Before I start this probably long posting I would like to apologise to Mr Richard Scorer and his abuse team at Panone/Slater and Gordon in Manchester. I have probably done them a disfavour with my past blog postings but I now realise they were working in a section of English law that has no mercy for the historical sexually abused young child and its modern day result, an old deceived, helpless adult. Scorer and his team were working within the realms of what was possible under historical sexual abuse in English law and what they knew from bitter experience with the Salford Diocese was not.
Before I continue there are a few legal terms I would like the reader to understand:-
CAUSATION – The ability to prove that the original sexual abuse had so disrupted the abused’s life that they did not reach their potential and therefore suffered great financial loss.
LIMITATION – The length of time after the abuse occurred when it would not be allowed for a case to continue. Under this Statute any occurrence before, I think, April 1954 would be time barred and that unfortunately happened to two of our chaps.
VICARIOUS LIABILITY – The occasion when an employer is liable for the acts of an employee providing it took place in the course of their employment.
Our case was under Vicarious Liability, the Salford Diocese was responsible for the actions of Monsignor Thomas Duggan, Fr Charles Mulholland and Fr Vincent Hamilton when they sexually abused four former pupils of St Bede’s College in Manchester between the years 1957 and 1963.
On the afternoon of the 8 March 2016 I landed at Knock Airport after a week away seeing lawyers in London, grandchildren in Manchester and friends and fellow cricketers from 50 years ago after our annual get-together in Blackpool. I was in a good frame of mind only to be met by my wife Helen who informed me that the case had collapsed, the lads were to get nothing, there was to be no day in court. Not a word was spoken on the 40 mile drive home. My mind was bombarded with thought and gloom. Six years of my life blown away. I was totally dejected.
Most regular readers of this blog know of my travails with the Salford Diocese, most know of their trickery when faced with historical abuse, most know of their unchristian, non-sacred, unholy attitude to the abused, but I will just précis my journey quickly for the new reader.
In, I think, January 2010 I wrote about the sexual abuse my friend Michael had suffered at the hands of Monsignor Thomas Duggan, Rector of St Bede’s College in Manchester, where we were both educated. This posting led to an avalanche of mail from Old Bedians round the world explaining their experiences at the hands of this wicked holy man of God.
I approached the Salford Diocese Safeguarding Commission who agreed that they had heard of this man’s transgressions but had no proof, his file was clean. It would be or else it would not have been there. They actually told me there had been a cleaning up of files by a previous bishop who knew full well what was coming down the tracks. I have a tape that I made at the meeting where the priest in charge said that he had been a priest of the Salford Diocese for 20 years and Duggan’s behaviour had been the talk amongst priests at golf clubs and retreats in all that time. My evidence actually goes back to post-war Manchester when the then Bishop Marshall was deflecting reports on Duggan’s behaviour.
Eventually after lots of twists and turns the then Bishop of Salford, Terence Brain, stood up farted and a vague apology dribbled down his varicosed legs and was reported in the Manchester Evening News on around the 13th/15th March 2011.
I was stuck with nowhere to go, with no understanding of how to take up the attack again. A newly formed American legal firm came to see me in Ireland wanting to take on the case. They brought in all the big guns and were going to do it the American way and not the half-hearted English way that gave abuse victims peanuts for performing at settlement but rarely in court.
I gathered up a list of about 30 Old Bedians who had been subjected to sexual abuse at school and interviews were held in London and Manchester in June 2011 bringing lads from England, Ireland, Australia, Switzerland, Spain, France and Scotland to give their stories.
Shortly after this, in fact on 20 July 2011, Enda Kenny, the Taoiseach of Ireland, rose in the Dail to give a statement on the Cloyne Report into clerical sexual abuse of children in the Cloyne Diocese in Cork. An excerpt from this now famous speech says:-
“But Cloyne has proved to be of a different order. Because for the first time in Ireland, a report into child sexual abuse exposes an attempt by the Holy See, to frustrate an Inquiry in a sovereign, democratic republic… and in doing so, the Cloyne Report excavates the dysfunction, disconnection, elitism, the narcissism that dominate the culture of the Vatican to this day. The rape and torture of children was downplayed or “managed” to uphold instead, the primacy of the institution, its power, standing and reputation.
Far from listening to evidence of humiliation and betrayed with St Benedict’s “ear of the heart” the vatican’s reaction was to parse and analyse it with the gimlet eye of a canon lawyer.
This calculated, withering position being the polar opposite of the radicalism, humility and compassion upon which the Roman Church was founded.
The radicalism, humility and compassion which are the very essence of its foundation and purpose.
The behaviour being a case of Roma locuta est: causa finita est.
Except that in this instance nothing could be further from the truth.”
What has changed in the five years since that day, even with a new pope in tow? We have been subject to five years of side-stepping, delay and obfuscation. Everything but the abuse was examined, every point of law was scrutinised.
Our list was eventually whittled down to four men whose experiences stood out and were not time barred. Our QC at the time was confident of the success of these cases in court.
To take a case to court in matters of this nature where clients have not the wherewithal to fund the claim, insurance is the key. It is known as ATE insurance (After the event), whereby they insure all costs provided they are kept up to date with all Counsel opinion and forecasts and if the case seems loaded to the defence, they have the ability to pull the plug and discontinue the insurance.
Our solicitors as I said were going for causation and with advice considered limitation was not an issue in cases of vicarious liability on which ours was based. In these cases the judge has the power to disregard limitation, there has been previous case history on the subject.
With causation psychological reports on the victims are very important and carry a lot of weight. The Diocese with their experience in these matters appointed a chap with a massive history of defence in this subject. He was the main man in Ragget v Preston Catholic College/Diocese of Lancaster in 2012 when Ragget, an abused boy at the school, turned down an offer of £300,000 plus and went for millions under causation. The Diocesan psycho made mincemeat of Ragget’s claim and he ended up with £50,000 but had to pay the defence costs which would have amounted to hundreds of thousands of pounds.
For one reason or another our causation claim failed putting massive pressure on limitation and our QC had to downgrade his opinion on success as less than 50% leaving the Insurance company no option but to back out of the deal.
This downgrading of opinion had been further harmed by the Diocese appointing the go-to man on limitation as their senior defence counsel.
Our solicitors, although committed, in fact would have continued without fee but would not fund the ongoing defence costs, which in the months before the case could run into millions and our Four Just Men had not the wherewithal either. On Counsel’s advice our solicitors approached the Diocese for settlement under Judicial College guidelines. The Diocese realised our solicitors dilemma and in polite legal language told them to fuck off, which they quickly did leaving our lads on suicide watch.
Throughout all the years it took to bring the case to court abuse had hardly a mention although the Diocese had tacitly denied it took place. They had a team of priests who swore in front of Almighty God, whoever he be, that Duggan or the other priests involved did not do such a thing. They would wouldn’t they because it is omerta that keeps the floating wreck of the Catholic Church afloat. As I look at the list of about 13 priests, a smile comes to my lips. I have stories about one or two of them and some are more than stories where they acted in a very unholy manner, their vows of celibacy indeed forgotten.
As I said abuse was not the issue, the Diocese spent all their force on limitation and they had their limitation expert as their main striker.
Panone/Slater and Gordon, although at the time had received some abuse from me, managed to get their boys a few quid, more important was that it was admitted that the abuse at Bede’s actually happened although not reported in the press due to settlement out of court.
Our lads got nothing and the Diocese is happy to think the abuse never happened. But it did, three lads we know were savagely raped by Duggan and one by another priest of the school whilst he was forced to commit sexual acts with another priest.
The lads feel terribly let down, angry that it came to this, sorry for having been exposed publicly in the media and despondent for having had to relive their historic trauma which over the years they had managed to cast to the back of their minds.
I feel terribly guilty for leading them down this path. It was me who encouraged them to come forward, to step up to the plate bravely and ask the Salford Diocese to accept the reparation they were responsible for. But these clerics cut and ran when the time was right.
The leaders of the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church are no more than crooks and double dealers. They are without doubt the agents of the devil, without doubt evil incarnate. On no account are they men equal to our lads. The lawyers are now arguing over apologies for what that is worth. A historic terrible wrong has been endorsed by those who consider themselves Men of God today.
The only way out of this ungodly mess is for the Salford Diocese, accepting that they won on a technicality, to admit that the abuse happened and offer reparation in some form. In fact use St Benedict’s “ear of the heart”. This admittance is most important for them, so that they can tell the world that mistakes were made and that they are trying to set things to right. All honourable men would do this but of course these Men of God are not honourable men, there is not an ounce of decency coursing through their bodies. They preach goodness and love each Sunday and revert to evil and hate on Monday.
I repeat “This calculated withering position being the polar opposite of the radicalism, humility and compassion upon which the Roman Church was founded. The radicalism, humility and compassion which are the very essence of its formulation and purpose”.
MARK MY WORDS, THERE WILL BE MORE TO COME ON THIS MATTER.
16 thoughts on “Abuse: Its Forms and Failures”
You worked hard. You kept going. You knew the truth. You were brave. The lads were brave.
There is and can only be one winner.
I salute you Paul.
Thanks Fred for the sentiment. I’ll talk to you privately.
Sorry to hear this Paul. It’s a filthy business. Slater Gordon – say what you will about them – go in and out, fast and dirty for a reason. Time is money, and when things drag on, it ceases to be a going concern… And you’re screwed. There’ll never be big money in this in the UK while judges decide on damages. In the US it’s a jury awarded system, hence the big payouts. There is a very similar case to St Bedes pending, it will be interesting to see how and if the end result differs from yours. Again, very sorry to hear this and sorry for the lads involved.
Thanks David, I’m fucking heartbroken having being led down the garden path for six years and having brought so many brave lads to reconsider their past. For them I feel sorrow.
I have just seen these postings, I appreciate your comments. The two cases which we had to settle shortly before trial had similar funding problems so we had no choice but to advise our clients to take the very modest sums offered, as we could not proceed to trial because of the perceived risk of losing on limitation and the risk of an adverse costs order against our clients if we lost . I obviously wanted to respond to your comments at the time but I thought that doing so could potentially prejudice the ongoing cases, hence my silence to date. I am sorry , frustrated and angry that in truth none of the Duggan victims have achieved meaningful justice.
There is a lot to say about the denial of justice to victims in far too many cases as a result of the laws on time limits. The only positive development in this rather bleak landscape is that some more progressive jurisdictions have finally woken up to the gross unfairness of limitation laws and have decided to do away with time limits altogether in child abuse cases. This has happened (in 2015) in the Australian state of Victoria, New South Wales may follow suit. The Scottish Parliament is likely to pass similar legislation soon, obviously that will only applies north of the border. The Goddard inquiry in its section on reparations will be looking at this issue and may recommend similar changes in England. Sadly such changes are unlikely to be retrospective so are unlikely to benefit the men abused by Duggan. However the Duggan case exposes the utter unfairness of the law at the present time so I hope Goddard will look at it along with the other cases – far to many of them – which have fallen foul of unjust limitation laws. If anyone reading your blog wants more information on this issue I am more than happy to provide it.
Thanks for your undeserved comment. This case for me has summoned up emotions I have never experienced before in my life and those emotions transferred bluntly and unwittingly into words on the page. Thanks for explaining the present position on limitation and once more I apologise.
As one of the four victims advised by AO Advocates, I shall eventually post in detail on here.
For the time being, I only have five comments.
1.Paul must absolutely not feel guilty that the Case has collapsed. He has spent thousands of hours and no little money on trying to get justice, not just for the four of us, but for many other Bedian clerical abusees, denied from joining us by legal technicalities. The Case has awakened many horrible memories but that is not Paul’s fault. We are all in his debt and I salute him and his wife, Helen.
2. I have read Peter Scorer’s comments and salute him also. His post is magnaminious, a measure of the man and perhaps his firm and very much appreciated.
3.When we embarked on this campaign in 2011, our only objectives were to get Diocesan apologies and to contribute in a small way to minimizing future cover-ups of clerical abuse by the Catholic Church. My three abusers were definitely “covered up”. It was only much later, in the light of the Diocese’s efforts to fight us in every way possible, despite our enormous supporting evidence, that the issue of financial compensation arose. How stupid were Bishop Brain and his successor Arnold. A brief apology in the media and all would have been forgotten. Today’s newspaper is tomorrow’s fish and chips wrapping.
4. Yes, the case has collapsed. Simply because the Bishop’s Solicitors outwitted our own. They denied everything and called our bluff to go to Court. And in Court, not only faced with a challenge in respect of the Statute of Limitations we would have had the burden of proof. And, on losing, I would have personally been exposed to paying defendants’ costs estimated at half a million.
5. When I next post, I shall publish the Bishop’s witness statements, parrotted to a man by lawyer drafts. Are you reading this, Anthony O’Neil? How about you, Dean Lupton, my erstwhile best friend, until, of course, you cut me and my father dead at Maine Road, for no other reason than that I had left the seminary?
And you, Canon Jones? A classmate.
And you, Fathers Dodgeon, Grimshaw, Sullivan, McKie and Livesey? I knew you all.
How about you, Fr O’Connor? I counted you as a true friend and prevented you from being named as a defendant, not as an abuser, but as a representative of the “Unincorporated Body”, when the Bishop’s lawyers were doing their best to avoid any legal body being designated as a defendant.
How about other clerics not in the list of the Bishop’s witnesses?
For example, John Rigby. What do you have to say? And by no means least, Mgr John Allan?
Would you all care to go into print to say you knew nothing about Duggan and the others?
It had to be said, the Church cannot hide behind omerta. The men Rick talks about were with him or near him in his time at Bede’s. They know him and used to recognise him. Now he is cast off. Is this a beneficial, loving, charitable, honest Church
Further to my post, not one of the clerics has contacted me to offer the hand of friendship, if not support.
Paul, the Catholic Church has and will abide by Omerta, they know no other way of conducting themselves. “Sweep it under the carpet” should be their motto, certainly not “Semper veritas”.
The fact that over 50 years after Duggan and his cohorts’ abuse, still no one has come forward to admit truly what happened. Sadly, a great number of potential witnesses from that era are now deceased.
What about the more recent antics of the 1970s and 80s perpetrated by the odious Rev Billy Green? He got away with it for decades after leaving Bede’s.
Jailed for his misdemeanours, he served 3 years of a six year sentence and now has finished his parole period, a free man, although disgraced.
F**k me, there must have been many priests and teachers from the 1950s, through to the 1980s who must have been deaf, dumb and blind to what was going on.
Can anyone believe that nobody knew what was going on? Really?
If the RC Church was “beneficial, loving, charitable [and] honest” it would not have survived for 2000 years. It has survived because it is exploitative, ruthless, cunning, and ultimately all about power.
It gets away with it mainly because of childhood indoctrination of children, which results in its getting far more deference than it merits.
The best way to reveal it for what it really is is to shine a bright light onto its activities. Paul has already done quite a lot of that. It’s a pity that it won’t be possible to expose it in open court, but there are plenty of other ways to keep the spotlight on it.
Good luck Paul. Don’t turn the light off just yet.
It’s rather ironic that the recent film, highlighting abuse by the Catholic Church in Boston, Massachusetts, is entitled
Perhaps the Bee Gees were being prescient when they sang, in the 1967 UK No 1 song:
“The lights all went out in Massachusetts”. Then abuse on an industrial scale was allowed to happen for decades.
That would have been a rather apt song to have featured in the film, I’ve not seen it yet so I don’t know if that is the case.
To Paul Malpas
Keep on shining the light Paul. You never know what you might find. Nothing much surprises me, but a full apology from Bede’s and the Diocese of Salford regarding the abuse at the Alma Mater would be such an example.
The film is well worth seeing if for nothing else than how the Catholic Church control matters within its aegis which is large.
Don’t worry Paul the light will never go out, we are working on free energy.
Devastated for all the victims and yourself, Paul. I really thought you would get justice. If there is a God the so called Christians who have denied and destroyed the case will get there just rewards in the end.
Thanks Jon for that, but it ain’t finished ’til the fat lady sings and she ain’t doing that anytime soon.
You did your very best and you gave those unhappy people some hope which is more than the church has done over this appalling saga. Well done.
W S Gilbert himself a lawyer noted that “Virtue is triumphant only in theatrical performances”.
It seems that if a person alleges he will lose out in life by what has just happened to him it is called speculation. If he waits many years to show what actually happened to him it is called lack of causation or statute-barred.
It was very bumpy ride but you saw it through. Nice one.