|Roman Catholic Church Faces £8m Abuse Payout
By Riazat Butt
October 26, 2010
A Roman Catholic diocese faces an £8m compensation claim after three high court judges ruled that it owned and ran an institution where 142 former pupils are suing for abuse. The diocese of Middlesbrough is considering going to the supreme court in light of the judgment. The judges upheld an earlier ruling that the diocese was responsible for St William's Community Home, Market Weighton, Yorkshire, rather than the De La Salle Brothers, a Catholic order who worked there. The diocese added that its "thoughts and prayers" were with the alleged victims and their families.
A statement for the diocese said: "We are currently considering the contents and implications of the court of appeal judgment with our legal advisers.
"This includes consideration of an appeal to the supreme court on the basis that there remain fundamental issues of law which require clarification and are of public interest. 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.
It added: "As this matter remains the subject of of legal proceedings it is not possible, or appropriate, for the diocese to make any detailed comment at this time."
It is the biggest historical abuse claim against the Roman Catholic church of England and Wales, centring on the alleged abuse of boys, aged between 10 and 16, from 1960 to 1992.
Humberside police began an investigation in 2001, which focused on child abuse at the home between 1965 and 1992, that led to former principal Father James Carragher being jailed for 14 years in 2004, after admitting to abusing boys in his care. In 2006, a group of former pupils launched a compensation claim.
Patricia Leonard, a barrister at 7 Bedford Row, who is acting for the claimants, welcomed today's ruling. She said: "It is not easy for victims of sexual abuse to bring their cases to court. There are psychological and social issues attached. In legal terms, it is less of an uphill struggle than before and things are becoming slightly more flexible towards them because of recent judgments.
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