Wednesday, 2 November 2011

Letters to the Times

Bishop John Arnold wrote to the Times yesterday about the Ealing visitation.

Sir, Abuse of children or vulnerable adults is a terrible crime and our concern is always for those who have suffered the severe and lasting wounds it inflicts (“Pope orders inquiry into child abuse at Ealing”, Oct 25). The Catholic Church in this country is committed to the work of safeguarding, maintaining transparency, and fully co-operating with the statutory authorities to whom all allegations are, and must be, reported. The two specific situations reported last week are a challenge (leading article, Oct 28), but are being addressed.

In Plymouth, the actions of the diocesan safeguarding co-ordinator in using internet images of child abuse are a painful betrayal of trust, particularly for those who confided in him. Following the discovery of these crimes and the safeguarding co-ordinator’s suspension, Bishop Christopher Budd acted in an exemplary fashion by calling in the NSPCC to conduct an independent review. They found that the handling of cases by the safeguarding co-ordinator over the past three years had been appropriate. This review continues to look at wider diocesan practice.

It is true that cooperation between some religious Orders and diocesan authorities needs to be strengthened. This is being addressed. Religious communities do not fall under the authority of the bishop, so where there are concerns it is not uncommon for an Apostolic Visitation to be initiated, as has happened at the Benedictine Abbey in Ealing where the life of the abbey and its safeguarding procedures are being reviewed. The associated school falls under the supervision of the Independent Schools Inspectorate. Lord Carlile of Berriew, QC, is leading an independent review of the school.

The Right Rev John Arnold
Cumberlege Commission, Apostolic Visitor to Ealing Abbey
The Times published my reply today.

Sir, In response to Bishop John Arnold’s letter (Nov 1), I have to say that on the available evidence the problems of Ealing are not being addressed. Bishop Arnold hasn’t yet arranged to meet the person who originally requested the visitation. That person is me.

I have compiled several hundred pages of information about the safeguarding shortcomings of Ealing Abbey and St Benedict’s School, and when I met the Papal Nuncio, Archbishop Antonio Menini, I made it clear to him that I was more than willing to meet the visitors and place all the information in their hands.

The bishop knows this but has not yet contacted me to arrange a meeting or to obtain my information. He has my contact details.

For Bishop Arnold to suggest that St Benedict’s School falls under the supervision of the Independent Schools Inspectorate rather than the Abbey is simply grotesque. The Abbey, the monastery, the parish and the school are all run by a single charitable trust, and the chairman of the trustees is the Abbot of Ealing, Abbot Martin Shipperlee. That makes Abbot Martin the proprietor of the school, not the ISI. Of course Ealing Abbey is responsible for St Benedict’s School.

Most of the abuses committed by Ealing monks have been perpetrated against pupils of St Benedict’s School. If the school is being excluded from the scope of the visitation, then I stand by my statement in The Times last week (report, Oct 25) that the visitation has been designed to achieve nothing at all. The design is even more careful than I was aware of at the time.

Jonathan West
The phone is still not ringing, so he still isn't calling me.


  1. The Headmaster says in his October Newsletter that Father Thomas Stapleford is taking a sabbatical in the Trinity Term.

    "In April 2012 he will enter a monastery in Italy to pray, read and improve his Italian".

    I hope that while he is there he will find time to make inquires concerning the whereabouts of the elusive Father Lawrence Soper who jumped bail in March of this year and was last seen in Italy.

  2. Charity commission website

    Charity trustees are the people who form the governing body or ‘board’ of a charity. They may be called trustees, directors, board members, governors or committee members, but they are the people with ultimate responsibility for directing the business of the charity. Most trustees are volunteers, and receive no payment (except out-of-pocket expenses).

    no word of Proprietor.... so I do not think he is the owner.

    I have a new plan lets camp out on the steps of the Abbey it works for the church of England

    PS you are up to 93 posts keep going.....

  3. 16.39 - All Trusts' that operate private educational settings are required to register the named owner with the DfE 'Independent Schools Registration team' in Darlington. This is required in order for the DfE and parents to know where the buck stops. All DfE correspondence, including notices, are addressed to the 'owner' of the setting.

    By default the owner of the setting, and the person with the statutory responsibility for safeguarding, is the Chairman of the Board of Trustees. This is all on the DfE website.

    So 16.39 your comment 'no word of Proprietor.... so I do not think he is the owner' is wrong.

  4. 20.38 - people who post on this site with determined attempts to trash well understood and researched facts that indicate St Benedict's is not on the right side of the "yellow line" are in rampant denial. They cannot recognise day follows night if it interferes with their misguided opinions.

  5. the abbey and the school have ruined many young's boys future's and they must take ownership for it and so must the parish. we must stand up and stop the pretence that we have had to endure for over twenty years. These children can never find peace and it s the abbeys fault and they all knew. This was organised child abuse by many. This is nothing about the lessons from Jesus. These people are pedophiles in a gown and you would be foolish to think any different

  6. Lay teachers at St B's knew about it as well and, although they did not own the school, they chose to button their lips and, worse, carry on endorsing and supporting a corrupt and evil system because they felt loyalty to the system that gave them their livelihood mattered more than integrity - much as did the servants of Nazi Germany. The impact of such group think is not just documented in history but shown in literatures such as Lord of the Flies.

  7. It is difficult to understand how a catholic school can apparently hide behind special treatment in respect of investigation into criminal activities. Why are the police not conducting a major and neutral investigation into criminal activities at Ealing Abbey? Why are not Mr Gove and the local MP spearheading a campaign. Why has it fallen upon the courageous Mr West to have to campaign for the truth?

  8. Mr West, I commend your courage and tenacity.

    Signed, another victim

  9. Mr West - where is the best current blog to add to?

  10. For St B issues, best to comment on BBC Inside Out