From: Jonathan WestI have received the following reply from the headmaster.
Date: 8 September 2010 15:54
Subject: Safeguarding Meeting 14 September
To: Senior School Headmaster
As I am sure you are aware, as the father of a former pupil of St. Benedict's School I have taken a close interest in safeguarding matters at the school since the conviction of Father David Pearce last year. I note from the August edition of your Headmaster's Newsletter that you will be holding a meeting with parents on this subject in the Cloister on 14th September.
Since safeguarding is a matter of general public interest (for instance to parents who may be considering sending their children to the school in the future), I would like to attend the meeting, and be able to ask questions. Please advise whether you have any objection to my presence at the meeting.
From: Senior School HeadmasterNotice the request for an acknowledgement that I have receiived his reply. He wants to be sure that he's within his rights to throw me out and charge me with trespass if I were to try and sneak in.
Date: 10 September 2010 16:53
Subject: RE: Safeguarding Meeting 14 September
To: Jonathan West
Dear Mr West,
Re: Ealing Abbey
I have received your email of 8th September, and the meeting I have called on 14th September is restricted to current parents, and current staff.
As you know, Queen’s Counsel, Lord Carlile of Berriew, is undertaking a review of all child safeguarding matters, both historical and up-to-date. I know Lord Carlile will be contacting you to arrange a meeting to discuss the close interest that you have taken in safeguarding matters at the School.
I should be grateful if you would kindly acknowledge safe receipt of this communication.
This is of a piece with my previous requests to meet the Abbot. The school can hardly claim to be interested in making all possible improvements to child protection if they persistently refuse to meet with those who have knowledge of the matter and concerns about the situation.
It appears that they will do anything rather permit themselves to be in a position where they have to answer difficult questions in front of witnesses. If they have nothing to hide, why avoid speaking to me?
I have a number of important questions which it would be good for parents to be able to ask. Although I can't be there, the questions can. If you are a parent of a pupil at the school would like to help ask the questions they ought to be answering, by all means get in touch. Email me at email@example.com.
I acknowledged Chris Cleugh's email and asked him when the Terms of Reference for Lord Carlile's inquiry would be published. Until we see the terms of reference, we can't tell whether it will be another whitewash. I would be very happy to see the school make a real effort to put its house in order, and would unreservedly cheer and congratulate them if they do. But on present performance, we have to assume that the inquiry will be a whitewash unless and until we see evidence to the contrary.