|Victims of Paedophile Win Payout
September 19, 2008
SEVEN victims of a paedophile priest have won their fight for compensation from the Catholic Church in Leeds.
The men took legal action against Leeds diocese in 2006 over abuse at the hands of Father Neil Gallanagh at St John's School for the Deaf in Boston Spa in the 1970s.
Now the diocese has agreed to pay out-of-court settlements with the men, now in their 40s. No details have been made public on the sum they have received – though it is understood to be "significant".
Previous reports said the claimants each stood to receive as much as £50,000 if they succeeded in proving wilful neglect by the diocese. The case of an eighth man is still ongoing.
The action has been led by David Greenwood, a solicitor with Dewsbury-based law firm Jordans who represented 140 men following abuse at a former Catholic children's home in East Yorkshire.
He said: "No amount of money will ever make up for what happened to these men. That does not mean, however, that they should not be compensated for their ordeals."
Gallanagh was given a six-month suspended prison sentence in 2005 after he admitted indecently assaulting two teenage boarders at St John's between 1975 and 1980.
Charges involving five other boys under 16 were left on file at the conclusion of the 75-year-old's trial.
It later emerged that Gallanagh already had a conviction for child abuse when he was given his job at St John's. He admitted attacking a nine-year-old boy during a day trip to the Isle of Man in 1960, when he was a priest in Northern Ireland.
Solicitor, Mr Greenwood believes the diocese's latest decision to settle the case out-of-court has been prompted by a recent Law Lords ruling in favour of a Leeds woman attacked in 1988 by Lotto rapist Iorworth Hoare.
The woman had been fighting for a six-year time limit currently imposed on compensation claims from victims to be lifted.
A spokesman for the Diocese of Leeds said it would be "inappropriate" to comment until the group action was fully concluded.
But, in an earlier statement, when the compensation bid was first announced, the diocese said written records from the time were scant and two bishops of the era had died.
Since that time, however, the diocese has developed "good policies and practice in regard to all aspects of the protection of children and vulnerable adults," the spokesman added.
And it had "co-operated fully when approached by statutory authorities in regard to historical cases."
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