Charity Commision investigates Ampleforth College's handling of child abuse claims

The Northern Echo
December 13, 2016

THE Charity Commission has launched an inquiry into how a leading Roman Catholic independent school has handled allegations of child sexual abuse.

The probe follows a North Yorkshire Police investigation into the Right Reverend Cuthbert Madden, chairman of governors at Ampleforth College and Ampleforth Abbey's abbot, roles which placed him at the head of the largest Benedictine community in the country.

The force announced last month that the historical child sex inquiry had concluded Father Cuthbert, 61, who was ordained as a priest in 1990 and has been at Ampleforth for 30 years, would not face any charges.

A police spokesman said: "An investigation has been carried out, and based on the evidence available, no further action will be taken."

Ampleforth Abbey, near Thirsk, said Abbot Cuthbert Madden had always denied any wrongdoing and cooperated while the allegations were investigated.

In a statement, the abbey said: "The police’s decision allows us to proceed with the appropriate church protocols, after which we hope Father Abbot will resume his duties."

On Tuesday, the Charity Commission announced it had opened an investigation into Ampleforth Abbey and St Laurence Education Trust, which runs both Ampleforth College and St Martin's Ampleforth.

In a statement, the commission stressed it would not be investigating the child abuse allegations.

It said: "The regulator's statutory inquiry will investigate the charity trustees' approach to safeguarding and handling of allegations of sexual abuse.

"The investigation follows media reporting regarding individuals with links to Ampleforth College in connection with allegations of sexual abuse."

The commission said the inquiry would examine the administration, governance and management of the charities by the trustees and whether or not the trustees have fulfilled their duties and responsibilities.

In a statement, Ampleforth College said: "The trustees are co-operating fully with the commission and, as the inquiry is ongoing, no further comment can be made.

"Ampleforth is committed to good governance and a January 2016 inspection by the Independent Schools Inspectorate found the College to be fully compliant with regard to all aspects of safeguarding.

"In addition, an independent audit of the Trust's Safeguarding Commission carried out by the Catholic Safeguarding Advisory Service on behalf of the National Catholic Safeguarding Commission in June 2015 endorsed the work of that Commission in safeguarding children and vulnerable adults."

Appleforth College, which opened in 1802 as a boys' school, has more than 600 pupils and admitted girls for the first time in 2002.

Some of its famous former pupils include Downton Abbey creator Julian Fellowes and former England rugby captain Lawrence Dallaglio.

The school has a history of allegations of abuse with a number of previous convictions, including Father Piers Grant-Ferris who was jailed for two years in 2006 for 20 counts of indecent assault on boys in his care.


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