Tuesday, 15 November 2011

Misleading the inspectors?

At his prizegiving day speech in September last year. Mr Cleugh said the following.
There have been failures here in the past and quite rightly those involved have been or are being exposed and punished. The School continues to co-operate with all the relevant authorities. I absolutely refute that anyone associated with St Benedict’s School has misled the Inspectors or protected offenders - such allegations are at best misguided and at worst deliberately malicious.

I asked Mr. Cleugh about this at Lord Carlile's press conference. He said that there had been two points he knew about in November and had told the Inspectors about both, and the remaining issues came to light between the November 2009 and April 2010 visits.

But this is very odd. The only safeguarding incident mentioned in the November 2009 ISI reports is the "serious recent incident involving a member of the monastic community" described in Section 4.4 of the Senior school report, with the same text in section 4.5 of the Junior School report. We know that this serious recent incident is the abuse of Pearce's final victim and Pearce's subsequent arrest. We know that because the Charity Commission report mentions that a report was made to the authorities about that incident, and we know from the ISI Supplementary Report that the school has reported it, and that there are no records of any other incidents having been reported.

But it seems to me that at the time of the November inspection, Cleugh couldn't possibly not be aware of the following other matters, relevant to safeguarding at the school and which as an ISI inspector himself he knew were relevant to the inspection.
  • The arrest, trial and placing on restricted ministry and on List 99 of Father Stanislaus Hobbs, which involved Hobbs resigning as a Trustee in 2005. His resignation as a Trustee is an event which the school had a statutory duty to report to the Teacher Misconduct Section of the DfE.
  • The civil action against the school successfully brought by "C" in 2006, in which the judgement was against the school to the tune of £43,000.
  • The resulting placement of Father David Pearce on restricted ministry
  • The first Charity Commission Statutory Inquiry.
  • Father David Pearce's conviction and sentencing for a whole range of other offences to which he pleaded guilty, in addition to the offence for which he was originally arrested.
  • The second Charity Commission Statutory Inquiry.
It is certain beyond any shadow of a doubt that Mr. Cleugh knew of all of these events. Some of them were public knowledge at the time.

In addition, I think it very likely that the police contacted the school in the course of their inquiries which led to Maestri's three convictions in 2003, 2005 and 2008. It would be very normal for them to do so, even though Maestri left the school in 1984.

But lets leave aside the Maestri issue and concentrate on the other points. All these were very much of interest to the inspectors and were mentioned in the Supplementary Report, though not with the names of the individuals attached. Lets go though the issues listed in the Supplementary Report
(i) Legal action has been initiated in connection with a previous member of the religious community.
I had wondered for a long time who this is. Based on the  information in the Carlile Report, I now think this is Anthony Gee, or Father Anthony Gee as he was when headmaster of the school. According to Carlile, the school first heard of this in March 2010. I have no reason to disbelieve this.
(ii) A monk who had taught in the school a long time ago has recently come under investigation by social services. At the time of the follow-up visits he was living in the monastery under a restrictive covenant barring him from contact with children.
This is Father Gregory Chillman. The allegations concerning him appear to have first come to light in March 2010. So we can't say that Cleugh knew about this one in November 2009.
(iii) A similar covenant applies to another monk, also currently residing in the monastery. He had been acquitted of child abuse in 2007.
This is Father Stanislaus Hobbs. It would seem to me that Cleugh definitely did know the situation with regard to Hobbs, and the fact that he had resigned as a Trustee. And equally clearly, the ISI did not know. in November 2009, or they would have mentioned it then.
(iv) A monk, Fr DP, is in custody following his conviction in October 2009 on charges spanning many years. Following a defeat in an earlier civil case, Fr DP was subject to a restrictive covenant, but subsequent to this he engaged in improper conduct with a pupil of the school who was doing work in the monastery. A review of his case was conducted by the safeguarding officer of the Diocese of Arundel and Brighton and an independent social work consultant. The review findings were not available at the time of the ISI inspection in November 2009.
This is Pearce, obviously. Note here that the civil case is mentioned, and the full range of his convictions is alluded to. Quite different from the "recent serious incident" (singular) mentioned in November 2009.
(v) A previous lay teacher, for many years no longer associated with the school, the Abbey and the monastery, was most recently tried and convicted in 2008.
This is Maestri. As mentioned above, we can set him to one side for the moment.
(vi) The case of a monk, now for a long time living abroad, has not been pursued.
This is Soper, and clearly the case has been taken up again since. According to Carlile, the first allegations against Soper became known by the school in November 2009, i.e. at around the time of the inspection visit, though whether before or after isn't clear. But it can reasonably be argued that even if the allegation came in after, Cleugh had a duty to ring up the inspectors and mention it, since they hadn't yet produced their report.

The ISI also made mention of the Charity Commission in its supplementary report. Cleugh knew that the Statutory Inquiries had taken place, although the report wasn't issued until December 2009. but this was still well before the ISI issued its reports, and again a phone call to the inspectors to say it was now available would have been a good idea, and I have no doubt it is what Cleugh himself would have expected of another school had he been inspecting it.

And the ISI definitely wasn't aware of all these events, as you can see from the my correspondence with Durell Barnes of the ISI.

So, we have Mr. Cleugh's assurance that he didn't mislead the inspectors, that the school "continues to co-operate with all the relevant authorities", which he made at his prizegiving day speech and repeated in front of Lord Carlile, 5 TV cameras and about 40 journalists, and yet we seem to have all these relevant pieces of information which Cleugh obviously knew about but for which there is no evidence that he shared with the inspectors.

What are we to make of it?


  1. .
    Hmmm. It pongs.

  2. There are certainly questions that require an answer and I have heard that they have already been asked.

  3. Fr. Stanislaus was acquitted of all charges...

    *Sharp intake of breath through teeth*
    - that's a bit awkward for you...

    Furthermore, As were many of the others in your long list of accusations not convictions. Please make this clear - they were accused not convicted. Don't forget that corporal punishment was legal in those days, and so several of these accusations are probably interpreting the actions under the different laws of the time, under today's laws.

    Please try to get the facts right and to present a balanced argument. Thank you.

  4. I think, if you actually took the time to talk to him, you would understand that Mr. Cleugh is an honest man who is having to deal with issues that he did not create, nor play any part in. If he said that the school co-operated, it did.

  5. 20:52
    It would seem that you think that the only thing needed to assure the safety of children is to see if somebody has been convicted.

    I beg to differ. So does the government and every safeguarding expert I have spoken to or read.

    There would be no need for List 99 (which Hobbs has been placed on by the way).

  6. @20:52

    Hobbs is a self confessed paedophile, that is why he is on List 99.

  7. Where did you hear that from with regards to Fr. Stan Hobbs (last post)?

    I'd like to put the record straight on Father Gervase Benedict. He is absolutely sound, always was, left the abbey to get married (probably because he saw what was going on), as did Fr. Anthony. They was at least two goodies!!

  8. Hobbs is not a self confessed paedophile. Because he has been placed on the list does not make his a paedophile, it means that the systems in place in this country believe that this man poses a threat. They interpret his alleged actions as paedophilic. Interpretation is an interesting word, don't you think.

    Anyway, there have not been any cases in the last 10 years at the school. Doesn't this suggest that it is safe?

  9. 19:40
    Actually there have. I know you will argue that Pearce's last victim, although a pupil of the school wasn't abused in the school. But I regard that distinction as sophistry. But even leaving aside that point, there was a case reported in the summer term of 2010.

    Paedophiles will be paedophiles, and the school is only as safe as the procedures designed to detect them. Even today, there are still significant shortcomings which have been pointed out to the school by child protection experts and which have not been corrected.

  10. I do not intend to dwell on the technicalities of the last Pearce case. However I do wish to dwell on the events of 2010. I am lead to believe that this 'allegation' came after the following conversation: (and that no charges were pressed...)

    Two girls messing around in class.

    Girl 1: "Sir, I think you should slap her" [referring to other girl]

    Teacher: "Believe me, I would very much like to."

    Abuse? Really?

  11. 20:17
    No, I'm pretty certain that story has been made up. I have been told by what I regard as reliable sources what the real issue was, and it wasn't that. That would hardly have merited the LADO calling in Social Services for an investigation with a considerable number of interviews.

  12. Ok, believe what you will. I agree that wouldn't merit calling in social services normally, but if the school didn't, some people would accuse it of cover up incidents of abuse. And that's an all too familiar circle of events isn't it?

  13. @11:19

    It was in the evidence given at his trial.

    He admitted to an incident in Italy for which he could not be prosecuted as it took place outside UK jurisdiction, he also admitted to being sexually attracted to boys.

  14. 20:39
    If the incident had been as you described, and had been reported to the LADO, the LADO would have written back and said that this didn't merit detailed investigation by social services. And yet we know that a detailed investigation was carried out.

    It might be that the incident you described did happen, but if it did, it wasn't what triggered the Social Services investigation.

  15. @19:40

    You say, "there have not been any cases in the last 10 years at the school. Doesn't this suggest that it is safe?"

    If you look at pages 15, 16 and 17 of Lord Carlile's report you will see that he has listed the dates when offences occurred and the dates when those offences were reported. Typically victims waited 30 years before making a complaint.

    On that basis, if crimes have been committed at the school during the last 10 years we will probably not hear about them for decades.

  16. Ever heard of having a little faith? you know, where you trust someone? Or does everyone here require proof that everyone who ever comes into contact with them is not a paedophile?

  17. 19.13 - the challenge is that paedophiles are drawn to schools because they are target rich, and being a school permits the perpetrator unsuspicious engagement with children which is vital to ultimate ends. The challenge for all non perpetrators is that paedophiles do not wear badges.

    The man who abused me was very much the ladies man. So what? What one mother never knew was that while she was being bedded by the man, and he was telling me the acts he performed upon her which meant absolutely nothing to me, he was abusing one of her sons.

    And how old was I? Eleven.

    So 19.13 - this provides you with an insight into matters of which you may have no experience given your most recent contribution.