A POLICE investigation into a second complaint of historic sexual abuse against wartime Bishop of Chichester George Bell has been dropped.

Sussex Police and the Church of England have refused to release any information about the complaint in what is a long-running and controversial case.

In October 2015 the Church issued an apology and payout over a sexual abuse claim made against Bell, who died in 1958.

The complainant, who The Argus interviewed and named Carol to protect her identity, brought the matter to the attention of the Church three times: in 1995, 2012, and 2013.

In January, an independent inquiry found the Church had not investigated the claim properly and unfairly blackened Bell’s name. Within a week the Church announced it had “received fresh information” relating to Bell, which it had handed to the police.

This week Sussex Police said: they received information from the Church of England concerning an allegation made against the late Bishop George Bell.

They 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. There are no current safeguarding issues.

“The investigation was completed in March 2018. The matter is now closed as far as Sussex Police are concerned and the Church of England have been informed of this. We are not releasing any other information about our investigation which was completed in March.”

A police spokesman confirmed the investigation related to a complaint raised by another individual.

A spokesman for the Church of England’s National Safeguarding Team said: “Fresh information was received regarding Bishop Bell following the publication of the Carlile Review in December.

“In January the National Safeguarding Team announced that it was commissioning an independent investigation into this information and we cannot make any further comment until the investigation is completed.”


In October 2015 the Church of England issued a statement which began: “The Bishop of Chichester has issued a formal apology following the settlement of a legal civil claim regarding sexual abuse against the Right Reverend George Bell.”

In February 2016 The Argus printed an exclusive interview with the alleged victim, who told us she was only five years old when the abuse, which continued for four years, began. She said Bell had sat her on his lap and molested her, saying it was their little secret because God loved her.

The Church was criticised for its handling of the matter and launched an independent investigation headed by Lord Carlile. This year his report said the Church had not investigated the claims properly and Bell’s reputation had been wrongfully damaged.