Howe & Co’s dedicated team continue to represent victims and survivors across many of the investigations of the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse (IICSA).
For the past two weeks Howe & Co’s David Enright played a leading role in the Children in Custodial Institutions investigation.
This week, the IICSA begins a further week long hearing into the Anglican Church; in particular into former Bishop Ball and his purported relationship with the then Archbishop of Canterbury, the Prince of Wales and other high profile figures. Justin Welby (former Archbishop) was examined today by the Inquiry and a statement from Prince Charles will be read into the record on Friday. Today’s Times reports:
Links to reports regarding this weeks hearing can be found here:
The Times reported:
If you are affected by issues related to child abuse, particularly in an institutional or religious setting, contact Howe & Co’s dedicated team at IICSA@howe.co.uk
David Enright (Howe & Co.’s child abuse team lead) attended a preview meeting to review the IICSA’s interim report this morning (25th April) along with Sam Stein QC of Nexus Chambers who represents many survivors before the Inquiry. The following is their initial reaction to the Inquiry’s Report; a further and more in depth response will follow.
Shocking Scale of Child Abuse
The Interim report pulls back the veil on the shocking scale of child abuse in England and Wales. The Report reveals, at pages 30 and 31 that:
“According to the 2015 – 16 Crime Survey for England and Wales, 7 % or people aged between 16 and 59 reported that they were sexually abused as a child…. latest police data shows that the number of sexual offences against children under 16 in England and Wales more than doubled between 2013 and 2017, increasing from 24,085 to 53,496”
However, the Report goes on to find that, “…the operational data will always underestimate the scale of child abuse. …. the Children’s Commissioner for England, which found that only 1 in 8 sexual offences against children come to the attention of the police or local authority.”
Therefore, if only 1 in 8 offences are reported, this means that there were at least 425,000 child abuse offences in 2017.
Howe & Co.’s impact on Inquiry’s recommendations
Chapter 7 of the Interim Report sets out the Inquiry’s current recommendations. It appears that submissions made by Howe & Co on behalf of its clients have had a significant impact upon the Inquiry’s recommendations.
Howe & Co has repeatedly and publicly argued that the Inquiry should make recommendations for a redress scheme for victims and survivors of child sexual abuse, where local or national government failed in their duty of care for children.
The Inquiry, in its recommendations in the Child Migrant Programme Investigation, recommends
“…establish[ing] the financial redress scheme without delay and expects that payments should start being made within 12 months…”
In relation to the Inquiry’s recommendations on the much needed overhaul of the Criminal Injuries Compensation Scheme; the three recommendations are all consistent with recommendations that Howe & Co have repeatedly called for including:
These and other recommendations, for example in relation to the recommendation that Department of Health and Social Care, Education, Home Office and Ministry of Justice work together to establish current levels of public expenditure, and the effectiveness of that expenditure on services for child victims and adult survivors of child abuse in England, are to be welcomed. However, there are some areas where the Inquiry could and should have done better at this stage.
What is this Report
This interim report is exactly what it says, and perhaps could be retitled as a ‘stop-check’ or a ‘work in progress’. Although the report contains a number of compelling findings and some excellent recommendations, which we will return to below, the Report has missed opportunities to make important recommendation now. For example, the Inquiry did not tackle the operation of the Limitation Act 1980 in child abuse case in this report but has put this off till a later date. At page 56 of the Report the Inquiry finds:
“The Limitation Act 1980 was identified as an obstacle to accessing justice as some victims and survivors of child sexual abuse are prevented from making a civil claim because too much time has elapsed since the abuse took place. This is an important issue that the inquiry will consider further, particularly as other jurisdictions, including Scotland, have legislated to exclude limitation considerations from child sexual abuse claims”.
Roman Catholic Church
The Inquiry has clearly felt that it cannot set out any conclusions in the areas where there have been some public hearings but these are incomplete. For example the Inquiry says of the English Benedictine Congregation hearing into Ampleforth and Downside Abbey Schools that (p.45):
“The inquiry is still considering its findings in relation to this public hearing and these will be published in a separate investigation report later this year”.
Although the Inquiry has a number of further hearings on the Catholic Church in which we are representing many of the survivors; we do feel that the Inquiry could have indicated some findings now and trailed recommendations that may follow.
The overall theme of this interim report can be found in its emphasis on the “need for a culture change in relation to attitudes towards child sexual abuse, the role of leadership in supporting this culture change and issues relating to staff practise and safe recruitment”.
We have found from working within this area for many years that the survivors of abuse agree with the need to refocus on abuse, understand better that the abused child’s life can be destroyed, or at least very badly affected by the abuse, and that stopping the abuse requires putting children first, and always first.
The Inquiry’s emphasis on a need for a change in culture can clearly be seen throughout the Interim report and the Report’s recommendations. This is to be welcomed.
Within the area of child migration the Inquiry recommends that an apology be provided by the Institutions who have failed the child migrants. The Inquiry recommends that a compensation scheme be established for child migrants without any regard to any other payments of compensation.
This may be a helpful pointer in the direction of a wider compensation fund which Howe & Co have and will continue to argue for within the Accountability and Reparations investigation which is due to start it public hearing this year.
Civil Justice System
The Civil Justice System is targeted by the interim report, which recommends that all witnesses in the civil courts have the same level of vulnerable witness protection, as they would do within the Criminal Justice system. Perhaps the interim report should have gone further and recommended that the be a joint scheme for the civil courts and criminal courts so that evidence which should be given by the Survivor should only be given once and used in both civil and criminal cases.
The police service is considered by the Interim Report. Some of the Inquiry’s recommendations are welcome. For example, the proposal for a better recognition of the importance of having worked within the area of CSA and that such work and training should be a pre-requisite for advancement into senior ranks in the Police. This is a very sensible recommendation and should serve to guarantee the importance of understanding CSA throughout the ranks of the police service.
Clearly there is more work to be done in this area as the report is ‘light’ on the need to ensure that complaints to the police are dealt with carefully and added to by appropriate referrals to the support services that may be suitable. This again will need to be developed in future submissions that Howe & Co will make on the question of police engagement with survivors, first contact with the police and any other agency who received complaints; plus the shameful lack of funding (and withdrawal of funding) for the support networks who assist people who have been abused, such as refuges.
The Report’s theme of making sure that there is an increased awareness of the prevalence of abuse and the need to take steps to protect children is also strong in the Interim report. The Report argues for a referral of any adverse finding on fitness to practise in any area to be kept by a central register. This again will be a point Howe & Co will be taking up on behalf of survivors; as the question of whether there has been an adverse finding needs to be considered across the board and into areas where there is not a professional body that can act or intervene. Further there is a need to understand and agree what is an adverse finding? Often evidence builds up and across employment areas. It may be that an adverse finding might be made or a conclusion reached without there being a formal hearing. This question of sufficiency of evidence and build up of likelihood requires further work and attention.
In the short time we have had to consider the Report we see positives, negatives, good intentions and further work to be done.
We can appreciate the work that has been done by the Inquiry and we can applaud the clear good intentions to make changes that the Report signals. However, the pace of the this Inquiry’s work remains too slow, and we recognise that for many survivors that the frustration of having this ongoing and lengthy inquiry brings back such difficult memories and a burning desire for action and change.
Funding is not targeted by this Interim Report despite its recommendation for changes and changes in attitude towards CSA. There needs to be an up front recognition that without adequate funding and resources being provided then recommendations will remain just recommendations.
However, our view is that this report provides the foundations for our future submissions; including that anybody who works with children must be better trained, better recognised and better supported. There is a need to recognise that some people want to work with children because they want to abuse children. So far this report has not identified best practise in identifying potential abusers before they gain access to children.
If we stitch together the themes from this report we can see that it is beginning to grasp the need, which all survivors have understood for too many years, that children must be protected first and always. However the end game for this Inquiry is still some time away.
We must welcome the positive elements of this report, point out where it is lacking and press on to get the very best outcomes, protections and support for child victims and adult survivors.
The full interim report can be found here
David Enright – Howe & Co
Sam Stein QC – Nexus Chambers
The Roman Catholic Church will not reform itself - reform must be imposed. By Sam Stein QC and David Enright of Howe & Co
The Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse (IICSA) commenced its investigation into the Anglican Church on Monday the 5th of March, following its hearings into the Roman Catholic Church in December 2017.
David Enright (head of Howe & Co Solicitors Public Inquiry team) and Sam Stein QC represent a number of survivors of abuse by monks of the English Benedictine Congregation (EBC), the Comboni Missionaries and the Christian Brothers, who were Core Participants in the Investigation.
Parallels between Anglican and Catholic Church
The similarities between the recent Catholic Church hearing and the current Anglican one are numerous. The Catholic Church’s official media outlet, The Tablet, reported that as of August 2014, the number of Anglican Priests who had become Catholic Priests stood at 400; and now represent 10% of Catholic Priests in all of England and Wales.
The IICSA’s “Scope” of the Anglican Church Investigation and the Catholic Church Investigation are identical in large part. The parallels between the two churches and two investigations are obvious.
Below is an account of the three weeks of the Roman Catholic Hearings of the IICSA at which we represented a large group of core participant survivors. The evidence was deeply disturbing and revealing. The early reports from the current and ongoing IICSA Anglican Church hearings indicate that strikingly similar issues will arise.
During this hearing we heard of dark passageways leading to a secret room, police officers informed that monks had connections with VIPs, monks representing a potential danger to children kept at a monastery on school grounds, brown envelopes of complaints kept away from investigators, Abbots who apparently obstruct investigations by the police and who seek to keep back material about abusers. Also a past Abbot President of the EBC, Richard Yeo, who preferred the flawed wisdom of an Abbess who, on being asked to shelter a suspected abuser stated she did not want to know the details as she trusts the monk concerned.
Throughout the hearings the evidence pointed very strongly to a policy of “Church First” in cases of child abuse and how it was reported, investigated and responded to.
While we awaited the start of the Catholic Church public hearing we heard daily in the news of the trial and subsequent conviction of a “sadistic” former abbot who sexually abused young boys in the 1970s and 80s. Andrew Soper, 74, the former Ealing Abbot at St Benedict's School, was found guilty of 19 charges of indecent assault and buggery on December 6. St Benedict’s is another EBC school.
There appear to be many issues which underlie the prevalence of abuse within the Roman Catholic Church, and all of these have been addressed many times before. We are also all aware that the literal cradle to grave coverage of the Church, and its 2000 year history, compels the laity to treat priests and monks with greater respect or deference than we would anyone else.
In fact their very status in society would tend to mean for most of us that they should be held to a higher standard and show us the way. But respect must be earned and for the English Benedictine and the Roman Catholic Church from what we have seen in the IICSA’s three weeks of investigation there is a long way to go until respect can be their due again.
One of the problems with the Roman Catholic Church is its inflexibility and resistance to change caused by the lack of governance and line management. Of course there are many other difficulties caused by the confessional rules, inherent misogyny and other issues.
Father Paul Smith, current president of the Conference of Religious, which is a gathering of Religious Superiors, in his statement read on the 28th November 2017 said that “….the Conference of the Religious has no power over any Congregation of its independent leadership in any matter pertaining to their internal leadership”. Then later “….the Conference of the Religious does not have any regulatory powers over its membership” [p.24].
Dom Richard Yeo (recent former president of the English Benedictine Congregation) in his evidence described the EBC in the following way:
“Among the Benedictines, the basic unit is not the order as whole. The basic unit is the individual monastery and rather than having an order divided into provinces, you have monasteries which group together into congregations….I wouldn’t say they operate under the Abbot President. They operate and the Abbot President attempts to assist those monasteries where appropriate and where possible”
In our questioning of Abbot Yeo on the 28 November 2017 we learnt that the survivors of the abuse by monks at Fort Augustus, which included one of our clients, are due to be getting some compensation from the money gifted to the EBC flowing from the closure and sale of Fort Augustus. In his evidence it was made clear that the EBC recognises it has a moral, but not an actual or legal responsibility, to the survivors of child abuse by the paedophile monks at the now closed Fort Augustus.
But what of the survivors of abuse by the paedophile monks at Downside or Ampleforth or St Benedict’s Abbeys? Because of the claimed-for autonomy of the Monasteries nothing has been done by the EBC or the Roman Catholic Church to set up a fund or redress scheme for them.
Post-Nolan and Cumberledge
The National Catholic Safeguarding Commission and CSAS (previously COPCA) were put in place as a result of the Nolan Report and then Cumberledge. But if the culture and the type of men involved have not changed then all the systems and guidance in the world will not change them.
Mrs Eileen Shearer gave her evidence on the 30th of November 2017, former director of COPCA, a professional social worker with 37 years’ experience and for many years a manager and supervisor.
Mrs Shearer’s view was clearly expressed when she said:
“Priority seemed to be given, often, too often, to protecting the institution from open scandal and to dealing with things in-house, a mistrust of the statutory authorities and there seemed to be a lack of awareness of their own lack of knowledge in a way so that they were not open to acting on advice or receiving training and development. And a preference to acting locally. There is often a reference in the evidence I have read about the fact that the child protection polices nationally were not mandatory, which was not the intention, I believe of Lord Nolan…”
A Mr Molesworth gave his evidence on the 1st of December. He holds a master of science in Social Work, and is a child care social worker with huge experience of safeguarding. In his evidence he referred to other matters but perhaps most memorably he said that of Piers Grant Ferris, a paedophile monk, that in his view “we had four abbots who knew about his behaviour from 1975” and that they “didn’t get safeguarding, they didn’t get child protection”. This was despite the fact that Father Wright had commissioned the Mann’s (experienced psychologists) to do risk assessment and it was a “classic example of you need to take action, you need to take action now…..but for reasons I don’t understand he chose to ignore them”.
Three months into his work at Ampleforth Abbey Mr. Molesworth was motivated to write:
“Stepping further back, I find myself questioning whether the community has either the mechanisms, the understanding or even a basic willingness ….. To properly deal with child protection matters……”
How did Mr. Molesworth summarise matters? He said:
“There was no external accountability, no sanctions, a complex legal framework” and later he conclude by saying “a lack of effective oversight”
Former Detective Superintendent Honeysett give evidence on the 4th of December 2017 and put the matters in the following way that he:
“didn’t think that Abbot Timothy was applying the principle of Nolan as we understood them….The fact was that children were at risk because two priests were still in and around the school or the communities there weren’t proper risk measures in place and in terms of the principle of paramountcy for child welfare was not to the fore; that much of what Abbot Timothy was talking about in relation to the priests was about their rights and about looking after themselves..”
Jane Dziadulewicz who gave evidence on the 6th of December 2017 is a safeguarding consultant with over 30 years’ experience with many years of work as a child protection social worker and senior social worker for Local Authorities and London boroughs. She worked at the Clifton diocese not long after COPCA had been set up. This was the witness who was surprised by the hidden room which as she said:
“our suspicions were raised as why in such an opulent environment would two or three individuals wish to go down a concrete flight of steps through a dimly lit room have a key that other people did’ have access to and have two or three armchairs seated opposite a TV screen”
It is important to remember that Ms. Dziadulewicz was speaking from a much broader experience of the Catholic Church than just these two schools and that is what the IICSA is all about not just the EBC and from that perspective she, in summary, said:
The former first lay head of Downside Abbey School, Dr. James Whitehead, summarised the issues in the following way on the 7th of December:
“Accountability is the fundamental problem. The members of the monastic community are not accountable unless they commit a criminal offence, obviously. But they are not accountable to anyone…..I think that the points that were made in terms of the mandatory reporting I think are good ones and I think that the testimony that was given yesterday arguing for a body which oversees more accountability within this area, I think, I would fully support”
The evidence seen and heard by the Inquiry strongly indicated that Dr Whitehead was removed from his position as head of Downside as a result of his determination to improve safeguarding at Downside and to remove safeguarding from the control of the Abbey and its monks.
Detective Constable White suggested there should be a:
“Team to oversee religious sectors, to look at and deal with these” and he said “as much as we talk about the offenders in this and the suspects in this, there was clearly, over time, people that had knowledge of what happened. There is no repercussions on them at all”. He continued “we have the laws in place to prevent the incidents happening but it is about a way of trying to enforce the safeguarding and protection of the vulnerable and children that are the victims of these accounts.”
Adrian Child, another highly experienced social worker in the area of child protection gave evidence on the 13th of December and said:
“There is nothing mandatory and nothing enforceable, there is no accountability within safeguarding in the Catholic Church It is all on a goodwill basis”
He went on to say:
“They haven’t got it right and that’s in a 15 year period. So I don’t see any value in tinkering around the edges……I think there needs to be accountability in some kind of mandatory requirement”.
Father Aiden Bellenger’s comment in a letter is worthy of mention before moving on (he gave evidence on the 11th of December), he said: “At the heart of the darkness in the community is the issue of child abuse which was tolerated by all my predecessors as abbot” in this letter he also refers to what he called the attempt by Dom Richard Yeo, the former Abbot President of the EBC, to protect paedophile monks.
Survivors put it the following way:
“It really hurt that I have had to listen to the old boy network trash what I had been through…..There is a lot of anger out there about what happened in their communities, there is a lot of anger to the victims. There is a lot of anger to people like the safeguarding professionals and the police. These old boys and parents of children in the school should be grateful to these people. It is the police and the safeguarding that have made these children safer, not the men running these schools I believe you need third parties overseeing this and that safeguarding should be mandatory”
Another survivor said:
“Just to say that I hope this leads to something. I see on the Downside website that they have – they are declaring that they are welcoming the chance to scrutinise. Part of me thinks “well of course they would say that, because they are being hauled in front of an independent inquiry”. I just don’t want there to be just another raft of apologies”.
So what can we conclude from the first of the IICSA hearings into the Roman Catholic Church? The answer will not be found within the church as there is no evidence of any internal movement or desire to change its management and governance.
In fact the evidence was that the Church continues to cling to its historic structures in which senior members of the Religious communities in the monasteries and abbeys are autonomous structures run as independent fiefdoms of the Abbots and Abbesses, in the same way that within a diocese a Bishop rules supreme.
For Safeguarding and Child protection to have a chance of being effective within the Church we have argued that the IICSA must recommend that safeguarding is removed from the Church and put it into the hands of an entirely independent ‘non church’ body. This must be accompanied by mandatory reporting which will then be monitored, regulated and overseen by the new regulator. The funding for this will need to be paid for by the Church.
In the coming weeks the IICSA will hearing disturbing evidence of child abuse and cover up in the Anglican Church.
It is and will remain our position that in every institution in the UK, including the Churches, the bottom line must not be Church first, but children first.
The Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse has now published their first complete report into child sexual abuse in respect to child migration module.
The full report is here:
The IICSA report is quite critical of Her Majesty’s Government (HMG) and focuses on the policy of allowing children to be sent to Australia, New Zealand and Zimbabwe, where many were subjected to physical and sexual abuse and little if anything was done to protect them.
Most importantly, the primary recommendation is that there should be a financial redress scheme established and that redress should be paid urgently and within a year, as many survivors are now very elderly.
Howe & Co represents a very large proportion of the victim and survivor core participant in the IICSA. We have been pressing the Inquiry since March 2017 to make recommendations on reparations for survivors on an urgent basis, given the age of many victims and survivors.
The IICSA Child Migration Investigation Report recommendations are:
Recommendation 1: Financial redress
1. HMG was, over many years, the institution primarily responsible for the post-War child migration programmes: it established the legal framework within which the sending institutions operated, it provided essential funding, it facilitated relations with overseas Governments and it operated, to a very limited degree, a system of regulation and oversight.
2. However we have found that post-War child migration was a fundamentally flawed policy, and that HMG failed to ensure that there were in place sufficient measures to protect children from sexual abuse (as well as other forms of abuse and neglect). Thus the children were placed in environments where they were exposed to a range of risks, including the risk of sexual abuse, and where sexual abuse was less likely to be prevented, identified, reported or stopped. We have also found that HMG failed to respond appropriately to the reports it received about the welfare of the children, by either stopping migration and returning the children, or putting in place other measures to reduce the risks to the children.
3. HMG has not yet made any financial redress directly to individual former child migrants. Most former child migrants have died. This means that in many cases HMG has missed its opportunity to offer redress to those who were affected by its failure. However, around 2,000 child migrants are alive today, and the Panel considers it essential that all surviving former child migrants are offered such redress.
4. As a result, the Panel recommends that HMG establishes a Redress Scheme for surviving former child migrants, providing for an equal award to every applicant. This is on the basis that they were all were exposed to the risk of sexual abuse. Given the age of the surviving former child migrants, the Panel urges HMG to establish the Scheme without delay and expects that payments should start being made within 12 months.
5. We also propose that no regard be had to any other payments of compensation that have been made in particular cases. This is because we consider that this scheme is driven by the need for the HMG to make redress for its policy failings in this context, and it has not done so to date. Given that this is the rationale for the scheme, the establishment of the Redress Scheme should not be used as a reason for reducing funding for the Child Migrants Trust or the Family Restoration Fund, which funding serves different purposes.
6. The Panel has not specifically recommended that other institutions involved in the child migration programmes participate in the Redress Scheme. This is not because we do not consider that these institutions failed the child migrants: our report makes clear that we think they did. Rather, it is because we consider that HMG was primarily responsible and because we are keen to ensure that the Scheme is a simple one, in the hope that it can be effective soon, and make a real, immediate and lasting difference to the lives of the former child migrants. If HMG wishes to look to those other institutions for a contribution to the Redress Scheme, it will no doubt do so.
7. We make it clear that we are recommending the setting up of a Redress Scheme because of the particular context of the child migration programmes. One aspect of these programmes which makes them unique was that HMG failed to take steps to respond to the fact that the children were sent abroad, to countries where they would not have the protection of UK law. Different considerations may apply to contexts where the protection of UK law continues to apply to children.
Recommendation 2: Further institutional apologies
8. We are troubled by the amount of time it took successive British Governments to acknowledge the full responsibility of HMG for the fate of the child migrants. It has taken years for the former child migrants to have the truth of their experience recognised. This truth was clear from the Government’s own documents, kept in the National Archives.
9. Through the national apology given in 2010, the evidence provided to the Inquiry and the apologies repeated before us, the British Government has now accepted the failings of the child migration programmes including in part with respect to the risk of sexual abuse. We do not consider it appropriate to recommend that they make any further acknowledgement of or apology for the failings that took place.
10. However we do consider that implementing the Redress Scheme is an essential component of the British Government continuing to accept responsibility for the abuses suffered by child migrants, including sexual abuse.
11. As we have set out in the institution-specific sections of the report, some institutions have still not apologised for their role in the child migration programmes. We recommend that they do so, as soon as possible. We recommend that they make such apologies not only through public statements but specifically to those child migrants for whose migration they were responsible.
Recommendation 3: The preservation of child migrants’ records
12. As we have set out earlier in the report the Inquiry’s ability to investigate allegations or evidence of sexual abuse within child migration programmes was hampered at times by the failure of some institutions, notably the Royal Overseas League and the Sisters of Nazareth, to have preserved the contemporaneous documentation.
13. The inability to access their records in a straightforward manner, or at all, has caused some child migrants yet further distress and an ongoing lack of clarity over their identity.
14. We therefore recommend that that all institutions which sent children abroad as part of the child migration programmes should ensure that they have robust systems in place for retaining and preserving any remaining records that may contain information about individual child migrants, and should provide easy access to them.
Howe & Co welcomes this first IICSA report and its recommendations. We urge the Inquiry to move quickly to issue further reports and recommendations in the interests of children currently in care and in the interests of victims and survivors who were previously abused in care.
Day four to eight of the Inquiry continue to hear the most compelling evidence of the widespread failures to protect vulnerable individuals. Some of the most compelling and distressing evidence was heard in camera and not allowed to be streamed. David Enright and Sam Stein QC continued to represent the victims and survivors of some of the most serious child sexual abuse.
David Enright said of the evidence that he heard that:
David Enright of Howe+Co, along with Sam Stein QC continue to represent a large number of Core Participants. Having opened as reported in http://www.howe.co.uk/news/first-day-catholic-church-hearing, the questioning started of the first witness, Dom Richard Yeo.
A copy of the full day transcript for the 28 November 2017 is here
Howe+Co were granted permission to ask questions of Dom Yeo. It was confirmed that in respect to Fort Augustus, that a compensation fund was being discussed, but not in respect to Downside and Ampleforth.
Sam Stein QC then took Dom Yeo to the Rule of Life of St Bendict, and the following was said:
On the 29 November 2017, questions continued of other witness and the full transcript is here.
A number of witness were examined by Counsel to the Inquiry.
Howe+Co will attend this two-day seminar 26 and 27 September 2017, will examine whether current arrangements to prevent child sexual abuse in healthcare settings are effective.
Many of our Core Participants have reported to us that they as children did report matters to health care individuals and or were admitted to hospital with injuries that were clearly identifiable as being from a sexual assault.
During the seminar, healthcare leaders and professionals from across England and Wales will take part in discussions that will help the Inquiry understand the effectiveness of current practices to protect children from sexual abuse, and ways to ensure that children are better protected from sexual abuse while receiving health care and treatment.
We will facilitate our Core Participants taking part in the seminar and asking relevant questions of those individuals. The timing and further details will be provided to our clients when released by the Inquiry.
In early 2016 I began working with a very impressive group of 12 men, all of whom alleged that the had suffered sexual abuse as boys in a Catholic Seminary College operated by the Comboni Missionary Order (previously Verona Fathers). I found these men to be mature, well educated and highly articulate. Their accounts of alleged abuse at the hands of priests of the Order were convincing and deeply troubling. Their accounts of the efforts they had made at the time of the abuse and over the many following years, to hold this international Catholic Religious Order to account were deeply impressive.
Almost a million British Children attend schools run by or associated with the Catholic Church. It is therefore a matter of great importance to these men and to all right minded people that children are safe in schools.
In June 2016 I assisted these men to apply for core participant status in the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse (IICSA). This is a national public Inquiry into historic child sexual abuse, which is seeking to learn lessons so as to protect children in the future.
Howe+Co representing a large proportion of the victims and survivors who have been granted core participant status before the Independent Inquiry into child Sexual Abuse (IICSA), including approximately 25% of the core participants in the Roman Catholic church Investigation.
There have been grave concerns regarding child abuse in the Catholic Church in the UK and internationally for some years. The Catholic Church continues to operate and oversee the education of almost a million British children. This investigation is therefore very important for child safety in the UK.
On 28 July the IICSA published a determination by the Chair which appears to effectively sideline a very large proportion of all of the core participants in this important investigation.
Of the 54 Core Participants Howe+Co represent 13 of them,( twelve who alleged they were abused by members of the Comboni Religious Order). The remaining 40 core participants come from a number of different parts of the Catholic Church. A key case study selected by the Inquiry is the The English Benedictine Order, which is a monastery based Religious Order that is distinctly different from the wider catholic church in terms of management and child protection.
A large number of the Core Participants in this important investigation are now effectively excluded or sidelined from this investigation because of the on going criminal trial (Ealing Abbey/ St Bendict’s School and potentially Worth Abbey). As such of the four Abbeys identified originally as case studies for this Investigation, 50% are now not going to be considered. The remaining Abbeys to be investigated are Ampleforth Abbey in York, and Downside Abbey in the West of England, both in relatively remote locations. This the Chair has indicated, will be the evidence representing the whole of the Catholic Church.s. These two remote and wholly unrepresentative Abbeys will be used by the Inquiry to make findings in regard of child safety in the entirety of the Catholic Church in England and Wales.
This decision by the Inquiry jeopardises the integrity and reliability of the whole Roman Catholic Church Investigation.
David Enright (had of Howe & Co’s Inquiry Team) said:
The Guardian has reported that children as young as 12 are being denied compensation by a government agency because they are considered to have “consented” to being sexually abused.
David Enright (Head of Howe & Co’s Inquiry team) said: “I have raised this shocking issue with the Independent Inquiry into child Sexual Abuse repeatedly. I did so at the IICSA in the Seminar hearing of the 21 February 2017. Since then I have repeatedly urged the IICSA to immediately recommend that the CICA scrap this appalling policy whereby they maintain that children can consent to sexual abuse.
We have today written again toProfessor Alexis Jay OBE (Chair of the IICSA) calling on her to act on our repeated calls and immediately recommend to government that this atrocious policy is scrapped ”