Catholic diocese loses school abuse appeal

  • Published

The Court of Appeal has upheld a decision that a Catholic diocese should be held liable for abuse at a former boys' school.

The abuse is said to have taken place between 1960 and 1992 at St William's in Market Weighton, East Yorkshire.

Middlesbrough Diocese is facing an £8m compensation claim from 158 ex-pupils.

The appeal court upheld a ruling which said the De La Salle Brotherhood, which provided the school with teachers at the time, had no legal responsibility.

The compensation claim by the 158 pupils was submitted in 2004.

One of the victims, Graham Baverstock from Bridlington, welcomed the ruling.

Principal jailed

He said: "The Catholic Diocese of Middlesbrough are responsible, are accountable and now it's time for them to say sorry to the victims."

The case centres around the systematic abuse of boys aged between 10 and 16 at the school, which closed in 1992.

Solicitor David Greenwood, who is acting on behalf of the former pupils, said he was pleased they could now move forward with their claims.

He said: "I hope that the Roman Catholic Diocese of Middlesbrough and its representatives will work with me constructively to achieve settlements for all these deserving claimants."

The home provided residential care and education for boys with emotional and behavioural problems, mainly from Yorkshire and the North East.

Humberside Police started an investigation in 2001, which focused on child abuse at the home between 1965 and 1992.

'Disgraceful' delay

A former principal at the home, James Carragher, was jailed for 14 years in 2004 after being found guilty of abusing boys there between 1969 and 1989.

Image caption,
The home provided care for boys with emotional and behavioural problems

The diocese accepted in the Court of Appeal that it would be liable for such abuse if it was proved.

The question for the court was whether the De La Salle Brotherhood, of which some but not all of the teachers were members, would also be liable.

In a statement, the diocese said it was considering a further appeal to the Supreme Court "on the basis that there remain fundamental issues of law which require clarification and are of public interest".

It said: "We appreciate the frustration caused by the length of time it is taking to determine the complex legal issues involved in this case and our thoughts and prayers are with all those affected and their families."

Keith Porteous Wood, executive director of the National Secular Society, said: "It is disgraceful that the Church continues to heartlessly compound the suffering of victims by prolonging this case.

"If the Vatican were serious about its compassion for victims, it would have settled the compensation years ago, and decided centrally how the cost were to be borne."

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