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Diocese loses appeal against £8m abuse claim

By on Thursday, 11 November 2010

The Diocese of Middlesbrough has been refused the right to appeal against a court ruling that found it responsible for an £8 million compensation claim by victims of child sexual abuse.

The Court of Appeal in London rejected the diocese’s application to appeal against what is believed to be the largest award to abuse victims in English history.

The diocese was found liable in October for the claims of 158 former pupils who were abused at St William’s Community Home, in Market Weighton, near York, between 1960 and 1992.

Judges ruled that the De La Salle Christian Brothers, which staffed the home, had no legal responsibility, leaving the Catholic Child Welfare Society of the diocese liable for the compensation claim.

One of the victims, Graham Baverstock of Catterick, North Yorkshire, said he was pleased with the ruling.

“The Church has tried to evade their responsibility to the victims all along and they now need to say sorry,” he said. “We have been campaigning for years for them to apologise.”

Mr Baverstock, 52, was 14 when he first was sent to the home, which provided residential care and education for boys with emotional and behavioural problems, and spent more than a year there. He said he was systematically abused in 1973 and 1974 and subsequently attempted suicide.

Christian Brother James Carragher, now 74, who was principal at the home for more than 20 years, began serving a 14-year prison sentence in 2004 for a long list of sex crimes against students.

Attorney David Greenwood, who is representing the victims, said he hoped the Middlesbrough diocese would work to reach compensation settlements with each abuse survivor.

Following the Court of Appeal decision, the only option remaining for the diocese is to appeal directly to the Supreme Court.

“Our lawyers are considering the matter,” a diocesan spokesman said.

  • David Armitage

    This is excellent news because it proves the hierarchy are accountable. The shame is that that they will dig deep into the pockets of the faithful from whom they used every twist and turn to conceal the truth. The scandal the paedophile crimes reveal is that bishops will do anything to hide the truth, and misuse their authority to make sure the faithful make amends. If only the bishops were held personally responsible! I have been banging this drum for months: please will someone check on Cardinal William Levada's, prefect of the sacred congregation for the doctrine of the faith, personally given responsibility by Benedict 16 for overseeing the Vatican response. As a bishop and archbishop her personally staved of prosecution of a seminary rector charged with paedophile crimes. He himself had to be subpoenaed to appear in court when all his shenanigans came to nought. And in the meantime saintly and courageous priests were hounded out of office when they tried to make the hierarchies face the truth. Cries to ”

    protect the Pope” are childish. Who needs protection from whom? I believe the Holy Spirit is at work in the Church to rid it of the ignominy of centuries of hypocrisy. Jesus's faith led him into conflict with religious leaders of his day and their practises. Remaining faithful to him is certainly pushing believers out of the institution, in whose name and for their own vested interests today's Pharisees are kicking and screaming.

  • Edmund

    whatever the rights and wrongs of paying over £50000 compensation for each victim- and it seems excessive given the salaries of nurses- the money does not belong to the diocese to pay out. The faithful should bring a counter clain on the grounds that their money was donated to support the mission of the church. What rakeoff doesDavid greenwood take? If he really beilves in his mission, let him work for nothing or donate most of his earnings to CAFOD.

  • Jhammer

    I think I need help understanding the legal implications of this. Obviously the church is not a PLC where the faithful, as shareholders, are protected from liabilities. The law needs to treat the victim and the offender as two 'persons'. In what sense is the Catholic Child Welfare Society of the diocese a 'legal person'? Has this society always existed in the lifetimes of all the victims? If the society has been granted license to discharge duties of care to the children, who granted this license and who had responsibility for monitoring the practices of the DLS brothers? On the face of it, and in my naivete, I would have thought that the perpetrating offenders were personally liable. If my parish priest bashes me on the head in church do I sue him and expect the diocese to pay? Puzzled?

  • RichB

    Time to pay up guys, you're not covering yourselves in any glory by fighting it. Humbly bow your heads, apologise, pay up and walk away; and if that involves selling all church property so be it. Your apologies and utterances of regret are worthless if you contunue to fight this.