THE Church of England waited six weeks to release an allegation of historic sexual abuse, The Argus can reveal.

The “fresh information” about Bishop George Bell came on Wednesday.

The General Synod is due to discuss Bell’s case next week.

A senior Church of England source said the “fresh information” came to light “within days” of a press conference at Church House on December 15 at which Lord Alex Carlile was damning about the Church’s handling of the affair.

The source said internal discussions were taking place “well before Christmas” on how to handle the new allegations.

News of the fresh claims came amid growing pressure on Archbishop Justin Welby to apologise for the Church’s handling of a previous claim against Bishop Bell.

Some are calling for Archbishop Welby’s resignation over his refusal to apologise.

The Argus understands the “fresh information” has nothing to do with the allegations made by a woman we named Carol, who we interviewed in February 2016.

She said Bishop Bell sat her on his lap,when she was five years old in the 1940s and molested her.

She said he told her it was their little secret because God loved her,

The “fresh information” is believed to be an allegation received by another complainant.

The George Bell affair hit the headlines in mid-December when Lord Carlile accused the Church of unfairly maligning the legacy of one of the 20th century’s most revered churchmen.

At the time Lord Carlile said the Church investigation of Carol’s complaint had been “deficient in several ways”.

He added: “The statement [of October 2015] was wrong, it should never have been issued. I think if one looks at the process, the process went just horribly wrong.”

Yesterday he said: “My clear view, which I’ve expressed to the Church, is that the press release issued yesterday should never have been released.

“It flies in the face of my recommendations.

“I recommended strongly that there should be a case investigated before any announcement was made.”

When informed of the time delay, Lord Carlile pointed out that a demonstration had been planned for yesterday by those seeking an apology from the Church and a full restitution of Bell’s legacy.

Lord Carlile said: “If the timing was deliberate, it’s a disgrace.

“And if it was not deliberate, then it’s incompetent.”

Yesterday Sussex Police would not confirm any details about the alleged victim or the nature of the allegation.