Of course, one of the greatest possible sources of embarrassment from the visit is the possibility that some paedophile scandal will get raised in the press during or just before the visit.
So I'm not sure what David Cameron was thinking of when he appointed Chris Patten, and what Chris Patten was thinking when he accepted, because the appointment makes the raising of the paedophile abuse issue all that much more likely.
Chris Patten is an old boy of St. Benedict's School. He's has the Christopher Patten Cup for "Outstanding Performance at GCSE" named after him, and he is on the board of School Advisors.
This of course is the school where Father David Pearce enjoyed a 36 year paedophile career, whose child protection policy remains a shambles, and where the Abbot, who is also is Chairman of Trustees, refuses to attend a meeting called by the Diocesan Safeguarding Advisor to discuss these matters, and where a supposedly independent review has managed to avoid reviewing almost the whole of the time David Pearce was a monk at the Abbey, and managed to avoid reviewing anything of his career as a teacher at the school.
It is also the school at which John Maestri taught, who has been convicted three times of sexual offences whose victims were boys at the school, and who was sent on his way as he was about to take over as headmaster of the Middle School.
This is the school where the Independent Schools Inspectorate has had to withdraw its most recent inspection report because of concerns over the accuracy of the information provided to it by the school.
This is the school about which the Charity Commission conducted two Statutory Enquiries, the report of which was "severely critical of the Trustees".
This is the school where Father Gregory Chillman has recently mysteriously resigned as a trustee.
This is the school where, according to evidence given in court and not denied, Father Stanislaus Hobbs sexually assaulted a pupil while on a school trip to Italy.
This is the school which in 2006 contested a civil case in respect of accusations of abuse by Father David Pearce and lost, with the judge awarding damages of £43,000.
And Chris Patten is a member of the Board of School Advisers. So he has some degree of responsibility for running the school.
In the light of all this, it seems to me that either:
- He isn't aware of all these problems, in which case he's not doing much of a job as a School Advisor, or
- He is aware of all these problems, and has chosen not to do anything about it, in which case I had better not offer my opinion of him, or
- He is aware of all these problems, and has tried to do something about it and failed, coming up against the intransigence of the Abbot. If this is the case the honourable thing to do would be to publicly resign as a School Advisor, since his name at present is providing cover to a deplorable state of affairs.
But I'm not holding my breath waiting for it.