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IICSA Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse

The Roman Catholic Church (EBC) Case Study: Ealing Abbey and St Benedict’s School Investigation Report

A.3: Procedure adopted by the Inquiry

9. The process adopted by the Inquiry is set out in Annex 1 to this report. Core participant status was granted under Rule 5 of the Inquiry Rules 2006 to 23 complainants and victims and nine other individuals or institutions. The Inquiry held preliminary hearings on 5 June 2018 and 1 November 2018. The Inquiry held its substantive public hearings in this investigation over five sitting days between 4 and 8 February 2019.

10. In our first report into the EBC, Ampleforth and Downside, we provided a brief explanation of the EBC, its structure and how it fits within the wider Roman Catholic Church together with a summary outline of the relevant legislation, reports and guidance.[1] We also considered the background of the Nolan and Cumberlege reviews extensively in our Ampleforth and Downside report, together with the efforts made by the EBC to implement Nolan (and to a lesser extent to pay regard to Cumberlege), and so do not consider these matters here.

11. The Inquiry heard a brief Opening Statement from Counsel to the Inquiry on 4 February 2019, and Closing Statements from all core participants on 8 February 2019. Witnesses who gave evidence to the Inquiry included complainant core participants, who gave accounts of the sexual abuse they suffered. The Inquiry received evidence orally, in writing and through disclosure of documents from a number of corporate witnesses, including on behalf of Ealing Abbey and St Benedict’s School, the Metropolitan Police, the Crown Prosecution Service, the Diocese of Westminster, Independent Schools Inspectorate and Charity Commission.

12. We have also heard further evidence from the EBC in respect of its response to allegations of child sexual abuse within its institutions. In addition to hearing again from Dom Richard Yeo, Abbot President of the EBC from 2001 to 2017, we also heard from his successor Abbot President Christopher Jamison, who gave evidence as to the EBC’s acknowledgment of the many failings identified in our report into Ampleforth and Downside, the action taken to address these, and the efforts that he told us are being made to improve safeguarding within its institutions. Many of these are still in their infancy, so we have found ourselves unable to address the question of how effective they may prove to be in the future.

13. We have sought evidence from the Holy See, initially through a formal request made to the Apostolic Nuncio, its diplomatic representative in London, and subsequently to the Holy See directly. The Holy See has provided some documentation in response to the Inquiry’s request but aspects remain outstanding. As a result we are unable to fully assess the role that the Holy See may have played in events concerning the EBC. It is likely therefore that the position of the Holy See will be considered further in the Inquiry’s investigation into the response of the Catholic Church as a whole, by which point we expect to have some answers.

14. Finally, there have been a number of developments at Ampleforth and Downside since our report was published. These are summarised in Part 2 of this report.

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