IICSA Roman Catholic Investigation Ealing Abbey Investigation Closing statement by David Greenwood on behalf of RC-A31, RC-A32, RC-A33, C17, C18 and C19
1. Chair, you posed a question to Mr Turner, the Diocesan safeguarding officer: a. “Why had all this occurred within the monastery and the diocese?”
2. How could so few people – a dozen or so monks – cause so much trouble?
That is the fundamental question. The answer determines what must be done.
The wrong answer
3. Let me first reject the answer Mr Turner and others gave. He suggested all this had occurred because opportunities to commit child abuse arose because of inadequate procedures.
4. He is wrong. There was no lack of procedure or want of knowledge of child safeguarding. Or, if there was, it was not the cause of the problem.
a. Ealing Abbey had received clear, unequivocal advice, from its solicitors from as early as 1993.
b. Abbot Shipperlee was involved with implementing Nolan from its inception. He was part of its working committee.
c. This was a man who said, in effect, he became so familiar with safeguarding that he was bored with the training.
d. You will remember in the Downside case how the headmaster, Father Aelred Watkin, acted quickly to involve the statutory authorities as long ago as 1970.
e. It is not difficult to keep records. It is not difficult to promulgate a covenant of care in the monastery. It is not difficult to pass complaints to the statutory authorities. It is not difficult to assist the police with their inquiries. It is not difficult to give full and frank disclosure to the school inspector and Charity Commission.
f. It is not difficult if the will is there. But the will was not there.
The right answer
5. Why were these holy men so unwilling? The answer to your question is hiding in plain sight. It is what the Benedictines have themselves told you. It is what they believe. Their beliefs are simply incompatible with the welfare of the child being paramount: incompatible in principle; incompatible in practice.
6. It not that the Benedictines wish harm upon children. It is that when there is a conflict between their beliefs and harm to children, their beliefs are paramount.
a. The first duty of the Abbot is to his monks, according to the Rule of St Benedict.
b. That is why Abbot Shipperlee accepted he might well have said about David Pearce, “What can I do? He’s my friend.”
c. That is why Abbot Shipperlee said about Soper, ‘I couldn’t believe the complaint. I had a very high regard for my predecessor’ rather than trust to an investigation.
d. It is why Abbot Yeo told you, “My concern was, above all, how is the community going to get out of this mess?” rather than investigate the rumours of abuse that were running rife in Ealing Abbey.
e. It is why a pupil at the school was allowed to work in the monastery and become a further victim of David Pearce.
f. It is why David Pearce, since his release from prison, lives in a flat paid for out of the Abbey’s charitable funds.
g. It is demonstrated by the baleful influence the monks had over Mr Cleugh. What else could explain Mr Cleugh’s lack of candour with the school inspector and charity commission? What else could explain his talk at prize-giving of an anti-Catholic conspiracy? What else could explain a safeguarding policy as late as 2009 that set such a high bar to reporting complaints to the police?
h. The EBC themselves acknowledge the possibility that what they believe may be incompatible with the paramountcy principle. They themselves are sponsoring a conference which will explore how elements of Catholic culture (including theology) might enable abusive behaviour.
7. That is why I say the answer is in plain sight. This is all what the Benedictines themselves have admitted to you that reflect their beliefs today. Their beliefs have not changed. They will not change. It has nothing to do with the knowledge and experience of safeguarding policies. It is to do with the very nature of the institution itself. Unless the nature of the institution itself changes, the risk to any children in their care will continue because children’s welfare will not be paramount.
8. If that is right, it is no answer to point to improvements in safeguarding or to the division between school and monastery that followed Carlile. The baleful influence of the monks and the school will persist so long as there is any connection at all. Mr Cleugh’s loyalties were only too plain. He remained in post until August 2016. Abbot Shipperlee is still the Abbot. The implication
9. The failure to recognise why this institution was, and remains, a particular risk to children is an important part of the explanation for the failure of the statutory authorities to remedy the problem at Ealing swiftly.
10. The regulatory approach is one that focuses on individuals and policies. The regulators do not ask themselves, is the belief-system of this institution compatible with child safeguarding? Nor are their statutory powers and duties aligned to dealing with that question.
a. The police’s chief task is to investigate criminal offences of individuals.
b. The CPS’s chief task is to prosecute criminal offences of individuals.
i. Both might be criticised for superficial investigations and charging decisions. But we accept that it is not their job to ensure safeguarding.
ii. Good example of how CPS not set up to deal with institutions: can’t even search the database for Ealing Abbey.
c. The Charity Commission’s chief task is to ensure Trustees are acting ‘exclusively in the charity’s best interests and managing its assets and resources prudently, which includes to avoid exposing the charity’s assets, beneficiaries or reputation to undue risk’. There is obviously the potential for conflict there between there competing objectives. It may not be in the charity’s interests to expose child abuse in its midst.
d. Penny Jones makes it clear in her statement that the DfE lacked the power to require Ealing to remove abusive monks from the Abbey. There was an appeal by the Minister of State for Schools for the Charity Commission to use its powers instead. “We had no means of requiring proprietors to make changes that would tackle the deep-rooted attitudes which underpinned poor safeguarding practice,” paragraph 61. . Penny Jones’ statement is very important. She has not been called and her statement has not been read into the record. We ask that she is called to give evidence at the Residential Schools investigation.
11. None of these statutory bodies has both the paramountcy principle as its key objective or the power to enforce it. It is on the face of it extraordinary that DfE should have to beg the Charity Commission to use its powers to achieve what it wanted.
12. The lack of cooperation and information sharing between the various statutory bodies was also appalling. Penny Jones writes how, INQ003857 para 58: LADO (Local Authority Designated Officer) was unaware of the Charity Commission Investigation. The Charity Commission did not inform DfE or ISI (Independent Schools Inspectorate) of its inquiries. DfE had to request ISI to gather relevant information using its powers. In the end it was only the sheer tenacity of a civic minded Jonathan West that brought the relevant information to the attention of all the statutory bodies. It is hardly surprising in those circumstances that Ealing Abbey was able to mislead and cover-up for so long.
13. The confused mosaic of powers and objectives of the various statutory bodies involved with Ealing is powerful support for the creation of an HSE type-body dedicated to the enforcement of minimum child-safeguarding standards for registered institutions of a given size. Consistent with children’s welfare being paramount its directives must take precedence over all others. Its power would include: . To prosecute and fine for breaches of safeguarding legislation including a failure to report suspected abuse by the institution and by individuals; a. To order disclosure of records; b. Referral to the Charity Commission to consider charitable status and/or the suitability of trustees; c. Enforcement notices; d. A statutory requirement to take into account the espoused beliefs of the institution and the historical record of institutions with those espoused beliefs.
14. RC-8 was surely not wrong when he estimated hundreds of victims over the years, just at Ealing. A new regulator will be expensive. But it would be a false economy and unjust not to have it.
15. It is time someone said: ‘This is not rotten apples, it’s a rotten institution. This is not simply a conflict of interest between the Abbot and his monks, but a conflict of interest between the Order of St Benedict and the welfare of children. These people are not willing to do what is necessary to safeguard children because that is not their paramount belief. They believe in something different.” Time to tell the Emperor, he has no clothes. Let us not leave it to Jonathan West to put the world to rights.