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The British are rather picky about their scandals

We would rather be outraged by Catholics and horses than by state institutions

By on Monday, 18 February 2013

Horse meat found in beef products

When I was in Sicily last month I made a point of eating all the local delicacies including polpette di cavallo – that is meatballs made out of horsemeat. I have eaten horsemeat in lots of other places too – in Puglia, in Piedmont, and in Switzerland. Lovely stuff.

Of course the British do not like horsemeat. They associate it with foreigners and foreign ways. Hence the current horsemeat scandal which dominates the media. It seems that this horsemeat being sold as beef has its origins in Romania. Nasty foreign meat is soiling our pure British beef.

But isn’t this the wrong scandal? There is nothing wrong with eating horse as such. Lots of people do it. This is not a horsemeat scandal, it is a labelling scandal: people have falsely labelled horse as beef. This leads one to ask: can we trust anything we read on a label? So let us leave the equine angle to one side, and concentrate on what really matters, namely that there has been a huge conspiracy of deception in the food industry, and that is simply not acceptable, especially given our belief, up to now at least, that all our foods were meticulously labelled.

And there is another scandal too: so many of us in Britain are eating very cheap ready made meals. This points to a depressing fact. We are constantly being told that we must eat healthily, but judging by the volume of sales of such cheap ready made meals, many of us simply cannot afford to eat healthily. This brings back to us, surely, that the biggest problem contemporary Britain faces is still poverty. But that may be a scandal that Britain would rather not face.

It seems we are rather picky with regard to our scandals in Britain. Again and again in the last few days we have had an outpouring of hatred towards the Pope who is accused of complicity in child abuse, with no real hard evidence to justify this. There are clerics who have been complicit, but their names are now forgotten: the German Pope is the one who must bear the blame; after all, he was in the Hitler Youth. If a scandal has a foreign angle to it, that will play well with the xenophobic public. And of all foreigners, Germans are clearly the best for this purpose.

Yet consider the question of the BBC and the NHS, both of which made it possible for Jimmy Savile to abuse maybe hundreds of victims. But of that we now hear nothing.

And what about Stafford hospital? How many people have been sacked, let alone imprisoned, for the culpable neglect of hospital patients? But we had all rather talk about horsemeat. God forbid we should breathe a word of criticism of the NHS or the BBC.

The horsemeat obsession shows us the British media at its worst, dangerously out of touch with reality.

  • majorcalamity

    It seems to me that Catholics often want to deflect any criticism by referring to other issues. All those mentioned have had extensive coverage in the media, and when something new happens it gets duly reported. The coverage of the horsemeat issue has concentrated on labelling and not on food safety, other than examining the potential for illegal drug residues remaining. Hardly irresponsible. In short I think we are doing things pretty well and if the spotlight falls on your Church you need to answer the questions and not try to direct it elsewhere. Exposing evil where-ever it is found is surely something you ought to be interested in. That some exists can hardly be questioned, can it?

  • Rjt1

    Obsessing over an evil in a particular area means that the overall picture is distorted and that suitable remedies and resources are likely to be misdirected. If we have the impression that child abuse is an evil which occurred predominantly in the Catholic Church and was committed predominantly by priests, it gives us an excuse for ignoring it in other areas – which can’t be good.

  • rjt1

    Further to my reply below: I think it’s fair to say that media coverage is like a magnifying lens. What it focusses on is automatically given more attention, possibly to the exclusion of other areas. Because media coverage is not always (not often?) well-informed, it can also be a distorting lens.

    Re your specific point: the Catholic Church has taken child-protection measures to combat that particular evil.

  • John_Seven

    Well, if the Hierarchy – and writers for the Catholic Herald! – protested against poverty (and, maybe, gluttony) as much as they do on sexual immorality, perhaps there would be a different balance.

  • Mikethelionheart

    They do but it doesn’t get reported with as much fanfare.

  • Dprodr

    Father, thank you for your article. I would agree that much of the modern scandals are misplaced in the direction of their ire, however I would take issue with the idea that the folks in modern Britain are eating ready meals mostly because of poverty.

    They are eating such meals because it is easier and quicker than cooking their own meals from scratch. Whether this is due to lack of knowledge or lack of desire or a combination of both, the idea that ready meals are cheaper than fresh home cooked food is ludicrous.

    A little knowledge and creativity in the kitchen can create a large nutritious meal for a family of four for a few pounds – sometimes enough for 2 or 3 days.

    The real scandal is the fact that many folks these days have neither the time, knowledge or desire to cook their own food. Much of this stems from the false modern idea that both parents should be working and therefore neglect their domestic responsibilities.

  • Jonathan West

    Whataboutery is never a good form of argument. That others have also committed crimes is no excuse for the Catholic church not to clean up its own act with regard to the child sex abuse scandal.

    Matthew 7:1-5

  • Lagos1

    You would be right.  If this were the argument that was being made.

    Instead, the argument is that the response to scandals in the UK have a tendency to be inconsistent and not always based on objective reason.

  • Jonathan West

    The standfirst is “We would rather be outraged by Catholics and horses than by state institutions.”

    The clear argument is that Catholics specifically are being unfairly targetted. I suggest that criticism of the church over the child sex abuse scandal is entirely justified, and attempting to complain about this attention is hypcritical.

  • Lagos1

    Firstly, I find it is usually best to base a response to an article on the article itself rather than the heading/sub-heading which isn’t always provided by the author of the article.

    However, to note that the British press seems more interested in scandals involving the Catholic church and horse meat than, let us say, the NHS seems to be quite obvious and a relevant point of discussion.  In fact, where does it actually argue that criticism of the church over the handling of child sex abuse is in itself unjustified?  You are introducing a straw man here. One of the problems with ignoring other scandals is that they do not get fixed and it lures people into a false sense of security.  That’s why your type of argument, that accuses people of “whataboutery” every time they discuss things in a wider context is positively harmful.

  • Jonathan West

     However, to note that the British press seems more interested in scandals involving the Catholic church and horse meat than, let us say, the NHS seems to be quite obvious and a relevant point of discussion.

    Well, you say it is obvious, but i would dispute whether it is true.

    Alexander Lucie Smith has chosen to pick on two scandals which I suspect stick particularly in his mind, i.e. horsemeat (the scandal currently in the forefront of the news) and the one which most affects his profession and religion (catholic abuse).

    To see whether he is engaging in confirmation bias would require us to compare the extent of the coverage of these two items as compared to say the NHS scandal, and see whether the level of coverage is as different as he perceives it to be.

    When I say “engaging in confirmation bias” I am not suggesting any dishonesty at all on his part. Confirmation bias is something we all suffer from and it requires awareness to spot possible examples and then hard numbers to check whether bias is in fact present.

    So my point is that it is quite likely that he is proceeding from an incorrect premise.

  • rjt1

    What makes you think the Catholic Church has not done anything to ‘clean up its act’?

  • Jonathan West

    I didn’t suggest it has done nothing. I think that what has been done so far is grossly inadequate.

  • rjt1

    What is the extent of your knowledge of what it has actually done?

  • Robin Leslie

    The fact is that a good 20% of UK Plc cannot afford to feed themselves which is why they, in spite of being in full-time work, are receiving their meals from Food Banks. Apparently the British government is in violation of the UN obligations requiring governments to comply with citizen’s rights to food,
    shelter and clothing. The British Establishment are not the only miscreants violating these basic rights
    of humanity, other DEVELOPED nations are also in denial of such.
    This fundamental cruelty meted out by the neo-liberal elites will soon meet its nemesis if the level of agitation and anger intensifies further. I give this One Party State 6-12 months   within which a
    collapse in legitimacy will occur in some dramatic form or another.
    Scapegoating easy victims runs out of steam quickly nowadays.
    What goes around comes around!! 

  • Jonathan West

    Quite a lot. I follow this story pretty closely. I’m the person largely responsible for bringing to public attention the child sex abuse scandal at Ealing Abbey and St Benedict’s School.

  • Robin Leslie

    Claims-makers for sexual abuse and paedophile abuse are a constituency in the wider neo-liberal
    narcissist campaign for women priests and ‘gay marriage’. They are all middle-class, a good percentage are ex-priests, ex-nuns or resentful clergy ‘in situ’, they have never been poor in their lives or if they have they are voluntarily so. There is one vice that they all share, they are a product of the
    adolescent era of consumerism through which we have recently passed, they like their neo-liberal apostles share the belief in success, power, and plenitude!
    Their arguments are in tatters, and when the last tattered garments of globalised capitalism disappear
    they will be clinging to the wreckage. The class struggle is inside the Church as much as it is outside it.
    (read the book by a Dominican: Archer (Anthony): The Two Catholic Churches: A Study in Oppression
    SCM Press 1986)
    Resistance to pseudo-intellectual re-engineering projects seeking to implane a new identity for the Church is very important at this time, but a renewal through ‘resourcement’ through a proper restatement of Orthodoxy and its priority over Modern and Post-Modern practices and ideologies
    is absolutely essential. We cannot just react, we must now quietly but surely take up the healing
    of the croos by being present to poor people in the way of the Latin American Church and hear the cries of our own poor people who have been betrayed by their native oppressors.
    There is no need to fear these the British Establishment, you can see straight through their delusions.

  • Lagos1

    Well of course, whether ALSmith is actually correct is another matter.
    And sure,  being able to quantitatively compare the extent of coverage would certainly add to the argument.  However, I disagree that it is strictly necessary to do so.  A cursory scan through the main media channels immediately shows that there is far more discussion regarding the horsemeat scandal than the scandals that “should” be rocking the NHS right now.  We have only just had the Mid Staffs scandal break, a scandal that looks like it has thousands of victims, piling on top of the strangely silent situation where it has been revealed that many child patients have been victims of sexual abuse.  Yet the main story is still horsemeat.    

    And its not just ALSmith’s confirmation bias.    Dan Hodges, in his telegraph blog from Feb 7th, was already commenting on the lack of outcry.  And as he is the Telegraph token Labourite, it is hardly confirmation bias going on here.

    So I think you are applying a bit of cop out on this one.  However, I do disagree with AL Smith to some extent.  It is natural to talk about Horsemeat more than NHS scandals, simply because the story directly impacts the average news consumer more than an NHS scandal.  

  • Kevin

    “that will play well with the xenophobic public”

    This element spoils the article. We don’t like the idea of eating horses, snails or dogs, and British men don’t kiss each other like some Europeans do. What’s the problem?

    You could have made more of the “state institutions” angle, as the Left need the BBC and the NHS to be seen as sacrosanct. Without the myth of Socialist healthcare in particular there could be a return to Catholic hospitals, and they desperately do not want the Church to look good.

  • majorcalamity

    Of course it cannot be used as an excuse for ignoring problems elsewhere, but neither should that mean the Catholic Church should ignore it either. It is particularly shocking when a priest is involved, because of the image that the Church seeks to portray, and the betrayal of trust involved. It is also shocking that the Church seems to wish to handle such things internally, regarding the transgressors as sinners requiring support and a period of reflection, before being absolved. If anyone breaks the law then they should face the consequences and no-one, your Church included, can be above that law. It is just not good enough to say that the Church has taken measures to combat the evil. They need to always, without exception, hand over anyone suspected of committing abuse.

  • rjt1

    Did I say that the Catholic Church should ignore it?

  • rjt1

    Granted that it has not done enough, how does that impact on the subject of the article, which I take to be the inordinate focus of the media on some areas while neglecting others?

    Weirdly, disqus is preventing me from replying to your comment below. I think Fr Smith makes a valid point and I would not wish to bar him from making it.

  • rjt1

    May I ask what motivated you to take up that particular cause?

    Disqus not allowing me to reply to your reply below: I am very sorry to hear that.

  • Jonathan West

    I just think that in the circumstances, a Catholic priest is hardly in a position to complain about the failure to of the public to properly concentrate on other people’s sins.

  • MsAneem

    “The horsemeat obsession shows us the British media at its worst, dangerously out of touch with reality.”

    Not really – it is related to the comment (and link) that you gave in relation to the great problem of poverty in this country. This horse-meat, as the CEO of “Iceland” (freezer stores) has said, is present in a very low quality form (i.e. little meat and much filler, sinew, rusk and ligament etc) in cheap food that is all the poor can afford to buy. These extraneous materials are also dis-proportionally present in cheap, low-grade beef.

    There is also the possibility that injured or diseased racehorses have been used as a source of the meat. This (the use of racehorses) is illegal in the UK and every civilised country, since the meat will probably contain residues of certain drugs given to the animal in life.  

    But I agree it’s true that the media (especially popular ones like TV) avoid “too much” bad news, and try to be a bit upbeat – even about the weather. This does not apply to the sensational bad news such as earthquakes, tsunamis etc – these are dramatic, and TV loves that. Poverty and a rotten health service are boring – or too worrying, to be mentioned too much. I’ve also noticed similar features in one or two foreign countries.

  • Jonathan West

    My son attended the school at the time Father David Pearce was junior school headmaster. Fortunately my son was not among his victims.

    I have had nothing but obstruction from the school, the abbey and Archbishop Vincent Nichols in my efforts to make the school safe for the pupils there.

  • MsAneem

    “They are eating such meals because it is easier and quicker than cooking their own..”

    It is not simply a question of “ready-meals”, which many purchase because of the time and convenience elements.

    It is the cheap ready-meal that the poor buy which is a matter of concern. A cheap meat pie, for example, seems to contain more meat than could be bought for the cost of the pie. It seems a bargain, but isn’t. The filling of the pie will mostly consist of materials which are not “meat”, in the sense that the word is understood by the purchaser. 

    I agree though that some people, sometimes, do not have the time – or even the energy – to shop around for cheaper cuts of real meat and other food. Both parents often MUST work to provide a very basic existence for their family.

  • Frank

    I think your post illustrates very well what the article is about.

    In this country there are still tens of thousands of children in care because of abuse or neglect. I wish it were more apparent from posts about abuse that the children’s plight is the main concern.

    Fr. A may also have mentioned yet another death reported to be caused by abortion (Jennifer Mackenna Morbelli) in the US. compared to the recent coverage given to the tragic death of a young woman in Ireland.

  • Jonathan West

    Start a new thread, I’ll reply to you there

  • Alexander Lucie-Smith

    In one of your comments below you accuse me of a position I do not hold. I am not trying to deflect attention from the child abuse scandal. I say above, very clearly “There are clerics who have been complicit [in child abuse] but their names are now forgotten”. I am not in the business of denial over this matter. But the truth is that the media is not particularly interested in persecuting perpetrators or their enablers. I imagine you know this better than me. I am thinking of the cases that rocked the Cardiff archdiocese 15 years ago. All forgotten now. The real point I was making is that the media is happy to go along with xenophobic stereotypes. The idea of the wicked German is the oldest in the book – though of course the Holy Father, as I have pointed out before, self-identifies as a Bavarian. This horsemeat scandal’s Romanian angle is clearly if subliminally connected with the prospect of Romanian immigrants arriving here in large numbers next year. As a Catholic, I am not keen on xenophobia (as other blogs make clear) – but I am sure that is something we can agree on?

  • David Pocklington

    When the “horsemeat scandal” first arose, it was perceived as a “trace contiamination” issue, but as more became know, it was fairly clear that this was an issue of labelling, as rightly identified in Fr L-S’s post. Those will moderately good memories will recall a similar labellling issue triggered by a question in the House by Greg Knight MP in November 2010 regarding the supply of halal chicken to the HoC dining rooms. 

    I suspect that it will not be long before religious slaughter is added to the present debate.  For light relief, however, it is worthwhile checking Archbishop Welby’s encounter with rock badgers in Leviticus, whilst he was Dean of Liverpool. 

  • Jonathan West

    The media is far more interested in pursuing the child sex abuse scandal than much of the church. And there are large elements of the church which complain of persecution every time the issue is raised.

    After I had brought the child sex abuse scandal at Ealing Abbey and St Benedict’s School to public attention, and after the school had received an absolutely blistering inspection report from the Independent Schools Inspectorate castigating the school for its safeguarding failures, the school’s headmaster chose to use his prizegiving day speech to say the following to the assembled pupils and parents.

    “Recent media and blog coverage seems hell-bent on trying to discredit the School and, at the same time, destroy the excellent relationship between School and Monastery. Is this part of an anti-Catholic movement linked to the papal visit? I do not know, but it feels very much as if we are being targeted.”

    As for the horsemeat scandal, you are behind the times, it has now been identified as having a far wider impact than Romanian meat. That is called going with the evidence, and not pandering to xenophobia.

    Basically, I don’t think it is appropriate for any Catholic priest to comment on other people’s private morals unless and until decisive action is voluntarily taken across the church to ensure both that existing evidence of abuse is placed in the hands of the authorities and that effective action is taken to tighten safeguarding procedures such that across the entire country the invariable procedure is that any allegation of abuse by a priest, lay worker or volunteer within any Catholic context will result in the Local Authority Designated Officer for child protection being informed immediately.

  • Alexander Lucie-Smith

    I disagree, and will continue to comment on whatever I please. I fail to understand what you mean by “private morals”. I am not in any way responsible for what the headmaster of Ealing has to say. As for the invariable procedure that you mention above – that is already in place as far as I am concerned.

  • Jonathan West

     My previous reply seems to have disppeared, but the gist of it is that while you can of course comment on whatever you want, you may be largely wasting your breath because unless and until the church has fully addressed the scandal, the moral authority that attaches to the status or priest is somewhat minimal in the eyes of the world.

    As for the “invariable procedure” are you sure it is invariable? Have you for instance checked the safeguarding policies of the Catholic schools in your own parish to see that they implement the arrangement I have described?

  • Alexander Lucie-Smith

    Yes, in answer to your question.

  • Jonathan West

    Which one – that the procedure is invariable or that you have checked the policies of your local schools.

  • Alexander Lucie-Smith


  • Jonathan West

    In that case, could you explain why neither St. Hugh of Lincoln RC Primary School nor St. John The Baptist RC Comprehensive School in your parish have published their safeguarding policies online?

    Weirdly, SJB has the policy for Ashford CE Primary School on its website. This is not a great advert for the school’s commitment to safeguarding.

  • Jonathan West

    By the way, I have also had a look at St Dunstans, and they do seem to have a good policy. Whoever is running safeguarding there seems to know what they are about. Credit where it is due.

  • rjt1

    Further to our conversation further down, I think your engagement with the Ealing scandal is making you unfair to someone who is not connected with it. If nobody were allowed to comment  on an issue because they belonged to a certain group (e.g. Germans, Romanians, Communists, priests) that would be tarring an individual with the sins of others. If nobody who failed to live up to their ideals were allowed to comment, none of us would be allowed to do so. It looks like you are running a vendetta.  

  • Jonathan West

    (reply to rjt1)

    Further to our conversation further down, I think your engagement with the Ealing scandal is making you unfair to someone who is not connected with it.

    The Catholic child abuse scandal encompasses far more than Ealing. It shows every sign of being a worldwide phenomenon, which indicates that there is something very wrong with the culture of the Catholic hierarchy. I’ve no reason to think that ALS has ever done anything wrong, but nonetheless he is a part of that hierarchy and speaks on its behalf. Moreoever, it is not unreasonable to judge somebody to some degree by the company he chooses to keep and what he does when in that company.

    Hence my questions about safeguarding in his parish. Given the universal nature of the crisis, it is not enough for an individual priest to say “isn’t it terrible” and then take no action on his own patch to prevent anything from happening. That is why I asked about safeguarding arrangements in his own parish.

    On receiving his assurance that all was well there, I looked at the safeguarding policies of the three schools referred to on his parish website and found that two of them don’t even publish their safeguarding policies. And I note that there is also no parish safeguarding policy, merely a statement of intent, which commits ALS and the parish in general to precisely nothing. Do you really think that calling attention to this is a vendetta?

    The Catholic church has no hesitation in loudly proclaiming contraception, abortion, same sex marriage, sex outside marriage and homosexual acts to be sinful even though they are all legal or soon to be. The church claims to have a unique and absolute understanding of morals. Based on that understanding ALS has written this article taking potshots at the British public’s moral priorities where they happen to differ from his own and those of the church.

    So I think asking him to take the beam out of his eye is not so unreasonable.

  • Darren

     Indeed, many of the cheap “meat” products contain very little if any meat, certainly not quality meat.

    My point is that we shouldn’t simply expect to buy a ready-made meat pie for less than the price of the meat that supposedly goes into it – anyone should realise that there is something desperately wrong with that picture.

    Also, why do folks have to eat meat every single day? There are plenty of ways to make healthy nutritious meals using little or no meat. A bag of fresh lentils will cost you maybe £1 at the top end – add in some fresh vegetables and it could feed a family of 4 for one or 2 days. If you can only afford a small piece of meat use it sparingly but flesh out your meals with other ingredients.

    Small independent farmers and butchers would also be a boon too as we’d be able to source better quality and more varied cuts and bones to cook with instead of the usual boring cuts that we find in every supermarket (and are usually the most expensive cuts). The same goes for fish and fishmongers.

    I don’t see why this seems like such a radical idea these days – our parents’ and grandparents’ generations where much more creative and economic in their cooking than we are today.

  • CJT

    With all due respect, I think the suggestion that British people refuse to eat horsemeat due to refusing “nasty foreign food” smacks a little of snobbery. I have lived abroad myself and, not being a fussy eater, have sampled local delicacies such as snails and pig’s snout, but I refuse to eat horse, however delicious it may be, because I own a horse myself and feel it is wrong that such a wonderful creature should simply be butchered for food.

  • Nano

    Imagine it.  What is truly British – that lazy Sunday afternoon in summer: on the playing fields, lemonade, deck chairs and the reassuring sound of leather on willow; and from the headmaster’s study, the gin, the bench and the sound of willow on leather.  

    Thereafter I tuck in to a modest but decent pony cannelloni (my signature dish, never pre-cooked nor frozen – all that is needed is a garden, a bag of oats and a hacksaw.)  It is, by the way always an unfailing favourite at my candle-lit suppers, where because I am unable to respond to entreaties for the recipe, I ‘excuse’ it as a family secret, carefully handed down from my great, great, great Tuscan grandmother, (who, I am told, had a secret Romanian lover).  Can’t beat it, can you?

    That aside, I am interested to know what developments in Catholic education have taken place since the Cumberlege report (itself reporting on the impact of the Nolan Report).  Is it all now properly tidied up and secure where procedures and processes are concerned?  From what I read in some of these responses, I cannot put my hand on my heart and say ‘yes’.  Am I right to say this?  There is much that is still wanting, is there not – or am I being alarmist?  The culture that has a history of closing rank and would sooner deal with matters in-house, can never really be trusted.  It has to be dragged kicking and screaming before the high altars of a secular justice.

  • Parasum

    “I suggest that criticism of the church over the child sex abuse scandal is entirely justified”

    ## The defensiveness of Catholics when the CC is criticised gives the impression that molesting minors is no big deal – not a message the Church should send. Quite why it is not right to complain about the Church, given the gigantic chasm between its claims (very exalted indeed) and some of its behaviour (too often, very deep in the gutter), needs explaining.

    Perhaps some Catholics are so stunned with horror by the news of the molestation that they haven’t yet been able to  digest what they’ve heard. Hearing such things, even as a by-stander, can be very shocking: what the victims must have gone through can only be guessed. It’s not reasonable to expect Catholics not to be stunned by such news.

  • gingangoolie

    When I was at secondary school many moons ago, I often wondered why their meatballs and cottage pies tasted so doggone awful and inedible, compared to homemade.  I found out the answer to this in my local newspaper fairly recently – minced soya was used and actually passed off as beef mince!

    Passing horse meat/donkey meat/monkey meat (don’t put anything past these people) off as beef breaks at least three of the ten commandments – stealing, bearing false witness and killing!

    Stealing? Yes. With lots of money involved, of course it’s stealing!

    Bearing false witness? Yes. Lying, cheating, deceiving – it’s all there!

    And do you know what make me sick? These people were employed i.e. earning wages and – presumably – in rude health. They weren’t scouring the internet, job centres or papers day in and day out for jobs or wondering whether they’ll ever be accepted for a job after travelling to yet another fruitless job interview.

    Killing? Yes, if these poor horses etc. were inoculated with the veterinary drug Bute and it passes into the human food chain especially to those with health problems, people in hospitals etc.

    People want God out of the picture. Well, we’ve got news for you. You can’t make God go away just because your guilty conscience and God’s grace is gently tapping on your shoulder. That’s why militant atheists are angry and sullen all the time.

    I found out a long time ago that convenience food is a false economy. My local market is excellent, honest and provides quality produce.

    I’m pleased that local butchers are enjoying a revival. Keep it going with local shops, too!

  • rigmarole

    You leave out the Protestants, Anglicans and other religions – and secular institutions who haven’t ‘cleaned up their act’.

    WAKE UP!

    The Catholic Church has cleaned up its act, actually!

  • rigmarole

    Oh, give it a rest, will you!

  • rigmarole

    A so-called prestigious school of music in Manchester is facing a similar thing with a rape/sex abuse scandal that has been going on for years! It’s all over the news in my neck of the woods. If it was a Catholic school, it would be all over the media like a rash!

    6 NHS hospitals have been singled out for abuse and neglect of patients - does that mean that every doctor, nurse, consultant, executive in the UK should be tarred with the same brush?

    By the way, Chetham’s is not a Catholic school run by nuns, priests or religious.

    Neither is the BBC and the decades-long sex scandals that were covered up.

    We need a sense of proportion here. That’s the point.

  • Jonathan West

    I have added my name to the petition calling for a full independent enquiry into what happened at Chetham’s, I have offered assistance based on my experience of Ealing Abbey to those calling for the enquiry at Chethams.

    I have made a submission to the Dame Janet Smith review into the BBC pointing out the miserable state of the BBC’s child protection policy even as it is today.

    Child sex abuse is an abomination whoever commits it.

    It is not hard to check whether your local school is taking safeguarding seriously. Look up the school’s safeguarding policy on its website. Look to see what it commits to do in the event that there is an allegation of abuse against a pupil.

    What it ought to say is that all such allegations shall without exception be passed to the authorities. The form or words may vary a bit from place to place, but basically you are looking for the Local Authority Designated Officer (LADO) or equivalent to be informed promptly.

    If this commitment doesn’t exist, or is wound about with weasel words allowing for exceptions, then the policy and its implementation has to be regarded as highly untrustworthy.

    Anybody can check a policy. If the policy is inadequate, then anybody has the right to raise the issue with the headteacher or chair of governors, and any parent arguably has a strong duty to do so in order to ensure the safety of their own children at the school.

    I’ve looked at the child protection policy for Chetham’s. in fact it looks to be in pretty good shape. of course, a well-written policy doesn’t guarantee good implementation, but it is a start. A bad policy almost certainly means bad implementation.

    If you are a parent of school-age children, you should certainly check their school’s policy.

    Safeguarding is everybody’s business.