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Inquiry announces determination in the Roman Catholic Church investigation

28 July 2017

On Tuesday 6 June the Inquiry held a preliminary hearing in relation to its investigation into allegations of child sexual abuse in the Roman Catholic Church.  A number of submissions were made by Counsel to the Inquiry, Miss Karmy-Jones QC, and legal representatives of core participants.

The Chair of the Inquiry, Professor Alexis Jay OBE has made the following determination:

  1. Institutions to be considered during the Nov/Dec hearing into the English Benedictine Congregation case study - The Chair has decided that evidence in relation to Ampleforth Abbey and Ampleforth School and Downside Abbey and Downside School  should be heard during the November/December hearing. The Chair has also decided that evidence in relation to Ealing Abbey and St Benedict’s School should be heard but not until related criminal proceedings have finished. The Chair has taken a provisional decision that she should consider whether to hear  evidence about Worth Abbey and School  in this investigation after the November/December hearing. She has asked for core participants’ views before she makes a final decision.

  2. Fort Augustus, Scotland -  The Chair reiterated that the Inquiry cannot investigate events taking place within Scottish institutions as to do so would fall outside of the Inquiry’s terms of reference.  The Chair has decided that evidence related to Fort Augustus, in Scotland, should not be considered during the English Benedictine Congregation case study this year. It is being looked at by the Scottish Child Abuse Inquiry: https://www.childabuseinquiry.scot/evidence/investigations/ and this Inquiry can take into account its findings in due course when considering whether there were failings of institutions  in England and Wales.

  3. The Comboni Missionary Order - The Chair welcomes the Comboni core participants' involvement in this investigation and will use their evidence to inform the issues in the wider investigation, including the ongoing protection of children in particular in the context of religious orders, and in considering recommendations for the future. However, the Chair considers that she needs to take a proportionate approach and has therefore decided not to designate the Comboni Missionary Order  as a case study. She has asked that the Comboni core participants’  views be sought, in particular on how they consider it is possible for the Inquiry to learn from that Order when deciding how best to protect children.

  4. Findings of Fact - The Chair agrees that the accounts of complainants are important to establish the nature and extent of abuse, and the failings in how any allegations were addressed. However, the Chair considers it is not necessary at this stage to decide whether or not to make findings of fact - i.e to decide whether abuse occurred and by whom. The Chair  considers that it would not be possible in the context of this investigation for the Inquiry to hear evidence relating to each and every allegation of child sexual abuse in connection with the institutions selected for particular scrutiny during the public hearings and thereafter to make findings in relation to each and every one of them. This Inquiry was established to consider the extent of any institutional failure to protect children from sexual abuse. Therefore the focus of this investigation  must be on the institutional response to allegations of child sexual abuse, and not on the veracity of the allegations themselves

  5. Disclosure and timetabling - Disclosure will be provided on a rolling basis to core participants, who have signed a confidentiality undertaking. The Chair considers that it is appropriate only to disclose material to core participants that is relevant to their interests in this investigation. The Chair does not think it necessary to set a fixed date for disclosure.

  6. Confidentiality undertaking - Whilst the Inquiry will be applying redactions to documentation it discloses, much of the disclosed material is sensitive and would not be suitable for publication more widely. The Chair considers that the undertaking is important that disclosure can be made to core participants whilst ensuring that material will be held securely and confidentially unless and until it is referred to at an Inquiry hearing. It is not a gagging order, as some have suggested. She considers that information disclosed by the Inquiry should not be provided to anyone who has not signed a confidentiality undertaking.

The full determinations arising from the preliminary hearing can be found here

A further preliminary hearing in relation to this investigation will be held on Thursday 5 October 2017. Please check our website or Twitter feed (@InquiryCSA) for future updates.

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