Thursday, 6 September 2012

Update on Soper

The online version of the Mail on Sunday article has just been updated with an interesting new piece of information.

A former worker has also raised concerns about Soper’s time as part-time chaplain at Feltham Young Offender Institution between 1988 and 2000, while Ealing Abbey has now confirmed that Soper was questioned by police during this period.
In the mid-Nineties, Scotland Yard investigated an alleged paedophile ring visiting boys there.
The Metropolitan Police have also put an appeal for information up on their website. Unfortunately, at the time of writing this, their appeal is somewhat inaccurate in its details about him.
  • They have misspelled his name as Lawrence Soper instead of Laurence Soper.
  • They have neglected to mention that Laurence is his monastic name, his forenames are Andrew Charles Kingsdon and that is probably what is on his passport.
  • They have called him a "former priest" which is untrue, he has not (yet) been laicised by the church though I have no doubt that their wheels of bureaucracy are grinding away on that task. They also have failed to mention that he is the former Abbot of Ealing.
Also, they have said that he is wanted "on suspicion of historical sexual assault". I loathe that word "historical". Child sex abuse is the only crime which commonly gets tagged with the word. The implication is that it is a matter which is or should be only of interest to historians. It isn't. This is a crime for which the alleged perpetrator has not yet been brought to justice.

The Metropolitan Police would not call an unsolved murder from the 1980s "an historical murder". And no officer would dare describe the murder of Stephen Lawrence as an historical murder, particularly not in the presence of Mrs Doreen Lawrence. Victims of child sex abuse deserve the same consideration.


  1. Hi Jonathan,

    Do you intend to contact the Metropolitan Police about these inaccuracies?

    I think that he should be referred to as Abbot Laurence Soper OSB until the Order and the hierarchy of the Church say otherwise. His title and post-nominals serve to remind us of the position of great responsibility he had in our community and the responsibility of the hierarchy of the Church, the Order and the wider church, the people, to insist that enquires within the Church and by the Police continue until he is found and justice can be done.

    While the Metropolitan Police did not keep his passport, I expect the details can be found. Those and any names by which he may represent himself should be made known.

    Pupil, St Benedict's School 1986 - 1993

  2. I already have done so, both by email and by phoning through to the child abuse investigation team at Northwood police station. Since they haven't yet corrected the page, it might help if you and others also contact the Met making the same point.

  3. First, let me say I am against child abuse, particularly sexual. I was taught by Laurence Soper and he was a brilliant teacher, who helped me, although not without flaws in the areas under scrutiny. If someone asked me to denounce him, even though I could, I could not easily do so. People like me help people like Laurence get away, but we also give rise to examination. It is not enough, but I am not alone. Let us address emotional conflicts over this publicly - the single biggest reasons why these people get away with it.

  4. its called stockholm syndrome . It means that you feel some kind of loyalty even what people may describe as love for their own abuser. I had a touch of it myself, very confusing and highly dangerous. I assume soper made you feel extra special and saved you from something or someone you feared more than him. One of my abusers saved me from soper all the time. I felt a loyalty to him. Question is what were you more affraid of than soper? horsey? pearce? faillure? go talk to gareth morgan and make statement and tell him you need help. 'Jeff'

  5. None of this surprises me. I am sure the MET treat the whole enquiry as a pain. When there are plenty of people around that can provide valuable information, yet very little is done to gather this, one can only assume that the reality is that the MET just want this to go away...

    Former St Benedict's Pupil

  6. 13:53
    You aren't the first person to comment along these lines. Please take a look at my article from about a year ago Reporting abuse to the police. It was a response to a comment very similar to yours. I hope that you will find it helpful.

  7. I was 'taught' by Martin Shipperlee at St. Benedict's Junior and Upper Schools between 1985 and 1991 (as well as by Maurice Pearce, Stanislaus Hobbs, Kevin Horsey, John Maestri and Gregory Chillman).

    Shipperlee was a very weak teacher with poor classroom management skills. He commanded no respect from his students who ran wild in his classes and mocked his stammer and awkward nerdishness.

    Shipperlee was a far weaker character than all the paedophiles that I encountered at St. Benedict's. He could be suitably characterised as a Dickensian snivelling lickspittle.

    Many were surprised when he was elected Abbot but in retrospect it is obvious that it was precisely because of his weakness that he was elected by the paedophile monks. They knew that he could not properly oversee them nor strongly protect the students.

    I find Shipperlee's sanctimonious 'apologies' extremely nauseating. He should already have resigned from the post of Abbot but instead he has squirmed his way through this scandal without resigning.

    Ealing Abbey can't move on from this sad episode until Shipperlee resigns because he was one of the Abbots who allowed paedophiles to continue operating for so long under his nose.

    Shipperlee publicly denied the allegations and backed Pearce against his victims and he was also very slow to take action that could have prevented crimes and distanced the school and the church from the criminals.