Ampleforth College: charity watchdog to investigate handling of abuse claims

By Sally Weale
December 13, 2016

Ampleforth College and monastery in North Yorkshire.

The Charity Commission has launched an investigation into safeguarding and the handling of sexual abuse allegations at a prestigious independent Catholic boarding school in North Yorkshire.

Police have been investigating allegations of historical sexual abuse at Ampleforth College, which has educated cultural luminaries such as the Downton Abbey creator, Julian Fellowes, the sculptor Antony Gormley and the actor Rupert Everett.

Announcing its inquiry on Tuesday, the commission – which is the independent regulator of charities in England and Wales – stressed that its role was not to investigate allegations or actual incidents of abuse, whether historical or recent.

Its remit is solely to look into the trustees’ approach to safeguarding and their handling of allegations of sexual abuse.

Ampleforth Abbey, a registered charity, is the home of a Catholic religious community which is based on the same site. The St Laurence Education Trust is the registered charity which runs Ampleforth College and a second independent school, St Martin’s Ampleforth.

The Charity Commission will examine whether there has been any misconduct or mismanagement in the administration of the charities; the charities’ handling of safeguarding policy and procedures, and how they dealt with the risks to the charities and their beneficiaries arising from alleged abuse incidents.

“The commission stresses that it is not a safeguarding authority and its inquiries will not investigate allegations of abuse or actual incidents of abuse, whether historic or recent,” it said in a statement.

“Its concern is with the proper regulation of charities. Anyone with concerns about specific incidents of alleged abuses, whether historic or recent, regarding any charity, should report their concerns to the police and the relevant safeguarding authorities.”

A report will be issued once inquiries have been concluded, the commission added.

An Ampleforth spokesperson said trustees were cooperating fully with the commission, adding: “Ampleforth is strongly 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 abbey 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.”


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