Archive for Catholic Church

Roman Catholic Final Hearing Notes of David Greenwood

IICSA Roman Catholic investigation final hearing


Notes of David Greenwood



28th of October 2019


Brian Altman, counsel to the inquiry mentions the Bullivant report which analysed 726 complaints from survivors of child sex abuse in the Catholic Church. There were more boys than girls and reports peaked in 2010. It is common for survivors to delay reporting and that the abuse by the Catholic Church represents the grossest breach of trust and has a very human impact. A 20 feels nauseous when she recalls her abuse. She has attempted suicide. A 62 feels the impact is lifelong. He has persistent anxiety has lost sleep and has nightmares. Graham Wilmer found the abuse was compounded by poor responses and has had alcohol problems. Mr Altman recollects the abuse and cover-ups of the Birmingham investigation and the Benedictine investigations where complaints were not referred to the police or local authority and cover-ups were facilitated.


Representatives include Brian Altman, Jackie Carey and Mr Saad, all counsel to the Inquiry. Slater and Gordon, David Greenwood of Switalskis, Mrs Gallagher, Alan Collins, Howe and co, the catholic council and secretary of state for education.


The first week of the enquiry will deal with contemporaneous safeguarding regimes whether responses have improved. The role of insurers will be examined, reviews of recent safeguarding files and whether they are compliant with CSAS policies. The issue of Mandatory reporting and the seal of the confessional together with relationships between Rome and dioceses will be examined.


The structure of the church has been criticised insofar as safeguarding is concerned as each diocese cannot be controlled by the Cardinal and only has to follow rules set by Rome. Each bishop is responsible for safeguarding in his diocese.


Religious orders are groups of consecrated men and women who abide by canon law but outsiders have no power over their leaders (named provincials). Some orders have only one member, some have over 100. Most orders deploy diocesan safeguarding coordinators to work with them on safeguarding and six do not.


In 2001 the Nolan review was intended to bring about significant changes including one single set of policies based on the paramountcy principle, and a new organisation of structures at parish and diocesan level (parish child protection representatives and Diocesan safeguarding coordinators), and including national child protection unit, COPCA, CSAS, CRB checks, and reports to police and social services immediately.


The Cumberlege review five years later in 2007 recommended that COPCA then renamed as CSAS reports to the bishops conference and coordinates training, advice and providing updates on safeguarding.


Has the Catholic Church adopted a ‘one church’ approach? How far has it pursued the Paramountcy principal?


Cumberlege recognised in 2007 that CSAS cannot give orders to bishops. For that a decree from the Pope is required. A general decree was passed in June 2019 but is still to come into force 12 years after it was recommended by Cumberlege.


We will hear that Danny Sullivan, the former chair of national Catholic safeguarding committee felt he was not respected and not funded. A lay member of NCSC, Stephen Spear will tell us safeguarding responses were poor and that the church did not monitor them. The current chair of CSAS, Collette Limbrick will say that CSAS tries to ensure the one church approach.


One problem is that by in house safeguarding coordinators are accountable and employed by the bishops. They are taxed with reporting to the police and the LADO.


We will hear from Edina Carmi who has looked at the two most recent files from each diocese and order.


We will hear that limitation has been used as a defence, that Scotland has removed limitation as a defence in child protection shown cases.


We will hear that the Charity commission is mainly interested in protecting the reputation and assets of charities.


Will hear that trainee priests have to be sifted and the unsuitable trainees prevented from advancing.


Will hear criticism that Rome and the papal Nuncio has refused to provide answers to questions regarding what it knew about Lawrence Soper’s disappearance in 2011, despite IICSA having followed all appropriate channels to the foreign office.


We’ll hear about how long it takes to lsicise individuals suspected and convicted of child sex abuse offences.


The congregation of the doctrine of the Faith deals with discipline and canonical crimes and IlCSA will have questions for various witnesses but the CDF itself has refused to answer questions.


We’ll hear from complainants about errors, mishandling of complaints and malevolent attitudes in the last two years.


Opening statements of core participants


Richard scorer suggest that the panel should have deep scepticism about the churches protestations that it is doing better. He says there is cultural resistance to positive approaches on safeguarding. He says there are systemic flaws in that church is run by small groups of individuals with bonds of mutual loyalty and those take precedence over safeguarding. He says that Jonathan West, an Ealing campaigne,r has analysed Catholic Church safeguarding policies and found them to be full of holes. He says that only external oversight can protects children in the future.


William Chapman (for Switalskis Core Participants)


His central recommendation is that there needs to be an independent statutory body to enforce national minimum standards of safeguarding for organisations which look after children. He says that the evidence has come from the enquiries into Ampleforth and Downside, Birmingham and Ealing Abbey. Those investigations demonstrate the scale and extent of abuse and comes from the panels earlier findings.


The Roman Catholic Church poses a high risk of harm to children in its care. It is too reliant on individual powerful men in the church making decisions. Some weak like Abbott Shipperley, some unwilling like Abbott Wright at Ampleforth and some are paedophiles such as Soper in Ealing.


In the Birmingham enquiry the panel found that rather than assisting the police, the Vicar General attempted to help Samuel Penny out of the jurisdiction and ensure that Robinson was financially supported for years whilst he was in the United States. Abuse could have been stopped much earlier in various settings of the Catholic Church but the plight of victims was ignored and abusers were allowed to continue their crimes.


If IICSA had not looked into Birmingham, it is doubtful that the diocese would have recognised there was a problem. The Downside the Abbotts and headmaster tried to pave the way for the return of abusive monks.


Victims have been vindicated but they doubt whether IICSA will be anything more than a gravy train for lawyers unless an independent statutory body is set up to enforce minimum standards safeguarding. The current patchwork has failed. Neither the police, CPS, Charity commission, ISI, Department for education have had safeguarding as their chief role. The structure of the Catholic Church means it is unable to change itself. There have been many failures of leadership. It would be a mistake for the state to try to amend the churches by tinkering with structures and only setting standards from outside will do.


Mrs Gallagher QC criticises failures of the Catholic Church. She says it has demonised and marginalise survivors and continues to do so.


David Enright says it is hard to see how the Roman Catholic church can change due to its structural inability. Some of his clients met with Archbishop Longley from Birmingham positively by contrast some clients have been treated appallingly by the Combini order.


Alan Collins criticises the structure of the Catholic Church.


Mr Brody’s client wants mandatory reporting, fines for organisations and convictions for individuals who fail to report allegations of abuse.


Miss Gallafent for the Catholic Council gives a roundup of what the different parts of the church are working on and details various minor improvements.


29th of October 2019.


Evidence of A711.


She describes how a priest, F500 at a primary school groomed and then sexually abused her in the 1980s then followed her to university and raped her. She went into a religious vocation had psychotherapy. She complained to her local diocese but was transferred to the Westminster archdiocese as her original safeguarding coordinator was off work ill. She thought Westminster Archdiocese would be hot on safeguarding but soon realised that nothing could be further from the truth.


She realised that the one church principle was not in play as there was so much variance between different dioceses that she had worked with. She felt it has been a battle throughout her complaints and disclosures. By June 2017 she was exhausted. She did get written apology from the abuser, F500 but felt it was a sham and written by a lawyer.


The abuser had a risk assessment done by Joe Sullivan. A 711 was denied access to the risk assessment. There was no feedback to her on the risk assessment because of advice from the lawyer, Kathy Perrin who advised Westminster not to share the details.


Eventually there was then independent assessment done by Karen Abrahams (INQ004720) which upheld all of her complaints and in particular criticised decision making was being done by the insurer rather than diocese.


She criticised letters of apology as being insincere and drafed by a lawyer. Another apology from a Friar at the original Priory was more acceptable.


She felt that the safeguarding officers at Westminster Archdiocese were unsympathetic, tied up in their own processes and weren’t even clear about what their own process was. There were repeated changes of staff at Westminster. She eventually made a subject access request and found that she had been referred to internally as being ‘needy, this woman is deeply manipulative, and we need to keep playing the good practice card if we are to keep a lid on her manipulative behaviour’. She concludes that Westminster are not fit to be engaged in safeguarding.


She was so frustrated with the process that she asked for a meeting with Vincent Nichols who refused to meet her. Eventually she reported his refusal to a newspaper and he eventually met her on 12 April 2019. She suspects his motivation was that he was responding to the derogatory remarks that have been made against and the press article. She had met with the head of the order to check that the abuser would not have future ministry. He could not give that assurance .she asked ‘so rapist could be saying Mass? She was told that this was the case. She eventually spoke to the police and they told her that the abuser had admitted everything she had described.


On reflection she believes the one church approach can work but safeguarding in the Catholic Church needs to be administered by the independent body. CSAS does not even understand its own guidelines.


Mr McGuinness (evidence read).


Mr McGuiness reported sexual abuse at St Peter claver college, Mirfield to 3 senior members of the Comboni fathers order but was ignored each time. He was eventually expelled the age of 15. Since then he has written 20 letters to the order they declined to respond and in 2012 he joined a group action was eventually offered £40,000 under threat of having limitation raised at court. No admissions were made on liability and there was no apology. He does not believed the Comboni/ Verona order should be allowed to have anything to do with children.


Mark Murray (sworn). Man in his 50s – born in 1955.


He was inspired by a priest who visited his school to become a priest and missionary and moved from Liverpool to Mirfield in 1969 at age 14 stayed there until 1974. He complained that he was sexually abused by father Romano who also abused others at the college. He did not report it at the time. At age 18 he became a missionary brother in the order.


The abuse re-visited him when he did it counselling course in 1995 and he decided he had to do something about it and instructed a solicitor in 1997. The solicitor was unsuccessful in a case against the order. The case was withdrawn. He wrote to the Superior general in the Verona to explain the father Romano was in poor mental health. This superior general offered only priors.


Mr Murray was so determined to see and confront father Romano that he went to Verona himself, carrying a secret camera and videoing and recording the meeting he had in a chapel at the role of fathers headquarters in Verona. Father Romano apologised to him but when other staff heard about the conversation the Verona fathers tried to sue Mr Murray for trespass.


Mr Murray does not trust the Verona fathers and feels that the impact of their response has been worse than the abuse itself. He wants safeguarding taken out of the hands of Catholics together. The reason for this is that he feels that their primary aim is to protect their institutions, image, money, missionary appeals. It is far removed from any Christian meaning. He also believes that Catholics have so many factions that there are many different ways that they respond to safeguarding concerns. He believes it needs some uniform external agency to police safeguarding in the Catholic Church.


30th of October 2019.




A49 was a pupil seminarian at Mirfield St Peter Claver college from September 1963. He was sexually abused by F339 who masturbated him two or three times a week in total for 200 times. He was touched in the showers by another priest F338. A49 complained to the spiritual director and was told to go to see the rector, father Fraser. F338 was then sent abroad to work for the Comboni fathers where he worked in a secondary school and had access to children. He died in his nineties in the 1980s and was given a glowing reference/send off.


One of A49’s classmates was David Glenday, the current provincial of the order, who refuses to acknowledge that abuse happened despite being part of it at the time. Glendale was at least a pupil contemporaneous with A49 and must know something about it. A49 thinks safeguarding should be taken out of the church’s control.


Thomas James Kirby (man in 60s. Smartly dressed).


Became a pupil at Mirfield in September 1960. His family paid for his education there. He was abused by F339. Masturbation about 100 times. He eventually sued them via the group but didn’t get satisfaction. He feels that dioeses and orders don’t have the power to change or willingness to change. The Catholics hope that IICSAt will go away that this will all die down.


Angela McGrory (woman in 40s wearing a smart address)


Former safeguarding coordinator of Portsmouth. She moved to Brighton Roman Catholic diocese recently. The female survivor, A710 complained about abuse by a senior cleric. The complaint was sent personally to the congregation of the doctrine of the Faith of February 2011. There followed a negative media report. A710 was not the leak. Miss McGrory’s Bishop asked her to draft a letter to be published and was not published. Eventually they decided to ask Cardinal Vincent Nichols take up the case. She feels the church did not look after the complainant as well as it should have done. Vincent Nichols was asked to make a statement in writing a letter but internal politics stopped the process.


Philip Egan (Roman Catholic Bishop of Portsmouth). He was a distant, red-faced man in his 60s wearing a black suit, black shirt and dog collar.


He professed to have been frustrated with the process and on 9th of May 2019 contacted Vincent Nichols. Vincent Nichols eventually agreed to meet A710. Mr Egan was sensitive to criticism from Miss McGrory at his handling of the case. Mr Egan’s behaviour was more concerned with the church’s reputation and management moved at a glacial pace. He does not recall that the incident was reported to the charities commission. Overall he was a fairly reluctant witness and possibly out of his depth on safeguarding issues.


Alexis Jay asked whether anyone in the diocese asked about the reason for the leak and he confirmed that nobody had investigated that aspect. Alexis pushes him and he replies that he was more concerned with the care A710.


Druscilla Sharpling suggested that it appears the leak was aimed at discrediting A710. Mr Egan feels it was more likely to be an attempt to discredit the abuser. He admits he did not read all the press coverage. (His answer here shows how sensitive the Roman Catholic church is to criticism – thinking of itself first).


Mrs Sharpling asks why it took so long to issue a statement. Mr Egan repeated that he was more concerned to care for A710 by negotiating a letter from Vincent Nichols. Druscilla Sharpling ask whether the leak was investigated and his response that it was not. Alexis J asks how would a leak from the Vatican be investigated. It would have to be initiated by the chairman of the bishops conference (Vincent Nichols).


31st of October 2019.


Danny Sullivan (man in 60s wearing blazer and open necked shirt and glasses).


Something in the church the bishops and religious leaders. It comes from history and traditions of the Catholic Church. Children particularly feel unable to challenge priests.


He felt the Cumberlege report was too detailed that there was no need for 76 recommendations. I should have been a core of recommendations fewer in number.


The aim of the NCSC was to promote the one church approach. He wanted to have this CSAS audits independently assessed and wanted the NSPCC to do a thematic audit.


Bishops are responsible only to the Pope. Some bishops felt that imposing rules from the outside meant that they were losing autonomy. He experienced the tension between trustees of the diocese or religious order’S moral duty and advice from lawyers. There were some arguments about funding of CSAS. Mr Sullivan felt that the church’s biggest priority was its reputation. He has lots of grumbles about individual bishops closing down funding, closing down criticism and restricting apologies. He is critical of all responses in the Combini father’s case and confirms that the number of cases of false allegations is insignificant so all cases should be dealt with well.


Numerous press articles criticising the Combini and the head of their order. He recalled a time when Adrian Child made redundant for working too closely with Mr Sullivan. Danny then resigned. There was an inquiry which vindicated Adrian Child and Danny Sullivan.


Penicillin arrange for some way members to be on the NCSC they resigned because the Bishop of Portsmouth pursued the JGE case on vicarious liability.


Denisov commissioned the Bullivant report which confirmed the size of the problem in the last 10 years (50 priests were convicted of child sex abuse). O’Sullivan wrote articles in the Catholic Herald and daily Telegraph in 2013 agreeing with mandatory reporting.


He believes that there should be external monitoring of safeguarding. The church is to show humility and recognise that it is not really to be trusted with safeguarding.


Stephen Spear – man in 60s. Studious. White hair and red tie.


Mr Spear says the NCSC is not strategic and is reactive. The Safe spaces project only has two years funding confirmed.


After the IICSAr report on Ampleforth and Downside the NCSC recommended that CSAS guidance is given the status of canon law but this has not yet happened.


NCSC gets £64,000 per year. The pace of change is very slow. Safe spaces has taken five years so far. There is no overall (running total) data on numbers of abusive priests.


He feels that the church hides behind its organisational structures and all this has to be solved in Rome.


Chris Pearson (Man in 60s wearing a suit. An un-inspiring monosyllabic gentleman. Gives closded answers no detailed response or opinion).


He has been the independent chair of the NCSC has been from 2000. He wants to set up the safe so survivors advisory panel (SAP).


There is a debate on going on last review of safeguarding and he will put proposals to the bishops conference. It is felt that the NCSC is independent despite there being members of the house of Bishops, and conference of religious on the committee. He doesn’t detect deference and he likes members to use Christian names.




He admitted that the church will not put forward drafts of proposals for redress and wil act if it is imposed on them. He agrees that the church should drive policy forward as opposed to the insurers driving it forward.


There have been no CSAS audits between 2015 and 2018. His excuse is that this is the time of review of the guidance. He agrees there is a lack of clarity in CSAS procedures and guidelines. He is unable to interpret his own guidance for example deciding whether threshold has been met to report or should report.


David Marshall (Manin his 50s wearing a suit – friendly manner with spectacles)


Mr Marshall is the chair of the survivors advisory panel (SAP). He is a former police officer in the paedophile unit. The remit of is the provision of advice, offering knowledge, positive contributions and informing the NCSC’s work and advice on communication strategy. There are professionals and survivors on the panel. The SAP is a critical friend to the NCSC and is now doing some on the ground training. The SAP advised Vincent Nichols before he went to Rome for the child protection conference in January 2019 he feels that the church has apologise a lot but a lot of members of the panel are still very critical of the church. He is grateful to Vincent Nichols for visiting on two occasions.


1st of November 2019.


Sheila Hollins (woman in 60s dressed in black and wearing glasses)


Sheila Hollins is an independent peer and psychiatrist. She was on the pontifical Council for the protection of minors (PCPM) this was set up by Rome after a number of scandals had eight founding members and now has 17 members. Most members are European not all English-speaking. It meets twice a year. It has working groups on healing and care, training and education, guidelines, spiritual and legal it decided to submit guidance that all countries should adhere to on safeguarding to the congregation of the doctrine of faith. It has not heard back from them. Any guidelines are not mandatory. There is no sanction if bishops don’t follow them. The Pope is limited in what he can do to force bishops to follow the guidance as he can only laicise a Bishop if he is convicted of an offence. But he has only moral authority. Emotional empathy of leaders is important. She is reviewing the site and considering its relationship with PCPM. She was involved in training bishops in the Spain conference in May 2019 34 Bishops 4 members of SAP and 2 survivors attended. She is concerned for Bishops to have therapy too. In response to questions from Driscilla sharpling on the value of listening and empathy Mrs Hollins confirmed that both were valuable.


Collette Limbrick (woman in 50s with classes and brown hair).


Collett Limbrick is the director of CSAS. CSAS is at the forefront of driving improvement in safeguarding in the Catholic Church. It is an advisory service. It revises policy and procedures and offers advice to diocesan and safeguarding coordinators. She feels that CSAS is not independent from the Bishops conference as it is paid for by the bishops conference and controlled by it. Although she does make the point that the bishops conference does not influence its day-to-day work.


If she spots that if a diocesan safeguarding coordinator is not following procedures there’s nothing that she can do to enforce the procedures. She can only report that person to their Bishop.


She agrees that audits of dioceses could be more substantial as they are limited to 2 issues each audit.


Collett Limerick (woman in 50s, glasses and brown hair).


She is the director of CSS. Since house is at the forefront of driving improvement in safeguarding in the Catholic Church. It is an advisory service to anyone in the Catholic Church and devises policy and procedures. It explained updates and changes to guidelines. She believes that insurers inform policy would not do not drive it. She does not believe CSS is independent from the Bishops conference as it is funded by them. If there is an allegation made against Bishop, C Sass may complain to another dieses but otherwise has no power. If CSS is not happy with a diocesan safeguarding coordinator’s handling of the case it cannot compel them to relinquish the case.


Since us performs thousands of DPS checks each year. Schools do their own. She has helped the Archdiocese of Birmingham put its house in order. Since last looks at only some aspects when doing audits and is considering whether or not to widen these parameters out in future. She agrees that some biasing commissions are not fully compliant with her procedures.


4 November 2019.


Susan Hayward.


She is a member of the NCSC. She is an independent member. She is not connected with the church. Whilst on the NCSC she saw deference at work. She felt that the NCSC does not communicate well internally. The diocesan commissions view the NCSC with suspicion. She recalls a recommendation from the NCSC chair being ignored by the Bishop. She sees decisions being made within dioceses due to fear of litigation.


When liaising with the diocese of Westminster in 2010 she discovered that individuals within that commission were not speaking to each other and she recalls saying at meetings that the Westminster Archdiocese is unsafe due to the lack of communication. Westminster appointed a chair of the commission without following the CSAS rules. An audit planned by Sue in 2011 was put on hold because Westminster diocese was not ready and subsequently failed the audit. She and Adrian Child delivered the findings of the audit to Westminster and suggested that a further independent audit be carried out by the NSPCC. This further audit never happened. She felt that Westminster was not making progress. There was dysfunction in the safeguarding office and needed re-ordering. A number of cases were not satisfactorily resolved. Vincent Nichols was fully aware of the position. She believes that the Archdiocese of Westminster is unsafe for children. She believes there is no point in the NCSC or commission protocols if they are not adhered to which they were not in some cases in Westminster.


She contrasts this with Southwark diocese which she liaised with for the NCSC. Some have good communication and most of the Cumberlege recommendations have been introduced in Southwark.


Sister Jane Burtelsen (sworn – woman in 60s. Glasses, short hair, pale blazer).


She is a sister in the divine motherhood order. She is on the conference of religious in the safeguarding group, was on COPCA, was vice-chair of the NCSC 2011 two 2014. She is now on the PCPM set up by the Pope in 2013. And has limited capacity to influence the church. It’s only authority comes from its moral authority. She believes its status needs to be enhanced in Rome. Recognises that the church had a long way to go. She fears the church has been reluctant to follow the Nolan recommendations because they felt they were an imposition from outside. She has found that many countries around the world have developed their own guidelines so it is very difficult to bring them into line. In 2014 the NCSC put together a book of conduct for priests. The conference of religious adopted it but the Bishops conference withdrew from the project. This had been a Cumberlege recommendation. She was opposed to the move of CSAS from Birmingham to a building owned by the church in London. She thought that it compromised its independence.


Kathy Perrin (woman in 40s, dark hair).


She works for the catholic insurance service. She worked for solicitors opposing claims against the Catholic Church prior to moving to CIS. CIS covers 20 of the 22 dioceses. At Birmingham and Hexham and Newcastle do not CIS. 20 religious orders are also covered.


She has produced a spreadsheet dealing with all claims she has dealt with. 435 entries most against dioceses. Only 48 against orders.


She finds that sometimes difficulties in working out whether there is a record of insurance. 19 dioceses have retrospective cover. Now CIS now works with the Zurich insurance. Zurich tells organisations not to pay out claims and to leave it to their insurers otherwise the indemnity will be withdrawn. She has never experienced a diocese walk away from the insurance indemnity and take its own decision on payment of compensation to claimant. Dioceses also have to protect their charitable funds so can’t just decide on ethical grounds to make payments. She deals with 6 to12 cases per year where apologies are requested. Insurers do not contribute to the cost of counselling but allow dioceses to pay for them so long as it is without prejudice. Insurers do delegate instructions to solicitors but dioceses are becoming more and more interested in taking control and taking decisions


She’s looking into new guidelines on claims handling such as the EIG guidance. On apology she thinks any apology should be done in consultation with the insurers.


On the limitation defence, dioceses wishes are taken into account but the insurer is in control. She believes there is an obligation to raise the limitation defence and analysis of evidence “can there be a fair trial?” If the Catholic Church decided that it would not plead limitation, insurers would then have to decide whether or not to indemnify dioceses.


Gordon Reid (catholic priest, black outfit, dog collar).


Ordained 43 years. Canon lawyer. Sits as a canon law judge. Never judged a child abuse case.


Divine law comes from the Bible, canon law binds Catholics everywhere and personal law binds only orders members.


He describes labyrinthine set of acronyms which exist to run the Catholic Church CISCYSISL, CSAS, NCSC, SAP, SST etc.


He describes the grave crimes against children and the motto proprio of 2001 from Pope John Paul II. The reorganisation of these laws is needed and is in the pending tray. A recent motto proprio from Francis confirms that minors are now anyone under 18. The recent motto pproprio requires reports to Bishop only and only for the Bishop to cooperate with local statutory authorities and follow local reporting requirements (this does not mean mandatory reporting).


There is a time limit of 20 years from the date of the offence to the church being able to deal with it. Provided that a case has a ‘semblance of truth’ it can be considered by the Bishop or the CDF. The Bishop will write to the CDF and await a decision on how to deal with the case. Secrecy is enforced there are approximately 12 people in the CDF dealing with these cases. The CDF can decide either a judicial process or an administrative process for the Bishop to decide. The standard of proof is is ‘ moral certitude’. The worst is disciplinary action is laicisation.


If a bishop did not abide by the rules papal Nuncio would speak to the Bishop.


The general decree to make CSAS procedures canon law has five stages. One is that it is suggested at the Bishop’s conference. Two it gets approval from the Holy See. Three the text is then made and voted on and if passed by a two thirds majority moves onto the next stage. For assent from the Holy See. Five the Holy See publishes and the Bishops conference will then send it out. Once this procedure is in place if a Bishop failed to follow it, the nuncio can report to Rome. Initially the Holy See will speak to the Bishop and can either leave him in office or remove from office. (This law will have little practical effect).


On the seal of the confessional, even the Pope can’t change this rule. This witness came up with a convoluted procedure to try to get round the sacramental seal which is actually impractical.


5 November 2019


Edina Carmi (woman in 50s, blonde curly hair).


Mrs Carmi prepared a report on dioceses and religious handling of cases and procedures. She is an experienced social worker and consultant. She had reviewed CSAS policies and 36 files from dioceses (two the most recent from each). This is a desktop audit only.


On the structure and accessibility of CSAS policy, she found it extremely difficult to identify the correct part of the policy she was searching for. There were no paragraph numbers or hyperlinking. It is hard to work out who does what and when. Policy and guidance are mixed up there is inconsistency on when the LADO has to be notified. It is not obvious who should make reports. It is not obvious what should be done when the abuser it is dead. The “quick guide” is good. It should explain that where the crime has taken place that police may ask for the diocesan safeguarding coordinator’s notes.


On file audits it was not generally clear where police have been notified or the rationale for decisions.


The form CM1 is a very good form to use but was not used often in either religious orders or the dioceses. Religious orders record-keeping was very poor. Jesuit records were very good however.


She found it was hard to work out risk assessment framework and was critical. In 6 of 14 cases where risk assessment should have been considered, there was no evidence of risk assessment taking place or even being considered. One example was abuse by female nun of female pupil. A risk assessment was done by an independent independent consultant. The safeguarding panel rejected the need for a psychological assessment on the nun. Eventually a decision was taken not to do a risk assessment but it was hard work out why the decision had been taken. The initial report was held back from the survivor, data protection being cited.


She is unable to reconcile the paramouncy principle with the seal of the confessional.


She contrasted the amount of support provided for perpetrators such as emotional welfare, accommodation for practical needs, legal representation, testimonials and an ongoing commitment, with the lack of support provided to survivors.


Overall she does not feel the there is any compassion or support provided to survivors generally. In 20 of the 34 cases from dioceses no support was offered when it should have been. The church should think more about what it can offer.


One example was the diocese of Liverpool and father Simpson and his abuse of altar boys. The diocesan safeguarding coordinator was a male member of clergy. He didn’t want Simpson suspended after arrest despite advice from the police. Police threatened to make it a bail condition that he not act as a priest. Records were of good quality but there was no risk assessment at all. The diocesan safeguarding adviser, being a member of clergy and basically a colleague of Simpson was supportive throughout. A safeguarding agreement was eventually put in place.


She is critical of diocesan safeguarding coordinators being members of clergy as they have potential and sometimes actual conflicts of interest.


On the CSAS policy, overall she believes that there is the embryo of a good policy that needs for review, extra parts adding and re-integrating.


Paul Andrew Smith (Man in his 50s, black collar, glasses).


Parish priest a member of the carthusian missionaries based in Middlesex. He’s been there since 1980 and ordained in 1990. He has been the leader of the conference of religious between 2006 and 2009 is now the head of the conference of religious currently. He and his staff worked out of spreadsheet or congregations. There are 240 congregations members of the congregation and 90 other organisations which are not aligned to them.


The congregation of religious has no powers over the religious orders and no authority over them. It does not involve itself in safeguarding issues. It confirms that the apostolic Nuncio usually comes to the conference of religious its AGM. He has little contact with Cardinal Nichols. He is content that the conference of religious have done as much as they can on the one church approach. It has adopted a common set of policies (the CSAS policies). Only 40 orders are insured through the catholic insurance society. Others find their own insurance or are self insured. Orders want to make payments but insurers prevent this. There is no sanction for non-compliance.


He recalls a young girl aged 14 speaking to him in a confessional in Guatemala complaining of sexual abuse. He encouraged her to tell her parents. There was no support mechanism existing in the country there and then.


6th of November 2019.


Vincent Nichols (sworn – man in 70s, black suit and dog collar).


Archbishop of Birmingham and 1999 to 2014 and Cardinal from 2014 and also Archbishop of Westminster. He has made six statements.


He stresses that he is not the head of the conference bishops but only has oversight of its work. Each bishop is accountable to Rome and if there is a serious breach by Bishop he can be reported to Rome.


The Pope called a meeting in February 2019 in Rome to discuss the child sex abuse issue in the Catholic Church because there was a crisis in the church and worldwide. There were 200 representatives from countries and areas worldwide he thought different areas were looking at the problem from different perspectives – the US from a legal perspective, Europe from a social worker perspective and Africa from a family culture perspective. In the Far East it was rooted in poverty. He says there is a problem with exploitation generally in society. It was decided that the church should have high standards. It was decided that the church should motivate individuals in parishes to raise standards. Vincent Nichols was questioned about a document provided to him by the chair of the survivors advisory panel and he did not seem to have a full grasp of the document despite saying that he took its messages and the document itself to the meeting February 2019 in Rome.


Vincent Nichols thinks the UK does reasonably well in safeguarding. A video of Vincent Nichols was played as part of the proceedings with him commenting on his ‘awakening’ at the meeting in Rome. He listened between 2000 to 2009 to 17 survivors and learned of the corrosive impact of child sexual abuse but felt that the survivors he listened to in February 2019 caused him to have an awakening. Mr Altman’s line of questioning to suggest that he was the best insincere with his 2019 video speech and at worst not telling the truth.


Vincent Nichols agreed that his handling of the press situation in Birmingham in 2001 to 2003 was not good.


He confirmed that he is willing to consider more resources for safeguarding. He agrees that he has to split his time between his role as the Archbishop of Westminster and the presence of Bishops conference and that of Cardinal.


The review of the shape of safeguarding the Catholic Church to be undertaken by Ian Elliott was discussed he is asked to come up with alternative models or to reaffirm the current model. Vincent Nichols confirms that he is open to suggestions for improvement. He is adamant that he would have done this even if IICSAl was not taking place.


It was pointed out that the Pope’s motto proprio of seventh of May 2019 only requires bishops to report suspicions within the church and not to external civil authorities.


The general decree which could take some time to be confirmed by Rome makes this CSAS guidelines have the status of canon law. Cumberlege had made this a recommendation to put in place by 2008. Vincent Nichols responded by saying that we wanted our policies and procedures to have matured enough to be converted into hard legislation which is difficult to change. Vincent Nichols does not accept that children could have been harmed in the 12 years delay that it is taken from 2007 to introduce the general decree (which is still not place).


There was criticism of the apostolic Nuncio failing to pass documentation to IICSA also attend its to give evidence.


There was criticism that the laicisation of Robinson, convicted in Birmingham in 2010 did not take place until 2018.


There was criticism that the booklet for guidance for priests on expected moral behaviour was not agreed by the bishops conference despite it having been implemented by the conference of religious.


On apologies, Vincent Nichols says he understands it is good to make apologies to make them easier when claimants come forward. He says for some people it’s helpful for some it isn’t.


He believes dioceses should only use limitation where the perpetrator is deceased, not convicted and no further allegations made and a fair trial is no longer possible. He believe it’s it is fact specific in every case. Vincent Nichols says he would be prepared to lose an insurance indemnity if he wants to make an apology. There are still some question as to who drives policy – is it the insurers or as the church?.


Vincent Nichols was questioned about A711, the woman abused as a child by a priest in the servite order who was treated badly by the Archdiocese of Westminster. Vincent Nichols agreed that he regretted not having responded to her and offered the explanation that he felt that she had high needs. He eventually did apologise to her in person and the letter this was after six emails to him without a response and actively telling his secretary not to respond. Vincent Nichols says he was not aware that the chair of the Westminster safeguarding commission, Peter Houghton, had written that A711 was deeply manipulative and making passive aggressive threats and that “if it comes we need to keep playing the good practice card if we are to contain this person is manipulative behaviour”. This is all taking place in 2017. Matters were made worse when A711 was not shown a copy of the Karen Abraham’s report which was a review of her complaints and action to be taken against the priest. He tried to excuse his behaviour by saying that the dioceses treats people wo were complaining about the process differently to people who are complaining about the abuse itself. Vincent Nichols agrees that communication had broken down and he accepts his part and responsibility in that.


During the same month that A711 was being treated so badly, he told the public that the church was to review all its aspects of complaints and that it is it was making progress.


7th of November 2019.


Vincent Nichols (continued). Vincent Nichols accepts that A711 was not responded to well. He accepted that the Karen Abrahams reports had pointed out serious deficiencies in the Westminster safeguarding team’s communications with the survivor.


On A710 (survivor who was sexually abused by Cardinal Murphy O’Connor). Vincent Nichols opened by stating that no police action was taken against Cardinal Murphy O’Connor arising from his defence of Father Michael Hill (the police priest at Gatwick airport). Vincent Nichols immediately lept to the Cardinal’s defence.


This lady had made complaints which was passed from the diocese of Portsmouth where it had taken place to the diocese of Westminster. Soon after this there was a leak of the information to European newspapers, attacking her suggesting that the allegations were false. Vincent Nichols agreed that the leak was probably connected with the the Vigano affair. A news article suggested that the leak was high up in the church in England.


The case was discussed in May 2009 at Valadolid and it was agreed that Vincent Nichols would meet A710. It was eventually decided by Bishop Daley that he would make a statement himself. Vincent Nichols denied he wanted to avoid making a statement as he did not want to bring attention to the Pope’s decision to stop the allegations against Cardinal Murphy O’Connor being investigated. Vincent Nichols professes concern only with A710s welfare. He did not accept that he let A710 down.


On the confessional Vincent Nicholls believes the church will not accept any breach of the seal of the confessional even if it means dying for it. He denies having received any reports of abuse in the confessional. He thanks IICSA for its work and offers unreserved apology to those abused not treated well.


Statements are then read by Mr Saad. The statements of Paul Farrar and Brian Coyle are read dealing with candidates for the ordination and how they are assessed and character defects weeded out.


Eighth of November 2019.


Closing statements were made by Ian O’Connell, David Greenwood, Angela Patrick, Chris Jacobs, Alan Collins, Mr Brodie and Ms Gallafent. Alexis Jay concluded the hearing at 1245. The report will be published in late summer 2020.


Roman Catholic Investigation final hearing Opening Commentsfor Switalskis



RC-A31, RC-A32, Sue Cox, RC-A33, C18, RC-A37


  • Chair, Panel. You have now reported on:


  1. Ampleforth & Downside;
  2. Diocese of Birmingham;
  3. Ealing Abbey.
  • You made findings. Those findings are no longer merely submissions. Those findings will, naturally, inform your final recommendations.


    1. Extent: The abuse you considered spanned nearly a century right up until the near present.
      1. In relation to Birmingham you said ‘Since the mid 1930s, there have been over 130 allegations of child sexual abuse made against no fewer than 78 individuals associated with the Archdiocese……16 criminal cases involved no fewer than 53 victims ’.
      2. In relation to Ampleforth and Downside you said ‘It is difficult to describe the appalling sexual abuse inflicted over decades on children aged as young as seven at Ampleforth School and 11 at Downside School’.
      3. In relation to Ealing you said, ‘Child sexual abuse at St Benedict’s School was extensive. Since 2003 two monks (Laurence Soper and David Pearce) and two lay teachers (John Maestri and Stephen Skelton) have been convicted of multiple offences involving the sexual abuse of over 20 children between at least the 1970s and 2008. In 2016 another teacher, the deputy head Peter Allot, was convicted of offences relating to the possession of indecent images of children.”
      4. In relation to all these institutions you said that the true scale of the abuse was likely to be considerably higher.
      5. This Inquiry is concerned with events in England & Wales. But we know from the Scottish Inquiry and the Australian Royal Commission alone that the pattern of abuse in Catholic institutions has been repeated internationally.
      6. The perpetrators have included some of the most senior figures in the Catholic Church: In England, an Abbot, Laurance Soper and a Headmaster, David Pearce. In Australia, a Cardinal, George Pell.


  1. Cover-up: You found that this abuse has been facilitated, encouraged and covered-up by the Catholic Church.



      1. You said about Ealing Abbey, “The abuse was facilitated for decades because of a culture of cover-up and denial”.
      2. You described how the atmosphere at Ealing was ‘like the mafia’, where staff chose not to risk their jobs by reporting abuse they knew or suspected was taking place.



      1. By their own admission, the Archdiocese accepted: “This Inquiry has heard more than sufficient evidence to be satisfied that during the second half of the last century, the Archdiocese was responsible for a number of institutional failings which on occasions permitted the sexual abuse of children to continue when it might otherwise have been stopped.”
      2. You said, “Rather than make progress by facilitating an investigation and assisting any potential victims, Monsignor Daniel Leonard, the Vicar General in charge of investigating such allegations attempted to make arrangements for [Samuel] Penney to leave the UK and evade arrest.”
      3. You said, that James Robinson was financially supported by the Catholic Church for years as a fugitive from justice in the United States.
      4. You said, “The sexual abuse by Penney and Robinson could have been stopped much earlier if the Archdiocese had not been driven by a determination to protect the reputation of the Church. In doing so, it sealed the fate of many victims whose trust was placed in these abusers. The plight of the victim was ignored or swept under the carpet, allowing the perpetrators to carry on abusing for many years.”
      5. You said, “Had this inquiry not focussed upon the Archdiocese of Birmingham, it is doubtful whether the Archdiocese would have itself recognised that these problems needed to be resolved.”

Ampleforth & Downside


      1. In relation to Ampleforth and Downside you said that “many perpetrators did not hide their sexual interests from boys…Both Ampleforth and Downside prioritised the monks and their own reputation over the protection of children.”
      2. Yet ‘Downside, in particular, tried to pave the way for the return of abusive monks such as Nicholas White’,
      3. We heard the extraordinary lengths to which some monks went to conceal potential abuse. The headmaster of Downside, Dom  Leo Davis – personally – took barrow loads of historic files to the edge of the estate and made a bonfire of them.
      4. The former Abbot, Dom Aidan Bellenger, described in a letter written a recently as 2016 (and which Downside tried to hide), ‘a heart of darkness in the community’ in relation to child abuse. He said child abuse was something which was tolerated by all his predecessors as Abbot.
      5. The Abbot President himself, Dom Yeo – post-Nolan, post-Cumberledge -  turned a blind eye to Father Anselm Hurt’s history of abuse and welcomed him back to the priesthood in a new Abbey in Ireland.

Papal Nuncio


      1. It is extraordinary that, in the face of those findings, the Papal Nuncio refuses to give an account to this Inquiry of what he and the Vatican knew about Laurence Soper’s own flight from justice to Kosovo. Here was an opportunity to show the Inquiry that in recent years the Catholic Church had extended itself to do the right thing to bring this evil man to justice. That the Papal Nuncio has refused that opportunity invites the heaviest, contrary, inference.
  1. In making those findings, you have confirmed what the bravest victims of catholic clerical abuse have been saying for years. Not only were they abused, but they were re-abused by a culture of denial and cover-up. No apology. No repentance. Compensation, if ever, heavily discounted after every technical legal objection had been exhausted.
  2. I have summarised the findings you have made to give some encouragement to the victims of clerical abuse I represent. They have been vindicated. Many doubted, and continue to doubt, that this Inquiry will achieve anything beyond what one has described as a ‘gravy train’ for lawyers and professionals. Will their courage in confronting past abuse prevent further abuse?



  1. We have one central recommendation: the creation of an independent national statutory body to protect children from child abuse, akin to the Health & Safety Executive. It is a recommendation we have made from the start of this Investigation. It is a recommendation we made at the conclusion of the Anglican Investigation. It is a recommendation supported by Howe & Co and the victims of abuse that they represent.  If such a recommendation was justified in the Anglican Investigation, it is even more justified in this Investigation.
  2. Our first submission is that the current patchwork of statutory oversight has failed, and is always likely to fail. Ealing was the clearest example. You identified:
    1. Failures by the Metropolitan Police into complaints against Pearce and Soper in 2002.
    2. Failures by Crown Prosecution Service for failing to prosecute either Pearce or Soper in 2004.
    3. Failures by the Charity Commission for simply accepting Ealing Abbey assurances that appropriate steps were being taken during a statutory inquiry at the very time Pearce was committing further acts of abuse.
    4. Failure of Independent Schools Inspectorate for wrongly concluding that child protection policy was compliant with statutory guidance and that an independent review into Pearce’s offending had been conducted and its advice fully implemented. The ISI was wrong on both counts. It took a member of the public to correct its report which had to be withdrawn and reissued.
  3. None of these institutions’ chief role is promoting child safety. The police and prosecution services are, by their nature, reactive. They respond to, investigate and prosecute crimes. They do not police child safety standards. The Charity Commission’s primary purpose is to police and protect charitable trusts. The Independent Schools Inspectorate is chiefly concerned with maintaining minimum standards of education in independent schools. Even the most egregious and open abuse at Ealing Abbey was not dealt with properly, let alone prevented by the rigorous enforcement of minimum child safety standards.
  4. Our second submission is that the Catholic Church itself will struggle by the nature of its structure to impose a ‘One Church’ policy on child abuse. It is an international organisation where Bishops and heads of the Religious enjoy a high degree of autonomy. We have seen how even post-Nolan and post-Cumberlege, the Abbot President Yeo simply ignored even the basic precepts of those reports to welcome a known abuser back into the Church. When you wrote ‘Much now will depend on the leadership of the Abbot President’ that is correct, but it requires an act of faith in one man that is simply not justified by past experience. Abbot Shipperlee resigned in the face of his failures. Abbot Soper, of course, was an abuser himself. Failures of leadership abound in the Catholic Church and in the Anglican Church. You rightly criticised Archbishop Carey’s leadership in the Anglican Investigation.
  5. It would be a mistake for the state to try to reform the byzantine structures of the Catholic Church with a long-list of piecemeal changes they could and should make. That is not the state’s role. The role of the state is to set and enforce minimum standards for any institution that wishes to care for and educate children. It is for the Catholic church to meet those standards  – if it can – without special pleading or some implied bargain that child abuse is a price worth paying for the benefits of the Catholic church’s care of children. If the Church cannot meet those standards, its involvement with children must end. If that poses an existential threat to the Catholic Church in England & Wales, so be it.
  6. It is with that chief recommendation in mind that we invite you to hear the final two weeks’ of evidence in this strand of the Investigation.



23 OCTOBER 2019


OPENING STATEMENT – IICSA RC Archdiocese of Birmingham 12th November 2018




My remarks here are made against the background of what we already know about the Catholic Institutions examined as part of this Inquiry, how the church is organised into Dioceses, how orders come from Rome, the guidance given by Lord Nolan and Baroness Cumberledge, the evidence given in the Ampleforth and Downside Inquiry and indeed what that revealed about the reluctance of senior Catholics to share information with the police and their lack of engagement with outside agencies in relation to allegations of child abuse.

This particular Inquiry has only five days of evidence but we do know that there are a long list of identified abusers in the Archdiocese of Birmingham.

Numerous failures by the Archdiocese and West Midlands Police will be identified in the days to come. I know that my colleague, Richard Scorer, has dealt with the cases of Samuel Penny and Father Tolkien. I will deal here with the case of Father Robinson.

The way in which the Archdiocese of Birmingham dealt with Father Robinson paints a very disturbing image not only of denial and obfuscation by the Church but the clearest evidence of the Church protecting its good name and the perpetrator by sending him swiftly to another country. The Catholic Church regards itself as above the law. It has laughed at the rest of us mere mortals for decades. It has covered up, used lawyers and its recruits in state organisations to protect itself from disgrace. It has been facing disgrace now for more than two decades with the revelations of abuse and cover up coming thick and fast. This week will prove to be another week of utter disgrace for this deceitful organisation.

A letter from the Archdiocese in 1985 states in terms that Robinson was being sent across to California due to the allegations made by RC-A31(CHC000246_044). A draft statement of a priest to whom RC-A31 first reported in May 1985 records how the Vicar General Daniel Leonard arranged for Robinson to be moved from the country (CHC000246_116). You will recall we heard in the Downside Inquiry of the movement of Anselm Hurt to Ireland when an accusation of child abuse surfaced.

The Inquiry will have the opportunity to view evidence that the Archdiocese paid for Father Robinson’s upkeep in Los Angeles to the tune of £800 per month, the money initially coming from parish funds but then being reimbursed to the parish from the Diocese throughout the 1980s and 1990s. This was further concealed by it being channelled via his cousin through a Scottish bank account to which Robinson had access.

It has to be said that there is scant evidence in the papers of the Archdiocese disciplining him in accordance with its own rules from Rome until 2018. Why was this ?

You may hear evidence that Father Robinson denies that the allegation was reason for him moving to Los Angeles and that it was actually his ill health that caused this move. This was a patent lie according to contemporaneous documents. You will no doubt hear obfuscation from Vincent Nichols and Bernard Longley. Their very careful use of language in press releases over the years has been designed to avoid admitting the truth of the matter which is that the Archdiocese has known about and protected its abusing priests. I ask you to pay attention to what these two men are not saying in their evidence. They will continue to distance themselves, the Archdiocese and their church from wrongdoing. You must see through this.

We have become used to uncovering this type of institutional cover-up in the Catholic Church and indeed the Church of England. It is of deep concern that we do not or may never know the true extent of concealment activity carried out in such an organised way by both Churches.

Perhaps the most grievous affront to children’s’ rights emerging from this case is the complicity of West Midlands Police which amounted to state protection of Father Robinson. On receiving RCA31’s complaint in 1985 he was not taken seriously. There was no thorough investigation of his serious allegations. He was instead accused of blackmail. West Midlands Police refused to accept a covert recording he made of Robinson admitting abusing him from the age of ten. The police suggested that it may not be genuine.       He was subjected to an unnecessary intimate examination with instruments. West Midlands Police carried out only a cursory investigation. It is unclear as to whether West Midlands Police even reached the stage of interrogating Diocese officials. No crime was recorded on the police system enabling Robinson to come back to the UK in 1997 before returning to Los Angeles.

What seems to have happened in fact is that police officers colluded with the Archdiocese officials by passing to them a statement made by RCA31, thus tipping off the Diocese and Robinson thus enabling him to live out his days in the sunshine in California (or so they thought).

I could catalogue the letters passing between RCA31 and RCA32 and the Archdiocese but I would need a few days to do so. Suffice it to say that these two men urged the Archdiocese to bring Robinson to justice throughout the 1990s and 2000s with no success, the Diocese throughout being defended vigorously by its lawyers whilst retaining the knowledge of Robinson’s admission and supporting him to the tune of £800 per month via a concealed route.

The position worsens when police conduct in the 1990s and 2000s was chalenged. Both RCA31 and RCA32 each attempted to have the case investigated properly throughout this period but were unsuccessful.

RCA32 attempted repeatedly to persuade West Midlands Police to investigate between 1998 and 2014. An investigation in 2007 by West Midlands Police revealed continued unwillingness to properly investigate the case and the complicity of the police in 1985.

In relation to RCA31 there was a failure by WMP to respond adequately in 1995 when he approached them again asking for a proper investigation. In total he provided West Midlands Police with detailed evidence which deserved to be investigated in 1985, 1995, 1998, 2002, 2003, 2009-10.

Why did it take West Midlands police 6 years from the BBC Kenyon Confronts documentary to investigate the case properly ? Wht did Vincent Nichols complain about the documentary to the BBC when he knew it had revealed the truth ?

It was only in 2009 that the position changed when Crown Prosecution Service authorised an application for an extradition warrant from California and Robinson was brought to trial. Many courageous survivors came forward to give evidence and Robinson was convicted in 2010 of offending against multiple individuals, some of whose abuse could have been prevented had the Archdiocese and the police responded well. We will never know how many children Robinson abused when living in California.

RCA31 and RCA32 have tried repeatedly to involve the police complaints system and their attempts to have the police complaints system operate in this case have exposed some truths about flaws in the system which enable the police service to protect itself from criticism and suggest that the rigour which should be applied to these investigations is lacking within the current IOPC. The most recent IOPC investigation, Operation Fennel, has been criticised by RCA31 as having been launched only as a result of the interest shown by IICSA in the investigation and of lacking serious intent.

The plight of another CP in particular, RCA33, deserves to be mentioned. He was abused by Robinson in the early 1960s whilst Robinson was still studying for the priesthood at Oscott College. RCA343 mentions that he went through theological college and was concerned at the attitude of other Ordinands and their motives for joining the priesthood. Oscott college was of course the college at which Pope Ratzinger spoke in 2010. It would be interesting to know what Rome knew about the college and its teaching when it seems to have turned out a significant number of clerics against whom allegations have been made.

RCA33 like many has devoted a good part of his life to this case. He has helped the police after 2010, gave evidence at the trial of Robinson but has not received any offer of compensation. He like many he is bitter and is hopeful that the IICSA will expose the facts of the case.

I am grateful to the Inquiry staff for their diligent work in obtaining the various documents and statements.

Finally, we should all acknowledge the bravery of the victims of abuse who have come forward in this and other investigations and the journalists such as Mr Kenyon who tracked down Robinson in 2002.

David Greenwood



Catholic Nun’s rapes of 13 year old boy covered up.

Catholic Nun’s rapes of 13 year old boy covered up.

The case of William Edward Hayes is a shocking but fairly typical case of the Catholic Church clergy abusing the trust they assumed when looking after children to sexually abuse them. We have seen this pattern emerge in many settings over the last 20 years.

What is extraordinary about William’s case is that he was sexually abused by a Nun who went on to have his child. She was expelled from the church and returned to Ireland. The child of the rape was taken into another convent and spent a lifetime looking for the biological parents. William fought for acknowledgement and redress and after a long fight through lawyers for compensation he eventually succeeded. This was not however without the Catholic Church putting obstacles in his way.

William has been helped in the last decade by Noel Chardon, a founder member of MACSAS (“Minister and Clergy Sexual Abuse Survivors”), a support organisation for clergy abuse survivors. Noel is a trauma recovery counsellor based in London.

William describes the abuse as follows :

“In June 1951 when I was 10 years old, my sister and I were admitted to the John Reynolds Home at East Beach, Lytham St Anne’s in Lancashire. This home was run by the Catholic Order of Religious, The Franciscan Missionaries of St Joseph who were in fact nuns. The house itself contained about 30 children both boys and girls and contained three separate houses. The sisters lived in one of the houses, the boys in another and the girls in the other one. What I did notice was that we were then cleaned up and fed adequately whilst in this particular home where I remained until the age of 15.

The nuns could be nice at times but also very strict and we weren’t allowed to get away with anything. I had been at the home for probably a couple of years before I got a job in the laundry room at the back of the house and one of the nuns Sister Conleth (birth name Bessie Lawlor) was in charge of the laundry. I hadn’t been working in the laundry very long when I was taken to the back of the laundry room and sexually abused by her. She would push me to the floor and either lay on top of me or have me lay on top of her and showed me how to perform sexual intercourse with her. She would not undress at his particular time but would just pull her habit up and pull my trousers down and I would have sex with her. Initially I wasn’t sure what to do but she showed me how to put my penis inside her and then on a number of occasions over the next few years we would have regular sexual intercourse, by this I mean probably every day. When I said that I didn’t want to do these things she told me that I would be in trouble if I didn’t and she would tell people that I had been bad and that I would be in serious trouble. 

I honestly believed her and I knew that nobody would believe me over a nun and therefore kept having intercourse with her. The sex was Sister Conleth carried on for probably a couple of years before I was moved to my own bedroom. After that Sister Conleth would come to my room on most nights and come to bed with me. She would take all her clothes off, get into bed and have sex with me. Looking back at it now I realise this was rape when I did try to complain I was told to just get on with it and she would often make jokes and phrases such as “lets have a prop up”. Obviously looking back on this now I know that the prop up for me to put my penis inside of her and have sex with her.

Sister Conleth always threatened me with punishment should I say anything about what was happening therefore I tended to keep quiet. This changed because I noticed that my sister had become very unhappy and I later found out that she had been abused by Canon Moxham. After that we ran away on a couple of occasions but were caught and were taken back to the home. I was running away because of the abuse, at that time I obviously didn’t know about my sister but she came with me as she was also being abused. On return to the home I did mention what was happening with myself and Sister Conleth to the Mother Superior who was called Mary Osmond. I remember telling her twice but nothing was done. I was really frightened and embarrassed about talking to her but she just acted as though everything was okay. It would have been about 1956/57 when I was aged about 16 that I was called to a meeting. There was Sister Conleth, Mother Superior, a priest and I believe Canon Moxham was present. I was told that I was being sent back to Carlisle because I had got Sister Conleth pregnant. I was put on a train with no money and told to keep my mouth closed and told that if I said anything to anyone, nobody would believe me and I was also told in no uncertain terms that if I mentioned about the abuse and the relationship with Sister Conleth I would be in serious trouble.”

What William couldn’t have known is that Sister Conleth had her baby and was returned to Ireland. The baby was brought up in a Convent and now with the help of Noel Chardon and William finally breaking his silence to the Daily Express on 3rd April 2018 the daughter of the relationship as made contact with William. (see web link here)

William’s counsellor, Mr Chardon, has discovered not only that the church covered up the fact of the abuse in 1957 but has repeatedly ignored William’s attempts to get recognition and redress from them.

In 2001 William made contact with the Catholic Care organisation, Caritas who ignored him. Thinking he would get no help from the church he took no action until 2007 when he asked his local MP to write to Cardinal Cormac Murphy O’Connor. O’Connor did not help but told William to write to the Bishop of Lancaster’s office. In 2008 William again tried Caritas who tell him that Bessie Lawlor passed away in 2002.

In 2010 William persisted and got a meeting with the Caritas and the head of the Franciscan Missionaries of St Joseph (who ran the children’s home where he was abused), Sister Philomena McCluskey. She told him she’d never heard of this report. William not has the feeling he is being passed around and ignored. No-one in the Church has taken ownership of his case, offered to help and support him, or investigated his case.

In November 2010 William contacts Noel Chardon through MACSAS and Noel provided support, advice and counselling.

In 2011 William, by now age 70 suffers a near fatal heart attack. In 2012 Noel asks for a donation of £1,000 to help William who is struggling financially. The request is denied and Noel is accused of “being on the political wing of MACSAS”. Between 2012 and 2015 Noel provided support and counselling to William. Throughout this period William is “befriended” by a Caritas social worker who works to persuade William that his lawyers are actually his enemy. This causes William great confusion and worry.

On 3rd April 2015 (Good Friday) Noel Chardon, after much research, writes to all 30 Catholic Bishops in England pointing out their breaches of Canon Law in failing to provide help and support to William (Cannons 678, Article 1 and 683 Articles 1 and 2). The 1956 evidence was included in the correspondence to evidence the case.

In 2016 William’s legal case was settled by the Franciscan Missionaries of St Joseph for a minimal payment.

In summary William and Noel accuse the Catholic Church of :-

  1. The abuse itself committed to William between the ages of 13 and 15 on a boy forced to live in the convent.
  2. Failing to support him after leaving the convent.
  3. Failing to try to find his child.
  4. Ignoring his case from 2001.
  5. Failing to alert the police and social services to the case in 2001. Failing to undertake any investigation in to these serious offences (failing to follow its own safeguarding guidance)
  6. Despite knowing his need for support with housing and benefits in old age, failing to help him.
  7. Actively using Jim Cullen, a Caritas social worker, to try to persuade him to drop his legal case.
  8.  Failing to follow its own Cannon law when it failed to help William.

David Greenwood

28th April 2018

New book on church responses to child sex abuse allegations – Responding Badly by David Greenwood

Click here to see the book cover

All royalties from this book go to the support organisation which helps support and signpost survivors of clergy sex abuse, MACSAS (Minister and Clergy Sexual Abuse Survivors).

Click here for the link to Responding Badly on Amazon

Numerous isolated examinations of particular clergy child sex abuse cases have been published but this book digs deeper than the narrative and explores the cultures of churches, their internal dynamics and self-protection mechanisms. It isolates failings and suggests positive and achievable solutions ahead of the Independent inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse (“IICSA”). This book looks at the issue from an institutional perspective as opposed to the individual case. For the last two decades we have seen countless clergy abuse scandals covered in the news. Year after year there have been clergy in both the Anglican and Roman Catholic churches prosecuted. Suspected cover-ups have been exposed. Case reviews have taken place yet the UK Government has allowed the churches to continue to govern themselves on safeguarding issues. This book opens up publicly:- • the scale of the problem, • the cost to individuals and society of child sexual abuse (“CSA”), • the obstructive attitude of both churches, • the internal culture of the churches, • the dynamics of power relationships in churches, • The legal and psychological barriers against reporting, • Case studies of cover ups in both churches, • The failures of our criminal and civil justice systems with solutions, • Plans for reform and independent resolution of CSA reports, The state has repeatedly failed to intervene and has allowed religious organisations to police themselves with dire consequences. This has led abusers to feel relatively safe to commit sex crime without being brought to account. Organisations have put their good name before the protection of children. Abusing clergy have been moved between parishes, dioceses, and countries when discovered. The book sets out to demonstrate the effects of abuse, how they have festered and what is needed for the future. The Roman Catholic Church and the Church of England are singled out although the power relationships and lack of effective responses apply to almost any institution from which vulnerable individuals from time to time seek help. Decision makers in schools, other religions, social services, caring professions, young offender institutions, and youth movements should look with introspection for parallel bad practice in their organisations. This book sets out some of the issues to be examined by the Inquiry in digestible detail. The book concludes that an entirely independent body should be established to receive and deal with all institutional allegations of CSA, providing uniformity of approach and establishing trust with disaffected survivors. This conclusion and references throughout to the proposed approach being suitable for schools, detention centres, children’s homes and youth groups, broadens the appeal of the book to institutions responsible for children’s’ welfare. Clergy in both churches and those with interest institutions to be examined in the IICSA are likely to be readers. Survivors of Clergy abuse will read with interest.

Catholic Church Inquiry week 2

This is week 2 of the Inquiry into the Catholic English Benedictine Congregation. It has also dealt with some aspects of Catholic theology and how they affect the Catholic response to child sex abuse allegations.

The second week of the Inquiry has unearthed more shocking revelations and began with evidence from the former headmaster and Abbott of Ampleforth, Leo Chamberlain. His complacent evidence was breath-taking when set against the fact that numerous allegations of child abuse on boys had been made yet not passed on to the police or social services. He eventually agreed that that monks running Ampleforth school have had no awareness or accountability on child abuse.

Former detective Barry Honeysett from NY Police underlined his shock at the Abbott’s responses to safeguarding issues when he strongly criticised the monks’ and the headmaster’s behaviour after 2003 when evidence of the activities of a number of monks had been reported to the police by the psychologist, Elizabeth Mann. He referred to a letter he had received from Abbott Timothy Wright in which he clearly set out why he would always put the defence of his monks first above the interests of abused pupils. Mr Honeysett criticised Abbott Wright’s failure to disclose abuse to social services and the police, his insistence on drip-feeding the police with what he knew about abusing monks. At this point I was left wondering why the police didn’t seek and execute a search warrant for documents as the Abbott and his lawyer seemed to have led the police on a merry dance for over 12 months before they worked out who the offenders were.

We heard moving evidence from another boy from Ampleforth and abuse from F Piers Grant-Ferris.

We heard that an offender, Gregory Carroll, had been moved out of Ampleforth and into a parish without his offending being brought to the attention of the police or social services. This was more crass disregard for the safety of children in the receiving parish.

Another (current) headmaster of Ampleforth, Cuthbert Madden, gave evidence in a ghostly and slightly aloof manner and was cataloguing the errors of he and his predecessors. F Bernard Green’s indecent assault on a boy resulted in prevarication before there was eventually a report to the police. Importantly there was tampering with the boy’s evidence as the school talked to him and his family before the police. This has emerged as a common theme at Ampleforth and Downside. Even Headmaster Madden was critical of the decision to allow the repeat offender, Grant-Ferris, to work in the Abbey bookshop at which boys regularly attended. He ran through more errors resulting from the monks’ failure to alert the police and keeping cases in house.

Importantly Headmaster Madden agreed that he had to obey orders from Rome and that he could expect to be removed from his post if he didn’t obey. This is important as Rome requires allegations against Catholic clergy to be kept entirely secret – this is in direct contradiction to the CSAS own guidance and the “working together” protocols to which all are expected to adhere.

A startling revelation came when Headmaster Madden revealed that he himself had been under police investigation arising from allegations from 4 boys but that the police had confirmed they would take no action. He still faces an internal inquiry.

The Inquiry then turned it’s attention to Downside Abbey school and began with very moving testimony of a very vulnerable girl who at the age of 17 was groomed and repeatedly sexually assaulted by a Downside Abbey monk. She described indecent assaults and a catalogue of reports which were met with either no response or totally inadequate and sometimes aggressive and defensive responses. At one point when she was at a low ebb she was invited to have a retreat at Ampleforth. During this time she suffered an attempted rape by one of the monk. These were truly shocking experiences.

Jane Dziadulewicz, the former safeguarding co-ordinator at the RC Diocese of Clifton gave her evidence. In summary she described finding resistance and cynicism from the monks towards safeguarding. She describes not having been told about all the disclosures. She explained that Abbott Aidan Bellenger didn’t give her detail on cases without her having to ask.

She recounted a few incidents of abuse by monks at Downside. Dunstan O’Keefe had been caught masturbating outside a primary school and had been cautioned. Another monk fathered a child whilst undertaking missionary work in Peru. He also assaulted a novice nun in Washington. He was moved to East Anglia where a further complaint was made about him.

Jane Dziadulewicz (‘JD”) described a bullying culture at the Abbey community among the monks, the junior of whom felt unable to have a voice. She found in files that having received complaints there was a tendency to be defensive, to blame the children and fail to inform the police.

Overall JD felt frustrated by the lack of reports to her, the police and social services when the Abbey and school found out about complaints. She described :-

  • a lack of enforcement by the Bishop and Abbott
  • names were omitted from documents, documents were lost
  • Many cases had been covered up
  • there was a failure to challenge monks
  • monks were allowed in children rooms
  • the proximity of the Abbey to the school posed a safeguarding problem

Structural issues she raised were :-

  • She had no powers to require anyone to do anything
  • Support from Bishops was patchy
  • Bishops can choose whether to comply with no accountability
  • There is too much emphasis on forgiveness and an unwillingness to laicise offenders (allowing monks to offend repeatedly)
  • Canon lawyers generally refuse to recognise the COPCA or CSAS procedures (church guidance on responding to complaints)

JD felt we needed Mandatory Reporting to be introduced and a body that can hold the church accountable. She also advocated that safeguarding training is compulsory for all clergy.

The Inquiry also heard from a young man who had been sexually abused by F Nicholas White and the fact that his abuse was repeatedly brought to the attention of the Abbott and was swept under the carpet. There was no report to the police until he himself spoke to the police in 2011. In a dreadfully sad reflection he noted that his own Father wanted to protect the name of the Catholic Church so didn’t report it to the police and sent him back to the senior school where the abuse continued. This complainant felt religion is a space in which paedophiles can go “under the radar” as the organisation believes in redemption through the confessional.

We also heard from Dr James Whitehead, the current headmaster of Downside. He is the first lay head of Downside. His criticisms of the Abbey and school were :-

  • Management structures – the Abbott is the influential chair of the governors
  • the monastic trustees are in control of the school finances
  • there is consequently a conflict of interest if a complaint is received
  • Abbeys are not controlled from outside with no oversight

He felt there should be Mandatory Reporting introduced and a body set up to oversee safeguarding in this area.

Liam Ring is the new Clifton Diocese safeguarding co-ordinator and like his predecessor, JD, complains that he had no power over the school. He also complained that he tried to direct the school to carry out safeguarding response but was ignored by the head and Abbott.

DC Mark White of Avon and Somerset police described a lack of co-operation from monks and the Abbott and delays in provision of documentation. He states the Abbott was close to being arrested for obstruction of justice.

James Michael Hubert Fitzgerald Lombard (Abbott Charles), the Abbott between 1992 and 1998 was questioned and said “It is regrettable that we’re in a position where Abbott can’t say a monk has an unalterable right to return to his monastery. Its very sad but its the world we live in.” He is effectively saying this Order will only obey the law when they are required to. When asked who controls him he said “I don’t answer to anyone but the almighty.” This makes disturbing reading as Abbott’s primary duty is to their monks before anything else (including children safety).

On confessionals he confirmed that a priest can give mass even when his sins of child abuse have not yet been absolved in the confessional.

It emerged that Abbott Charles helped a convicted child abuser, Anselm Hurt, to find a position at Glenstal Abbey in Ireland and acknowledged that there was an order from Rome that he should destroy correspondence about this.

On the issue of F Nicholas White (also known as Richard White), this Abbott was letting Nicholas White know that he could come back after child abuse once contemporaries of an abused boy had left “to avoid scurrilous gossip” (a 1991 letter). This came after Abbott Charles in his statement had denied having anything to do with Nicholas White. It seems he was caught out. In another 1991 letter he minimised White’s behaviour. In 1993 he goes on to try to persuade Abbott Mark Dilworth at Fort Augustus Abbey to house Nicholas White for a short time. This all underscores the disregard for child welfare by this order and the church.

In summary it appears that the English Benedictine Congregation and Catholic Church should not be responsible for supervising children for four reasons :-

  1. Their Theology, teaching and practice demonstrate their faith always trumps safeguarding.
  2. Their legal status means they are difficult for statutory authorities to control.
  3. Their hierarchical structure with power concentrated in Bishops and heads of Orders means adherence to safeguarding pends on the attitudes of individuals.
  4. Church culture and traditions with bonds of priesthood mean secrecy and defence of institutional reputations comes before child safety.

For all these reasons I will be asking the Inquiry to recommend mandatory reporting of suspicions of child abuse is enacted immediately and that an independent body is established to be the first port of call for any complaints and which will remove responsibility for responding to complaints of child sex abuse from institutions.

The position of the Catholic Church at this point appears, on the evidence heard so far, to be stark. It is doubtful that there should be religious control of schools or indeed contact between priests or religious with children in any circumstances.

David Greenwood

8th December 2017


Catholic Church Is investigated at Inquiry

This week IICSA (the Independent Inquiry into Child Sex Abuse) started its examination of how the English Benedictine Congregation dealt with allegations in its monasteries and schools.
The English Benedictine Congregation is an amalgam of monks following the teaching of St Benedict. It owns and runs monasteries and private schools, principally Ampleforth, Downside and Ealing Abbey school.
Evidence brought out during evidence of the first 5 days shows an organisation which considers itself above secular laws, preferring to deal in house with allegations of child sex abuse by its members. Abuse covering the mid 1960s to 2010 has been uncovered and two survivors gave compelling evidence of thoroughly wicked abuse from monks at Ampleforth.
Eileen Shearer, an official advising all UK catholic clerics on safeguarding gave a straightforward account of the barriers put up by the church and religious communities against adopting good standards of safeguarding responses. She found most Bishops to have been disinterested. One record of a conversation between the psychologist Elizabeth Mann and Abbott Timothy Wright of Ampleforth showed the Abbott was not willing to accept external advice and that effectively “Ampleforth’s policy on safeguarding was that there was no policy for monks”. The disagreement on how to deal with offenders led to Mrs Mann being sacked from her role by the Abbott.
An experienced social worker, David Molesworth gave evidence that he was met with “obfuscation, defensiveness and obstruction” when he tried to persuade the Abbott and Prior to share information. He found it incredibly that Ampleforth was unwilling to share information on allegations and had even failed to disclose to him the fact that they had known about offending by multiple abusers for many years.
All this evidence affirms what we already know – which is that Catholic doctrine and orders from Rome encourage Bishops and Religious to keep these allegations secret. It seems they hold on to this teaching rather than follow advice from their own advisers like Eileen Shearer.
The evidence continues next week. Former Abbott General Richard Yeo returns to the witness box. His evidence is likely to be just as interesting. Read more

St William’s 2016 decisions

The decisions can be found at the bottom of this article.

The Judge at Leeds, HHJ Gosnell, heard the cases of 5 men who were claiming compensation for sexual abuse whilst at the St William’s school, East Yorkshire. The men gave evidence that they were sexually abused by James Carragher, Anthony McAllen and others whilst at the school between the ages of 13 and 15.

The former headmaster, James Carragher, and the former priest, Anthony McCallen, were convicted of sex offences against boys at the School in November 2015. Carragher was convicted previously in 1993 and 2004 of sexual offences against boys at the school.

The St William’s school was operated by two Roman Catholic organisations, the Diocese of Middlesbrough and the De La Salle Institute (Great Britain province).

Despite the convictions of Carragher and McAllen the civil cases were challenged on the basis that the men’s cases were brought out of time. The Limitation Act 1980 section 33 allows a judge to decide whether he thinks a case should be allowed to proceed despite more than 3 years having passed since the abuse occurred.

David Greenwood of Switalskis Solicitors represents 109 men who were sexually assaulted at St William’s. He started the civil compensation case in 2004.

Commenting on the case David Greenwood says :

“I welcome the finding in favour of claimant CD which demonstrates the way in which Carragher preyed on young boys by violently raping them at St Williams.

However despite the obvious suffering caused to the Claimants by the abuse in the first place, all the men were subjected to further humiliation and the examination of tiny details of their allegations by the defence barristers to a greater extent than that faced even in criminal trials.

It is understandable that Claimants recalling painful memories from many years ago will get details wrong and the judge has penalised three of the claimants by allowing these inconsistencies to affect his judgement of the strength of the evidence of the abuse and also on whether the cases should go ahead after the passage of time.

In my opinion these claimants have been treated harshly by the civil justice system which needs reform in the area of child abuse cases. The restrictions placed on the law of limitation has been cynically exploited by the Defendant’s insurance company. The system has let down these deserving claimants. A more appropriate system would be a redress scheme similar to the Irish Catholic schools scheme.

The claimants who were unsuccessful will consider appeal and the remaining 244 claimants will continue their pursuit of justice.

I am hopeful that these cases mark a turning point in the case and that the Diocese of Middlesbrough and the De La Salle organisation will now attempt to reach an out of court settlement with the Claimants.





IJ v Catholic Child Welfare Society (GF)


St William’s abuse: two guilty

Two men have been found guilty of over thirty offences against children at a former Approved School after a ten-week trial.

James Carragher, 75, the former principal of the school, and Anthony McCallen, 69, the chaplain from the late 1970s to the school’s closure in the 1990s, were accused of abuse spanning over two decades at St William’s Community Home, Market Weighton. After two weeks of deliberations, the jury found them guilty of abusing twelve boys who had been resident at the home.

Carragher was convicted of abusing 7 boys and McCallen of abusing 5 boys following a trial which painted a graphic picture of physical and sexual violence at the school, where boys who had been placed in care would be sent by local authorities.

Both Carragher and McCallen have been remanded in custody. Sentencing will take place on 4 January 2016.

The investigation into abuse at St William’s was the latest into the school. In 1993, Carragher was convicted of a number of offences against boys in his care, and he was again convicted in 2004. He has previously been sentenced to 21 years in prison for his abuse of residents at St William’s. McCallen served a 2 ½ year sentence in the 1990s for sexual offences unrelated to St William’s. Last year, former farmer at the school Albert Marvin was jailed for 7 years for sexual abuse including offences at St William’s.

David Greenwood, Director and Head of the Child Abuse Department at Switalskis Solicitors, represents 109 survivors of abuse at St William’s. He started a civil compensation case in 2004, which remains ongoing. Commenting on the case, David said:

“The criminal prosecutions represent some justice for the survivors but the public should be aware that the boys (now men) who were at St Williams have had to endure no only the abuse itself, but not being believed by police and social workers who they told, incomplete police investigations and years of delays caused by legal delay tactics of the home’s Catholic operators. Legal technicalities are to this day being used to prevent them getting compensation and restoring some dignity to their lives.

“I am hopeful that the convictions will mark a turning point in the case and that the Diocese of Middlesbrough and the De La Salle organisations will now attempt to reach an out of court settlement with the Claimants.”

For more information, please contact David Greenwood on 01709 890400.

‘More than 50’ Catholic priests defrocked: more action required

More than 50 Catholic priests have been defrocked in England and Wales since 2001, new figures have shown.

But critics of the Church have hit out at the investigative process, saying that more needs to be done.

Although 55 priests have been evicted from the Catholic clergy since new rules were put in place to protect children and vulnerable adults, many more complaints have been received. In some cases, priests who have been convicted of serious abuse have not been defrocked and remain members of the clergy despite significant prison sentences.

This is still the case with Father James Robinson, jailed in October 2010 for 21 years after spending more than two decades on the run for his heinous crimes. Despite having spent almost five years in prison, the Catholic Church has yet to take action to remove him from their ranks.

The National Catholic Safeguarding Council’s figures also showed 79 separate allegations of abuse by the clergy last year, involving 83 suspects and 118 victims.

David Greenwood, Director and Head of the Child Abuse Department at Switalskis, is a long-standing campaigner against the abuses of the clergy. Speaking to the Yorkshire Post, he said, “Whilst both [the Catholic Church and Church of England] have improved their written policies and guidance there are really strong concerns about how that guidance is being implemented.

“It’s really down to individual bishops in their own dioceses when to report allegations to the police and what action to take.

“The number of recent investigations and prosecutions of clergy for abuse suggests this is an ongoing problem and the response of the church in the past leads us to believe they can no longer be trusted to police themselves.

“I’ve called for a number of years for a completely independent body to take complaints regarding the two main denominations. We may have to wait until the national independent inquiry (into child abuse) makes its recommendations to have something concrete on that.”

An independent body would be able to consider cases such as that of Robinson and take swift action to prevent the inertia that currently dominates the Catholic approach to child abuse. Despite the setting up of bodies such as the National Catholic Safeguarding Council not enough is being done to protect the vulnerable, nor is positive action being taken on the disclosure of abuse.