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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

Part 2: Ampleforth and Downside: update

Recent developments at Ampleforth and Downside

Introduction

1. There have been several changes to the leadership and governance of Ampleforth and Downside since the Inquiry’s public hearings in November and December 2017,[1] and the publication of our investigation report in August 2018.[2]

Ampleforth

2. There have been a number of changes in personnel. As was outlined in our previous report, Abbot Cuthbert Madden stepped aside from his position as abbot of Ampleforth in 2016.[3] The current prior administrator is Father Gabriel Everitt.[4] John Ridge has also been appointed Interim Director of Safeguarding Compliance, replacing Mick Walker (the Safeguarding Coordinator for the Diocese of Middlesbrough).[5]

3. The Charity Commission-appointed interim manager Emma Moody continues in overseeing certain safeguarding matters related to Ampleforth College, St Martin's Ampleforth and the two related charities.[6] In September 2018, Father Wulstan Peterburs resigned as headmaster of Ampleforth College. We understand that the process of recruiting a new permanent headteacher is underway.[7]

4. Changes have also been made to governance arrangements.

4.1. A new post of Director of Governance has been created to provide, amongst others, overall strategic leadership[8] for the Ampleforth Abbey Trust (AAT) and the St Laurence Education Trust (SLET).[9]

4.2. Two further safeguarding positions will be created in the near future, Director of Safeguarding and Monastic Safeguarding Coordinator.[10]

4.3. The Safeguarding Commission[11] has been disbanded and a replacement commission will be set up in accordance with the guidance provided by the Catholic Safeguarding Advisory Service to address safeguarding concerns.

4.4. A new and separate joint AAT and SLET Safeguarding Committee has been created.[12] Any decision taken by the new Safeguarding Commission which might impact upon the operation of the school will be subject to the approval of the Safeguarding Committee.[13]

5. On the recommendation of Abbot President Christopher Jamison, an Apostolic Visitation took place in October 2018.[14]

6. We are aware that Ampleforth remains the subject of scrutiny by external authorities. It is now a matter for those authorities to conclude their work. In those circumstances, we do not feel it appropriate to make further comment.

Downside

7. Between April and May 2018, Abbot President Jamison conducted a canonical visitation of Downside Abbey.[15] He made several recommendations, including ensuring that “the protection of children and adults remains a priority for the monastic community” and that the corporate separation of the school and the abbey be completed.[16]

8. In April 2018, the Downside Abbey Trust appointed Mr Nicholas Eldred, a solicitor and company secretary, to oversee the separation of the school and the abbey and to ensure that the school becomes fully self-governing.[17]

9. In July 2018, a new prior administrator, Father Nicholas Wetz, was appointed to replace Dom Leo Maidlow Davis as prior administrator for a period of two years with effect from September 2018.[18] Father Wetz also replaced Dom Maidlow Davis in his roles as a trustee and school governor following his resignation from those positions on 1 September 2018. Andrew Hobbs, formerly the acting headmaster, was appointed as headmaster of Downside School following a competitive recruitment process. Mr Hobbs took up the role in September 2018.[19]

10. Between December 2018 and January 2019, a new legal entity was created to manage the school.[20] Directors were nominated and a process is currently underway for the new entity to obtain charitable status. A board of trustees has been established, to be made up of eight to 12 trustees, with six already appointed.[21] In addition, there will be two ex-officio members, the prior administrator and a nominee of the Diocesan Bishop. No member of the Downside monastic community will be eligible to become a trustee, nor will the chair of trustees have to be a Catholic.[22] We understand that the separation process has been completed and that Downside School began operating as a legal entity in its own right on 12 September 2019.

References

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