Sunday, 13 February 2011

Don't hold your breath

Don't hold your breath waiting for the publication of the report of the Carlile inquiry. I have learned that it will not be published for the next several months.

The reason is the ongoing prosecution of Pearce and Maestri. The argument apparently is that the report addresses matters that are sub judice, and so the report cannot be published until such time as the trial is over.

The trial is scheduled to start on 4th July and last 4 days. If either or both is convicted, then there will be a further adjournment for sentencing, probably of 3 months or so.

But that might not be the end of the delay. Abbot Lawrence Soper has been required to return to the UK to answer police questions, and one can speculate that he may yet be charged. If he is, then his trial would probably not start until towards the end of the year.

So, if you are a parent of a pupil at the school, and were hoping to see the Carlile report and use it as guidance as to whether you should move your child for the next academic year, you are not going to be able to. It won't arrive in time.

And also, since the report is not being published (or at least not yet), then you will remain in the dark about what recommendations Carlile is making for changes at the school and Abbey. And you will also remain in the dark about what (if any) of the recommended measures the school is actually taking.

Remember that the Carlile inquiry was commissioned by Tony Nelson, the school solicitor. He is also the solicitor representing Pearce in the current prosecution. Pearce and Maestri were arrested in August last year, and charged in November. And at the same time, it was known that the police wanted to question Soper. So by the time the Carlile inquiry was announced to the parents at the safeguarding meeting on 14th September, he must have been well aware of the possibility that charges would be laid before Carlile could report. But no mention was made at the time of the possibility that the report would be delayed should any further criminal prosecution be undertaken.

So either it hadn't occurred to Tony Nelson that a delay might be necessary, or Shipperlee and Cleugh chose not to mention it to parents. I doubt that Tony Nelson is so incompetent a lawyer, which means that (again) parents have been deliberately left in the dark about an important matter.

So what could be done about it?

One possibility is nothing - the Abbot just sits on the report until such time as there are no pending prosecutions. We don't know how many people have come forward as a result of recent publicity, or how many monks or teachers are being investigated. We know of three, but there could be more. So we could end up waiting a very long time.

A second possibility is that Carlile's recommendations are published alone, but without the rest of the report for the time being. This would be better than nothing, since we would at least see the recommendations, and could presumably ask Carlile whether the recommendations as published are in fact complete. But without the rest of the report, this is highly unsatisfactory, since we would have no means of knowing whether the recommendations are appropriate in the light of the evidence. All we would have is an authority-statement from Carlile. The school could claim that this or that recommendation is impractical or unreasonable or unjustified, and we would have no means of assessing the truth of the matter.

A third possibility is for an interim report to be published, containing Carlile's full recommendations plus as much of the evidence as possible, temporarily omitting or rewording those items which might impinge on the current prosecution. This is the route that ought to be followed.

But the best information I have so far is that no interim publication is intended, and the report is just going to remain unpublished for an unknown duration. What measures, if any, the school will take in the meantime to improve safeguarding is currently unknown.

I'm getting excessively cynical about the school and its management, and I can't help noticing that the ISI Supplementary Report was issued at the end of July 2010, but not provided to the parents until early September. In the meantime all the cheques for the next term's school fees had to be provided to the school and safely deposited in the school's bank account. Coincidence? I think not.

If the ISI report had been provided to parents promptly and the inquiry set up immediately, it might have been possible for Carlile to have reported before Pearce and Maestri were formally charged, and you would have the report already. But they have dragged their heels over it, again. I originally called for an inquiry back in August 2009. If the headmaster and trustees were serious about action being taken to bring an end to child sex abuse at the school, they should have acted immediately then.


  1. 'Excessively cynical'? In view of the evidence, I'm not sure you're cynical enough.
    Keep up the good work.

  2. The headmaster's February newsletter has just been published on the School's website. There is a brief item on page 10 entitled "The Carlile Report" in which he admits that "it now seems unlikely that [Carlile's] report will be presented to Fr Abbot until the end of term".

    The truth is of course that the report is most unlikely to see the light of day before autumn at the earliest.

    It is amazing to see that once again Mr West has managed to publish important information before the headmaster has been able to do so.

  3. My understanding is that Soper is already in the UK, presumabaly safe in an abbey somewhere.