Priests Face £5m Abuse Claim

Lancashire Evening Post
March 20, 2009

An ex-lawyer from Preston is suing Catholic Jesuit priests for £5m claiming his career was wrecked by sex abuse he suffered at school in the city.

The man, who attended the former Preston Catholic College, will go to London's High Court on Monday for what is thought to be the biggest claim against the Jesuit order in the UK.

The 50-year-old, who cannot be named for legal reasons, will sue the Jesuit order and the governers of the college for ?5m compensation for loss of earnings.

He lost his job at a London law firm in 1997 due to drinking and aggressive behaviour. He then suffered a breakdown.

Psychiatric experts will claim his condition and behaviour resulted from serious sexual abuse he suffered while at school in Preston.

Today the man said: "I cannot comment on the details of the case at this stage but can confirm that a hearing will go ahead at the High Court on Monday."

The man attended the college in the 1970s and he claims to have been subjected to years of abuse by one of the priests.

He also claims another priest witnessed the abuse which also involved him being filmed naked on numerous occasions.

The man claims the breakdown he suffered in 2005 led to intensive therapy which revealed the impact the abuse had had on his behaviour throughout his life.

The priest at the centre of the allegations,who taught French and religious education at the school, died in 2001 aged 76, which prevented the alleged victim launching criminal proceedings against him.

In a previous Lancashire Evening Post interview when the action was launched in 2007, one of the man's solicitors, John Housden, from Clifton Ingram solicitors in Wokingham, said the boy was too afraid to tell anyone at the time.

He said: "We are pursuing a claim against the people who were then responsible for the management of the school.

"We are also seeking people who may be able to corroborate what this man is saying about this particular priest.

"The priest was high up in soccer circles and, in part, that is how he targeted his victim."

A number of witnesses from Preston are expected to give evidence at the five day trial next week.


Any original material on these pages is copyright © 2004. Reproduce freely with attribution.