police investigation or action is not possible as Bishop Bell died 60 years ago."

The Police's statement was followed by one by the Archbishop of Canterbury the following year, apologising "unreservedly" for "mistakes made" during the investigation.

Now, the Chapter has announced that after "prayerful consideration" George Bell’s name would be reinstated from 3rd October.

The statement said: "The Chapter recognises that the decision to remove Bishop Bell’s name from 4 Canon Lane in 2016 was a response to a serious allegation and was motivated by a desire to do the right thing by the complainant. The decision was made in good faith under deeply sensitive circumstances. However, the Chapter acknowledges that this decision was deficient and apologises for this."

The Chapter also announced that the title 4 Canon Lane will continue to be used for some commercial activities.

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