St Bede’s College in Manchester and the Salford Diocese

 I do not know how many readers knew, but in our struggle with the Salford Diocese over these last four and a half years for them to recognise the sexual, mental and physical abuse that abounded at the College during the aegis of Monsignor Thomas Duggan (1950-1966), two court cases emerged.  The big case which is the one I have been involved with since I innocently wrote a blog posting about what happened to a great friend of mine whilst at Bede’s and his sad decline and fall over many years is coming up later this year or early next year.  There was another case which has gathered speed over the last 18 months.  This involved originally three men from the 1955 intake at St Bede’s who were alerted after the Bishop of Salford, Terence Brain, set out his half-witted joke of an apology in March 2011.  Instead of doing the clever thing and approaching me, because it was only myself who had all the information regarding the abuse which I had gathered over the previous two years, they decided to go to Pannone.

Pannone had gathered a small reputation over the years as a personal injury specialist, they had in fact represented some of the victims of William Green, the teacher of Religion at St Bede’s who had rampaged through the school in the 1970s and1980s causing all sorts of damage to a large number of pupils with his sexual attacks. It took nearly twenty years before his criminality came to light and he was eventually given a six year jail sentence in 2008.

He was given early release last year and incidentally he has recently been laicised by the Catholic Church.  Pannone, under the guidance of Richard Scorer, their personal injury man, took up the cudgel in the civil courts for some of Green’s victims and showed his style by settling quickly and quietly.  His brash, know it all approach would put many off. I met him in November 201o when I was invited to his office in Manchester. I had previously offered him a sample of my evidence.  He said that it was not worth bringing to court and dismissed me fairly quickly.  A few months later after the Bishop’s weedling apology he was hot on my tail, the ink had not dried on the MEN edition of the 15th March 2011 when one of his chums rang me up offering their services.  I blurted out the first two words that came to mind.  But I digress.

The three men went to Pannone about two years ago and Scorer quickly approached me once again in the guise of his run-around Molly Whittall, who asked if I would come on-board with them.  I told her of my situation with Anderson Olivarius, our London lawyers, who had quickly realised the efficacy of the case when we met in April 2011 and had gone to great lengths in order to bring justice to the victims I had found.  The upshot was and against my better judgement the two firms traded notes, AO’s position was that they only wanted the best for any victim whether their client or not.  This I fear was not Pannone’s stance as they continually disregarded professional ethics by approaching our witnesses instead of channelling their enquiries through AO.  Finally only a few months back as they were lining up the witnesses for their case Molly approached me again.  I lost my temper and told Molly that she was transgressing Lawyers Professional Ethics No 101 and I politely used the same words that had come to mind back in March 2011. 

The three men were now reduced to two, one had been dropped whatever the reason and this week AO’s witnesses who had been lined up by Pannone to give evidence in their case, which  was listed for five days commencing 28th April in Manchester County Court, were told their verbal evidence was not needed.  Pannone had clearly been able to beg a deal.  But at what cost?  This is curious: Panone to get critical witnesses for their case (which it did not want to wait on and bring with AO’s more substantial litigation), Pannone through Scorer’s right hand, Molly Whittall, had violated ethical rules by not contacting AO advocates, by going round AO’s back to make contact with AO’s clients.  Pannone wanted AO’s clients to testify for their clients (in this case).  This to me is a dishonest way to do business.  Pannone clearly thinks that the professional rules that govern the legal profession don’t apply to them; they are prepared to go for other firm’s clients and make secret and illicit contact with them.  This is bad form at best; unethical at worst.  When AO’s clients contacted the AO firm about Pannone’s sneaky approach, AO did what was best for the clients and assisted Pannone in getting them the information from their clients that Pannone needed to help achieve a successful outcome in Pannone’s case.  Pannone did not pay AO Advocates for their time; they gave it generously, to help the men who had been abused.  AO’s whole approach is so different from Pannone’s self-centred, self-advancing style which is motivated by achieving a quick settlement, with legal fees assured, no matter the settlement figure.  Am I glad that my opinion of Mr Scorer had been proven correct.  What a good judge of bad character I am.  But as they say “It takes one to know one”.

Knowing that Pannone policy is to bring cases to court quickly and settle cheaply, knowing that they would get paid come what may, I decided to contact AO to find out the settlement terms.  Sadly, they explained, that they had lines out to Pannone to learn the basis for vacating the trial and whether the settlement was only about money or did it include (which they hoped) an agreed plan to try to stop this mis-behaviour in the future; were apologies given?  Therapy offered?  But as of last night, AO’s calls and e-mails had not been returned.  They had been given no information to tell their witnesses who had prepared and were ready to assist at trial.

I have just learned that this morning, Molly Whittal returned their calls, but no information was forthcoming.  Pannone is still in the secret’s business. 

I understand that the case if heard would have a list of 16 defence witnesses, all priests, all acting like the three monkeys, swearing on the bible that sexual abuse of boys did not happen because they neither saw or heard anything of the sort.  They would wouldn’t they.  The same can be said of ex-Fr William Green who abused boys for 17 or 18 years with impunity whilst the other priests saw and heard nothing.  Especially the priest who had his room opposite Green and had a tendency towards young girls and the comings and goings to Green’s room was stifling his own activities. 

Anyway our case is the biggie and about to be listed in the High Court in London for hearing later this year or early next year and I believe with this one there will be no back alley settlement and respect will be given to all of the good men who came forward to testify, to assist, to share their stories, their hearts and souls.  Perhaps justice is in sight.  Thanks to Pannone, perhaps there was a hint of justice this week in Manchester.  But now the warriors, the people’s law firm, are batting.  Now the real legal battle begins.



22 thoughts on “St Bede’s College in Manchester and the Salford Diocese

  1. A heartfelt thanks for spearheading this campaign Paul and putting victims in touch withA & O. You have been, and continue to be, a shinning example of a human being who refuses to put down the cudgel when fighting for the truth. Once again thank you.
    Mike Lomax

  2. Well, Paul, you do surprise me, a lawyer firm which is alleged to be unethical, ‘tapping’ other firms’ clients. The next thing you’ll be telling me is MPs cheat on their expenses and tabloid journalists hack phones. I feel an e-mail to the Law Society may not go amiss here, highlighting the alleged misconduct.

    Settling out of court (from my own personal experience in an injury claim some years ago) is seldom to the financial benefit of the litigant. Almost invariably it is to the financial advantage of the defence and certainly to the advantage of both sets of lawyers, as the case is settled more quickly and consequently they get their moolah quicker than if the case went to court and was dragged out. It seems the reasoning of ‘A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush’ prevails in many of these cases.

    From your posting, it would appear AO are on somewhat of a crusade in this matter, nothing less than unconditional surrender by Bede’s will be acceptable, either by offering a hefty compensation (almost certainly far better than the one negotiated by Panone), or, as a last resort, a full hearing of the court case, with a likelihood of even more punitive damages being awarded against the College.

    I’m no lawyer, I have very little positive to say about them, but the one thing they most definitely are clued-up on is the likely verdict of this trial. If Bede’s best defence is that no-one saw what was going on, that at least three separate perpetrators (all now deceased) were able to roam freely during Tommy Duggan’s Reign of Terror, they’re in trouble. Then add to that the later admitted antics of Billy Green, just to prove that the first case wasn’t a one-off, then the College is in serious trouble trying to disprove that there wasn’t a culture of sexual abuse for half a century and that absolutely nothing was done during its time to stop it.

    Best of luck with that one, I say. In the meantime, the sideshow, the hors d’oeuvre that is the Panone case is complete, we await the main course about to be brought shortly to the table of the High Court in London by AO.

    I’d suspect Bede’s might have got off rather lightly with Panone, it’s unlikely they’re going to be as lucky with AO, they seem to be made of rather sterner stuff.

    1. I think you are right Paul certainly AO’s ethics are spot on. Because of events this recent case will get no publicity. Both the Diocese and Bede’s have come out unscathed. The MEN do not report stuff like this.

  3. Paul,

    In view of the recent silence from MEN regarding the matters Bedian, I think we now know why, in view of the out of court settlement. Don’t hold your breath for any mention whatever of it in the MEN.

    No dirty linen to be washed in public here this time. I’d be interested to see if the settlement negotiated in any way shows any contrition or apology on behalf of Bede’s, I somehow doubt it.

    Pannone are garnering a reputation for settling quickly out of court. Whether that is to the best interests of their clients, that’s an entirely different matter. At least Bede’s are consistent in wishing to keep publicity to a minimum, I doubt AO Associates will be as accommodating when the matter comes to the High Court in London.

    As I said before, this Manchester case is a side-show to the main event…..

  4. I expect that they probably could find a number of witnesses of good character who could claim, in all honesty, that they saw nothing amiss and had no reason to believe that anything was amiss. I saw nothing amiss either. But that sort of negative claim would only carry any weight if evidence that abuse occurred was non-existent, or very weak, or of doubtful credibility. When the evidence that serious abuse took place is strong, the “I didn’t see anything” is just not relevant.

    It’s the difference between “I have never seen the Tooth Fairy” and “I have never seen Australia”. Most people would regard the former claim as relevant in any debate about whether or not the Tooth Fairy exists. However, the latter claim, though in fact true, is obviously not relevant to anything at all, as the evidence that Australia exists is overwhelming.

    I presume that the diocese decided that paying up was the only way they could prevent the facts getting a good airing in public – and they certainly won’t want the facts made public. Unfortunately, keeping the facts hidden is a bad outcome for everyone except the catholic church. Let’s hope that the next case manages to bring matters into the open.

  5. Pity about the Pannone deal.Meanwhile in another area of the Paedophile “jungle” the Daily Mail is publishing what it claims to be the truth about Blessed Cyril Smith. Coupled with claims re the sexual mores of Parliament the comatose Great British Public might just wakeup?

  6. To Brian Lefley & others

    Yes, it would now appear the double-barrelled shotgun regarding sexual abuse cases has indeed now been directed by none other than the front page of today’s, Saturday 12 April MEN. The alleged sex offender and his Greater Manchester based accomplices under suspicion – yes, you’ve guessed it, Cyril Smith. Like a roulette wheel spinning round, poor old Cyril’s number has come up, following the likes of Jimmy Savile, stuart Hall and others.

    Smith died in 2010, but rumours regarding the man have abounded for decades regarding the well-known politician’s sexual proclivities, including spanking of boys and other more serious accusations, going back to the 1960s. The Rochdale Council-run children’s home these alleged offences occurred at closed in 1994. The ace reporter of the MEN claims into double figures of suspects are implicated.

    Now this is quite frankly no more newsworthy than the abuse at Bede’s, it’s not actually admitted yet, which is more than can be said about the Alma Mater. But, then again, there are probably currently no Old Boys of Rochdale MBC at the hierarchy of the MEN.

    I hope Mr Smith’s antics aren’t going to be an excuse to ignore Bede’s. So far the non-reporting of recent events there in the MEN is beginning to take the look of a campaign of non-reporting of bad news for the Alexandra Road South inhabitants.

    The real crunch will be the High Court case. If this goes ahead and the MEN fails to report it, then only one conclusion can possibly be drawn…..

  7. To Linda and others

    I agree 100% with your comments. Bede’s have had to pay a price to make the two litigants represented by Pannone go away, I’d suggest at not a hefty price, these matters seem to have been settled rather quickly. The faster the settlement, it usually goes, the lower the compo.

    The MEN reports that the solicitors acting for the Rochdale victims are Slater Gordon, who merged recently with, yes, you’ve guessed it – Pannone.

    I’d suggest anyone reading this blog who knows of any of the Rochdale victims should ask them to contact Paul Malpas before signing up to any legal firm. Past experiences would indicate the victims need to be very careful.

  8. A P. S. to all

    Remember, nobody ever uttered the immortal words:-

    “Trust me, I’m a lawyer”.

    Let’s be careful out there……

  9. I concur with Will Shakespeare -“hang all the lawyers”. How is justice served if Pannone strike a deal?.In effect Bede’s pleaded guilty in accepting terms.I thought justice had to be open-and freely commented on after a verdict.In effect Pannone are carpetbaggers out for fees alone and Bedes gets off the hook-pro tem! Do the present parents of children at the school agree to this-presumably their lucre is paying for this squalid farrago?

    1. Well Brian, justice is served in as much as the Salford Diocese have admitted to the wrong and paid over monies but I doubt whether the compensation was anywhere near what a good lawyer could have got. So the diocese got away with murder, little monies and no publicity. It will not be the parents who will shell out unless they are resident in the diocese and many are not. The people who pay initially are the Insurance companies who no doubt will up their premiums and then every little poor Catholic in the Diocese will pay his bit on the plate of a Sunday. That case came under the remit of the insurance companies because Pannone or Slater & Gordon as they have morphed into were only going for basic compensation. Our lawyers are going about it differently and the insurance companies backed away from it some time ago causing delay to the case because new lawyers had to be brought up to scratch. This has caused concern to the Diocese and they are pulling monies from a top hat they had somewhere abroad.

  10. To Brian Lefley et al

    The only way any Bedian parents will know about this out of court settlement will be if they read this blog. A la 1984 and Newspeak, this will be airbrushed from the Bedian record as if it never happened, never to be mentioned in the Hallowed Sanctum, under pain of death if someone breaks the code of Omerta. I bet the staff are under orders not to talk to the Press, or God forbid, express an opinion about it to anyone.

    Just the way Bede’s and the Diocese of Salford likes it – all the nasty and unpleasant shit kept in house, at least they’re consistent, they’ve been doing this continuously for the last 60 years. We should not be in the slightest surprised.

    I doubt our friends at AO will be quite so accommodating in the future, we can only sit, wait and hope justice is finally done….

    1. Paul,
      Try and read my blog posting of todays date which reinforces your point of view and how we should change things for better compensation for victims. I ask you to spread this particular piece of our gospel to all you know.

  11. All this makes interesting reading. I was a boarder” at St Bedes from 1956 – 1962. We were always warned to “watch yourself from duggan. he had a habit of “punnishing” you by making you drop your pants, spanking you with a belt and then trying to “sooth” your rear by giving it a rub. I was able to avoid such an event until my last year in 1962. I was spotted by Duggan retrieving a ball from a window ledge and summoed to his room. I dropped my pants, got 6 of the best and then quickly puled up my pants as advised trapping his hand where it shoud not have been. What an escspe.!

  12. reading your comments the fact you are all so arsed and give up your time to discuss a school so much is laughable, it is what it is if you don’t like it don’t have contact with it! maybe you should all apply for jobs in consultancy at bedes as you all seem to know where they are going wrong. not only that you lot seem to love writing as if you are professional journalists or conveying a point as if millions are reading…get a grip you sad lonely people! half of you are writing this stuff to convince yourselves that your failures of lives are in order.

  13. To Anonymous

    If personally you consider yourself a failure, fair enough. Don’t bracket the rest of us with someone who can’t even see the bleeding obvious.

    Failure is there for all to see. By anyone’s fair criteria, Bede’s is no Premier League outfit (I’d argue it hasn’t been for a long time), resorting to part-time footballing students to keep up the number of enrolled students from falling even further.

    Published accounts show that without Sheik Mansour’s generosity, the College would be operating at a considerable loss. Again, its published performance in exam success ranks it in the bottom third of fee-paying schools for the area.

    If this is your definition of success, it’s no wonder you wish to remain anonymous.

    However, that privilege will shortly not be an option for Bede’s unless the lawyers get out the cheque book and buy off the impending law suit for child abuse stretching over 50 years.

    I think even you’d agree a messy court case involving not one, but two, separate eras of child abuse might put the old Alma Mater out of its misery.

    Mind you, they could always do a North Cestrian (yes, the one that forgot to submit certain course work for students’ A levels) and try to become a free school. At Bede’s, with the going rate of £9K plus a year for fees, parents have voted with their feet, to such an extent some of their current staff don’t even send their own children there. Perhaps a zero cost option is the answer.

    I for one would argue Bede’s, rather like several institutions (I include the Catholic Church in this) is in terminal decline. Failure to appoint anyone at the helm who seems to have any idea of its problems and, more importantly, how to correct them, is somewhat obvious.

    I’d suggest you stick to reading the MEN if you don’t want to hear anything negative about the Alma Mater, as with all the Old Boys working there, it would seem currently everything is just tickety boo at Alexandra Road South.

    In the meantime, you can go and get yourself a life, if you can be bothered reading this, as, by your own definition, you must be another sad bastard with too much time on your hands…..

  14. “Anonymous”-very apt!Long may you remain so with syntax and spelling like that.Perhaps you could get an “Internship”with M.E.N. ?

  15. To Brian Lefley

    I’d argue you don’t need that good a standard of English nowadays to become a journalist. Getting your facts right wouldn’t seem to be a pre-requisite either, judging by the amount of corrections said rag publishes with alarming frequency.

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