Thursday, 3 February 2011

There's a new lawyer in town!

I normally wouldn't bother writing about a new law firm setting up in London, but this particular firm, Anderson Olivarius I think might be of relevant interest.The Independent has an article on it. Here's a the first two paragraphs
For much of the past 25 years, Jeff Anderson has been the American Catholic Church's bête noire. Working out of a small office in St Paul, Minnesota, the 63-year-old US attorney has spearheaded more than 1,500 lawsuits against the Church, winning millions of dollars for his clients and forcing open the doors of one of the world's most secretive institutions.

Now the tough-talking lawyer with a taste for Zen Buddhism has co-founded a London-based law firm to bring sex abuse cases against churches in Britain. The new firm, Jeff Anderson Ann Olivarius Law, is a first attempt to create a cross-Atlantic practice dedicated to launching legal actions on multiple continents using aggressive litigation tactics honed for more than two decades in the US.
Things could start getting interesting!


  1. and you claim to not want vengance but justice?

  2. Of course. The victims deserve compensation for the harm done to them. They aren't going to get that without capable lawyers working on their behalf. So the arrival of a lawyer specialising in this field is something to celebrate if you think that the victims deserve justice.

  3. If you are involved in a crash you get compensation for any injuries you suffer do you not?

    It is far from vengence - its an expected practicality.

  4. reduces everthing to a financial price, as Churchill said, we have established......
    justice comes from punishing the guilty.

  5. not rewarding the victim...

  6. It's not rewarding the victim. It is a matter of trying to rebuild the victim's life, and bring it as far as can reasonably be achieved back to the state it should have been but for the abuse. In the case of C for instance, sums were awarded under the following headings

    - general damages for psychiatric injury
    - Loss of earnings/Disadvantage in the labour market
    - Cost of treatment
    - Loss of parental support

    Putting damaged lives back together costs money. Do you not think that victims should not be entitled to that money in compensation for the harm they suffered?

  7. possibly in some cases but deciding what is compensation and what might become reward, is a fine line...

  8. Possibly? In some cases?

    Do please enlighten me. In what sorts of cases do you think a victim of abuse is not entitled to compensation for the harm done to him?

  9. The point of financial compensation is two fold

    1) to give the victim the damages that they deserve.
    2) a wider public policy concept to provide a financial incentive to institutions to prevent them from doing this in the future. Because it is expensive for them to do so.

    These are damages. Not an award/reward. Anyone who thinks otherwise has been smoking too much of what is in the Daily Mail. The courts don't start handing out compensation as if it was candy. To see it as some kind of reward.... Well I haven't been abused and quite frankly I would rather not 'win' this 'reward' and I imagine all those who have been abused aren't exactly jumping for joy. This isn't winning the lottery.

    In these cases the courts can't turn back time and prevent the injustices from occurring. And as a civilised nation we've moved beyond lopping off people's extremities. Financial compensation is pretty much the only remedy available.

    If you were abused at the school I think you should be entitled to:
    the school fees (being paid to be abused seems ridiculous)
    damages caused directly such as cost of counselling, support groups
    Wider damages arising from years of trauma that can occur either through being ostracised or the general impact of having to hide it.

    A few years of school fees alone adds up to a sum of five or six figures especially when inflation is taken into account.

    If the school is concerned about any legal bill. Simple. Settle the claims that are true and only take to court the ones that aren't.

  10. Anderson was over here last month and the BBC recorded an interview with a director of SNAP. Anderson had his writ returned by FedEx yesterday. He had tried to serve it on the pope, but it came back with a suitable stamp. The case has to do with the 200 kids abused in a deaf school in Wisconsin. The diocese recently went into Chapter 11. Yesterday a diocese in Delaware agreed to pay out more than $70m to over a 100 people. The diocese has been in Chapter 11 for sometime. Lawyers fees in Oregon took up much of the $800,000 awarded to a victim and insurance companies are accusing the church of not declaring facts before taking up insurance. Thus many insurance policies are likely to be questioned. I doubt if the diocese here will cough up and I suspect there may be insurance problems with some of the congregations. I suggest you google: Anderson suing the pope Milwaukee Murphy. It might come up. SNAP and bishop-accountability have all the details. I haven't posted your material for legal reasons.

  11. 15.43 and onwards ........"(compensation) reduces everything to a financial price"

    Oh please!

    The Marshall Plan. Was this rewarding victims? It was paying reparations.

    Reparations have a long and mostly distinguished precedent. Punish the victim certainly – but (please don’t bother to) explain why the victim should not receive reparations if it is proven his/her body was trespassed.

    Damages in this country are very small. The argument about a ‘fine line’ is asinine. Most UK child abuse awards do not get anywhere near six figures with a few exceptions – more is the pity.

    There is no ‘fine line,’ hours with a forensic psychiatrist, all the evidence gathering and police interviews, secondary abuse in criminal court then in civil court from the defence team. Oh sure – everyone would be motivated to do this shit for pittance damages.

    And damages are not usually paid by the perpetrator but by the institution in which the perpetrator was permitted to operate. So the perpetrator is punished and so is the institution.

    You don’t know what you don’t know 16.45, a sophomoric argument from a theorist.

  12. Going back to an older post from November 2010, I note that the ISI report on St Augustine's Priory School still has not yet been published!
    As a parent I think it is going to make very interesting reading. Why has this report been delayed for so long and why is the school still saying that they know nothing about the issue date or its contents. This seems very strange to me as according to the ISI website certain time frames are envolved, they must have all passed now by now.
    Its time for ISI or the school or both to issue some sort of statment on this instead of the silence we have had so far.

  13. Well its like speculating on why the jury is taking so long - pointless.

    But, in this case there is clearly a reason. And given the extended silence from both parties I speculate it might be serious.

    Try calling Durell Barnes at the Keystone Cops Inspecotrate the ISI - T 020 7666 8800

    You are a parent and entitled to ask the question of them

    I recently wrote to the DfE and the ESCB about the contradictory safeguarding policy which in my opinion was demonstrably useless. It has just recently been changed I notice but it has now been made into an 'airfix policy' - you as a parent are forced to assemble it because the school does not want to provide it one copy in one place to you as parents.

  14. From what I have read, Jeff Anderson and Ann Olivarius are excellent lawyers, I look forward to seeing them get their teeth into Ealing Abbey.

    The Abbot will be lucky if he is left with so much as a pot to piss in.

  15. Well that would be interesting - but of course it will be his hard pressed insurers which will have to divvy up so they will just increase their rates, which Cruella would immediately include into fee increases.

    Parents pay for education, children get abused, which results eventually as a claim against the school, premium increase, which is passed onto parents - etcetera....

  16. The relative silence from the Abbey supporters suggests they are unable to post without their comments

    - prejudicing any criminal prosecution which is underway,

    - potentially committing a contempt of court (e.g. in naming a victim of abuse whose identity has been protected by court order),

    - seeking to contribute to an atmosphere of intimidation to discourage abuse survivors from coming forward,

    - seeking to promote paedophilia as a natural or harmless activity or seeks to promote its legalisation.

    This will come as little surprise to the regular posters on this site.

  17. Thank you 13:30 I will be contacting Mr Barnes on Monday morning. There has been a great deal of playground discussion recently and increasing concern as to the whereabouts of this report. It seems that whether I'm chatting at St B's or St A's the speculation is that there is a link between the two schools and that perhaps the delay in the publication of the St A's report is also related to safeguarding. I do hope this is not the case. One local case is troubling, but if two?! It would appear that both Gumley-Mason and Abbot Martin seem to be accomplished at feigning benightedness. It could destroy the parents' confidence in the whole Catholic education system.

  18. SO 10.23
    Please tell me what are you still doing at both the schools, take your children out and that must be the message to any parent who joins in with the
    "playground discussion recently and increasing concern as to the whereabouts of this report."
    get a life.

  19. Quoting the first comment on this page:

    and you claim to not want vengance but justice?

    3 February 2011 14:08

    Anonymous, are you a bit thick? The reason for Jonathan's delight at the arrival of Jeff Anderson is blatantly obvious. For so long now, he's been on a very clear mission: a constant uphill battle to try and make St Benedict's create a Child Protection Policy that is actually fit for purpose. But it seems the powers that be at St Benedict's are absolutely determined to keep paedo-friendly loopholes in their - frankly ineffective - policy. And so far, they've been getting away with it. Meanwhile, Jonathan has been the lone voice in highlighting the glaring flaws and campaigning for a genuinely protective policy.

    And Jeff Anderson? Well he has already been successful in calling *time* at another institution who thought they could continue with a similarly flimsy policy that allowed catholic officials to continue abusing the children in their [supposed] care. This snippet from an article by SNAP on Anderson's cases in Delaware says it all:

    Our understanding is that victims fought long and hard for very tangible, proven abuse prevention steps in this settlement. We applaud them for that. It is clear that Catholic officials will not or cannot reform themselves, and that even now, bishops often act recklessly, deceitfully and secretively in abuse cases. Forcing them to take specific moves to stop future clergy sex crimes and cover-ups is an enormous achievement.

    Keep up the good work Jonathan. I share your happiness in seeing Mr Anderson and Ms Olivarius in town. Perhaps the policy amendments you've fought so tirelessly for will finally happen. Although frankly, that will not change the history of St Benedict's ongoing and adamant refusal to make the necessary and effective amendments thus far, nor their treatment of you when you tried to help them with this task. They've already proved time and again that the children's best interests are not their priority. That attitude will remain regardless of any policy they may finally be forced to introduce.

    But then again, that's not me being cynical. It's just another constant theme. The following snippet is from the same SNAP press release I quoted above:

    It is important that we all recognize that this agreement is no sign that Delaware Catholic officials have "reformed." Only the most foolish and naive could even entertain this notion. It's a sign of what we have maintained all along: that Delaware’s church hierarchy is scared of being deposed under oath, taking the witness stand, and having to finally disclose how much they knew about yet how little they did about terribly dangerous serial sex offenders.


  20. "a bit thick?" that is a mite hurtful to an opa. i too would like a workable child protection policy at st. b's but celebrating a money grabbing american lawyer's arrival "in town" is like welcoming george bush to a green energy symposium...

  21. 12.07 - If you had children at the school and they were happy there with the teachers and their friends, you would see that its very difficult to disrupt a childs education just like that. So your comment of "get a life" is upsetting. All we are trying to do is to get to the truth of what is going on. The 2 schools are linked by way of Chillman and a few others. We just want to see what this report contains and before we, as parents, decide to take any action we see fit.
    The headmistress is silent on the report matter, which is highly unusual for her as she always has to issue some sort of so called witty retort, just read her letters on the school website and you will the usual garbage she writes. Her unusual silence can only mean that there are severe problems. We as parents cant wait for her "explanation" to us on this matter. So come on Mrs Gumley Mason - get your finger out and come clean with what is going on.

  22. She has been exposed as an awful headmistress and she's trying to conceal the truth. We've known for years she's inept and so too is her bumbling husband.

  23. If you had children at the school and they were happy ... you would see that its very difficult to disrupt a child’s education just like that.

    Your frustration is palpable, after all what can you do? The Head knows what’s in the report, it will have been discussed for weeks with the ISI. One can speculate she does not agree with the contents.

    The next part of my post is not designed to alarm. Below is an extract from a letter written by an acquaintance to the inspectorate, which is QA’d by Ofsted! Inspectorates, as well as parents are naively convinced that speaking to children provides a critically important insight into the quality of safeguarding in the school they are inspecting.

    "In your letter you refer to extensive discussion by the Inspectors with pupils. Of course it is important to talk with pupils at the School and gain something of their feelings and impressions of their school environment while they are actually in it. No-one would doubt that for a moment. Yet what you write betrays, I think, an unfortunate and unsafe misunderstanding, which is simply this: it cannot be said too often that all child protection work in schools is of necessity to a large degree retrospective in its operation. Your Inspectors will only get at wrongdoing today by looking at what has already taken place. This is why inspection against the Notifications returned by a school before the Inspectors ever arrive there in the first place is of such fundamental importance, and must never, under any circumstances whatever, be skimped.

    Please allow me to explain what I mean by resorting a personal example. Imagine for a moment you were an Inspector of XXXX School in the early 19XXs. You encounter a small boy running around in shorts, his pockets stuffed full with conkers and sweets and plainly enjoying all the School has to offer by way of games and activities and interesting lessons. That small boy is me. You stop him to ask how he is enjoying his time there, and to engage him in conversation. He says to you - absolutely truthfully - that he is happy there. He has no complaints at all. He has friends; he does well in lessons; he enjoys being in the Scouts; he likes playing rugby, cricket, hockey, tennis and so on. What will you learn from him for your Report that bears on child welfare? The answer is nothing whatever. You could very easily sit down and write what the present Inspectors in fact wrote at paragraph 4.10 of the Report – and it would be true. But - and this is the point - the small boy in question has seen child abuse taking place with his own eyes : only, he had no idea what it was he was seeing. His infant mind was incapable of comprehending what it was that he saw. He saw the Defendant in bed with one of his school-fellows. He thought perhaps the boy was lonely or something. He knew that one of the masters would fondle the private parts (the full biological function of which he had yet to understand) of many of the boys because he saw it happen in front of him – but he had not the tiniest inkling why a master would want to do this or what was meant by it. Above all, he had no idea that any of this was wrong. So why should he tell you about it, or how could he guess that that was what you wanted and needed to know?

    Happy children are not a sign that everything is ok, as I can also attest. Parents need to speak to their children and apprise them of the subject of sexual and emotional abuse by an adult. I did with mine at the age of seven and I did not consider it too early. It’s not a taboo in our house. Should they have experienced the unwanted attentions of an adult, then hopefully my children might have been able to tell me.

    But did my children escape abuse? I hope so but in truth, one can never be sure, but educating children protects them when you are not around.

    If either of the mine were abused, I’m likely to be dead before its expressed.

    The biggest secret a child can have is a “relationship” (as the child sees it) with an adult.

  24. Grimersta. Did you receive a response from the DfE about how they intend to pursue failures to notify?

  25. Benightedness and also beknightedness 10.23! Peas in a pod.

  26. Myself and other parents were dismayed to see Father Gregory Chillman attending St Augustine's carol service before Christmas. He is still obviously a main part of the school despite being under a cloud.
    Who on earth made the decision to allow him to attend along with the girls?
    Even just the moral issue should have kept him away from the girls during the current climate.
    Another question that Mrs Gumley Mason should answer.

  27. Well 09:47, you have said it all!
    I do expect the ISI Report to flag up safeguarding issues and it will not be a surprise after this long delay.

    When this report is published I hope that that appropriate bodies will take what action is necessary.

  28. Mrs Gumley Mason is a pernicious, incompetent charlatan. Given that she is also the safeguarding person for the school serious problems would be no surprise.
    After all, enough teachers have vanished overnight over the last few years that there's almost certainly something fishy.
    Come on Mrs Gumley Mason, time to fess up now - you've got rumbled at last

  29. I have today been advised by Mr Barnes at ISI that the FINAL REPORT on St Augustine's Priory School is due to be published within the next few days. His correct telephone number is 02077768830. Given that the inspection report procedure has a few stages, the first being a draft report, we can only assume that Mrs Gumley Mason has been aware of its contents for several months!!!.
    So much for the school motto Veritas !!!
    Maybe somebody should be told to to practice what they preach!!!.

  30. A question. Did the keystone cops inspectorate make the discovery themselves, or with 'outside' assistance?

    I ask because the ISI are unable to locate the safeguarding light switch as a rule.

  31. Given the schools they inspect are all ISC or assocation related establishments, the inspectorate has no interest in discovering bad news on the safeguarding front. They see themselves as educationalists not "social workers."

    If bad news is found then the intangible assets take a knock. Not much of one though, because there is little to no competititon in education - and this in turn breeds safeguarding complacency.

    Tell that to an ISI inspector and s/he would look at you and as though you were speaking Yak.

  32. Lets see what the St Augustine's report says first before we speculate.It may enlighten us to why there has been such a delay. Patience all please.

  33. 15:09
    I discovered some time ago that there was a connection between Ealing Abbey and St. Augustine's, in that Chillman was formerly both chaplain and chairman of governors. Of course, I was already aware of issues with respect to Chillman at St. Benedict's.

    I also learned that St. Augustine's had joined an ISC member organisation and was therefore due an ISI inspection.

    So in June last year I telephoned the ISI to discuss this, and followed it up with an email summarising my knowledge and requesting that they pay particular attention to safeguarding at St. Augustine's. I was thanked for my information.

  34. "a bit thick?" that is a mite hurtful to an opa. i too would like a workable child protection policy at st. b's but celebrating a money grabbing american lawyer's arrival "in town" is like welcoming george bush to a green energy symposium...
    6 February 2011 16:21

    The *money grabbing lawyer* to which you refer has been forcing reform in lax Child Protection Policies - his British counterparts have done absolutely NOTHING in this regard. If your claim [that reform is what you would like to see] is true, then you seem to be experiencing a severe case of cognitive dissonance. Or perhaps you just don't like the fact Mr Anderson is an American.


  35. Thank you. Now let's see the ISI report knowing full well that if it is safeguarding - then the ISI has once more discovered nothing on its own despite being the safeguarding inspectorate for independent day schools.

    Well done Mr West.

  36. Addendum...

    This, direct from the - as you put it *money grabbing lawyer's* mouth, on why he's in town:

    “I have been tracking the cases going in the
    UK for years and following it through colleagues and believe that it is a grave and
    ongoing problem. That is what causes me to
    be here,” Mr Anerson said... “We are prepared to work with them, but we are prepared to work against them if they continue to keep secrets and fail to protect kids.”

    Bravo :)


  37. An extract from my letter to Dr J Pugh dated 22 November 10.

    I have been observing the unfolding events at St Benedict’s School with increasing concern. Following a member of the public bringing to the attention of the DfE matters which should have been discovered during the ISI’s November 09 Inspection of the school, a ‘follow up’ report was produced following unannounced visits by the ISI on 30th April and the 17th May 10. On page 2 of this report at the paragraph headed The Reporting of Allegations the report states:

    ‘At the time of the follow-up inspections, the school did not have a fully established policy for reporting directly to the Department for Education and Skills (later the Department for Children, Schools and Families, and currently the Department for Education) or to the Independent Safeguarding Authority, responsible for such referrals since 20 January 2009.’

    The inspectors are stating very clearly that statutory Notifications, now referrals, had never been returned in the history of the setting because no policy existed to return these statutory instruments under the Education Acts and from more recently the SVGA 2006.

    This failure to return Notifications under the Education Acts by the administration of the school, permitted five abusers to remain unknown to the authorities. It also permitted a sixth abuser to leave the school, as a result of his abuse towards St Benedict’s pupils, and for him to continue his teaching career unimpeded because the school failed to observe the law.

    Would you inform me what action is planned by the DfE against St Benedict’s school in light of this breach of primary legislation revealed in the ISI’s report?

    Reply from Dr Pugh
    14th December 10

    Thank you for your letter of 22 November. I apologise for the delay in replying.

    I do appreciate your concerns but I am sure you understand that we would breach the Data Protection Act if we were to discuss the circumstances of any safeguarding referrals that St Benedict's School may - or may not have made either recently or in the past.

    Where an independent school fails to make a safeguarding referral it is in breach of the Independent Schools Standards. If It failed to make a referral that the local authority or DfE believed should have been made, then either
    the local authority or DfE could make the referral instead.

    DfE can and does take action where schools breach the Independent School Standards. However, the Standards relate to the school as it is currently operating, and DfE's statutory powers do not allow Ministers to take account of events which happened several years ago unless they are relevant to the current operations of the school.

    We have seen the terms of reference for Lord Carlile's review. We hope his report will identify what happened, and why, at St Benedict's in the past and what more the school can do to strengthen its safeguarding arrangements in future.

  38. It would be amusing were it not so serious

    1. The 'cover'of data protection is claimed even when it is known who some of the Notifications are because the information is in the public domain. "Now how do we not answer the question? I know claim Data Protection - use the cloak of confidentiality no matter that the genie is visibly flying around the room!"

    2. So if the school screws up, it comes as a great relief to us all that Nanny DfE will file the Notifications on behalf of the school - well did they in this case?

    3. What the hell does "currently operating" mean? The Trust is currently operating and it was at the time of the departures which should have had Notifications returned. Am I missing something? There has been no change of company has there? So if a tort case was taken by a pupil for the abuse 30 years ago it would be against the trust? So what kind of answer is this from Dr Pugh?

    4. Carlile’s is an unofficial review commissioned by the Trust is it not? Is the DfE seriously placing any reliance on his report which in part is a reveneering operation designed to be .... what as the word used by Nelson? erm ......advantageous to the Abbey ..... that was it.

    So this reply really does demonstrate that the DfE is unwilling to “trouble” schools even where decades of abuse has occurred. All they will do is ‘gum’ a school to death given the seeming absence of dentures.

    What do people think of this?

  39. The same will likely happen at St Augustine's if the "problem" is a safeguarding issue.

    If I were a St A's parent I would certainly become very 'active' if this is a safeguarding issue. If it is about safeguarding matters since the last Ofsted inspection then I would be seeking the immediate retirement of the Head and most of the Board.

    Carlile's report should be seeking similar changes at St B's - if the report does not deliver changes on this scale then it is valueless.

    Carlile needs to do what the DfE is too scared to do.

  40. 20.47 One assumes this is what you would want to see but only if Notifications should have been issued by the school since the last inspection, but which were not? What can be described as the "St Benedict's protocol."

    It is hard to imagine this would happen in a second school and one with which St Benedict's has a connection, but we await the report.

  41. If it is safeguarding problems at St A's, then its not a question of retirement, they should be sacked!

  42. 10.07 - You interpretation is correct thank you and I am sorry my posting was so unclear.

    It is not staff departures that should prompt sackings. Departures after all can happen as a result of the setting being very safeguarding literate and on the ball. As a result of a school being an exemplar and alert more discoveries may be made which may result in a member of staff leaving and a referral (as they are now called) being made.

    Senior management sackings are needed when it is clear the administration has failed in its responsibilities to safeguard children, failed to report and/or return Notifications or referrals, and gone out of its way to conceal abuse from everyone including the inspectorates. St Benedict’s is a prime example yet they are all superglued to the place still.

    So we await to see the St A’s ISI report. I hope Mr West will be translating it because the ISI uses opaque language that requires the reader to know a good deal about the protocols that operate behind the scenes. It’s a great way for the ISI to keep parents in the dark about bad news which is a key objective of this peer review inspectorate.

  43. Not should be sacked, they MUST be sacked if its safeguarding.

  44. It has been almost a year since St Augustine's was inspected by the ISI and we are still waiting for the report to be published.

    What are they hiding?

  45. Parents have a reasonable right to expect that schools will act in the best interests of the children in them. We need, as a society, to adopt a much more open and transparent approach to dealing with safeguarding problems when they arise. Cover-ups in the interests of avoiding unwelcome attention from the press or adverse publicity are hugely problematic. When they come to light there is an assumption that there may be others that have not come to light and inevitably the motivation and probity of those who have been party to them comes into question. A transparent approach means that, if problems have arisen, parents can be confident they have been dealt with; I would have more confidence sending my child to a school where there is a history of problems being dealt with than one where cover-ups had come back to bite. If a problem arises, deal with it promptly and effectively and it's a problem solved.

  46. Ο ψεύτης γεννάει ένα ψεύτη, ώσπου να γίνουν μια γενιά

  47. According to Google translations the post on 9 February 2011 at 22:24 is as follows
    "The liar gives birth to another liar, until they become a generation (of liars)."
    It seems its a Greek proverb!
    Looks like we have a classical greek scholar among our posters.

  48. Not classical, but modern.


  49. I did of course check out the phrase in an automatic translator before allowing it to be published.