Report Into Historical Abuse at St Benedict's School is Published
Headteacher apologises and accepts Lord Carlile's recommendations
The headteacher of St Benedict's school in Ealing has apologised for its "terrible legacy" of sex abuse as a report into the historical allegations says Ealing Abbey should be removed of power over the school.
Christopher Cleugh, said the school would adopt the recommendations of the inquiry, led by Lord Carlile published today.
Lord Carlile of Berriew said the form of governance was "wholly outdated and demonstrably unacceptable".
He added: "The abbot himself has accepted that it is 'opaque to outsiders'."
He recommended two trusts should be set up to remove "all power from the abbey" while maintaining the Benedictine connection for the parents.
The inquiry began last year after a former head was convicted of abusing five boys.
Father David Pearce was jailed for eight years in 2009 for the abuse over a period of 36 years. Four of the victims were under 14.
Police are looking for Father Laurence Soper, 80, former abbot of Ealing Abbey, who failed to answer bail in March 2011 following arrest on suspicion of abuse. He taught at the school from 1991 to 2000.
Lord Carlile urged him to surrender to police, saying: "I regret very much the difficulties he has caused."
Another former employee faces a Crown Court trial over sex abuse charges. The report listed 21 abuse cases since 1970.
The Vatican has also ordered a separate inquiry into the historical sex offence allegations.
At a meeting with parents to discuss the report, Mr Cleugh said: "Past abuses at the school have left a terrible legacy for those affected and have tarnished the reputation of St Benedict's.
"I offer my heartfelt apology for past failures. The school could have, and should have, done more.
"Consequently, St Benedict's will move immediately to put into action all the recommendations of this report in order to meet Lord Carlile's suggested implementation date of 1 September 2012.
"We are determined that safeguarding procedures at St Benedict's should in future be exemplary and the appalling abuses of the past should never happen again," he said.
Many parents at the school have given their full backing to the staff.
A parent with a child currently at St. Benedict’s said, ''Mr. Cleugh and Mr. Simmons retain the absolute confidence of parents of children at the school. There hasn’t been a case of abuse by a member of the teaching staff against a pupil in the school for decades which is partly down to child protection measures put in place long before these crimes were reported in the press.
'' It is a testament to the trust that these two exceptional head teachers enjoy that we are unaware of any parent even considering withdrawing their child from the school despite the negative coverage St. Benedict’s has received.''
9th November 2011