Wednesday, 2 December 2009

Setting up a campaign group

A couple of recent commenters have suggested setting up some kind of campaign group to push for the changes that are needed at Ealing Abbey and St Benedict's school to ensure that the children are properly protected. One of the commenters in the Crime of Inaction thread has said this.
Mr West and the contributors to this blog are doing sterling work. But, I fear, they are working in vain. The abbey will stick to its policy of ignoring calls made by individuals or blogs. This campaign needs clout. At the very least it needs a committee and the backing of other groups with similar aims. This can't be the only group of people worrying about these concerns.
One commenter in the Open Letter thread has just said this.
Is there anything more we can do to further 'the fight'? As someone has commented, real pressure needs to be brought to this issue. We badly need an action team to back the efforts of Mr West.
I think a group of concerned parishioners, parents and others is a great idea. A group is likely to include people who have expertise and contacts that I lack, and who know better what needs to be done or how to do it. I'm more interested in having the right things happen than in it being me specifically who moves things along. The protection of children is far too important for issues of credit to get in the way.

If you would be interested in participating in such a group, please send me an email to Once I have a few responses, I'll organise a meeting.

One further point. Campaigns with numbers behind them always carry more force than individuals, no matter how eloquent those individuals are. So if you are concerned, please get in contact even if you don't necessarily feel you have some specific skill or contribution to make. Your presence is a significant contribution by itself.


  1. A QUESTION....

    There are, as we know, new government rules designed to weed out anyone thought unsuitable to work with children. They have recently been modified but one wonders, given its history, would any monk from Ealing Abbey pass such a test?

  2. Or put it another way - if you had to go out for the afternoon would you leave your sons in the care of Fr Lawrence or Father David?

  3. Indeed, but this community of some twenty single men lives cheek by jowl - nothing known to one is unknown to the others. It has spawned three men accused of child abuse and protected them for many years. So to put it another way - would you leave your sons in the care of any one of them?

  4. My answer is surely that of any sane, responsible parent - DEFINITELY NOT!

  5. Charity Commission report 15/12/200917 December 2009 at 00:27

    Here's a big boost for the campaign...

    Here is what the Charity Commission said in the report published on 15/12/2009:

    53. Despite assurances (ie given by Abbot Martin as the Chair of the Trustees to the Charity Commission during the 1st Investigation July 2006) from the trustees, they failed to implement the restrictions placed on Individual A (aka Fr David Pearce) whilst on Charity premises and the Commission is extremely critical of the trustees in this regard. One of the terms of Individual A’s continued role in the Charity was that he was to have no access to children and young people on the Charity’s premises – the trustees failed to ensure this was the case (refer to paragraph 47 above)."

    For the rest of the report - look up "Ealing Abbey" on the Charity Commission website and select Reports on the left hand side of the St Benedict's page....

    This a serious criticism and Abbot Martin needs to explain why he has not taken reponsibility for his failure to protect children from David Pearce as he told the Charity Commission he would. In other words why has he not resigned?

    I have left further extracts on the very first post - clerical abuse at ealing..


    ‘Has to be seen to be believed’- The Catholic Trumpet
    ‘ … never imagined them in such goings on … truly chilling’ – The Pill

    Why has Abbot not resigned? What has Peccadillo to hide? Is Abbot too conceited to resign or too scared? Or, perhaps, it's because he's shrewd enough to know that, if he did resign, the lid would come right off his can of worms?
    You simply have to see this Show and discover the answers! If, that is, you have the stomach!

    ‘Wonderful ... chock-a-block with antics reminiscent of the the Borgias … a treat for the whole family!’ – Miss Universe

  7. This is a serious subject to be sure, but I like the above, whoever wrote it. These people ought to be ridiculed and here humour is often the best weapon. Especially where cant and downright hypocrisy are conceder.

  8. Bishop Murray of Limerick resigns. 'Murray's failure to reinvestigate.. suspicions (of child abuse) was "inexcusable".'

    So, one down, at least five to go - four more Irish bishops and Abbot SHIPPERLEE.

  9. Charity Commission & Ealing Abbey..17 December 2009 at 19:40

    In Shipperlee's case the Charity Commission have spelt it out clearly:

    "53. Despite assurances (ie given by Abbot Martin as the Chair of the Trustees to the Charity Commission during the 1st Investigation July 2006) from the trustees, they failed to implement the restrictions placed on Individual A (aka Fr David Pearce) whilst on Charity premises and the Commission is extremely critical of the trustees in this regard. One of the terms of Individual A’s continued role in the Charity was that he was to have no access to children and young people on the Charity’s premises – the trustees failed to ensure this was the case (refer to paragraph 47 above)."

    A few comments:

    1. The Prosecuting Barrister at Gay Dave's trial said the Abbot had placed restrictions on GD to protect him from false allegations. But Abbot Martin gave assurances to the Charity Commission that GD would have no access to children after the Civil trial in order to allow GD to remain living on the Trust's premises (ie Ealing Abbey). So what were the assurances given? Is this, at last, an admission from Martin that he knew GD was a danger to children?

    2. The Abbot is chair of the Trustees. The other Trustees are all monks of Ealing who have taken vows of obedience to obey the Abbot of Ealing. How can the Trustees act independently of the Abbot if they are vowed to obey him? Why have the Charity Commission not seen the problem in the recruitment of trustees and insisted there are independent trustees who are not monks?

    3. The Abbot as Chair of the Trustees has been heavily criticised by the Charity Commission. Did they step back from removing him because he is Chair of the Trustees due to the fact that he is the Abbot of Ealing? Are they afraid to interfere due to the religious nature of the Trust? What about their duty to protect the beneficiaries of the Trust ie the pupils of the School?

  10. Nothing at all will be achieved by merely talking on this blog.

    If you genuinely want anything to change at Ealing Abbey and St Benedict's school, then there is no point in us merely talking to each other here.

    I have reached the limit of what I can achieve alone with the Abbot - he has now refused to meet me. Nothing more will happen unless a group is formed which is able to apply more pressure than individuals can manage.

    I remain concerned at the inadequacy of the child protection arrangements there, as I've stated in the Open Letter to the Abbot. If you want to see any changes and are willing to form a group, email me here

  11. This Abbey Trust clearly enjoys 'the best of both worlds'. Because of its assumed relationship to ‘a higher world', this world is incapable, it seems, of holding it to account. The notion that this Trust is responsible to anyone, other than itself, is a complete farce. For it the sky is no limit!

    Mr West is perfectly right. This blog isn’t going to cut the mustard. I sincerely hope people, many people, do contact him to form an action group. I would dearly love to join such a group. However, there are people contributing to this blog – and I hope they are seen as contributing – who, for one reason or another, simply cannot ‘come out’ on this particular issue. If no one feels able to email Mr West it will be a great pity – a tragedy, in fact! But perhaps, at least for now, he could alert the Charity Commission to the concerns and worries expressed on this blog? It must at the very least be possible to convey our dismay at Ealing Abbey being taken seriously as a Charity by the Commission.

    I am confident that Mr West can put these matters to the Commission with great clarity. Simply outlining, as he has so eloquently on this blog, the history of his own attempts to contact Abbot Shipperlee makes for devastating reading.

    So, please, read through this blog again - remind yourself of what is at stake here. Do not ‘suffer little children’ to fall into evil, corrupting hands!

  12. Yesterday I was told I should take a look at this blog. So today I have.

    Much of it seems, understandably, to centre on the activities of Fr David Pearce. He comes up for mention time and time again and is frequently referred as 'Gay Dave'. I've been wondering why this label strikes me as, in some way, rather odd. I think I've come up with the answer.

    Though Fr Pearce's behaviour may have stood out that cannot be put down to homosexuality. Aspects of Fr Pearce's character may have riled many but his paedophilia, an orientation shared by many men and women, has nothing whatsoever to do with being gay.

    Of course, paedophilia is a problem and a delicate one. However, most paedophile activity is, as we know, carried out in the home and, more often than not, by otherwise very ordinary ‘mummies and daddies’! Fr Pearce needed help with his condition; at least with how best to live with it and contain it. He did not, it seems, get that help. He was, in other words, badly let down by his confreres and others.

    One further point. Surveys, and there have been many over the years, show that slightly more than half the clergy - priests, brothers, monks, nuns – are 'gay'. In truth, without gay Toms, Dicks, Marys and Harrys the Church would have real difficulty functioning. One might even go so far as to say, and some may find this shocking, that Gay Clergy, with their special sensitivities, are absolutely essential to the survival of Christianity. This applies, of course, not only to religion but to many other areas of cultural and scientific activity to which gay men and women make, as they have down the millennia, a unique and proud contribution.

  13. Re. the previous poster: absolutely agree. I have posted elsewhere myself that he was known as "Gay Dave" and yes, that is unfortunate in maybe perpetuating the (untrue) stereotype of gay men being more inclined to such offenses.

    One might even go further and observe that since, as you point out, it seems the clergy has a disproportionately high number of gay members they would be more alert than most to this sort of thing and ensure that any such offenders are stopped in their tracks, both for the good of their victims and for the reputation of gay people. Alas, though, it seems that gay or straight, the church believes that denial and offender-protection are always the best approach, and damn the victims.

  14. Well said! The fact of the matter is that the church is a very timorous, not to say cowardly institution. The irony, of course, is that it's cowed largely by its own teachings which reflect a totally inadequate grasp of all matters relating to human sexuality.

  15. The Rule - St Benedict21 December 2009 at 16:30

    The reading appointed from the Rule of St. Benedict for April 20:

    Of the Election of the Abbot

    In the election of an Abbot let this always be observed as a rule, that he
    be placed in the position whom the whole community with one consent, in the fear
    of God, or even a small part, with sounder judgment, shall elect. But let him
    who is to be elected be chosen for the merit of his life and the wisdom of his
    doctrine, though he be the last in the community.

    But even if the whole community should by mutual consent elect a man who
    agreeth to connive at their evil ways (which God forbid) and these
    irregularities in some come to the knowledge of the Bishop to whose diocese the
    place belongeth, or to neighboring Abbots, or Christian people, let them not
    permit the intrigue of the wicked to succeed, but let them appoint a worthy
    steward over the house of God, knowing that they shall receive a bountiful
    reward for this action, if they do it with a pure intention and godly zeal;

    whereas, on the other hand,

    ******they commit a sin if they neglect it.******

  16. Guardian Report 28 Dec 200929 December 2009 at 21:42

    sheds more light on the recent events..

  17. See also Daily Mail Article:

    Former Pupil (1975 - 1982).

  18. Andy Slaughter, MP for Ealing, Acton & Shepherds Bush refers to the Father David scandal in his recent article in the Ealing Gazette.

    Former Pupil (1975 - 1982).


    '...the Charity Commision wrote to me with the findings of their Inquiry into St Benedict's Abbey in Ealing. The Gazette has reported on the scandal of Father David Pearce, a priest at the Abbey and former head of St Benedict's junior school, sentenced to eight years custody in October after almost 40 years of sexual abuse of young boys. In the most damning report I have ever read from the Commission, they concluded: 'the trustees failed to ensure that the restrictions imposed against [Fr Pearce] were properly implemented and we were extremely critical of the trustees in this regard'.
    The restrictions were those placed on Pearce after the High Court had found allegations of sexual abuse proven against him, but which allowed him to continue to abuse children. These appalling events are reminiscent of those recently exposed in the church in Ireland and the United States.
    What is now being called for and must be implemented is proper compensation for all victims and an independent and transparent inquiry into how Pearce was able to continue his criminal behaviour for so long.

  20. Thank you very much for those sane words Mr Andy Slaughter. Let's hope their is, finally, an equally sane response on the part of Ealing Abbey.

  21. Yes, a much needed shock for the Ealing Abbey, especially for its - 'I've done all I can' - abbot. No more weasel words, Mr Abbot, it's time to come clean!

  22. I have just emailed Andy Slaughter MP to compliment him on his recent article in the Ealing Gazette.

    I asked him whether it would it be possible to compel the school and the abbey to publish details of the proposed “independent review” on their websites. This would enable many former pupils, parents and staff to make representations. After so many years we are very widely scattered and do not all live locally. I will contact the Charity Commission and make the same suggestion.

    I am still waiting for a reply from the Abbot to the email I sent him some weeks ago. I am not holding my breath.

    Former Pupil (1975 - 1982).

  23. Please, the abbot is terribly busy! He's totally preoccupied with being Lord Abbot and nothing else must intervene or interfere with that most exalted of occupations! The poor man can think of absolutely nothing else; so, please, do give him a break!

  24. Right! This guy needs every 'break' he can get! He may be full of himself, but not much else.

    Truth to tell, the poor thing's not the brightest star in the firmament! But then - and here's a break - he's nowhere near bright enough to know it.

  25. The National Secular Society published an article about the Ealing Abbey Scandal yesterday.

    Shipperlee is going to be disappointed if he thinks that interest in this story will just blow over.

  26. The National Secular Society said:

    “Monks slated by Charity Commission after they allowed a known paedophile access to teenager

    The Charity Commission has issued an unusually strongly-worded criticism of the monks of Ealing Abbey in west London, when one of their number, who was known to have abused children, was allowed to have contact with a teenager at the abbey, who he then sexually assaulted.

    “Father” David Pearce, a former head teacher at St Benedict’s Junior School, was jailed in October after he belatedly admitted 10 indecent assaults and one sexual assault. Complaints of abuse against Pearce had already been heard in a civil court and damages were awarded against him. He was allowed to return to the Abbey, but was arrested in 2008 for sexually assaulting a sixth-form pupil who was employed to wash up for the monks.

    Abbott Martin Shipperlee is chairman of the board of trustees of the school and was severely criticised by the Charity Commission. He said he accepted responsibility and was “reconsidering his position”. The report said that the Diocese of Westminster was well aware of the allegations against Pearce and had told the trustees to keep him away from children or young people. The trustees failed to do this, and the consequent assault took place.”