Beds, Herts & Bucks

St Francis Boys' Home sex abuse inquiry: Police review evidence

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Media captionEx-residents of a Catholic orphanage in Bedfordshire are to be re-interviewed by police in a new review

Ex-residents of a Catholic orphanage in Bedfordshire are to be re-interviewed by police in a new review into claims of physical and sexual abuse.

In May 2013 police revealed an investigation had begun into alleged abuse at the St Francis Boys Home in Shefford, in the 1950s and 1960s.

Ex-residents have been told there will be an evidence review under the command of senior investigator Mark Ross.

Bedfordshire Police said all previous investigations would be looked at.

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Image caption Many of the residents have alleged they were abused by priest Fr John Ryan, who ran the home in the 1960s and died in 2008

The BBC has talked to former residents of the home who allege they were physically and/or sexually abused at the orphanage, run by the Roman Catholic Diocese of Northampton.

'Out of the blue'

Many have said they were abused by priest Father John Ryan, who ran the home in the 1960s and died in 2008.

Others say they were abused by Fr Wilfred Johnson, who ran the home between 1945 and 1954 and died in 1994.

Mr Ross, a retired senior police officer, said: "The investigation has evolved due to the large number of victims and witnesses.

"We are now in a very different era and social attitudes and the criminal justice system have changed significantly in the last 50 years. I aim to provide all of the victims involved with an outcome.

"Many of the suspects have since died but police forces still have the responsibility to investigate these crimes and consider organisational responsibility at the time of the abuse."

Gordon McIntosh, a spokesman for ex-residents, welcomed the news.

"It's a very positive development and it has come out of the blue. I am hoping at the end of the day we can see some progress in this investigation," Mr McIntosh told the BBC.

The Diocese of Northampton has said it "deeply regrets" any hurt caused, but has stressed the "claims are not proven".

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