"What," I ask Patten in his room at the Cabinet Office,"is the worst that could happen?"Of course, Patten is not merely a former pupil, he's on on the Board of School Advisers and therefore has some degree of responsibility for the safety of children at the school.
He takes a deep breath and mentally assembles a surprisingly detailed answer. "Well, err, the worst that could happen is that our repution for organising a complicated event like this could be affected, which would have a sort of blowback for the government in relation to the Olympics. The worst that could happen would be that it encouraged more rather than less secular intolerance of faith groups, the Catholic Church in particular. The worst that could happen would be another paedophile scandal. . . "
Soon after he said this the worst did happen. It emerged that an investigation had begun into child-abuse allegations at St Benedict's School in Ealing, west London. Two men had contacted police after last year's conviction of Father David Pearce, who admitted abusing five pupils at the school. He received an eight-year jail sentence The news is particularly hard on Patten. He was a pupil there.
Saturday, 4 September 2010
This is from the article "Pope Friction" by Bryan Appleyard in last week's Sunday Times magazine. After describing the various ways in which Chris Patten has brought order out of chaos in the planning for the Pope's visit, there is the following quote from an interview with Patten.