Wednesday, 26 October 2011

My reply to Bishop John Arnold

This is the email I sent in reply to Bishop John Arnold.
Dear Bishop

In essence, it seems to me that you are saying that the only safeguarding improvements that you would expect to see made are those insisted on by the statutory authorities to bring to school to the minimum standards of regulation. Note that in practice, what you are suggesting might not actually meet the minimum statutory requirements, if it turns out that that the statutory authorities do not notice some noncompliance for some time.

In the circumstances, don't you regard this is being rather a weak approach? Would it not be better to make safeguarding policy at the schools a model of best practice, exceeding the minimum requirements of legislation and providing the best possible degree of protection to the pupils of the schools? Doing so does not require the intervention of the ISI or the DfE, and I understood that this was one of the stated objectives of the Cumberlege Commission, which both you and Abbot Richard participated in.

Doing this would not in the least bit interfere with the powers of the statutory authorities, and would in fact enhance the co-operation with them.

As for investigating individual instances, even if you intend taking no view about individual guilt or innocence, there are two things you can still do.

1. Forward any allegations to the police or social services

2. Establish whether the incidents reveal any shortcomings in child protection policies and procedures, whether those shortcomings still exist, and what changes need to be made to remove those shortcomings.

Of the two, the second is far more important for the future safety of pupils at the schools and the parish.

From your description, it seems to me that you are not looking to investigate child protection procedures, and you are not going to look into past allegations for any reason. So it remains something of a mystery to me what (if anything) you are trying to achieve. Your report will not be disclosed to parents, public or Ealing Abbey, so there is no means by which anybody can see whether it is going to achieve anything at all. So much for the transparency you have referred to.

Also, I consider it a matter of considerable discourtesy that the Visitation was started without me being contacted ahead of time by either the Nuncio or yourselves, despite the promise on this point made to me by the Nuncio. This discourtesy has been compounded by you in as many words telling me that in your view since my son was not a victim, the matter should be none of my business.

Might I remind you of the words of Edmund Burke "For evil to flourish, all that is required is for good men to do nothing."

Could you at the very least let me know whether the file of information I provided to the Nuncio at my meeting in July has been passed to you?


  1. What a shame, Mr West! How inconsiderate of them not to let you personally know when their visitation was going to start. Wounded pride? Perhaps the Pope, himself, should have contacted you? I do believe that as your son is no longer a member of the school, that current parents and pupils should take priority over you in terms of what information is discussed and with who. Bishop John Arnold has the information you provided and this, as long as you haven't held anything back, should be sufficient.

  2. 02:49
    you're so pathetic!

  3. 02.49

    What a stupid person you are, us parents would still be in the dark if
    Mr. West hadn't started the blog, he is the one person who is going out of his way to make sure the truth is directed to the right person, so that children now and in the future will not be subjected to abuse like they have done in the past.

  4. @18:13 and 10:08. I totally understand that Mr West has valid points regarding the welfare of children and I support them. I'm afraid to say that I believe that child abuse was a common factor of all boarding school life until fairly recently, either in monastic schools or indeed many schools. What I don't think is fair, is that he is determined to tar current schools with the same brush and will not allow them to move forward, I think he has an unhealthy obsession with St. Benedict's who now have many happy pupils who are well looked after. I agree that past abuses in all schools need to be exposed, but many have moved on with excellent pastoral care. i am a teacher and champion this move. Nothing seems to be good enough for Mr West: the Church, the ISI, independent enquiries. No one will please him and he plays one off against the other. Isn't it time for to try and support reform rather than criticise all those who are trying to make things better?

  5. 01:43
    Are you a teacher at St. Benedict's?

  6. 01:43
    I will be very happy to leave St Benedict's alone - as soon as I am satisfied tht its child protection procedures are a model of good practice an are diligently and effectively implemented.

    Only when they are will parents be able to be sure that any abuse that might occur in future will be detected quickly and stopped immediately.

    The school could have done this voluntarily two years ago when Pearce was convicted. They could have voluntarily done this 3 1/2 years ago when Pearce was arrested. They could have decided changes were necessary five years ago when they lost ther civil case against C. They could have improved their procedures in 1992 when they decide that Pearce had to be moved from his job as Junior School Headmaster.

    The school has not exactly been short of opportunities to improve, and hasn't been short of reasons to think that improvements are necessary.