Thursday, 27 January 2011

The trial of Pearce and Maestri

Pearce and Maestri are scheduled to appear at Isleworth Crown Court on 31 January on charges of sexually abusing a former pupil of St. Benedict's School.

The start time and court number won't be known until tomorrow. I'll update this post when I have more details.

UPDATE: Pearce and Maestri will be appearing at Isleworth Crown Court on the afternoon of 31 January to face three charges of indecent assault under the Sexual Offences Act 1956.

The trial will be held in court 7. The exact starting time has not been decided but I am told that proceedings will not begin before 1400hrs.

Tuesday, 18 January 2011

Setting up the Carlile inquiry

Some very strange correspondence has come into my hands. I have forwarded it to the Abbot, his solicitor Tony Nelson and his press officer Barry Hudd,, along with some questions. But they (as usual) are rendered entirely mute when the issue of communicating with me comes up.
From: Barry Hudd
Sent: 25 July 2010 22:09
To: Jan Musker
Cc: Martin Shipperlee
Subject: For Tony Nelson

Dear Tony,

I was unable to find out any additional information about John Maestri so I am asking Peter Turner the Westminster Diocese Safeguarding Coordinator to see if he can get info from the police.

We ran out of time before we could really discuss the scurrilous blog re Fr Gregory.   I would like a warning shot fired across Mr West’s bow.  He and his supporters are assuming that his claims are correct as there has been no reaction from the Abbey or F r Gregory – most recently as yesterday at 17:26– Since Father Gregory has not taken legal action, I can only assume that he was indeed arrested as Mr West claims.

I think he should be required to remove his Fr Gregory posting entirely and to publish a retraction and apology..... that's my take on it but you are the lawyer so I leave it to you and Fr Martin to decide!

I am meeting with Kevin McCoy tomorrow.

We can update on Thursday.

Best wishes as always,



From: Lord Carlile Q.C.
Sent: 26 July 2010 07:52
To: Jan Musker; Tracey Young
Subject: Ealing

From: Lord Carlile of Berriew Q.C.
9-12 Bell Yard, London WC2A 2JR
Tel 02074001800

This email is intended for the named recipient only. If you receive it in error, please delete immediately. Use of this email without permission of the sender may constitute a criminal offence, or an actionable civil wrong.

Dear Tony

If it would help, I could go to the Abbey at about 4pm next Monday, or any time on Tuesday. I know that Wednesday onwards is hopeless for you because of your operation.

Otherwise I can manage in chambers this Thursday at 3pm or Friday at 1030am.

Hope all is well
As ever



From: Brenda Hudson To: Lord Carlile Q.C.
Sent: Mon, 26 Jul 2010 9:12
Subject: Re: Ealing


Dear Lord Carlile,

Many thanks for your email of this morning. I spoke personally on Friday to the Independent School Inspectorate and attach Curriculum Vitae for Dr. Kevin McCoy CBE. It is suggested at this stage by the lay person advising the Abbey that an independent report, chaired by yourself in conjunction with Dr. McCoy's particular skills, would be advantageous to the Abbey. I await your comments on this. In the meantime I am going to prepare some further instructions for you today with enclosures including a Charity Commission Report and some lengthy details concerning the school and will send this by document exchange to your Chambers.

With kind regards

Yours sincerely

A J Nelson


From: Lord Carlile Q.C.
Sent: 26 July 2010 09:26
To: Brenda Hudson
Subject: Re: Ealing

From: Lord Carlile of Berriew Q.C.
9-12 Bell Yard, London WC2A 2JR
Tel 02074001800

This email is intended for the named recipient only. If you receive it in error, please delete immediately. Use of this email without permission of the sender may constitute a criminal offence, or an actionable civil wrong.

Dear Mr Nelson

Thank you for your email. I am aware of Dr McCoy and his excellent reputation, and would happily produce a report with Dr McCoy as expert adviser, if that is what you have in mind.

My only caveat is that working with an expert might add to the length of the Inquiry and the work involved: plainly that is a matter for the Abbey. Realistically we may be looking at the equivalent of up to 20 days work, including the writing.

Please let me know when you have dispatched the further instructions, and I shall collect them from chambers.

Kind regards

Alex Carlile


From: Brenda Hudson
Sent: 26 July 2010 09:31
To: Barry Hudd
Subject: Re: Ealing

Dear Mr. Hudd,

I thank you for email of the 25th July. I have spoken to Christine Ryan of the ISA on Friday and await hearing from her with an appointment for a meeting. As we discussed last Thursday she thought it was an excellent idea and she is going to speak to the Department of Education to see if they would like a representative in attendance.

Yours sincerely

A J Nelson
 There are some important questions that arise from this.

  1. What is the involvement of the ISA, ISI and Department for Education in the inquiry?
  2. Was the inquiry set up as a result of pressure from, or at the request or suggestion of one or more of those bodies?
  3. What is the role of Dr. Kevin McCoy in the inquiry or any related matter?
  4. What was the reasoning behind the choice of Lord Carlile to conduct the inquiry?
  5. In what way was it anticipated that the inquiry "would be advantageous to the Abbey", as referred to in the email sent on Mr. Nelson's behalf to Lord Carlile on 26 July?
  6. What is Mr. Nelson's role in the setting up of the inquiry, and how is the conflict of interest being managed given that he also acts on behalf of alleged perpetrators of the abuse which Lord Carlile is inquiring into?

Monday, 17 January 2011

Downside Abbey

It seems that Ealing Abbey isn't the only Benedictine monastery and school with child protection problems. There is an investigation going on at Downside Abbey as well.

Four monks investigated over abuse claims at Somerset school

Tuesday, 11 January 2011

My father, Roger West

Below is the text of the tribute I gave to my father, Roger West, at his funeral yesterday, 10th January 2011.

Wasn’t he a lovely man!

Dad was born in Ashford in 1926, but his parents moved to Coventry when he was four years old. He was bright and got into trouble from time to time for answering back at teachers, and worked out his 7 and 8 times tables by himself from the other tables. He took his 11+ a year early and passed, and because Bablake School didn’t have a first form, he went straight into the second form there. So he took his School Certificate exams (equivalent of GCSEs) two years early at just 14, and went on to study science in 6th form.

He was at home in Coventry the night of the terrible bombing raid in November 1940 which devastated the city and burned the cathedral to the ground. The school buildings were damaged and it was decided that the school should be evacuated to Lincoln. He didn’t have a happy time there, but one very important event occurred while in Lincoln. He turned on the radio during a broadcast of Beethoven’s 7th Symphony, just at the start of the slow movement. He was so captivated by it that he immediately decided that he wanted to learn an instrument so he could play music like that. A second-hand clarinet was found for him and he started lessons with a local teacher.

He then went to Queens’ College Cambridge to study Natural Sciences, which included Physics, Chemistry, Mineralogy, Maths and Electronics (valves, not transistors in those days!) He continued to learn clarinet, and in July 1945 he first fulfilled his ambition of being able to “play music like that”, taking part in a performance in Kings College Chapel of Elgar’s The Dream of Gerontius.

After National Service as an RAF Signals Officer he obtained work in the electronics industry, and eventually became one of the world’s leading authorities on the manufacture and performance of capacitors. In 1956 he was asked by his employers to look into why the company’s factory in Chessington had such bad manufacturing yields for its capacitors. His report so impressed them that he was appointed Chief Engineer and told to implement his own recommendations.

For 20 years he was chairman of the British Standards Institute technical committee which wrote all the British Standards for capacitors, and he travelled the world representing UK industry at international standards meetings on that subject. I was once told a story by one of his work colleagues at the time, when they were travelling down to London by train to attend a BSI meeting together. After a few minutes chat at the start of the journey, Roger said he would have to stop talking and study the papers for the meeting. He explained “I must maintain my reputation for omniscience.” When he finally retired from the chairmanship, BSI awarded him a Distinguished Service Certificate in a ceremony at BSI headquarters.

As a young man Roger met and married Beryl Hyde. She had spent the war years in Canada with cousins, and had returned to her family in the West Midlands. They set up home in Harrow, and Matthew and Barbara were born to them. Beryl’s increasing mental health problems eventually lead to divorce, with Roger being given custody of Matthew and Barbara. Matthew and Barbara spent a year living with grandparents, until Roger could set up a new home in Twickenham and hire a housekeeper to look after them.

Roger joined the Harlesden Symphony Orchestra, later renamed the Willesden Symphony and later still the Brent Symphony Orchestra. It was as a result of his membership of the orchestra that Roger met and later married Janet, a marriage which lasted until Janet’s death 42 years later, and which resulted in the birth of me and Joanna. Even though the family moved to various addresses in London as he took different jobs, still Roger and Janet would make the weekly trip to the Brent orchestra rehearsal every Wednesday evening. It was only when we moved to Norfolk that they left the orchestra.

Roger and Janet were both founder members of the Edinburgh Rehearsal Orchestra, which met for a residential course during the Edinburgh Festival each year – and does so to this day. Rehearsals would take place during the day, and members were free to go out and attend festival events in the evenings. Their trips to Edinburgh were a regular feature of their summer for some years.

When helping us with our homework, Dad would always insist that he wasn’t just going to feed us the answers, though for the most part he knew all the answers perfectly well. Instead when we needed help, he made sure that he would help us understand how to work out the answers for ourselves. It was exceedingly irritating, but very good for us!

At home, Dad was a source of lovable little eccentricities. For instance angles for slices of pudding or cake would usually be expressed in radians rather than degrees or fractions. “I’ll have pi by 3 radians please.” And at meals he would go round offering seconds to everybody, and then solemnly offer some to himself. “Roger, would you like some more? Yes, thank you Roger, that would be lovely!” and then would serve himself a generous extra portion. At restaurants when the dessert trolley was brought up, he would often ask the waiter which one was the most fattening – and have that. This would occasionally bring forth an exasperated exclamation from Janet “Roger, think of your waistline!”, to which he would reply “I am thinking of my waistline!” Made-up words or odd phrases have become part of family discourse – a tree or lamppost leaning at a drunken angle was “slopendicular”, waiting or resting might be described as “intensive inactivity”.

He had a kind but extremely dry and deadpan wit. On one occasion one of Janet’s friends whom Roger had not previously met was coming to stay for a few days, and had said she would arrive at 3 o’clock. At 2.55, the doorbell rang, Roger opened the door, and accusingly said “You’re early!” – and just for a second, she thought that he meant it! Of course, his normal welcoming smile followed immediately after. A few years ago when Hyacinth and I were visiting at Christmas the conversation light-heartedly got round to the subject of new year’s resolutions. Did he have a new year’s resolution? “Oh yes”, he answered in all seriousness. “This year I’m going to avoid organic food.”

On moving to Norfolk to take up the position of Quality Manager for Erie Electronics at Great Yarmouth (later ITT Components and then STC Components), Roger and Janet both joined the Norwich Philharmonic Orchestra, which Roger remained a member of for over 30 years as second clarinet and bass clarinet, and was orchestra librarian for 27 years.

In 1978, Roger and Janet formed the Brundall Music Club, which formed a huge part my and Joanna’s childhood. The club held 9 concerts a year, all performances given by members and their friends, and developed a regular and loyal audience of over 100 for every concert. Roger announced every item and was very much the face of the club, while Janet’s talents as an accompanist were relied on almost every concert. They made a great team.

At one November concert, he had two clipboards in his hands, which he announced would be handed round, for people to write down if they could volunteer to bring mince pies for the Christmas concert the following month – one clipboard would be circulated round the right-hand side of the hall, the other round the left. And as he gestured to the right and the left, the two pencils attached to the clipboards became tangled together on their strings. He had a clipboard in each hand, and had no free hand to untangle the pencils, and he just stood there looking slightly helpless as the audience fell about laughing.

Roger played clarinet many times at Music Club concerts, either with Janet accompanying on piano, or in other chamber groups, and in the Music club’s final concert laid on in honour of Roger and Janet, he played two movements from the Mozart Clarinet Concerto, accompanied by an orchestra made up of past and present music club members. Performers and their families would be invited back to our house afterwards and offered a glass of Dad’s homemade wine – parsnip, rhubarb and lemon balm among others.

Roger and Janet had been regular members of Postwick Church since we moved to Norfolk, and on his retirement he studied to become a Lay Reader. Once he qualified, he took most of the services at Postwick. He also joined the diocesan finance committee and was involved in finding a fair and equitable way of allocating the “parish share”, a thankless and impossible task if ever there was one. But after a few years of this he announced that he was going to give up church committees and take up bowls instead. And for a late starter he became surprisingly good at it, and occasionally arrived home in proud possession of a trophy or prize he had won in a club competition.

He also sang for many years with the Brundall Singers, and I would like to thank you for coming today to lead the singing.

In the weeks and months after Janet died, it was clear and obvious how much respect and affection there was for him, if only from the number of cakes baked for him by the ladies of the village. Ladies, let me tell you now – Roger had an extremely sweet tooth, and he ate and thoroughly enjoyed every single one of those cakes!

Mary became a close companion after Janet’s death, and Roger and Mary decided to marry. This shouldn’t be regarded as a footnote to Roger’s life, but an integral part of the story of it. He had clearly become devoted to Mary, and from the incredible kindness and heroic effort Mary put into looking after Roger as he became ill, it is obvious that the devotion was returned. At intervals, we would come over to look after Dad for a few days while Mary took a break. It was a wonder and a pleasure to see how his eyes lit up with joy when she returned.

I don’t pretend to be able to explain or even understand how monstrously unfair it is that Mary had so little time with Roger in full possession of his faculties before his decline started. All I can do is to say thank you on behalf of Matthew, Barbara, Joanna and myself for the utterly devoted and unstinting love and care you gave him. We know the decision to move him into Brundall Care Home was a difficult one, but it was absolutely correct and necessary, for the sake of your own health as much as his. We know also that you don’t think of yourself as a hero, that you just carried on day by day doing what had to be done. But that is exactly what real heroes do.

As dementia advances, sometimes a patient displays what care staff euphemistically call “challenging behaviour”. But there was none of that with Roger. His inner traits of gentleness, acceptance, calm and dignity came to the fore, and the staff at Brundall Care Home became very fond of him, and cared for him with great kindness.

The last time I saw Dad was a fortnight before Christmas. He was only occasionally conscious and clearly fading. Joanna had brought her violin into the home to play some carols to the residents. To my surprise, Dad woke, and was obviously trying to sing along to the chorus of O Come All Ye Faithful. Little or no noise was coming out, but he was quite definitely mouthing the words “O come let us adore him” in time to the music. It is completely characteristic of Roger that about the last remaining conscious corner of his mind involved both his faith and his love of music.

When he died peacefully on the morning of Christmas Eve, Mary was at his side.

Roger lived such a full life and brought light into so many lives that even we, his family, don’t know the full story of it. If you have any anecdotes or reminiscences of Roger that you can share with us, we would love to hear them. My sister Barbara will be collecting them into a “Book of Memories” for the family.

If you knew Roger and have a story of him that you would like to share with the family, please email it to me at, and I will forward it to Barbara for her to include in the book. It is not intended for publication, just for members of the family to read.

Thursday, 6 January 2011

Pearce and Maestri update

Pearce and Maestri appeared again at West London Magistrates Court yesterday to answer bail. Their case was transferred to Isleworth Crown Court and they will appear on the morning of 31 January.