Monday, 27 August 2018

IICSA and Ealing Abbey - Statements wanted

The IICSA is scheduled to hold hearings about Ealing Abbey in February 2019, and documentation and statements are being gathered now. It is important that the inquiry gets the clearest possible understanding of what went on there.

If you have experiences relating to abuse, either suffered by yourself or of others which you witnessed, or any knowledge of how the staff and monks covered up the abuse, then I urge you to make a statement.

I have drafted my statement, it is with my solicitor now. As a core participant in the Roman Catholic strand of the inquiry I have the right to legal representation. So if you want to make a statement, I can very easily get it to him and via him to the inquiry.

The inquiry will be interested not just in any accounts of abuse, but also in anything concerning how the school dealt with complaints about abuse. Whether and how abuse was covered up, both at the time and later if you're aware of complaints having been brought at a later date.

The inquiry will have within its scope all abuse perpetrated by staff at the school and by monks of the abbey, whether in the school/abbey grounds or elsewhere. I'm aware for instance that monks were governors of other schools in the vicinity and chaplains at other nearby institutions. Soper for instance was a visiting chaplain as Feltham Young Offenders' Institution and another monk was chaplain at St. Augustine's Priory School. So anything happening or covered up in any of these places is also relevant.

If you are an abuse survivor, then your identity will be protected - you have a lifelong legal right to anonymity. Your name will be replaced by an anonymous cipher and all other personal details in your statement that might identify you will be redacted.

Some people have commented here saying words to the effect of "I don't think my abuse was all that bad compared to what some others suffered." If that's what you think, then you can be a witness not only to what happened to you but also to what happened to them. We won't get a better chance this generation to find out what happened and to put a stop to it.

If you are interested in making a statement, email me at If you don't want me to see the details of your statement, I can put you in touch with my solicitor and you can send it direct to him.

Monday, 1 January 2018

A survivor of Soper's abuse speaks out

"Peter" (not his real name) is one of the complainants in the trial of Fr Laurence Soper. He has spoken out about Soper and St Benedict's in an interview published on the the Guardian website today: London Catholic school abuse survivor speaks of 'constant violence'

You can of course read the full article if you follow the link above, but it's worth quoting a few of Peter's words here.
  • "There wouldn’t be a day when there wasn’t a queue of boys outside [Soper’s] study to be caned"
  • "[The abuse] was accepted, it was the norm, it was routine. Everybody had been into Father Laurence’s study. I realised it had happened to lots of boys before me and would happen to lots of boys after me.”
  • “Mine was the last generation where [abuse of children] was acceptable. Because of the culture at the time, it was excused. Now the whole system is changing. There’ll always be those who slip through the net, but it needs to be a bloody good net.”
Some comments to previous articles here have suggested that this sort of violence was common to most private schools in those days. Peter started at St Benedict's age 11 in 1979. He is therefore a few years younger than me, I took my A levels in 1979.

I didn't attend St Benedict's, I was educated elsewhere. But I can say that at the two private secondary schools I attended, there was not the culture of violence that Peter and others have described. Yes, the cane was used (very) occasionally, and yes there was something of a bullying problem, but I do not remember anything like the culture of violence that has been recounted at St Benedict's. St Benedict's might not have been unique (the IICSA heard similar accounts about Ampleforth and Downside during its recent hearings), but that level of violence certainly wasn't typical.

The violence and the fear it kindled among the pupils facilitated the abuse, as pupils were too terrified to complain.