Sunday, 6 November 2011

Back in the beginning

The Daily Mail article has prompted me to take a look back at the first article about Ealing Abbey that I wrote here, way back in August 2009, Catholic clerical abuse at Ealing Abbey and St. Benedict's School.

I think it is worth re-emphasising the main points I made in that original article.
  • I made it clear that I did not blame the ordinary Catholics who attend Mass at the Abbey, I acknowledged that they had no idea what was going on.
  • I suggested that the Abbey's records on all matters of complaints or allegations of sexual abuse connected to the Abbey should be independently reviewed.
  • I suggested that provisions should be made for counselling and pastoral care to be provided to victims, including those who had not yet come forward.
  • I suggested that a full and unreserved public apology be issued.
  • I suggested that the parish and the schools review their child protection policies.
  • And finally, I hoped that those involved in putting things right avoid getting into a siege mentality.
In my naivity back then, it seemed to me that this was a very reasonable and moderate set of suggestions, which no reasonable person, Catholic or otherwise, would have any difficulty with, given the awful truth that had recently come to light about Father David Pearce.

I wasn't asking for the school to be demolished or for the monastery to be dissolved. I wasn't branding all catholics as child abusers or suggesting that the pope was the Antichrist. All I was asking was that the mistakes of the past be acknowledged, the victims be apologised to, and measures be taken to make sure that this can never happen again.

It is now 2 years and 2 months since that original article. Had there been a determination on the part of the Abbot to do so, almost all these things could have been achieved 2 years ago. Each passing month lessened my respect for Abbot Martin and increased my conviction that he was deliberately hiding matters that had not yet come to light, and hoping that it would all blow over.

In December 2009, the Charity Commission published the report of its two Statutory Inquiries into Ealing Abbey. I had no hand in them being set up, they started before I ever became aware of the issue. Publication of the reports had been delayed until after the trial of Pearce had been concluded. The local MP Andy Slaughter said that he had never seen such a damning and critical report from the Charity Commission

In February, what purported to be the report of an "Independent Review" commissioned by the Abbot was published. I later learned who had conducted the inquiry, and a friend of mine spoke to him concerning the circumstances under which it had been carried out. It turned out that:
  • the terms of reference were the Abbey only, not the school, 
  • it was a paper-only review, nobody was interviewed.
  • the reviewer visited for only half a day
  • the review addressed only the period covering the abuse of Pearce's last victim, when Pearce was already under restrictions
  • the reviewer was not told about the duration and number of Pearce's other known crimes, though he inferred that other crimes not disclosed had been committed.

Despite this, the report was placed on the school website as being the fulfilment of the Abbot's promise of an independent review.

As my concerns increased, and as more facts came to light, I wrote to the Independent Schools Inspectorate and the Department for Education expressing my concerns. The DfE's response was to order the ISI to make an additional unannounced inspection, which resulted in a critical report the like of which had never previously been published by the ISI. This inspection took place at the end of April 2010, six months after my original blog article.

That report was published in July 2010, but not sent to parents until September. In the meantime of course, the cheques for another term's school fees had been sent to the school and banked. By this time, publicity was growing, there had been articles in the Times and there was a degree of restiveness among parents. So a Parental Forum was held, at which two mutually contradictory lines were pursued by the Abbot and headmaster. The first was that the abuse was all in the past, nobody involved with the abuse had any current connection with the school, all was now well and parents had no reason to be concerned. The second line was that this was all so serious that the school had decided to commission Lord Carlile to conduct an independent review.. (The earlier review was conveniently forgotten.)

The first approach was holed below the waterline when a perceptive parent asked if there had been any recent allegations of abuse against monks or members of staff apart from those mentioned in the ISI report. There was dead silence in the room for several seconds, before the headmaster admitted that a current member of staff was at present suspended following allegations of misconduct. (That member of staff was subsequently returned to duties, and the headmaster wrote to all parents on his return. The letter didn't state whether the allegations had been substantiated, but did say that the staff member concerned had been given training in "communication skills". The staff member has since been given additional pastoral duties.)

In June last year, I learned of the connection between Father Gregory Chillman and St. Augustine's Priory School. I also learned of allegations of misconduct by Father Gregory in his role as Chaplain there. There had already been allegations made publicly in the comments of the blog dating from his days as a teacher at St. Benedict's. I took a look at the school's child protection policy on the school website, and saw that it was so bad it made the St Benedict's policy look like a model of thoroughness and diligence in comparison. So I wrote again to the ISI and DfE, passing on the allegations I had received and requesting that they look into it. As it happened, St Augustine's had recently joined the Independent Schools Council, and had just had an ISI inspection in March, and the report had not yet been issued.

The ISI's final report was as critical of St Augustine's as the report of the special inspection had been of St. Benedict's. But rather than accept the report and make the necessary improvements, Mrs Gumley Mason sought Judicial Review of the report in the High Court. Judicial Review is a hard thing to obtain. In order to get an administrative decision by a public body overturned on Judicial Review, you have to demonstrate that the original decision is so perverse that no honest and reasonable person with two braincells to rub together could possibly have reached the original decision. Nearly a year after the original inspection, the report was finally published, still containing all the criticisms the school had complained about.

In June this year, I wrote to the new Papal Nuncio. I summarised my concerns regarding the abbey and both schools, providing brief histories of the key people involved. When I met the Nuncio at the end of July, he told me that he had been so concerned about the letter that he had researched the matter, and as a result had contacted Rome. Cardinal Levada, head of the CDF, had ordered an Apostolic Visitation, which would start in September and be conducted by Bishop John Arnold (auxiliary bishop of the diocese of Westminster) and Abbot Richard Yeo (Abbot President of the English Benedictine Congregation).

So this isn't just a matter of some sad obsessed individual with a grudge against the school (which is how the Abbey has portrayed me to journalists recently). My concerns were well-founded, the authorities agreed with me and have conducted investigations, the results of which so far have borne out my concerns.

In his prizegiving day address in September 2010, Mr Cleugh used the occasion to express his belief that the recent publicity seemed "hell-bent on trying to discredit the School and, at the same time, destroy the excellent relationship between School and Monastery",and speculated that it was "part of an anti-Catholic movement linked to the papal visit". This is not the attitude of a man who thinks that there is any need for improvements.

If I were as anti-Catholic as Mr. Cleugh appears to suggest, I would be taking no trouble at all over the safety of Catholic children. It is after all mainly the children of Catholics who attend Catholic schools. If I were anti-Catholic, I would say that it served them right and leave them to stew in their own juice. But in fact, I believe that the children of Catholics have as much right to be safe in their schools as any other children.

The next chapter will open next week, with the release of the Carlile Report. I very much hope that this will finally set the abbey and St Benedict's School on a new path where the evils of the past are acknowledged and apologised for, and work is finally started in earnest to ensure that this cannot happen again. I do not wish to see the closure of the school. For as long as there are parents who wish for a private Catholic education for their children, the existence of independent Catholic schools is entirely valid. All I expect is that those schools provide the highest standards of safeguarding for the children in their care.

55 comments:

  1. This seems a fair summary of events. I support your efforts and would like to thank you for your tenacity. Do you know when the Carlile Report will be published?

    Bryan Dunne

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  2. It is being distributed to parents at the Parental Forum tomorrow night, and then will be made available publicly the following day.

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  3. Well it is far from over. All of us hope to see an account of the past, and we expect to see a credible safeguarding arangements at the place, and a detailed explanation of how safeguarding will become part of the blood of the institution.

    We also want to see a clear separation between the Abbey and the school, and hopefully a school sitting in its own company and trust with its own board of trustees comprising independent and credible people.


    Here is hoping.

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  4. Hang on 12.37 where In Lord Carlile Terms of Reference does he hint that he will look into the separation of the Trust with its own board?

    To provide a report and recommendations covering the following issues:
    1. The history of abuse allegations and findings made by and/or
    concerning pupils at St Benedict’s School.
    2. The history of abuse allegations and findings made in connection with
    Ealing Abbey, and anyone involved in any activities at the Abbey.
    3. The action taken in respect of the matters described in paragraphs 1
    and 2 above.
    4. Past and present policies, written or otherwise, for dealing with such
    abuse allegations and findings.
    5. A future policy for the effective protection of young persons by whom
    any such allegations are made.
    6. An effective complaints system, and the provision of information about
    such a system.
    7. Files and paperwork concerning complaints.
    8. Other reassurance for present and prospective students and their
    parents/guardians.
    9. Issues concerning presence at the Abbey or School of persons who
    have been the subject of findings and/or allegations.

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  5. 18:18
    I think item 8 is a catch all for any recommendation Carlile chooses to make.

    And it seems that Carlile is going to recommend a separation of the school and abbey. the Evening Standard has an article tonight saying that this specific point is in the report. Looks like a deliberate leak of one specific point to the ES by Carlile himself. if it were an accidental leak of the whole report, they would have included more.

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  6. So we've allegedly got the "separation," but we have to see the detail to understand the definition and the reality of the claim.

    But my expectations travel a great deal further that this amuse-bouche.

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  7. What we mustn't forget is that, although nobody disputes the fact that what happened, a significant time ago, is totally unacceptable, there were (and still are) a high percentage of Old Priorians who had (and still are having) a very happy, memorable and rewarding experience at St Benedict's.

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  8. What a dumbass comment that is 21.49.

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  9. Did you go to school there 23.21? Dumbass???it wasn't as prevalent or as bad as you might think from what you read. I don't mean to under-estimate the damage some poor souls have suffered. Importantly the children there now are not at risk from the monks. I did go to school there so feel I have a contribution to make to the debate even if it sounds "dumb-assed".

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  10. 23:44
    Have you looked at the school's current child protection policy? I have. 2 years on from when Pearce was convicted, 18 months on from when the school was severely criticised in an inspection report of the ISI, and the latest version of the school's child protection policy is still an unholy mess. It still doesn't clearly meet statutory requirements for reporting of abuse.

    If the school were serious about making sure that abuse could never happen again, they would long ago have made that child protection policy as thorough and example of exemplary practice as could be made.

    But they haven't. It is still as full of holes as a colander.

    I'll admit it is a bit better than the long excuse for doing nothing which as the September 2009 version of the policy. But it's not much better, and the grudging way in which minimal changes have been made doesn't give me any confidence at all that there has been a change of approach.

    In the absence of a change of approach, things will return to the state they were before once the TV cameras have gone and the journalists aren't phoning the Abbey any more.

    And when that happens, monks and teachers will start abusing again, because they think people won't notice or do anything about it. So children are still at risk of abuse at the school.

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  11. I'm still a practising Catholic with no animus against the church.
    I also went to St Benedict's from 1971 to 1977.
    From what I know personally and have subsequently learned about the abuse at the school, it seems to me that the situation parallels that of the News Of The World newspaper.
    St Benedict's has a history so vile & so institutionally corrupt that it should cease to exist as soon as possible.
    I invite those of a like mind to contact me by email: let us try to put this corrupt institution out of business if we possibly can.

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  12. 21:49 - "a high percentage of Old Priorians ... had (and still are having) a very happy, memorable and rewarding experience at St Benedict's."

    What percentage exactly?

    Why don't you name some of these happy campers.

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  13. "it seems that Carlile is going to recommend a separation of the school and abbey"

    Granted, this would be a big step, if implemented. It's a step that is long overdue, and, realistically, would represent a situation towards which the Abbey has slowly been creeping over the past 30 years. To give one example, when I was at the school in the 1980s about a fifth of the staff came from the monastery. Earlier, the percentage was higher still. Today it is (I believe) zero.

    However, let's be realistic. How on earth does one implement such a "separation" between two institutions whose histories have been intertwined for over a century. Even the mere physical proximity of the two makes a separation impossible. Will the school still attend the Abbey for mass? Short of teleporting the school buildings to another location far away, "separation" is a pipe dream.

    No, what needs to happen is the closure of the Abbey and monastery. That's the only way of putting a stop to its nefarious influence over St Benedict's and Ealing's other Catholic schools.

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  14. From todat's Times: "Governance of the school will pass instead to a new educational trust on which the monks will be represented but outnumbered by lay members."

    Oh right, so that's what "separation" means. How revolutionary!!

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  15. 23.44 - I am sure the OP’s who were abused agree with your evaluation that it wasn’t as bad as you might think from what you read.

    Your comment appears to suggest the ISI got it wrong in their follow up inspection of 2010, the DfE had no need to commission this inspection despite a thick file of evidence in front of it, Carlile's appointment was ott, and the charity commission wasted its time and their report was ‘wide of the mark.’ The criminal convictions were a mirage, and former staff who are either still wanted or being investigated by police indicate that none of this is ‘as bad as we might think.’

    Where were you 23.44 when all these bodies needed your valued input to save them wasting their time?

    And what was your other comment? Ah yes, it all happened ‘a significant time ago.’
    Your remark seems to imply you think a statute of limitations exists for physical, sexual, and emotional abuse of children. Are you suggesting this was ‘historic’ abuse? Yes I bet you probably are, despite this prejudicial adjective never being applied to murder or other long-tail crimes.’

    I sense you may be someone who thinks a patient with PTSD (a common illness among those who experienced sexual abuse in childhood) should ‘pull themselves together.’

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  16. 08.36

    The problem of physical proximity does make effective 'separation' extremely challenging as you indicate.

    But lets see what the report says.

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  17. 09:30, you are missing the point made by 23:44. Nobody is trying to lessen the effect of what occurred or to pretend that it did not occur. Similarly, there is no doubt that to the victims this abuse is far from historic and continues to impact on their lives in a very serious and deeply tragic way.

    However what is required here is a sense of perspective. Despite what this blog and recent coverage, inspired by West, may imply these abuses were not the experience of the school shared by the silent majority. Horrendous as what has occurred is, it must be remembered that for the majority, the experience of St. Bs was quite different to what is portrayed in this blog.

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  18. 11:21
    So, if (to choose an arbitrary figure) only 10% of the children at the school were sexually abused, then that's OK then, because the great majority were not. Is that what you're saying. Even if it were only 1%, that is probably dozens of lives wrecked.

    And the culture of oppression that many former pupils have described will have served to ensure that few people dared to make a complaint about sexual abuse, that few of those who did make a complaint would be believed even by their parents, and in even fewer cases would any action get taken. It's no wonder that many victims have taken 30 years or more to summon the courage to come forward and make a report to the police.

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  19. 11:21 - "it must be remembered that for the majority, the experience of St. Bs was quite different to what is portrayed in this blog"

    Yet more pie-in-the-sky thinking masquerading as scientific fact.

    Please provide data to support this claim.

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  20. Thank you Jonathan. My name is John Graham and I was at the school 1959-1965. I still value the teaching I received, especially in Spanish from a teacher who for various reasons stayed apart from the rest of the staff. I was not sexually abused but I now see the beatings and other physical abuse for what they were, the power exercised over young boys who could not fight back, by some twisted individuals like Horsey, Stirzaker and others, some drunks, some racist, some, we now know, predators.
    And I know people who were sexually abused in other contexts, and the lasting damage it did to them. So I am "happy" to put my name out there in support of what you are doing, and in support of those who we now know suffered sexual abuse at the school in silence because (they thought) nobody would believe them. They deserve better from the school, the abbey and the rest of the church.I dropped Catholicism as soon as I left school but have no animus against it, only against the hypocrisy of those who ignore how the bit about "Whomsoever shall harm one of these..." ends. It doesn't say "give them a good reference and send them off somewhere else, or to a nice number in Rome"

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  21. I notice that all my comments as a sufferer calling for balance are not posted. How convenient.

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  22. 08.26 i think your choice of the words "happy campers" was in the circumstances, a little ill-advised.

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  23. 12.47 - I am not the poster @ 08.27 but nonetheless am interested why you think the saying is ill- advised?

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  24. West, nobody has suggested that it is OK that children were abused. The abuse of even one child is totally and utterly unacceptable.

    What is being said is that sexual abuse and the "culture of oppression" which you describe is not the experience of all Old Priorians, some of whom have taken positive experiences and values from their time at the school. The silent majority of OPs have positive memories of the school and this should not be forgotten amongst the the understandable hysteria which you have whipped up.

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  25. A heap of bile is heaped on any ex pupil who endeavours to make any point not in keeping with the website message. There is a cry that all without the right "attitude" are somehow as culpable as the perpetrators of the abuse.It seems the point of view of those who suffered is worth less than the self righteous clamour of the campaign. I was one of Kevin Horsley's pupils,when he headed the Middle School. We suffered in silence and endured physical abuse of gleeful ear wringing, his fumblings, his beatings and his "private" interviews and bath visits. I was one. Lay teachers beat us at any excuse, Sometimes with the hard edge of rulers on our heads.Even the lightest physical abuse would now be illegal. Back then it was normal.I traveled to school each day in dread and now a heap of medication is a witness to the experience.Inspite of this I feel the current campaign has accelerated to a withch burning where anyone not "with you" is against.Should it have happened? no. But I do know that my sibling sisters and cousins all endured as bad if not worse abuse at their schools and they and their friends are paying the price even in their sixties. Is there any purpose in screaming injustice now? It was a product of the time. Well the ex abbot is on the run, Kevin H is dead having in his life been hailed a hero, other priests are behind bars.What are you going to do? Dig up the bones and burn them? Have you lot any idea of the pain this is causing for all those, like me, who suffered and thought they had got over it.I did not appoint you.Yet you claim to represent us. Were you a pupil with us? Did you experience what we did?How can you then understand our complex reactios? You claim you want justice but what is that to us to be made to suffer all over again.
    Inspite of all, I learnt some wonderful things at st Benedicts, I left to study at other schools and found them no better and lacking in some of its assets.You now claim hypocrisy where I merely see crisis management in the face of unreasoned opposition determined to trip up any effort.For goodness sake let the school, with its new management get on with life.You owe it to the current pupils.

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  26. 13.25 it was light hearted, a joke!

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  27. 14:18, well said. As a fellow OP, I feel deeply for the pain which you suffer and continue to suffer. I also agree that it is time to move on. This campaign has now become completely unreasonable and is now hindering effective child protection as well as causing untolled damage to both yourself and other victims.

    The time has now come for peace and forgiveness. It is easy to vent bile and rant. What is harder is to forgive and get on with your life as best you can. However, through doing this, you are effectively beating the abusers by showing that you are a bigger person. I would strongly urge all victims to search for this forgiveness and peace as it is the only way in which you will be able to recover from this trauma.

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  28. 14:48
    True forgiveness is only possible with true repentance. True repentance is accompanied by an effective determination not to repeat the sin.

    As soon as I see that determination on the part of the school, I shall move on. As soon as I am satisfied that effective child protection measures are in force and that there is a new attitude securely in place so that they are unlikely to slip back into old bad habits, then I shall wish the school well and take no further interest in it.

    And that event will probably be greeted with a sigh of relief from both parties.

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  29. Yes, we shall wait until Judge, Jury and "Child Protection Expert" West before victims can forgive and move on. I hate to break it to you West, but you are not the important one here, it is the victims. It is of vital importance that they are allowed to begin the process of forgiveness and reconciliation which you are currently obstructing.

    If you are bored and need another cause to champion, how about you look at a local girls school where the current child protection officer is married to a convicted child sex offender? I am sure that should keep you occupied for a while, as well as ensuring your local 'hero' status.

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  30. and that school is?

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  31. Not much point in asking. Unless I was in a position to verify it, I wouldn't allow the answer to be published, certainly not as anonymous comment where I would be the one up for libel if it were wrong, not the commenter.

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  32. so just nasty rumour, designed to say what? we can say, i know a secret, nudge nudge. a bit like in the school playground...

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  33. I'm quite prepared to e-mail you the details Mr. West, but I suspect that you wouldn't be interested as it doesn't fit with your agenda. In any case, this issue is in hand elsewhere.

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  34. As 14.18, and seeing Mr. West's response, I note: "as soon as I see...." and "as soon as I am satisfied...". Judge and Jury then. All self appointed.You are a victim of your own self agrandisement Mr. West. You are not my representative.Why do you press on for your satisfaction when we just want to mend our lives? I see monks are now condemned by mere association... because they were thought to protect other monks. I can also tell you that some of the monks were also protective of us pupils and did what they could. Some indeed were Good Men.Let the arrangements have a chance, they seem sensible to me.

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  35. Same old Abbey trolls attempting to divert attention. Where has the idea that some of the people posting on this blog did not go to St S's come from?

    The only bile I've seen on this blog is the bile directed at West and those who are not prepared to allow what happened in the past to be swept under the carpet.

    I accept that there is a serious point to be made about different standards of discipline in the 60s and 70s from what would now be acceptable. However, when I went to University and for the first time met people who had been educated at boarding school, what struck me was how much more inured to violence I was and how what I thought of then as quite amusing stories of school discipline were greeted with either disbelief or horror.

    Certainly one of the main benefits of my time at St B's is that I can spot a hypocrite at 100 paces and one of the main lessons I learned was that good people can turn a blind eye to evil. I would hope that no one would think it hyperbole to describe the sexual and physical abuse of children as evil.

    I don't want the school to be closed down, I don't want people to be upset unnnecessarily by remembering what they went through. What I do want to see is a proper recognition by the Abbey and the school as to what happened in the past and that everything possible is done to ensure that it can never happen again. After all the reason that this has blown up now is because nothing was done then. That is why it remains important to understand who the abusers were and how they were allowed to get away with it for so long.

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  36. Mr West it is time to mount your horse, tip your hat and just like John Wayne ride off into the sunset to seek more outlaws to bring to justice.To quote Carlile"St Benedictine's is an excellent place for boys and girls to be educated in safety and for the future"

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  37. 15.26

    There are only 2 local girls schools are you being serious?

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  38. I think it is reckless to bandy about figures like 10% of pupils possibly being abused. I would say that is preposterous. 1% - possibly - I don't know. I would say it would have been a very small number in any school year and possibly not every school year in my time there.

    The impression that can be taken from this blog is that every break time boys were being abused behind doors coming out with soiled trousers etc. It simply wasn't like that from my long time there. It wasn't perfect but I do think there is a lot of exaggeration on here.

    I am very uncomfortable at the address by you Mr West to the mother of the boy who took an air pistol to himself that he may have suffered sexual abuse at the school and couldn't talk to her about it.

    I would think they have had a tough time dealing with that rather than now dealing with fresh torment wondering about that now. The guy who suggested it in the Daily Mail had left the school three years before it happened so I was amazed they published his speculation on this point re-opening old wounds.

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  39. Speaking of libellous comments, there is much libel written within this blog already, such as claims that people have done things after they have died! Astonishing and clearly untrue. Mr. West, would you care to remove the offending post from your blog or perhaps you will just block this comment instead as it makes uncomfortable reading?

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  40. 10:42 - "there is much libel written within this blog already, such as claims that people have done things after they have died!"

    Even someone as dim as the Abbey's hired thug writing above must surely realise that it's not possible to libel a deal person.

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  41. As Nov 8th 14.18 I see that 18.36 seems to refer to me as some old Abbey Troll and implies I did not go to st. Benedicts.
    Would he like my name? my years? my passport?
    I have tried communicating on this blog using my name and they never appear. Maybe that is due to legal reasons I do not know.
    What I do know is that having opened up the question of what Kevin Horsley did to us,I find even in these so called enlightened times, people do not want to talk to you about what we as individuals went through. Even this very day I had the shutters come down.
    This has never been about justice. It has been about news.
    We have the press and journalists in a feeding frenzy on scandal where the news is divorced from the people but the latter are used as a flag of convenience.
    West criticised todays report as being self commissioned. Well, who offered to pay for an independent one? The state? the victims? It seems the only way forward was for the Abbey pay for one.
    The report has spoken and told us pupils what we already knew. It does not help the current pupils one iota because the perpetrators are dead.We now wait upon an "exhausted" Mr West to rise from his throne and give his judgement.

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  42. Alot of these posts astonish me. If it wasn't for Jonathan West none of this would have come to light. It seems that alot of you "Old Priorians" would have been far happier if this had all stayed buried to spare the "reputation" of the St Benedicts. Have none of you considered the poor boys who were seriously abused or committed suicide. I know of 2 such individuals where this happened, and I am glad that a small amount of justice is being done.

    What I find particularly appalling is the way abusive Monks were simply moved to other parishes and the few boys who tried to complain were made scapegoats and forced out like Lewis de Luca.

    Oh and to answer an earlier poster's point, my Brother went to St Benedict's, thankfully I went to Notting Hill. I was at that school in the 70's and 80's and let me tell you something, we weren't beaten, threatened, abused or terrorised. All school's 20, 30, 40 years ago are not like St Benedict's except perhaps Catholic one's. Certainly the Girls Day School Trust who run Notting Hill and 26 other other school's in the UK have not had a single abuse case in over 100 years. But there again they take child protection seriously.

    Lastly for all those asking Jonathan West to stop his "witch hunt", would you be comfortable sending your child to St Benedict's over the past 5 years, knowing that the Monks were still heavily involved in the school? I wouldn't have been. Would you?

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  43. To Anonymous 21.50 You talk about the boy with the air pistol, tell me did you actually know that boy because I certainly did. His name was Lewis de Luca and he was brilliant. He never stole a tennis racket from St Benedict's as the Monks alleged, we always thought there was more to it. We thought the Monks had it in for him, but we didn't know for what. So yes I think on the balance of probabilities it's highly likely he was abused.

    FYI I know of another boy (older to Lewis) who similarly suddenly was told by the headmaster that he would not be getting a good UCAS reference because he had not followed the Monk's orders. Again it did make any sense but that poor boy only had his mother who was too terrified to fight against the school. That boy had a nervous breakdown 6 months later and never recovered.

    It's easy to preach forgiveness when your life hasn't been ruined. It's easy to think of this as a few isolated incidents but the reality is it wasn't one boy abused by one Monk. It was a number of monks abusing a load of boys. Not every boy. Not even 1 in 10, but at least 1 boy a year.

    For cases like this there needs to be a proper investigation. Not a coverup by the Vatican who all have vested interests. The victims deserve nothing less.

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  44. 10.42

    Well no legal proceedings have been launched, so you are off target. There is a technical issue in that the dead cannot be libelled or slandered. You are perfectly free to make these assertions but so far I have not seen West post anything he cannot substantiate. Such an action would be beyond stupid. Indeed at the press conference this morning Carlile mentioned the blog in complimentary terms. Indeed, this blog is also mentioned in the body of Carlile’s report.

    You and one or two others posting here seem unable to grasp the extent of the problems at St Benedict’s, and the challenges faced by both Carlile and the police.

    You arrive here to post comments in which noticeably few address the shortcomings in safeguarding at St Benedict’s discovered by the ISI and the DfE, reported upon by Carlile, and in some cases dealt with by the courts. Instead your posts complain about West, the posts he uploads which of course include your criticisms of him. But you post little of the abuse, demonstrate no understanding of the subject or any wish to learn. You omit any comments on the future safeguarding at the school, and probably have never even looked at the first page of the still hopelessly inadequate (Nov 11) safeguarding policy. You have no view on Carlile’s report!

    What you do is your prerogative of course but it is telling. It might be more productive for you to complain to the Times which after all broke the story, or the Daily Mail, or perhaps the BBC which has reported extensively on St Benedict's, and where the school has a senior contact which possibly explains the powder puff interview with Shipperlee on the regional news tonight.

    It is not what is said by the contributors or West which irritates you, it seems to be the fact this blog exists.

    And what has this blog achieved? Almost nothing as so many of the Abbey's supporters have repeatedly posted.

    This blog is an irrelevant speck. Why bother?

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  45. 21:22, you have not yet seen a post which West can't substantiate? How about the post which he made about Dom Gerard Hayes in December 2010 for starters. In this post he claims that Dom. Gerard committed sexual abuse offences in the late 60's and early 70's. However, Dom. Gerard tragic died in 1960 after only one term as headmaster. Are you seriously suggesting one of the following:

    - Dom Gerard faked his death
    - Dom Gerard came back from the dead to commit these alleged crimes.

    If either of these are true, I would be extremely impressed if West could provide any evidence of this.

    At no point has anybody played down the extent of abuses which have been allowed to occur which bring shame and humuliation on the whole community. The prime focus of attention should quite rightly be on all of the victims, which is a significant consideration. Sadly, West is exploiting victims for his own end.

    You and West both claim that the current Safeguarding Policy is inadequate. This is a policy which has been reviewed and approved by Child Protection Experts at ISI, DfE, NSPCC and other organisations. Despite this, West thinks that he knows better than these experts who have worked in the field for many years and continues to make some minor wording points on the policy, some of which are actually quite dangerously incorrect and contradict best practice. I believe that the Carlile Report states that this policy is compliant and now includes many aspects of best pracice. However, of course West knows Best!

    I am most certainly not against the existence of this blog which has a function. However, what I am against is West using it and victims as a vehicle for his own self-promotion and bigotted views. Mr. West has some serious questions of his own to answer, which he never does. He simply refuses to upload posts which make uncomfortable reading to him. This is why I suspect that this one will be yet another post he choses not to upload.

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  46. 10:02
    With regard to my article about Father Gerard Hayes, I was repeating a comment which had been made by somebody else on the blog, and the description was clearly indicated to be a quotation, both in my introduction and my use of blockquote formatting

    I accept that the original comment was very probably incorrect. Lord Carlile has not indicated in his report that he has received any allegations against Father Gerard Hayes, and I am entirely willing to concur with his conclusion.

    I apologise to any of Father Gerard's colleagues or family who may have been distressed by the article.

    The point I made in the article was a more general one, as follows.

    "The abuse was common knowledge - to both boys and teachers. And nothing was done, because the authority of the church was behind the abusers. They were monks and priests as well as teachers. Sometimes senior monks - headmaster or even Abbot."

    That point has been entirely borne out by subsequent events and has been made in the strongest possible terms by Lord Carlile himself.

    I have added an update to the original article saying the same thing as I have stated in this comment, so that it has the same prominence as the original statements.

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  47. 08:40, this information is stated within the Carlile Report and also within the ISI report. Paragraph 51 of the Carlile Report states:

    "In May 2010 the Chief Inspector of the ISI informed the School that the Child Protection Policy was fully compliant. The follow-up report was published on the ISI website on the 30 July 2010. Despite the approval by the ISI in 2010 of the School’s safeguarding procedures, they have been updated since in order to achieve a model of excellence"

    Do you think that West knows more than the Chief Inspector of the ISI on this topic? You can also contact the DfE and NSPCC to ask them their opinion on this policy. However, if this is still not good enough for you how about you compare it to policies in place at other schools and see how it shapes up?

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  48. 10.02

    You assert:

    This is a policy which has been reviewed and approved by Child Protection Experts at ISI, DfE, NSPCC and other organisations.

    Para 47 of Carlile’s report states:

    “I am informed that this is a version now acceptable to the Department for Education and the Independent Schools Inspectorate [ISI]

    Putting this into context – the November 2009 ISI report states:

    ”Practice in respect of child protection is good. The child protection policy has recently been brought up to date and approved by the trustees

    In the 2010 ISI report, and after having been told where to look the ISI reported:

    ”Shortcomings were also apparent in the school’s safeguarding policy”

    Quite some understatement by the ISI when the policy was an utter disgrace but nonetheless the ISI failed to see this four months earlier.

    And even now, all that exists is confirmation that the policy achieves “National Minimum Standards.” We do not have “approval” because neither the ISI nor the DfE “approve” policies. But placing reliance on the ISI getting it right this time is pretty reckless of Carlile hence his use of words.

    So far I have seen no mention of the NSPCC – where is this 10.02?

    Now the question is do you, and more importantly do parents, understand how effective NMS’s are when applied to independent schools? To know, one must have a detailed understanding of the statutory guidance and the laws surrounding child abuse which is the “foundation” on which all policies are ‘grounded.’

    Are you aware for example that an NMS compliant safeguarding policy can be made to work reasonably effectively in a maintained school, but in an independent school the very same policy is useless?

    This will be very hard to accept but I can absolutely assure you it is so. The implication (for that is all it is) that the current policy is a beacon of best practice is very wide of the mark. Any child at the school who is either abused by an adult or makes allegations of abuse – simply cannot expect this will be reported to the LADO, police or social services.

    Please do not forget, one must have a detailed understanding of the statutory guidance, including SCSRE, and the law in order to have a sound understanding why this is the case.

    For starters may I recommend a book to you which will explain the extraordinary state of the law in this area?

    Child Abuse Law and Policy Across Boundaries by Professior Laura Hoyano and Caroline Keenan.

    After this you have to go to the DfE website (good luck - it accelerates the ageing process) in order to discover what you are working with. I fear we may not see you for a few months.

    At the end of it you will discover you are dealing with a hologram, which deceives most. At this point I'll be happy to get into detail. Add to this the toxic input of ‘educational lawyers’ on which far too many independent schools rely – and you may as well put most policies operating in independent schools, in the shredder.

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  49. 11:08
    I can give you some background to that, but the short answer is that you cannot rely on the ISI to know what is a good safeguarding policy.

    When the ISI did their routine inspection in November 2009 they found nothing wrong with the safeguarding policy. I had already raised concerns with the Abbot and headmaster concerning the policy. It was in essence one long excuse for never reporting anything to the authorities.

    In my emails to the ISI and DfE I had told the ISI exactly what to look for, so when they made their second inspection in April 2010, they of course found it.

    In the period between the ISI inspection and the publication of the report, I was engaged in further correspondence with the DfE concerning the abject quality of the safeguarding policies of both St Benedict's School and St Augustine's Priory School. I had received assurances by telephone from the DfE that the May 2010 version of the child protection policy was not the final compliant policy, notwithstanding what the ISI had said in its report.

    On 6th August, the DfE wrote to me saying "We have now obtained a copy of what the school considers to be the final version of its child protection document. Officials are in the process of reviewing the document in detail and we will take advice from the relevant policy team. I confirm that any on-going concerns will be taken up with the school directly."

    Two further versions of the policy were published during September.

    So the answer to your questions is basically yes, I do know more about good safeguarding requirements than the ISI.

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  50. "So the answer to your questions is basically yes, I do know more about good safeguarding requirements than the ISI." - Staggering arrogance.

    Mr. West, perhaps instead of worrying about the wording of policies your attention may be better focused on how the school is applying these policies?

    I have been through the large volume of postings, some may call it an epic, which you have made on the St. Benedict's Child Protection Policy in its various iterations. There are a small number of sensible points made. However, on the whole, you generally focus on minor language and wording issues, which have no real impact. In a few cases, the suggestions which you make are quite incorrect and bordering on illegal were the school to adopt them. These postings are not assisting safeguarding as you claim but are a serious hinderence to what those in the profession are seeking to achieve.

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  51. 11.12. Interesting - please evidence your findings where you say West's suggestions are "bordering on illegal" and where he is focusing on "minor language issues."

    Links are easy to provide to the posts wher you have found these points.

    We who are sitting on the "safeguarding policy" fence would be assisted by your contribution. But we have the evidence we can go nowhere.

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  52. Staggering stupidity 11.12. If the written policy is a culander then safeguarding, no matter how well intended the staff, cannot be delivered.

    You don't know what you don't know and therein lies part of the problem to effective child protection in private schools.

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  53. Gonzo knows more about safeguarding than the ISI. The 2009 inspection says of the hopeless and hapless policy of the moment-

    "The child protection policy has recently been brought up to date and approved by the trustees."

    That’s it!

    If the ISI were doing airframe inspections London would be deserted!

    But kids safety, f*&£ em they're expendable.

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  54. 11:12
    you will explain?!

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