I am very glad to see that six very reputable historians have taken Archbishop Justin Welby to task for his smearing of George Bell. Please read their entire open letter to Welby, but skipping to their conclusions...:
We state our position bluntly. There is no credible evidence at all that Bishop Bell was a paedophile…. We state this after reviewing all that is known about his character and behaviour over many years…. We note, and emphasize, that there was never so much as a whisper of such an allegation in his lifetime. It is the testing of accusations which shows the integrity of a society, not the making of them. [If you heard wild applause, that may have been me. – Ed.]
There is today no cloud at all over Bishop Bell. Nobody employing credible critical method could think otherwise. Two of us are biographers of former Archbishops of Canterbury and we all acknowledge the many difficulties and pressures which any archbishop must face, not least in a position which Archbishop Lang once called ‘incredible, indefensible and inevitable’. None of us may be considered natural critics of an Archbishop of Canterbury. But we must also draw a firm line. The statement of 15 December 2017 seems to us both irresponsible and dangerous. 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.
Kudos to these scholars for this excellent statement.
As for Justin Welby, he has become rather isolated in this matter. His smears reflect more on him than on George Bell. And that is as it should be.