Friday, 2 December 2011

Carlile Report analysis - 9

Now for the other half of the "Events leading to the new Child Protection Policy" section. This is the next paragraph.
52. The ISI described the following points relating to each of the six individuals. These coincide with the cases referred to in the table contained in paragraph 33 above.

(i) Legal action had been initiated in connection with a previous member of the religious community.

(ii) A monk who had taught in the school a long time ago had 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.

(iii) A similar covenant applied to another monk, also currently residing in the monastery. He had been acquitted of child abuse in 2007.

(iv) A monk was in custody following his conviction in October 2009 on charges spanning many years. Following a defeat in an earlier civil case, he 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.

(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.

(vi) The case of a monk, now for a long time living abroad, had not been pursued.
This is simply a repeat of what the ISI said in its supplementary report. Since Carlile has said that the cases listed here match those of the table in paragraph 33, we can deduce that case (i) is Anthony Gee, or Father Anthony Gee as he was when he was headmaster of the school. I had long suspected that (i) was Gee, but hadn't until now had sufficient confirmation to be able to say so.

The dates involved here are very interesting. According to the table in paragraph 33, the first civil claim was made against Gee in March 2010. But in July 2011, Gee appeared as a witness for the defence in the trial of Pearce and Maestri. He denied ever having heard any complaints about either of them while he was headmaster, and said that he most certainly would have acted had he received any such complaints. And yet Maestri, according to the evidence he gave during the same trial, left the school in 1984 as a result of complaints about abuses he had committed. Gee remained headmaster until 1985. It really does stretch credulity that Gee didn't know the true reason for Maestri's departure. Neither this discrepancy over dates nor the fact that civil action has been taken against the school concerning alleged abuses by Gee were raised by the prosecution at the trial, possibly because they didn't have any details about Gee until a few minutes before he gave evidence.

Pearce's defending solicitor was the school solicitor, Mr Anthony Nelson, who also commissioned Lord Carlile to conduct this enquiry. I made Carlile aware of the issue concerning Gee's testimony at the trial. He thanked me for it but advised that he would not be able to suggest in his report that the verdict was wrong. However, he seems not to have thought this issue worth including in the report at all.

We already know that case (ii) is Chillman and case (iii) is Hobbs. Case (iv) is Pearce. At the time, the ISI didn't know the circumstances in which the safeguarding officer of the Diocese of Arundel and Brighton conducted his review, but I have since found out. In The original "independent review" at Ealing Abbey and St. Benedict's School, I described how he had been comprehensively misled by the Abbot. This information was also passed to Lord Carlile, but he seems not to have made anything of it, even though, when I met him, I specifically emphasised the point, and he responded by saying "forewarned is forearmed."

Case (v) is Maestri, and case (vi) is Soper. Case (vi) and Soper himself are most definitely being pursued now!
53. The reporting of allegations was subject to criticism by the ISI. Some of the allegations had been referred to social services by the school following disclosure by a pupil. The school’s safeguarding records since 2003 did not mention any other report to social services in connection with concerns related to staff, volunteers, trustees or monks. All had been family or other matters. Safeguarding contacts had also been maintained with the Westminster Diocesan Safeguarding Commission. The Abbot had made statements regarding the monks in 2004 and 2006, and each headmaster wrote accordingly to parents on both occasions.
 This is also factually incorrect. It is untrue to say that "some of the allegations have been referred to social services" That describes a plurality that just doesn't exist in the context. The ISI made is perfectly clear that just one allegation concerning a monk or member of staff had been forwarded to social services, the incident which resulted in Pearce's arrest.

The ISI did not go back further than 2003. Neither in this context has Carlile. Since we know abuses that occurred back into the 1940s, it is rather disappointing that Carlile hasn't troubled to mention in his report how previous allegations were addressed by the school. A description of the procedures followed or not followed would not include any of the salacious physical details of the allegations which Carlile quite rightly decided should not be published.
54. 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 (as it is now called) or to the Independent Safeguarding Authority, responsible for such referrals since 20 January 2009. Since the follow-up inspections this situation has changed, in that the advisability of making such referrals is now clearly understood even when there may not be a strict legal obligation to do so; and an historical referral was made in May 2010.
This is where the report becomes a bit of a car crash. Carlile is again quoting verbatim a paragraph from the ISI supplementary report. But there is nothing here which indicates that he realises that there are two separate kinds of "referral", which have two different kinds of legal status. The ISI did a very poor job in writing this paragraph in the first place.

Before I get into a description of the two kinds of referral, it's worth noting that this paragraph makes it clear that the deficiency in the school's child protection policy mentioned in paragraph 50 isn't "a narrow one about wording rather than substance". Having no established policy to make referrals the school is legally obliged to make is not a narrow matter of wording.

Let's now address the two kinds of referral, starting with the type for which there is a legal obligation. If a member of staff, volunteer, governor or trustee leaves the school, and the school considers that there is a question as to whether the person is suitable to work with children, then the school must report this (make a referral) to the Independent Safeguarding Authority (ISA) within a month of that person's departure. It doesn't matter whether the person resigns, retires or is sacked. It doesn't matter whether the stated reason for the departure involves the concerns. If the school has concerns, it must refer the matter.

Since 2009, the law has required referrals to be made to the ISA. Before that, they were called "notifications" and they were made instead to the Teacher Misconduct Section of the Department for Education (or whichever other name the department has had down the years).

Until the ISI did their extra visit, the school had repeatedly failed to make these notifications or referrals. The DfE is completely toothless, and seems not to prosecute as a matter of policy. So while the law exists, in practice is is not enforced.

The other kind of referral is to report an allegation or incident of abuse to Social Services (specifically to the Local Authority Designated Officer for child protection, or LADO for short), when the allegation first comes to light. Unbelievably, there is no statutory obligation for a school to make such referrals, the recommendation to make these referrals is only in Statutory guidance. So, a school's child protection policy can be very iffy about reporting abuse, and still it can be "acceptable to the Department for Education and the Independent Schools Inspectorate", as paragraph 47 of the report describes.

By just quoting this paragraph and not offering any commentary, Carlile gives no indication that he has understood the distinction between the two kinds of referral. He might understand it, but we can't tell from what he's included in the report. But as I've described before, automatic reporting of all allegations to the LADO is a vital part of an effective child protection policy for school, particularly a policy which claims to be a model of excellence. But the version of the policy included in the Carlile report does not commit to this.
55. The ISI has also considered the nature of the relationship between the school and the monastic community. In addition to the use of restrictive covenants, the trustees had taken other steps to balance their responsibilities for monks and pupils. A lay person on the Board of School Advisors was appointed as the child protection ‘governor’ for 2009 to 2010, and her responsibility for safeguarding has been assumed subsequently by an advisor who has previously carried out work as a schools inspector. Since June 2009 the Board of Advisors and the trustees have undergone child protection training.
What? The "trustees had taken other steps to balance their responsibilities for monks and pupils"???? Whatever happened to the principle that "the child’s interests are paramount", which was stated as a regulatory requirement in the ISI supplementary report? In the event of there being conflicting responsibilities towards the monks and the pupils, the pupils simply have to come first. There's no "balance" that is appropriate there. And "the use of restrictive covenants" was specifically criticised by the ISI, a criticism which Carlile himself in his report says was echoed in the DfE right up to ministerial level.
56. The ISI added:

On the other hand, the school had not made a necessary referral (re. Father Pearce) directly to the appropriate authorities and the use of restrictive conditions is not altogether convincing, since the restrictions were not adequate in the case of [Father Pearce] and the failure to implement them occasioned serious criticism in the Charity Commission report of 15 December 2009. Shortcomings were also apparent in the school’s safeguarding policy and in the single central register of appointments. An obvious safeguarding emphasis is not included in the school improvement action plan 2009 to 2010 or in the programme for personal, social, health and citizenship education (PSHCE).
Carlile has quoted another paragraph from the ISI supplementary report, but again has provided no commentary. I suppose it's a cheap and easy way of filling out the report and making it look nice and thick and impressive, but there's again no sign that he understand the implications of what the ISI has written. He seems to have subcontracted the key aspect of his report, the procedures necessary to prevent a recurrence of abuse, out to the DfE and the ISI. That's the ISI who found nothing wrong with the school in November 2009, and the DfE who have such confidence in the ISI that they have sponsored legislation that will give the ISI responsibility for carrying out welfare inspections of independent boarding schools. Carlile's confidence would be touching if it weren't so disastrously misplaced.

Many of the shortcomings in the school's child protection policy that existed at the time Carlile first started work in 2010 remain, but he has shown so sign of having been able to identify them. Indeed, in his article in the Catholic Herald last month, he goes so far as to confidently state that the current policy "is as good as any in the country". Piffle. Quite simply he is wrong.

It's a pity, because we know he was offered the services of an expert in the field, and it appears that the decision was made not to use the expert, apparently on grounds of cost. Had Dr Kevin McCoy been involved, the report might have read somewhat differently.


  1. I am rapidly coming to the conclusion this was a "quick and dirty" report at 'mates rates' for Tony Nelson.

    Whatever the report might be, it is certainly not comprehensive, accurate or informative, and neither does it address the shortcomings in the safeguarding policy.

    If it was not at mates rates, then Shipperlee ought to be picking up the phone to have a word with Carlile. He must have expected a report that silenced all comers. Instead he is holding a colander of no bloody use to anyone, and Carlile's 'safeguarding lite' experience has brought almost no improvement to the useless safeguarding policy.

    The devil is in the detail! And Carlile does not have it.

    More amazingly still Cleugh, an Additional Inspector for the Independent Schools Inspectorate, seems unable to recognise a credible safeguarding policy. What has he been doing during his inspections of other settings? Such policies do exist although I admit they are rare.

    And let’s not forget his interview with the man from BBC Inside Out :

    Reporter:“How confident are you that if there are further accusations that they will be properly reported because in the past they haven’t been?

    Cleugh: “I absolutely believe they totally would be reported. As soon as something is referred to a child protection officer he would immediately go to social services and they would give us the advice on the way forward but there would certainly be no cover up about anything within the school.”

    All he needed to say is that was:

    All allegations will be reported to the LADO and this is engrossed into our child protection policy.

    But the ISI inspector seemed unable to say these words.

    Why not?

  2. 23:32

    Interesting - I've just looked at the grammatical use of 'would.'

    'would': Opinion or hope

    •I would imagine that they'll buy a new one.
    •I suppose some people would call it torture.
    •I would expect him to come.

    So the Cleugh's non-committment to report allegations to the LADO is clear because he only expresses his 'hope' that allegations will be reported.

    This position entirely accords with the hopeless safeguarding policy.

    An allegedly abused child at St Benedict's has no right to have the allegations referred to the independent LADO.

    you could not invent this amoral crap.

  3. There are signs that this subject is not going to fade away.

  4. It is interesting to see how few postings have been made on the Carlile report strand. This seems to indicate that readers are not very confident with this very important subject.

    It is a great pity.

  5. 23:32 - If Cleugh cannot recognise a credible safeguarding policy (as an ISI inspector) this suggests that safeguarding policies across most independent schools will be pretty useless.

    I read that St Augustine's suffered, and continues to suffer the same shortcomings.

    I despair.