A man has been arrested over abuse allegations at a Suffolk boarding school and interviewed as part of a separate inquiry in north Wales.The 62-year-old man from Barnsley, South Yorkshire, was arrested on suspicion of indecent assault at Kesgrave Hall, near Ipswich.The allegations date from between the 1970s and 1990s at the former school.He has also been questioned by officers probing claims of historical abuse in the north Wales care system.The investigation in Wales, Operation Pallial, is being led by the National Crime Agency.
THE Daily Echo can today reveal the full explosive details of an investigation into Hampshire’s top police officer.The chief constable of Hampshire and Isle of Wight Constabulary, Andy Marsh, is facing a police probe from a separate force into claims he ordered a whitewash over the failure of police investigations into shocking sex abuse allegations at a Hampshire special school.He is also accused of breaching confidentiality and contempt of court in connection with the same inquiry.The complaints centre on Hampshire police’s investigation into allegations that a girl was raped and other pupils were sexually abused at the former Stanbridge Earls School near Romsey, which closed last year.
Media coverage of clerical sex abuse scandals in the Catholic church has tended to focus on Ireland and the USA. In England, Catholic leaders have fostered the impression that the English church has been relatively scandal-free, and that such problems as did exist were eliminated by the Nolan reforms, a raft of changes to child protection introduced in 2001.
In my book Betrayed: The English Catholic Church and the Sex Abuse Crisis, just published (Amazon link is http://www.amazon.co.uk/Betrayed-English-Catholic-Church-Crisis/dp/1849546827), I interrogate that claim. By examining the detail of cases over a 50 year period, I show that the patterns of denial and cover-up that have characterised the Catholic abuse scandal in other parts of the world have been pervasive in England too. Time and again, allegations about priests were simply dismissed or the priest was moved elsewhere where he would be free to abuse again. The protection of the institution was paramount, not the protection of children.
As a result of various scandals, in 1994 the Catholic church of England and Wales issued guidelines for dealing with clerical sex abuse. But these guidelines had no legal force within the church, and were ineffective. In my book I give examples of how the guidelines were simply ignored by Bishops, resulting in paedophile priests being allowed to carry on abusing children.
Continuing scandals throughout the 1990s, particularly the case of Father Michael Hill, forced the English church to introduce the Nolan reforms, a further and much more comprehensive raft of changes to child protection in 2001. Since 2001, the Catholic Church has maintained that it has ‘gold standard safeguarding’ in England and Wales. In my book I challenge that complacent view.
The Catholic Church in England is now better than it was at reporting new allegations to the statutory authorities, although many victims some would say the level of media attention leaves it with little option. A mandatory reporting law – requiring that any allegation of abuse is automatically passed to the police or social services- would ensure that there is no backsliding. But there have also been flaws in the Nolan process. Nolan did not cover the whole Catholic church, so we have seen continuing scandals in Catholic institutions in the past ten years: at one Catholic (Benedictine) school attached to a monastery in West London, a monk was found by a civil court in 2006 to have sexually abused a child, but the monk continued to have access to children and subsequently went on to abuse another boy, offences for which he was later convicted.
Secondly, the church continues to resist support and fair compensation for victims, exploiting every possible legal loophole. For many years, the English church tried to argue that because it does not ‘employ’ priests, it bears no legal responsibility for clerical sex abuse. That legal sophistry was roundly rejected by the courts in 2012, but the church continues to fight cases aggressively.
Thirdly, the church has failed to laicise (defrock) convicted priests speedily and transparently as recommended by Nolan. To give just one example, 2 priests convicted and jailed in 2005 of sexual abuse of children at Ampleforth, the leading Catholic public school, were still appearing in the official list of priests of England and Wales in 2008, some 3 years after their convictions and seven years after the Nolan reforms were supposed to have taken effect.
Moreover, the Nolan changes are still not embodied in the law of the church. In a review of the Nolan reforms in 2007, Baroness Cumberlege urged that the Nolan package be given ‘recognitio’ by the Vatican, i.e. recognised as part of the canon law of the church. Seven years on, this has not happened, so the Nolan treforms remain merely ‘recommendations’, not obligatory legal norms, and can be disregarded if a Bishop so chooses – precisely the problem with the previous set of guidelines in 1994.
It is unclear why ‘recognitio’ has not yet been secured. When I raised this point recently, Danny Sullivan of the National Catholic Safeguarding Commission confirmed that he is currently in discussions with Rome about the ‘possibility’ of recognitio. But we are seven years on from the Cumberlege report which urged this. It’s unclear why.
The abuse scandals in the English church over the past few decades have left thousands of traumatised victims and many broken parishes. I hope the church is changing, but the jury is still out.
Richard Scorer is Head of the Abuse unit at Slater & Gordon lawyers. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Police investigating the disappearance of a schoolboy 26-years ago have arrested three men on suspicion of murder.
Lee Boxell was aged 15, when he went missing from Sutton in south London in 1988.
The teenager disappeared after telling a friend he was off to watch a Crystal Palace football match at Selhurst Park.
His disappearance sparked a national search, but no trace of the teenager was ever found.
But in a fresh breakthrough, officers from the Metropolitan Police, announced that they had arrested three men aged 78, 42 and 41 on suspicion of murder, conspiracy to pervert the course of justice and indecency with children.
A 42-year-old woman was also arrested on suspicion of conspiracy to pervert the course of justice and indecency with children.
In 2012 it emerged that Lee had been a regular at an unofficial youth club, known as The Shed in Cheam, where it was feared paedophiles were operating.
A 73-year-old man has been arrested on suspicion of sexual offences as part of a police operation prompted by the Jimmy Savile abuse scandal.
Scotland Yard said the man was arrested in north London.
Operation Yewtree is the criminal investigation into sexual abuse claims against Savile and others.
TV presenter and DJ Savile died in 2011. A police report later described him as a “predatory sex offender” who abused more than 200 people.