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IICSA Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse

Ampleforth and Downside (English Benedictine Congregation case study) Investigation Report

The institutional response

170. In this section we will address the evolution of child protection policies and safeguarding at Ampleforth following the publication of the Nolan Report in 2001. We will also consider Ampleforth’s relationship with and response to the statutory authorities, including the police and other safeguarding agencies, during this period. While Ampleforth’s responses in individual cases have been dealt with in the previous section, this section provides an overview of safeguarding procedures and Ampleforth’s response to the allegations set out above.

Response before the Nolan Report (1960–2001)

171. We have heard that before the publication of the Nolan Report in 2001, safeguarding within the Catholic Church was ‘essentially firefighting. That is to say, it was about coping with situations as they arose rather than what we today call a culture of safeguarding. I think that’s what was absent.’[1] It is clear that in the 1970s and 1980s Ampleforth’s response to allegations of abuse was limited to transferring offending monks from school to parishes, arranging for them to be assessed by external psychiatrists and to receive treatment where recommended. This occurred on at least two occasions, in the cases of Fr Piers Grant-Ferris (1975) and Fr Gregory Carroll (1987) under Abbot Hume (1963–1976) and Abbot Barry (1984–1997) respectively. In both cases, no disclosure was made to the statutory authorities. In his evidence to us, Fr Chamberlain, who was the headmaster of Ampleforth College between 1992 and 2003, accepted this was the practice at the time. He told us that his predecessors tended to deal with safeguarding matters ‘in-house’[2] and that:

back in the 1980s, it was, I think not just at Ampleforth, common that if something of that sort happened, a teacher who had committed abuse would be got rid of and it was thought, wrongly, that to keep it all very quiet was in the best interests of the victim.[3]

172. There is evidence of a change in practice from the early 1990s and we have heard from Fr Chamberlain that this was in part due to the passing of the Children Act 1989.[4] Within a few months of becoming headmaster, Fr Chamberlain produced, in September 1993, the school’s first child protection policy, a one-page document titled ‘Short guidelines for dealing with allegations of abuse of boys in school by adults or other boys (physical, sexual, emotional abuse)’ (the 1993 guidelines).[5]

173. The 1993 guidelines provided that ‘all allegations must be taken seriously’; that the general conduct of enquiries was the responsibility of the headmaster who was to ‘act as liaison with the appropriate outside agencies’; and that this responsibility had been delegated to Fr Timothy Wright, who at the time was the second master. The guidelines applied in cases where abuse was reported by a victim, a third party (such as a teacher), or where a monk had reason to suspect that a child was being abused. Staff were instructed to inform Fr Wright immediately and to refrain from conducting their own enquiries. We note that Fr Leo Chamberlain accepted that the document did not stipulate the process to be followed in cases of self-disclosure by a perpetrator (as in the case of Fr Bernard Green).[6]

174. A further child protection policy for school was adopted in 1994, the ‘Guidelines for the response to allegations of abuse by any monk of the monastery’.[7] Unlike the 1993 document, these guidelines expressly referred to members of the community and provided that:

  1. allegations are to be investigated by the abbot who then reports his findings to Ampleforth’s solicitors;
  2. the solicitors in turn are responsible for advising as to whether disclosure to the police and/or social services is required;
  3. if such a disclosure is made, the abbot withdraws from the process and focuses on the pastoral care of the community and others involved.

It appears that these policies were followed in the case of Fr Bernard Green in 1995, whose case was reported to the statutory authorities, albeit with some delay.

175. In respect of Fr Bernard Green, Abbot Madden told us:

I think 1995 represents a very significant watershed when, for the first time, the safeguarding authorities, statutory authorities were called in to deal with a case. There may be some criticism about how promptly they were called in, but they were called in and that’s a very important shift, I believe. Before 1995, I do not think that our practices would pass muster.[8]

The evidence of Fr Leo, who was the principal author of these policies, was that:
‘By today’s standards they required much more development, but … they gave us what we needed, except that in this difficult case that then came concerning RC-F16, there was no way forward.’[9]

176. In 1997, Fr Timothy Wright was elected Abbot of Ampleforth. In 2000, Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O’Connor, then Archbishop of Westminster, asked Lord Nolan to chair an independent committee to examine and review arrangements made for child protection and the prevention of abuse within the Catholic Church in England and Wales, and to make recommendations. Lord Nolan’s First Report was presented in April 2001 and was followed by a Final Report in September 2001 (‘A Programme for Action’) which made 83 recommendations. Of particular significance to Ampleforth were recommendations 69 and 70, which related to ‘historical allegations’ and said that bishops and religious superiors should ensure that any cases which had been known of in the past but not acted on satisfactorily (historic cases) should be reviewed and reported to the statutory authorities wherever appropriate. Dom Richard Yeo was elected abbot president of the EBC in July 2001.

Response after the Nolan Report (2001)

Abbot Timothy Wright (1997–2005)

Approach to policies, COPCA, culture and attitudes

177. We have identified at least three related obstacles to the proper and effective implementation of the Nolan recommendations at Ampleforth under the abbacy of Timothy Wright (1997–2006). These are:

  1. The abbot’s immovable attitude to allegations of child sexual abuse.
  2. The weaknesses of the internal measures taken in response to the Nolan Report to prevent and minimise the risk of abuse.
  3. The refusal to cooperate with outside bodies to ensure effective safeguarding, including health professionals, police, social services and the Church authorities themselves.

178. First, there was a strong reluctance on the part of Ampleforth to engage with the Nolan recommendations, particularly when dealing with historical allegations of abuse. Although Abbot Timothy Wright was the one who first began to take steps by engaging the services of Dr Elizabeth Mann, it is clear that he became increasingly unwilling to act in accordance with safeguarding principles, and he prioritised the interests of his monks ahead of the needs and welfare of children in his care. As Dr Elizabeth Mann put it, there was a:

pervading lack of serious understanding in religious life at the time, of the destructive effect of sexual abuse on children … a serious dissonance between the culture of religious life in the Benedictine Order which protected offending priests, and the secular culture of the law of the land which emphasises the need to protect children.[10]

179. As already mentioned, David Molesworth was at the time the general manager for North Yorkshire County Council Children’s Social Services, with responsibility for safeguarding across the county area. His contemporary assessment of Ampleforth was that:

I find myself [questioning] whether the community has either the mechanisms, the understanding or even a basic willingness (leadership?) to properly deal with child protection matters. I do not believe currently that the organisation as a whole understands or accepts their responsibilities for child protection issues … . We appear to be dealing with obfuscation, denial or downright obstruction.[11]

180. Fr George Corrie, who was appointed child protection coordinator in 2001, recognised that the implementation of the Nolan recommendations at Ampleforth was a ‘long process’[12] and said:

This was always difficult because of the close relationship of school, of members of staff and victims. It was known, of course that Ampleforth is a school attached to the Benedictine monastery. In the past many monks were teachers, housemasters, with a very close link to, in those days, the boys, [and] boys and girls now. There is a very close family relationship. Because of that close relationship some matters were very difficult to explore because of the nature of that friendship. Monks were friends of so many families, and this is why I think a lot of the monks in the early 2000s found it very difficult to accept that these guidelines, these recommendations were being introduced.[13]

181. Abbot Cuthbert Madden told us he believed that Abbot Timothy Wright found it very difficult to fit the recommendations of the Nolan Report together with his view of the role of the abbot: ‘I think he had a view that the abbot was somebody that should support his monks through thick and thin and that he would often be the one person to whom a monk would confide, and that confidence had to be absolute.’

182. Timothy Wright’s approach to child protection and safeguarding may be understood by looking at a document that he wrote, titled ‘Assessing Risk’.[14] The document is not dated, but its content indicates that it must have been written in around 2002, after the Nolan Report was published. In it Timothy Wright stated that ‘paedophilia is a compulsive illness, and for that reason dangerous’.[15] He also said:

It is likely that there are many who by prayer and self-discipline have been able to control their emotions and have never offended. Others again who have offended once and following treatment have been able to lead to work well in the community [sic]. In the light of this, it is both wrong and unjust to treat them in the same way, assuming that those who admit to a single offence are concealing further offences.[16]

183. The Nolan Report and the EBC guidance made clear that disclosures of child sexual abuse must be reported to the statutory authorities. Abbot Wright however tried in his document to draw a distinction between ‘disclosures’ and what he called ‘admissions’, saying:

If a religious was to own up to abuse to his superior, he should be advised to make only an admission, as defined above [no such definition is included however]. In that way there is no obligation to report the matter. For the ongoing health of community relations it is important that trust and confidentiality are maintained, that the brethren do not see their superior as both ‘father in God’ and ‘police informer’ at the same time. It is recognised that a disclosure carries no confidentiality. The subject needs to know that before informing the superior …[17] individuals should be advised that it is better to remain silent than make any comment which might be used against them … .[18]

Psychologists and other professionals cannot be relied on to behave professionally, unless they are know [sic] already and trust has been built up … . All involved will assume guilt, so superiors and brethren should be supportive and affirmative.[19]

184. Abbot Wright went on to observe that it was ‘important to distinguish admission from disclosure’ and suggested that ‘admissions’ are confidential while ‘disclosures’ are not,[20] but that: ‘[if] an admission is made then the superior ... should ensure the person is kept away from children at once’, and that ‘[w]aiving confidentiality in furthering the paramountcy principle has produced some eccentric results; eg historic offenders, with over two decades of blameless and effective life, treated as if they had acted yesterday’.

185. In another document entitled ‘Response to the National Policy for Responding to Allegations’, he wrote that there was a ‘vital distinction between and [sic] “admission” and a “disclosure” … . An “admission” by an abuser is simply a general statement saying something has happened, without supporting information … no legal action can be taken … . A “disclosure” … occurs when the abuser gives the details of the abuse, name, place, etc. and that is a criminal offence.’[21]

186. Abbot Wright was also dismissive of psychological assessments, which he said that he had:

seen … used with an insensitivity and brutality that can only destroy trust … any superior seeking a psychological assessment can only go forward with the willing cooperation of the subject. The way the Chartered Psychologists have handled them in my community have rendered it impossible to insist on them. Such has been their power to cause problems for innocent and vulnerable people.[22]

No doubt he was here reflecting on the assessments of Frs Piers Grant-Ferris and Gregory Carroll. In Abbot Wright’s view: ‘The best way to safeguard children is to either provide close supervision or bring [the alleged/suspected offender] back to the community. The latter removes the danger from children.’

187. Fr George Corrie told us that he believed that Abbot Timothy Wright ‘accepted the Nolan Report in full’ and ‘saw the need to cooperate with this [process] because this was something that was going to be important in the life of the church’.

188. Many of the views that Abbot Wright espoused in his note, whether earnestly held or not, were far from practical in reality. The distinction that he sought to draw between ‘admissions’ and ‘disclosures’ was a semantic argument that was artificial and disingenuous. In his evidence to this Inquiry, Abbot Wright has accepted that this distinction was wrong and that all ‘incidents’ of child sexual abuse should be reported to the authorities without delay.[23] But it is our view that the evidence shows that Timothy Wright, abbot and leader of the Ampleforth community, was trying to find a way to evade his responsibilities under the Nolan recommendations. He was clinging to increasingly outdated beliefs that continued to guide his actions in matters of child sexual abuse in the years that followed.

189. Second, the internal measures adopted in response to the Nolan Report were inadequate to minimise the risk of abuse and to create a safe environment for children.

190. For example, in 2001, Abbot Wright appointed his prior, Fr George, as child protection coordinator,[24] and said at the time that ‘he [the abbot] passes all papers re [child protection] which arrived “many of which were utterly ridiculous” to him. The prior would deal with everything.’[25] Fr George had no previous experience in child protection and safeguarding[26] and, contrary to the EBC guidance,[27] he did not receive any training at the time of his appointment.[28] Moreover, while the abbot had, consistent with EBC guidance, delegated responsibility for responding to disclosures to his CPC, it is clear that in practice Fr George had no authority over the abbot when it came to child protection and safeguarding. Eileen Shearer told us: ‘I think [Fr George] did feel that it was impossible, if not difficult, to challenge the abbot, to whom he owed obedience. So he was in a very difficult position.’[29] Fr George in his evidence to us accepted that he did not have any power over the abbot,[30] that he had made ‘many mistakes’ as CPC[31] and that ‘many people were let down by inefficiency’.[32]

191. A further example of the inadequacy of the internal measures is the failure of the abbey to put in place effective policies for child protection and to prevent abuse. Abbot Timothy Wright contacted Dr Elizabeth Mann in May 2001 for advice on the risk assessment process for ‘historic cases’ and on:

what steps I should consider when clearing the brethren for work as confessors to boys and girls in our schools and parishes. At the moment we fit in with local diocesan policy with regard to regulations of this nature. But that is a little haphazard and I think we should perhaps look at something for ourselves.[33]

Arguably, this was not an unfair assessment.

192. On 3 June 2001, the abbot issued the ‘Guidelines for the Brethren’. The guidelines were drafted with the assistance of Dr Elizabeth Mann and purported to deal with ‘pastoral abuse’, defined as ‘those occasions when a monk uses his position of authority, actual or assumed, to meet his own needs while at the same time inflicting harm on the other. It is an offence when it damages the other psychologically, physically or spiritually in ways that can be demonstrated.’ This was said to include ‘developing relationships, emotional or sexual, to meet his own needs’. The document noted that ‘more often than not such behaviour results from a weakness in human development’ and that guidelines were required in order to ‘provide fraternal support and encouragement to seek professional help’.

193. The key points in the guidelines were as follows:

  1. As a general rule, professional help was to be provided by a chartered psychologist engaged by the abbot for that purpose.
  2. All applicants to the monastery were required to have a ‘police check’ before they could be admitted as postulants. A full psychological assessment could also be required pre-admission.
  3. Before appointing monks to positions of responsibility ‘involving much interchange with others be they lay or clerical’ (for example to the role of housemaster, parish priest or chaplain), assurances should be sought that ‘the individual is able to cope emotionally and humanly with the demands that will be made in the new post’.
  4. Where sexual abuse was alleged, ‘the approved guidelines are to be followed’. Members of the Community were advised to resist watching online pornography and to refrain from being alone with young boys or girls in school or parish as ‘suspicion arises easily’.
  5. With regards to historical cases of abuse, they ‘should be revisited and a risk assessment made’, however ‘everyone … must know they have a home and family in the monastery, where they are always welcome’.

194. In respect of this last point Abbot Cuthbert Madden told us that he did not agree with Abbot Timothy. He said that in his view:

There are things … which tell you that a particular monk has forfeited the right to remain in his monastery ... if you carry that attitude to its logical conclusion, that a monk can remain in his monastery no matter what, it’s pretty obvious where that’s going to lead you, and that’s why it is a view that’s unacceptable.[34]

195. While the guidelines may have provided some guidance to monks, they did not amount to the type of child protection policy envisaged by the Nolan Report or the EBC. Dr Elizabeth Mann has told us that during the time she was involved with Ampleforth (2000–2003) there were no safeguarding or child protection policies in place for the monastery.[35] Policies were in place in relation to the school, as explained above. It is clear from correspondence and notes of meetings between Dr Mann and Ampleforth from this period (2001–2003) that Abbot Wright did not want to adopt a policy for the monastery.

196. One such document is Dr Mann’s note of a telephone conversation with Abbot Wright in October 2002, in which she recorded that:

He [the abbot] said that the monastery is a non-child protection area. It is nothing to do with Eileen Shearer (the director of COPCA). ‘I am not having child protection policies in the monastery. Eileen Shearer is coming nowhere near this monastery. COPCA should get its feet off the ground. It was causing profound depression amongst clergy.’ He said he does not have a child protection policy for the monastery and that he will not have one[36] … in the case of school, there are references here and there in the handbooks for the students, parents, staff and housemasters, but there is no explicit policy articulated. In the case of hospitality there is one page which says that laypersons with responsibility have to have the usual police checks. There is a policy of no policy for monks.[37]

197. In July 2003, nearly two years after the publication of the final Nolan Report, Dr Elizabeth Mann wrote to Abbot Yeo, then abbot president of the EBC, about the lack of information or guidance at Ampleforth Abbey on the procedures which should be followed when members of the community admitted to abusing a child. It appears that the only information available was contained in two small booklets produced by the Middlesbrough diocese which related to procedures for responding to allegations made by victims, but not cases of self-disclosure by monks.[38]

198. Fr George has confirmed that between 2001[39] and 2007,[40] when he served as CPC, there was no separate child protection policy in place at the abbey. His explanation for this was firstly that ‘we always were aware that it was school who were providing guidelines/policies for students, and the monastery took its lead from school’,[41] and secondly that ‘no policies had been put in place because we did not have anything from the church. We were obviously waiting to receive information as a result of the Nolan recommendations, which were, we thought, going to be developed by COPCA.’[42] Thus the responsibility for not putting in place a policy expressly in relation to the abbey was being placed on COPCA.

199. Third, there was an unwillingness to work together with external bodies to ensure effective safeguarding. This is apparent, for example, from the relationship between Abbot Wright and Drs Elizabeth and Ruth Mann. The Manns had been brought in by the abbot in 2001 to provide psychological assistance to members of the community. They were asked by the abbot to conduct risk assessments of Fr Piers, RC-F27, RC-F95, Fr Gregory and RC-F25. We have heard evidence that this was not an easy task as the Manns were viewed with suspicion by many members of the community, including the abbot himself. As will be expanded upon below, Abbot Wright repeatedly failed to follow their recommendations. He failed to draw up a child protection policy for the monastery, to cooperate with the risk assessment process and share information (in the case of Fr Gregory). He refused to recall promptly offending monks, who had been removed from school, to the abbey. When he eventually did, with the knowledge of the police, he placed them in an environment where they had access to children (in the cases of Fr Piers, RC-F27 and RC-F18). The Manns became increasingly alarmed by Ampleforth’s refusal to adhere to their recommendations and their failure to protect children and contacted the statutory authorities in July 2003.

200. In addition, we have heard there was frustration among members of the community, including Abbot Wright, about what they considered to be a lack of guidance from COPCA as to how to best implement the recommendations.[43] Fr George also told us that some felt that COPCA did not fully appreciate the needs of a community such as Ampleforth.[44]

201. Abbot Wright considered the role of Catholic Office for the Protection of Children and Vulnerable Adults (COPCA), in a document entitled ‘Response to National Policy for Responding to Allegations’. It appears that this document was intended for circulation beyond the monastery, as it begins with a short biography of Abbot Timothy Wright. In it he wrote that COPCA ‘exists to serve the Church, not the other was round’. He continued:

Once a body is set up to ensure quality performance in whatever area, it is doomed to fail. We are all tainted by original sin. By highlighting the problem, its existence can then encourage failure. That is why I propose a more realistic approach, low key documentation, minimum regulation, maximum reliance on common sense … abuse, its reporting and the way it is handled are of great sensitivity. When it goes wrong huge damage is caused to communities in ways that neither the Nolan Report, nor COPCA seem to have little awareness [sic]. That lack of awareness is precisely why the work of COPCA is causing so much unease … . If paedophilia is a form of compulsive illness then the degree of responsibility for their actions is to some extent diminished … God continues to love them in their compulsion, they are not cast out of the Church.[45]

202. It is also clear to us that in the period 2001–2005, after the Nolan Report and prior to the election of Cuthbert Madden as abbot, Ampleforth was not as open and transparent as it could have been with the statutory authorities and in some cases hindered their investigations. David Molesworth told us:

Initially the idea of working openly, transparently, trust, that felt very difficult indeed, and we encountered extraordinary resistance ... it was something I had not encountered before anywhere else, this resistance to simply doing safeguarding well ... . Ampleforth was the most complicated professional task that I dealt with in 35 years of social work … I found it in the early days, inward looking, closed and even secretive. I felt they resented external involvement and in particular resented challenge … I felt there was no child protection leadership.

203. This was echoed by Abbot Cuthbert Madden who told us that Timothy Wright’s relationship with police and social services was ‘very uneasy if not profoundly secretive’.[46] We find that Ampleforth fell short of what was required under the Working Together guidance.

Approach to individual cases, risk management and school inspection reports (2001–2005)

204. In 2001, Abbot Timothy Wright asked Dr Ruth Mann to carry out a fresh psychological assessment of Fr Piers, who was at this time still at Osmotherley.[47] In her report, dated 31 October 2001, Dr Ruth Mann stated that:

While it cannot be concluded on the available evidence that Piers is exclusively attracted to young boys (i.e. that he is a ‘paedophile’) there is clear evidence that he is capable of sexual arousal to boys, and that he has sought opportunities in the past to experience this arousal by taking advantage of his position as their carer at Gilling ... there is some suggestion that Piers is also sexually aroused by the idea of violence within sexual encounters. He has admitted becoming sexually aroused while beating young boys.[48]

205. Dr Mann also noted that Fr Piers’ work took him regularly both into schools and into homes where children were present.[49] She recommended he should be removed from parish work and returned to a more secure environment, that for the rest of his life he be given work that excluded the possibility of working with children, and that the abbot consider informing the statutory authorities of the historical allegations.[50]

206. Abbot Wright agreed with Dr Mann that Fr Piers’ risk had been poorly managed in the past and acknowledged that he had contact with children through his parish work. Nonetheless, his view was that there was nothing to be gained by contacting the police; his preferred approach was to ‘find an excuse for moving him back to the abbey and then [give] him work with no contact with children’.[51] This response was contrary to the Nolan Report recommendations, which were clear that historical and contemporary allegations should be treated in the same way and that any such allegations should be reported to the statutory authorities.

207. It was also at about this time, in late 2001, that RC-F29 (dealt with above) returned to Ampleforth. In his case, although Fr Leo Chamberlain recommended that he be subjected to a risk assessment, RC-F29 refused. In contrast to his approach to Fr Piers, Abbot Wright disagreed with Fr Leo, and unilaterally decided that RC-F29 was not a risk to children.

208. As explained above, in January 2002 Fr Chamberlain received information from a past pupil that another monk, RC-F16, may have abused a boy (RC-A96) in his care while a housemaster during the 1980s.[52] The informant said that RC-F16 had groomed RC-A96 and, once the boy turned 18, began a sexual relationship that lasted until RC-A96 was 21.

209. The following month, in February 2002, the ISI carried out an inspection at Ampleforth College. The college had last been inspected in 1995.[53] While the focus of the report was on the quality of education provided, in relation to pupils’ welfare the inspection report notes that child protection policies at the college are ‘well documented and clearly stated’ and properly understood by staff.[54]

210. Despite the very recent Nolan recommendations, Ampleforth delayed reporting RC-F16’s case to social services for about four months, until the end of March 2002.[55] The explanation for this delay was that having become aware of the allegations through a third party, Ampleforth took the view that it was appropriate to first make enquiries themselves. Fr Leo Chamberlain told us that this was justified because the information he had received amounted to a ‘rumour’, rather than ‘what would amount to an allegation’ and so was insufficient to report it to the police.[56] Instead Fr Leo not only took it upon himself to contact RC-A96,[57] speaking to him directly on the phone,[58] but also other former pupils who had been his friends. Abbot Wright apparently paid RC-A96 a visit, though this may have been without Fr Leo’s knowledge.[59]

211. Upon receiving the complaint, social services immediately notified the police and arranged to visit Ampleforth the following day, 28 March 2002, to meet with Fr Leo, Fr Dominic, Fr George and Abbot Madden (who was third master at the time).[60] David Molesworth told us that he was at this stage already ‘alarmed’ to learn of Ampleforth’s delay in contacting the authorities and its decision to visit RC-A96.[61] In his view, this was contrary to the Nolan Report, which requires historical allegations to be dealt with in the same way as current ones.[62] It was also clear to Mr Molesworth that one of Ampleforth’s main concerns at the time was the reputational and publicity implications of the allegation.[63]

212. A further source of concern to the police[64] and social services[65] was that Ampleforth initially refused to withdraw RC-F16 from a school skiing trip that was due to take place the week after the allegations were reported to the statutory authorities. DSU Honeysett has told us that ‘even though there was clearly information that that individual was a risk to children, the concerns that abounded were about the impact on the ski trip. These were the sorts of things that were difficult for us … to understand … that they could think like that.’[66] This was challenged at the time by the statutory authorities, but Fr Leo’s response was:

In my judgment I cannot withdraw RC-F16 from the ski trip ... I accept that there could be subsequent criticism of my having left him in place on the trip and in the house. The best judgment that I can make is that I can provide a coherent defence and that I would be immediately criticised for immediate action without sufficient reason.

It appears that this course of action was at the time also supported by Fr (now Abbot) Cuthbert Madden.[67]

213. RC-A96 was eventually spoken to by police but refused to make a formal complaint. Records from the time indicate that this was because RC-A96 was concerned about the impact on himself and his family.[68] The police also invited RC-F16 to attend an interview, but he declined.[69] As a result, no charges were brought.[70]

214. In April 2002, RC-F16 was suspended from his post at the school but instructed to remain in the abbey.

215. On 2 June 2002, just two months after RC-F16 had been suspended, Dr Ruth Mann wrote to Abbot Timothy expressing her concerns, shared by Dr Elizabeth Mann, about Ampleforth’s ongoing failure to recall Fr Piers from Osmotherley (where he had been sent in 1998), as she had recommended on 31 October 2001 (see above). She told the abbot that she had spoken to COPCA about the case in general terms, without revealing Fr Piers’ name, and that Eileen Shearer was ‘extremely clear that Fr Piers should have been moved back to the monastery on the day the risk assessment report was provided to [the abbot]’.[71] Ruth Mann reiterated her advice that Fr Piers be moved back to the abbey and said that she would notify COPCA if this was not done within seven days (by 9 June 2002).[72]

216. Abbot Wright responded on 3 June 2002. He refused to move Fr Piers, saying that a sudden move would cause ‘more harm than good by increasing speculation’.[73] He assured Dr Mann that both the diocesan child protection officer (at the time Fr Michael Marsden) and Fr George Corrie agreed with his position, and that increased safeguards had been put in place to manage Fr Piers.[74] Dr Ruth Mann alerted COPCA to the contents of her report and the response from the abbot.[75] She concluded she was obliged to notify social services and the police.[76]

217. On 25 June 2002, there was a multi-agency meeting between Ampleforth and representatives from the statutory authorities, including Detective Chief Inspector (as he then was) Honeysett and David Molesworth, in respect of RC-F16. Fr Leo and RC-F18 (who held a position of responsibility in the monastery) were also in attendance. Ampleforth’s actions were criticised by NYP, who said that by contacting the victim, RC-A96, and other potential witnesses, Ampleforth may well have compromised the police investigation.[77]

218. During this meeting, DSU Honeysett said that he did not trust Ampleforth because it had excluded the police from the investigation into RC-F16 and was seeking to protect itself. Fr Leo did not accept this criticism at the time. He maintained that it was appropriate for Ampleforth to conduct its own inquiries first, as they had become aware of the allegation through a third party which did not amount to a disclosure in the sense of the Nolan Report. It is striking that, despite the police’s clear view that Ampleforth had mishandled the case, Fr Leo refused to undertake to change Ampleforth’s approach and procedure to allegations of this nature.[78] DSU Honeysett told us that in his view Ampleforth had knowingly acted in breach of the Nolan recommendations and that they should have referred the case to the statutory authorities at the earliest stage, in January 2002.[79]

219. In evidence to us, Fr Leo Chamberlain accepted that Abbot Timothy Wright’s conduct ‘understandably gave the police the impression that their investigation had been tampered with’[80] and told us that this created a degree of mistrust between the abbey and the police that would last for some time.[81] Abbot Madden also agreed that Ampleforth had been wrong to contact RC-A96[82] and that ‘certainly by the light of today, and possibly then, it should have gone straight to the police’.[83]

220. Both Fr Leo and Abbot Wright’s actions were undoubtedly wrong. No efforts should have been made to engage directly with RC-F96, or other potential witnesses, and the matter should have been reported immediately to the statutory authorities, as recommended by the Nolan Report.

221. In August 2002, Fr Piers returned to the abbey and was given work in the abbey shop.[84] This is a gift shop in the centre of the main hall at Ampleforth, open to monks, students and visitors alike.[85]

222. During this period, following the police investigation, RC-F16 was referred to the Lucy Faithfull Foundation (LFF) by Abbot Timothy Wright for a risk assessment. The assessment was conducted by Joe Sullivan, then principal therapist of the LFF. In his assessment report, dated 20 September 2002, Mr Sullivan made a number of findings. In relation to grooming, he noted that:

RC-F16 admitted befriending RC-A296 and treating him differently because he was attracted to him and enjoyed his company. The impact of this on RC-A296 is likely to have been significant given the position of authority held by RC-F16. In addition, the fact that RC-A296’s mother befriended RC-F16 will also have made the disclosure of any feeling of discomfort about RC-F16’s behaviour more difficult for RC-A296.[86]

223. Mr Sullivan went on to note more broadly that:

It would appear that RC-F16 has normalised his emotionally intimate contact with boys as the years progressed and his position as housemaster solidified. He created routines which allowed him to spend time with the boys he chose as helpers. In addition, his undoubted commitment to and interest in the boys and their parents will have made his behaviour more difficult to challenge as his reputation was reinforced.[87]

224. In terms of specific incidents of sexual abuse, the report stated that RC-F16 admitted to:

acting in a sexually inappropriate manner towards RC-A296 while he was still a student at school. He admits to sexually assaulting RC-A296 on two separate occasions after his eighteenth birthday … he does not wish to disclose this abuse to the police but has indicated that he would not deny the allegations if RC-A296 was to report the incidents to the police.[88]

225. The report concluded that RC-F16:

appears to have been meeting his own emotional needs through his contact with RC-A296 and perhaps other boys. This pattern of behaviour would seem to have developed over a number of years and has become part of RC-F16’s instinctive behaviour. This would suggest that the behaviour is likely to have been used more widely by RC-F16 than exclusively with RC-A296. Hence the suggestion that at least one other boy may have been abused in a similar way by RC-F16 needs to be treated as highly possible … . In my opinion RC-F16 does represent a risk to children.

226. Mr Sullivan recommended that RC-F16 be prevented from future work with children and vulnerable adults and that he undertake a residential therapeutic treatment programme.[89] RC-F16 was subsequently placed on List 99 by the Department for Education and Skills, in February 2003. He was suspended from priestly ministry in August 2003 by Abbot Wright. In October 2003, he was formally exclaustrated (removed from the abbey) for a period of three years. Records indicate that RC-F16 stayed away from the abbey for approximately seven years. We understand that Ampleforth funded his training as a solicitor during this period. In 2012, Abbot Madden began dismissal proceedings and on 1 February 2013 RC-F16 was finally dismissed from the monastery by the Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life.[90]

227. Turning back to the cases of Fr Gregory and Fr Piers, in October 2002, Abbot Wright recalled Fr Gregory from Workington parish, moved him back to Ampleforth Abbey, and asked him to undertake a risk assessment.[91] According to Abbot Madden, this decision was made on the basis of Ampleforth’s ‘increasing knowledge of the problems associated with the sexual abuse of children’.[92]

228. As is set out below, the relationship between Abbot Wright and the Manns began to deteriorate in early 2003 following disagreements over the risk management of three monks, Fr Gregory, Fr Piers and RC-F27, and Abbot Wright’s failure to cooperate and refusal to disclose information that the Manns had requested in order to complete their assessments. Drs Ruth and Elizabeth Mann ultimately took the view that the safeguarding measures at Ampleforth were inadequate and that the Nolan recommendations were not being properly implemented. Faced with the abbot’s lack of cooperation they alerted the statutory authorities in July 2003.

229. In early 2003, Dr Elizabeth Mann became aware that Fr Piers and RC-F27 had been working in the abbey shop, where they had unsupervised contact with children, visitors and guests. On 18 January 2003, Dr Mann shared her concerns about the inappropriateness of the two monks being appointed to the shop with Fr George and urged him to warn the abbot of the risk this created.[93]

230. We note that SMA was first inspected by the National Care Standards Commission (NCSC) during this period. The purpose of the inspection was to ‘determine whether the welfare of children ... is adequately safeguarded and promoted while they are accommodated by the school’ and specifically ‘the extent to which the school is meeting the National Minimum Standards for Boarding Schools’.[94] In a report dated 24 February 2003, the inspectors concluded that overall there had been no failure by SMA to comply with its safeguarding duty under section 87(1) Children Act 1989. However, it was observed that ‘discussions with boarding staff indicated different levels of awareness and experience in dealing with child protection issues’ and further that ‘while clearance is undertaken for teaching and matronal staff school is not undertaking CRB checks for some staff having contact with boarders including Gap Students and visiting activity staff’.[95] The NCSC recommended that ‘all staff with boarding duties should receive up to date training in child protection issues’[96] and that ‘in the interests of child welfare and good standards of professional practice school needs to develop the practice it uses to recruit and vet staff’.[97]

231. On 27 February 2003, Abbot Wright asked Dr Elizabeth Mann to assess Fr Gregory.[98] Dr Mann told us that the abbot did not disclose prior to the assessment that Fr Gregory had a history of child sexual abuse[99] (namely the RC-A87 case described above). In fact, the abbot said that the purpose of the assessment was ‘to help provide basis for future ministry’. We have heard that, during the assessment process, Fr Gregory admitted to Dr Mann that he had sexually abused numerous children while teaching at school. (These were boys other than RC-A87 who was the only known victim at the time.) Dr Mann reported Fr Gregory’s disclosures to the abbot and requested access to his files, but the abbot refused to comply with her request. He did however disclose details of his previous psychiatric assessments, but these were brief, leading Dr Mann to believe that the abbot was withholding vital information. Dr Mann told the abbot that he needed to report Fr Gregory to the statutory authorities and that if he failed to do so she would notify them herself.

232. As for Fr Piers, on 10 March 2003, Fr George wrote to COPCA and maintained that Ampleforth had complied with Dr Ruth Mann’s recommendations.[100] He informed COPCA that Fr Piers had been recalled to the abbey where he was subject to the ‘normal rules of monastic enclosures and permissions’[101] and excluded from teaching in the school and from any involvement in the pastoral needs of children.[102] Fr George was asked to comment about this letter during the Inquiry hearings, and to clarify the extent of the restrictions placed upon Fr Piers once he returned to Ampleforth. He stated that Fr Piers could not leave the monastery without permission. No other restrictions were put in place. Fr George told us that at the time he wrote the letter he believed the restrictions to be adequate, however he now accepted that the measures were insufficient.[103]

233. On 24 March 2003, Dr Elizabeth Mann met with Fr Leo at Ampleforth. She reiterated her concern over the lack of a child protection policy at the abbey,[104] and over Fr Piers and RC-F27 being allowed to work in the shop (which in her view was contrary to the recommendations in their respective risk assessments)[105] considering the risk they represented and in the absence of the knowledge or consent of the parents of the pupils. Fr Leo said that he was also concerned about the situation.[106] He described the difficulties that he had experienced in other cases where allegations had been made and the abbot had intervened unilaterally, as in the case of RC-F16. Dr Mann suggested that she could write to the abbot saying that if Fr Piers and RC-F27 were not removed immediately from the shop, she would report the situation to the statutory authorities. Fr Leo advised against this course of action on the basis that ‘to proceed in that way would certainly end the relationship with the [A]bbot’. Instead, he agreed to take Dr Mann’s concerns to the abbot, which he did, in writing, on 12 April 2003.[107]

234. In or around April 2003, Abbot Wright sought a second opinion about Fr Piers Grant-Ferris, and commissioned a third expert’s report from Dr Seymour Spencer, upon whom he had previously relied in 1975 and 1995. In that report, dated 21 May 2003, Dr Spencer criticised Dr Elizabeth Mann’s assessment of the level of risk, saying that the restrictions placed on Fr Piers at the abbey, where he was prohibited from having any dealings with the pupils and from hearing confessions, were appropriate.[108]

235. On 10 May 2003, Fr George Corrie, with whom she then had a good relationship, and who had himself in correspondence expressed concerns about Abbot Wright’s actions, appeared now to change his mind and, in a sudden U-turn, wrote to Dr Elizabeth Mann:

There is no concern about any monk working in any of our monastic works. In our central building, there is now the abbey shop, which is for the use of our increasing number of guests and visitors. Father Piers and RC-F27 work for one session per week in the shop. They are never alone. Neither of these monks work in school. Neither has any pastoral responsibility whatsoever with the students ... . As child protection coordinator, I do not see the central building area in which the abbey shop is situated as a risk area. It is a much less risk area than any public area or any public shopping arcade in the country.[109]

236. Similarly, three days later, on 13 May 2003, Fr Leo wrote to Dr Elizabeth Mann saying that he had spoken to the abbot and Fr George about Fr Piers and RC-F27 working in the shop. It is apparent from the contents and tone of his letter that Fr Leo’s attitude had changed since his meeting with Dr Mann only two months prior. He said:

Since I raised the concerns of which you informed me, I have been given an account of proper and sufficient steps taken by Father Abbot, with the help of Father Prior as the community child protection coordinator. I’m not clear how you have a responsibility regarding these historic cases because others carried out the risk assessment. Fr Abbot tells me that both RC-F27 and Father Piers Grant-Ferris are in continuing contact with psychiatrists, who are ordinarily obliged by the ethics of the profession to provide information if it is their view that harm is threatened to others, especially children. He has not been so informed, and it appears that there might be a professional disagreement with the risks assessments ... . In these circumstances, I would judge it acceptable, and in accord with my own duty of care, that these brethren should be able to work with others in the abbey shop, something of a goldfish bowl situated in the main hall which is open territory for visitors, guests and students ... . The monks concerned do not enter school.[110]

237. Fr Leo was asked about this letter during the hearing. He told us:

The question was that Abbot Timothy wanted these two men to have something to do in the shop, and the easiest thing, and I did suggest it at some point, was that they should be withdrawn so that matters could be considered. He was not willing to do that … . He knew my view was that they should be withdrawn … I was trying to work with everyone concerned. If it was an absolute point of principle with the [A]bbot, then because it was a very visible place, I thought, well we can probably make it work, but I think I may have been wrong about that.[111]

238. Eileen Shearer, formerly director of COPCA, gave evidence to the Inquiry, and was asked about the decision that had been made to allow Fr Piers and another monk, RC-F27, to work in the shop. She told us that in her view it had plainly been inappropriate.[112] This was a correct assessment.

239. On 1 July 2003, Dr Elizabeth Mann contacted social services to report Ampleforth’s handling of Fr Piers’ case and failure to respond to her and Dr Ruth Mann’s advice. Social services notified NYP and a strategy meeting between the Manns and statutory authorities was held on 10 July 2003.[113] The strategy meeting concluded that there was sufficient level of concern to warrant an investigation into Fr Piers and, more generally, into Ampleforth’s ability to safeguard children.[114]

240. Between July and November 2003, the statutory authorities conducted preliminary enquiries into Ampleforth.[115] On 29 July 2003, there was a meeting attended by DSU Honeysett, David Molesworth and representatives from the National Care Standards Commission, amongst others. They outlined their concerns relating to Ampleforth’s failure to act within the Working Together and Nolan guidance, share information and adopt effective child protection procedures.[116]

241. A further meeting took place on 4 August 2003 at which Abbot Wright was present. During this meeting, the abbot said that it had been inappropriate for the Manns to have reported the Fr Piers case to social services without his consent. He emphasised that he had a duty of care to his monks. NYP told the abbot that they disagreed with his view that Fr Piers was a low risk, and that they preferred Dr Mann’s assessment to that of Dr Spencer. A risk management plan was put in place for Fr Piers, pending the completion of the police investigation. Fr Piers was to be accompanied at all times by another monk whenever he left Ampleforth and was prohibited from entering school buildings and having any unsupervised contact with children.[117] On 13 August 2003, Ampleforth provided information to the statutory authorities about seven monks in respect of whom there were child protection concerns, including RC-F29, Fr Gregory, Fr Piers, Fr Bernard and RC-F27.

242. In relation to Fr Gregory, by October 2003 Abbot Wright was still refusing to cooperate with Dr Elizabeth Mann and to disclose the information she had requested to complete her assessment of the monk.[118] On 22 October 2003, Dr Mann referred Fr Gregory’s case to David Molesworth.

243. As outlined, on 14 January 2004 the NYP investigation team was contacted by a solicitor who complained that his client, RC-A123, had been abused by RC-F18 for three years in the early 1990s. The allegations included anal rape and named other boys (see above). This disclosure required immediate action given RC-F18 still retained a role at school at the time. The police took statements from RC-A123 and on 9 February 2004 arrested RC-F18 at the abbey. DSU Honeysett told us that no liaison took place between Ampleforth and the statutory authorities prior to the arrest, and that the community cooperated with police during the arrest and the subsequent search of RC-F18’s living quarters.[119]

244. RC-F18 denied the allegations. DSU Honeysett told us that the police were then ‘faced with a difficult position’. He could not impose bail conditions on someone who had been arrested but not yet charged. He had no option but to release RC-F18 back to the abbey into the Ampleforth community without the police having the power to impose any restrictions.[120] RC-F18 however did voluntarily agree to withdraw from school and to have no access to children while the investigation was ongoing.[121]

245. In parallel, the statutory authorities completed their preliminary inquiries into Ampleforth during this period and formally launched Operation Ellipse. A multi-agency strategic planning meeting took place in February 2004 with senior representatives from NYP, NYCC Child Services, the Commission for Social Care Inspection, NYCC Local Education Authority and the CPS. Terms of reference and policies were agreed in relation to the media, witness management, prosecutions and decisions to take ‘no further action’.[122]

246. In March 2004, both SMA and Ampleforth College were inspected by the NCSC. The inspections were carried out in the wake of the publicity surrounding Operation Ellipse and were focused on child protection.[123] In relation to SMA, the inspection report concluded that: ‘The school continues to comply with its obligations to safeguard and promote the welfare of boarding pupils ... child protection policies and procedures are in place and staff, including ancillary staff, have an understanding of child protection issues and appropriate responses.’[124] A similar conclusion was reached in respect of Ampleforth College, with inspectors noting that overall they were ‘satisfied that the measures in place for the protection of children and for the wider purpose of promoting and safeguarding their welfare at the time of inspection were of a high quality’.[125]

247. Although the college’s child protection policy was found to be compliant with the Working Together guidance, it was noted that ‘the requirement for a referral to social services within 24 hours, while known to senior staff, is not explicit within that document’ and the NCSC recommended that the policy be amended to make this clear.[126] We also note that in terms of the recruitment of monastic staff, the inspectors recorded that:

These staff do not apply for posts in the same way as lay people but are deployed by the abbey as part of their service to the community. The headmaster described the assessment process which is undertaken by senior office holders in the monastic community and himself. Appropriate checks are also undertaken. These records, however, are held by the abbey and not evidenced with staff recruitment records held within school. Inspectors felt that this could be dealt with in a similar way to gap students by an appropriate office holder within the monastery giving a written report that such checks have been undertaken and that there was no reason to believe the person was unsuitable to work within the college.[127]

248. In June 2004, Rob Turnbull, a senior crown prosecutor with the CPS, reviewed RC-F18’s file and advised that there was insufficient evidence to support the allegations and therefore no realistic prospect of conviction.[128] We have not heard any evidence from him nor has he made a statement, but it appears the basis of this decision was that the other boys named by RC-A123 had not corroborated his account. They did indicate that a good deal of inappropriate activity had taken place while RC-F18 was present but said that he had not taken part.[129] It was thought that this was likely to affect his credibility as a witness.[130] Another potential bar to successful prosecution was said to be RC-A123’s mental condition. He was suffering from depression and bipolar disorder and had begun to make his disclosures shortly after a release from hospital. Dr Judith Earnshaw of the LFF, who assessed RC-F18 in 2007 (as outlined above), said in her report that ‘RC-A123’s bipolar disorder may have been a factor in his making the allegations’.[131] The material recovered in RC-F18’s computer was also considered by the CPS. Although obscene chat material and pornographic photos of young males had been found,[132] which as DSU Honeysett told us in evidence clearly indicated an interest in adolescent boys, there was no proof that the males in the pornographic images were under age and that a criminal offence had been committed.[133]

249. In relation to the CPS decision not to prosecute, DSU Honeysett said:

I think the best way to describe how we felt about it was that this appeared to be a grooming offence, and grooming I think had become an offence in 2003, but these offences were all committed well before that offence existed ... [The CPS] gave it detailed consideration and, despite the fact that it left us with some difficulties, I understand fully why this decision was made.[134]

250. As indicated above, although no charges were ultimately brought in relation to RC-A123, the police indicated that they had ‘serious concerns’ about RC-F18 and his suitability to work with children because of what other pupils had said about his behaviour as housemaster, including that he encouraged boys to masturbate in his presence.

251. In September 2004, there was a full boarding welfare inspection by NCSC at Ampleforth College. The NCSC report noted that the recommendations made in March 2004 (discussed above) had been fully addressed by the college[135] and found that it met the applicable regulatory requirements.

252. On 9 December 2004, Fr Piers was arrested for offences of indecent assault and released on bail.

253. On 31 January 2005, Assistant Chief Constable Peter Bagshaw of NYP wrote to Abbot Wright to agree risk management measures for RC-F18. He noted that:

[w]hilst RC-F18’s presence at Ampleforth is considered to present some risk given the close proximity of the college it was felt by all concerned that the most appropriate way forward, at this time, was through a combination of surveillance and support from within the Ampleforth community who would be aware of the concerns and risks and could act to reduce these to a minimum.[136]

254. Assistant Chief Constable Bagshaw recommended that RC-F18 continue to be excluded from any role connected with school; that arrangements be made to minimise his contact with children arising from his role at the abbey shop; that he be excluded from all school events attended by prospective or current pupils; and that he be prevented from taking confession from any person under the age of 18.[137]

255. On 9 February 2005, Abbot Wright confirmed he would cooperate with the NYP and that appropriate steps would be taken to manage the risk posed by RC-F18.[138] He arranged for him to be risk assessed and instructed Dr Stuart Carney.

256. DSU Honeysett was asked during our hearings whether it was appropriate for RC-F18 to return to the monastery and in particular to work in the abbey shop. He told us:

That was the best we could manage ... . He was within the abbey and our view was that, actually, that’s the best place. In all of this, the abbot has more control over priests than certainly I had over my staff ... . He worked in the shop ... but he was never alone. If he was there and students walked in ... he was required to leave, and these things were set in place.[139]

257. He continued:

I think the difficulty – this is where you go back to, that is their home ... and [in] the abbey itself ... there were no children, access was not for children. So we were satisfied that the risk management that was in place was safe for children who were there during that time ... I’m not sure if we could have said ‘he has to leave the monastery’ but we’d already decided that ... by keeping him in the monastery, that was the best option to protect children.[140]

258. The approach of the police was here inconsistent. Less than 18 months before, in August 2003, the NYP had been clear that it was inappropriate for Fr Piers Grant-Ferris – then still unconvicted – to work in the abbey shop where he might have contact with children and young people (see above). Yet here, in February 2005, the police appear to have endorsed RC-F18 being allowed to do so. The lack of consistency may well have led to confusion over the serious decisions that the abbey had to make over the management and placement of accused monks.

Abbot Cuthbert Madden (2005–present)

Approach to individual cases, risk management and school inspection reports (2005–2016)

259. On 15 February 2005, Cuthbert Madden was elected abbot of Ampleforth. He has told us that he has taken a very different view about the role of abbot from that which was held by Dom Timothy Wright. Abbot Cuthbert Madden said that he now shares everything to do with safeguarding with his council, AAT and SLET. He said:

I can see no reason for keeping materials away from people who are helping us to run our school safely. ... My duty is to run a school where children are safe to the best of my abilities, and that’s what I have tried to do.[141]

We have also been told by Ampleforth that:

[it] has had since 2005, a policy of immediately passing on all allegations and concerns to the statutory authorities in the first instance. Ampleforth recognises the need to involve, as early as possible, external agencies in the investigation of allegations and complaints. That practice has remained consistent since 2005 ... . Nevertheless, it should not be forgotten that, since 1995, contemporaneous allegations of abuse had been passed to the police and statutory authorities with little delay.[142]

260. On 16 February 2005, the day after Abbot Madden’s election, Fr Gregory Carroll was arrested and charged. That April, Dr Carney completed his assessment of RC-F18 and found that there was little evidence to suggest that RC-F18 presented a significant sexual risk to minors.[143] His report was disclosed by Ampleforth to the statutory authorities and the DfE.[144] We note in that regard that Abbot Wright initially stated that he considered it would be a breach of RC-F18’s medical confidentiality and human rights to share the report, unless it indicated a serious risk.[145]

261. In May 2005, there was an ISI inspection at SMA. The purpose of the inspection was to report on SMA’s compliance with the Education (Independent School Standards) (England) Regulations 2003 (2003 Regulations). It made no findings on the National Minimum Boarding Standards.[146] This was the first ISI inspection since the merger between Ampleforth College Junior School and St Martin’s School, Nawton.[147] The inspectors found that SMA complied with the requirements as set out in the 2003 regulations for the welfare of pupils[148] and that ‘measures to safeguard and promote the welfare of pupils are “very good”’. It was also said that ‘child protection procedures are in place with clear guidance to staff’, however ‘[a] governor has yet to be appointed to oversee the procedures’ and ‘[t]he current policy of permitting teachers to counsel or advise individual pupils in private does not match recommended best practice’.

262. On 23 September 2005, Fr Gregory was sentenced to four years’ imprisonment (reduced to three years on appeal in January 2006), lifelong registration on the Sex Offenders Register and a lifelong ban from working with children.[149]

263. Following Fr Piers’ conviction and sentence, Abbot Cuthbert Madden consulted the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith in Rome on suitable restrictions for him on release, but Fr Piers requested dispensation, which was approved on 12 January 2007. He was released from prison later that month,[150] after which the abbey provided him a place to live until his death on 8 October 2015.[151]

264. Operation Ellipse came to an end in June 2006. By this point, the relationship between Ampleforth and the statutory authorities had, on the face of it, improved. In June 2006, Abbot Madden organised a ‘safeguarding conference’ at Ampleforth with the statutory authorities. David Molesworth told us that, at the time, he saw this as ‘very positive’ and a ‘real leap forward’ as it showed that Ampleforth was finally taking steps to ‘own’ the safeguarding agenda.[152]

265. On 22 June 2006, Abbot Cuthbert Madden wrote to Andrew Dawson, Ampleforth’s lawyer:

What I would like to achieve, if this was possible, was some consensus that Ampleforth has been seen to change – at least as far as the police are concerned. Following on from this, I would hope that the social service department would agree that we have also done our best to be open and transparent in the recent past. I believe that this antedates my election, Father George had an important part in this process, but if they want to tie things to a new headmaster and a new abbot, I will let them. I do think we need to raise with them our concerns that our own desire to be seen to be open now seems to work against us because we are referring everything to them – which could lead, I hope, to a suggestion about how we obtain information about ‘grey’ cases – always the most difficult area. It would be good if we could tackle the area of suspensions and their effect in boarding schools.[153]

266. However, we have also seen correspondence from that period which suggests that although senior members of the community appeared to cooperate with the statutory authorities, they were in reality still reluctant to openly engage with them. We do note that, despite becoming aware of this correspondence, Mr Molesworth nonetheless concluded his evidence by saying:

I felt they resented external involvement and in particular resented challenge … I was there to challenge … . There was no child protection leadership. As I say, I believe Cuthbert Madden wished to put in place proper child protection leadership, so having been not happy with what I [have] read, I’ll step aside from that and say I do think he wanted to make it better.

267. In November 2006, the Commission for Social Care Inspection (CSCI) carried out an inspection at SMA. The CSCI was created by the Health and Social Care (Community Health and Standards) Act 2003 and replaced the NCSC.[154] It was dissolved in 2009 and succeeded by the Care Quality Commission.[155] The CSCI’s report, published in January 2007, found that the school had met the national minimum standards related to safeguarding and promoting pupils’ health and welfare.[156] It was noted that:

The school has a policy for responding to child protection concerns and the headmaster is currently updating these. He intends to develop links with the local Safeguarding Board. Training for staff in child protection is provided and the boarders say they feel staff are concerned about their safety. The headmaster is the child protection officer for school, and where there has been concerns requiring further enquiry, the headmaster has responded in a positive and professional way in line with the procedures.[157]

268. In July 2007, the Cumberlege Commission published its report, ‘Safeguarding with Confidence: Keeping Children and Vulnerable Adults Safe in the Catholic Church’.

269. Fr Gregory was released from prison in 2007. With the agreement of the statutory authorities, he returned to Ampleforth and moved into Plantation House,[158] a building located in the grounds of Ampleforth, approximately two miles south of the abbey,[159] just north of Redcar Farm. A Covenant of Care was put in place[160] and he was assigned to live with a minder, an older monk called Fr Adrian Gilman.

270. Fr Gregory was subsequently moved back into the abbey after Fr Adrian became infirm. Abbot Cuthbert Madden sought advice from the statutory authorities and the safeguarding commission on suitable risk management measures.[161] NYP conducted an assessment and advised the abbot that Fr Gregory could reside in the abbey.[162]

271. RC-F18 remained barred from school until July 2007. A referral made by the Department for Children, Schools and Families led to his being reassessed by Dr Earnshaw. That same month, the department also advised RC-F18 that his suitability to work with children was under review.[163]

272. Dr Earnshaw completed her report in December 2007. She concluded that the allegations of sexual abuse from RC-A123 were likely unfounded[164] but that there were sufficient concerns about his conduct as housemaster to render it inappropriate for him to carry on working with young people.[165] She found RC-F18’s behaviour was likely to have created ‘an atmosphere which felt unsafe or uncomfortable for some pupils’[166] and further that ‘[RC-F18] is likely to have been meeting some of his frustrated emotional and sexual needs through his contact with the boys, even though I do accept that he had no intention of abusing them … .’[167] With regards to the abbey, she concluded as follows:

I also think that the Ampleforth community of the time is even more responsible by failing to provide preparation, feedback for such an inexperienced teacher in such a sensitive environment …. the facilities for showering and changing at Ampleforth militate against appropriate privacy.[168]

273. In April 2008, there was an ISI inspection at Ampleforth College. The focus of the inspection was the college’s compliance with the 2003 Regulations and no findings were made in respect of the national minimum standards.[169] The college was said to meet the regulatory requirements for the welfare of pupils.[170]

274. In January 2009, there was an Ofsted inspection at Ampleforth College. The previous full boarding welfare inspection at the college had been carried out by the NCSC around four years before, in September 2004 (see above). The inspectors found that Ampleforth College provided an excellent quality of care for children who were boarders and gave school an ‘outstanding’ quality rating,[171] including in relation to child protection.[172]

275. In September 2009, the Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families made an order under section 142 Children’s Act 2002 disqualifying RC-F18 from working with children and young people, including both paid and unpaid work in the public, private, voluntary and volunteering sectors.[173] He further directed that no appeal against his decision was possible for a period of 10 years.[174]

276. In October 2009, SMA was inspected by Ofsted and rated ‘outstanding’ overall. The inspectors found that the school provided ‘an excellent quality of care for those children who are boarders’, that there was ‘a high level of awareness of safeguarding at the school’ and that ‘positive links [had] been established between the school and the Local Safeguarding Children’s Board … . All boarding staff have been trained in child protection awareness.’[175] It was further noted that the headmaster had updated the school’s child protection policy, as recommended during the 2006 inspection[176] (see above). The report’s sole recommendation was for all staff involved in recruitment to receive safer recruitment training.[177]

277. In June 2010, RC-F18 was notified by the Independent Safeguarding Authority of his transfer to the ISA Children’s Barred List following a change in the law. In February 2012, the authority was notified by the Criminal Records Bureau of a positive match for RC-F18. This was because of his employment in the abbey shop. As a result, there was a review of RC-F18’s position at Ampleforth carried out in conjunction with the DfE.[178]

278. In February and March 2011, SMA was inspected for the second time by the ISI. As noted above, the last ISI inspection had been carried out some six years prior, in May 2005. As with the 2005 ISI inspection, the focus of the 2011 inspection was to assess SMA’s compliance with the Education (Independent Schools Standards) (England) Regulations 2010 (which replaced the 2003 Regulations). The inspectors found that SMA continued to meet all its regulatory obligations (under the 2010 Regulations). With regards to safeguarding, it was said that ‘the quality of the arrangements for welfare, health and safety are excellent’, ‘due attention is given to safeguarding and promoting pupils’ health and well-being’ and that ‘the safeguarding policy is clear and training for all staff has been undertaken’.[179] The school’s governance arrangements were ‘good’[180] and the governing body was found to be ‘aware of its responsibilities for child protection … and appropriate training has been undertaken, confirming its commitment to the safeguarding and welfare of pupils, throughout school’.[181]

279. The Carlile Review of Ealing Abbey was published in September 2011.

280. In September 2012, the Department, as mentioned above, wrote to the abbot to raise concerns about RC-F18’s continued presence on site.[182] Because of these concerns, RC-F18 was removed from Ampleforth and sent to a contemplative monastery with no external apostolate. The abbey was made aware of the allegations against him.[183]

281. In January and February 2012, Abbot Madden wrote to the DfE to inform them of the measures that had been put in place for Fr Gregory (and for RC-F18 and RC-F32, two other monks who potentially posed a risk to children and who were living in the abbey at the time).[184] In September 2012, the DfE responded, indicating that in their view the arrangements were incompatible with Lord Carlile’s recommendation that abusive monks should not reside in monasteries attached to schools, and of the Independent Schools Standards Regulations and the national minimum standards for boarding schools.[185] A meeting was subsequently arranged on 6 November 2012[186] between representatives of the abbey, the SLET and the DfE at which Abbot Cuthbert Madden tried to persuade the DfE the three monks could be safely accommodated at the abbey.[187] He failed.

282. Fr Gregory was moved to a strictly contemplative monastery with no external mission. A revised Covenant of Care was put in place and the community was made aware of his offending history.[188]

283. In early 2013, while there, Fr Gregory developed a fixation towards a young novice and breached his Covenant of Care.[189] As a result, Abbot Madden gave him a formal warning and then referred his case to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF) for dismissal action[190] and removed him into a MAPPA-approved private property in York.[191] RC-F18 was removed from his abbey and moved to York to supervise Fr Gregory.[192]

284. Meanwhile, in January 2013, the ISI inspected Ampleforth College in relation to both the 2010 regulations and the national minimum standards. We note that until September 2011, boarding welfare inspections were carried out by Ofsted.[193] The January 2013 inspection report concluded that school had met all its regulatory requirements.[194] In relation to safeguarding, the arrangements in place were said to be ‘excellent’, the inspectors finding that ‘school has put in place safeguarding arrangements which have regard to official guidance, and which take proper account of the context of school. A suitable strategy for safe recruitment, and arrangements for the training of staff for child protection both meet requirements.’ The inspectors also commented on the recent addition in 2012 of lay trustees as members of the SLET (see above) and noted that ‘trustees ensure that excellent systems are in place for safeguarding and child protection’.[195]

285. In May 2013, the ISI carried out another inspection at SMA, this time focused on boarding welfare and compliance with the national minimum standards. The previous boarding welfare inspection had been undertaken by Ofsted, in October 2009 (see above), and it was observed by the ISI that school had complied with the recommendation in the Ofsted report that appropriate staff undertake safer training recruitment.[196] The ISI inspectors found that school continued to meet the national minimum standards for welfare and safeguarding.[197]

286. Fr Gregory subsequently asked to be allowed to petition for a dispensation from the obligations of the priesthood and his monastic vows, rather than go through the dismissal process. His petition was forwarded to the CDF in Rome and was granted in December 2013.[198]

287. After Fr Gregory was laicised, RC-F18 was sent under a Covenant of Care[199] to a different abbey[200] which is a contemplative community of Benedictine women and has no external apostolate. In 2014, it was agreed by Dom Yeo and the archdiocese of the Birmingham safeguarding commission that RC-F18 would remain at that abbey. He currently works as an assistant chaplain and regularly teaches at the abbey.[201] We heard evidence from Dom Yeo that although the abbess of the abbey to which he was sent knew that RC-F18 had been investigated, she did not know the details of the allegations that had been made against him, nor did she wish to know.[202] Dom Yeo told us that he had ‘sympathy with her position’.[203] He did not consider that it was his role to provide her with the details of what RC-F18 was alleged to have done,[204] the most he could do was make sure that ‘Abbot Cuthbert knew that this was an issue which needed to be looked at’.[205]

288. We take the view that Dom Yeo should have made sure that the abbess had all the relevant information about RC-F18, particularly as it was he who was in correspondence with her. While it may have been the case that it was Abbot Cuthbert Madden’s responsibility, Dom Richard Yeo had an obligation to ensure that the full information was conveyed to the abbess, and should himself have told her.

289. In May 2013, RC-F27 admitted to Abbot Cuthbert Madden that he had indeed been in a sexual relationship with RC-A223 (see above). The abbot notified the police and social services. In June 2013, the safeguarding commission became involved in managing RC-F27 and drew up a Covenant of Care and Disciplinary Decree. His faculties concerning preaching, hearing confessions and celebrating sacraments within the diocese of Middlesbrough were revoked.[206] He sought to appeal his covenant, but this was ultimately rejected by the Holy See.

290. In July 2014, Fr Gregory, with the approval of the statutory authorities, moved into a house purchased for him by the abbey in nearby Redcar. He is currently under a new Covenant of Care managed by the diocese of Middlesbrough.[207]

291. In November 2014, there was a further accusation levelled at RC-F27, which Mick Walker referred to the statutory authorities, but NYP decided that there was insufficient evidence to proceed. The abbey agreed to fund a course of counselling for the victim, RC-A99, but without any admissions as to liability.[208] We now know that in late 2015, during a risk assessment commissioned by Abbot Cuthbert Madden, RC-F27 made further admissions to having sexual relationships with four former pupils who at the time were aged between 18 and 20, including RC-A223. The assessment found that he continued to pose a risk and that the restrictions should be maintained.[209]

292. In giving evidence, Abbot Cuthbert Madden told us that he considers RC-F27 to be an ongoing risk,[210] but that the view of both Ampleforth and the statutory authorities is that it is better for him to be in the abbey, where he can be monitored.[211] RC-F27 has therefore remained at the abbey for more than 20 years after the first allegations were made in 1995.[212]

293. In January 2016, the ISI inspected Ampleforth College. The focus of the inspection was the school’s compliance with the national minimum standards. As set out above, boarding welfare had previously been inspected by the ISI in 2013. The 2016 inspection report found that the Ampleforth College continued to comply with its regulatory requirements,[213] including in relation to welfare and safeguarding. There were no boarding recommendations.[214]

294. At a meeting of Ampleforth’s safeguarding commission in June 2017, it was recorded that RC-F18 (referred to above) remains subject to the safeguarding plan (formerly known as a Covenant of Care) first imposed in 2012 and that there had been no reported breaches. He is still on the Disclosure and Barring Service’s barred list.[215]

More recent allegations (2016–present)

295. In August 2016, Abbot Cuthbert Madden himself faced allegations of child sexual abuse. As soon as he became aware of the allegations, Abbot Cuthbert Madden, in line with church policy, stepped aside and handed his power as religious superior of Ampleforth Abbey to his prior, Fr Terence Richardson. On 19 August 2016 he left Ampleforth at the request of the prior and the abbot’s council, and moved to monastery 115 miles away, where he remains.[216] NYP launched a full investigation. In November 2016, having considered all the evidence, NYP made a formal decision to discontinue proceedings on the basis that there was insufficient evidence.

296. On conclusion of the police investigation, the diocese of Salford announced that there would be an internal review into Abbot Cuthbert Madden’s suitability to resume his duties as abbot of Ampleforth. The investigation has now concluded. There has also been a further review by an independent panel which gave its conclusions on 28 March 2018. We understand that Abbot Cuthbert will be returning to his post.

297. In his evidence to the Inquiry, Abbot Cuthbert Madden reflected on his experience, and was critical of the Salford diocese investigation process. He said:

The police investigation was swift, comparatively speaking. It was 11 weeks. The police were courteous, concerned with the welfare of everybody involved in that investigation, and I think they worked through the matter as comprehensively as they could. There’s something of a contrast with the church investigation, which has been going on now for at least 55 ... weeks. It is a very lengthy process. I am not entirely clear about the allegations that are being investigated because they have shifted. I have been required to be alone when I am interviewed, which was not the case with the police investigation, which I have found very stressful ... I have had, in effect, two psychosexual assessments. I’m not sure about the qualifications of the person carrying out the first ... . It was certainly a very different experience to the second, which was carried out by a professional ... . I have had no access to the papers on which my case is being judged. I have been unable to have these papers so I can reflect calmly and carefully on what’s being said and receive appropriate legal advice, and so I think there is something of a contrast between the two processes.[217]

298. He went on to comment that:

The kind of skills and the kind of talents which you need to investigate this kind of situation well are unlikely to be found in every single diocese. The diocese is too small a structure to have the finance available to do this. I think that probably needs to be reframed on a provincial or national basis, and I think the process itself needs some fairly careful re-examination. I think, finally, that accountability probably needs to be to some kind of board with a wide-ranging and appropriate membership, because one of the things that I have learnt from these past years at the abbey when I have been trying to deal with safeguarding is that it’s wrong to put the burden of safeguarding onto one person’s shoulders, and actually, you’re in a much, much, better position in terms of making a right decision when you have access to social services and the police.[218]

299. In January 2017, the DfE asked the ISI to carry out an unannounced emergency visit at Ampleforth College to assess child protection and safeguarding arrangements. Specifically, the ISI was commissioned to report on how the school had handled recent complaints, including against Abbot Madden, Dara de Cogan and RC-F91.[219] The ISI inspection team found that in each case:

the school followed appropriate procedures as outlined in their safeguarding policy, liaised appropriately with external agencies and followed the advice given … evidence shows provision and procedures at both abbey and education trust level to be both effective and transparent, and rigorously implemented to the benefit of pupils’ well-being. This is replicated in knowledgeable and effective implementation of the school’s safeguarding procedures, which benefits from unusually close links with both LADO and police.

The inspectors concluded that the school was meeting its regulatory requirements.


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