Top Catholic school stripped of pupil welfare responsibilities

A leading Catholic school has been stripped of its responsibilities to protect children amid concerns over the way it has handled allegations of sexual abuse.

The Charity Commission has appointed a lawyer to take charge of safeguarding at Ampleforth College, a prestigious boarding school in North Yorkshire.

Emma Moody has been appointed to manage the charities that run the college and Ampleforth Abbey. Both bodies have been under investigation by the commission since 2016 following reports of abuse.

Harvey Grenville, head of investigations and enforcement at the Charity Commission, said: “It is of paramount importance that beneficiaries, and others who come into contact with charities, are protected from harm.

“We are not satisfied that the trustees of these charities have made enough progress in improving the safeguarding environment for pupils in the schools connected to the charities.

“For this reason, we have appointed an interim manager to expedite changes in the safeguarding arrangements at the schools.”

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Ampleforth Abbey said Moody would “support and guide the trustees and provide strategic leadership on matters relating to safeguarding, ensuring the charities have the proper framework they require to deliver their missions safely and appropriately.”

In a statement the abbey said the move would ensure “all our beneficiaries are able to flourish and thrive, reaching their full potential, in a safe environment and protected from harm”.

The college – which charges £34,000 a year in boarding school fees – is run by the St Laurence Education Trust, which also manages a prep school, St Martin’s Ampleforth, which announced its closure earlier this year. The abbey runs a 200-year-old religious community on the same site.

In November, the independent inquiry into child sexual abuse heard that priests at the prep school abused boys as young as six, including beatings and sexual assaults.

One witness who spent 11 years at the prep school and college in the 1960s and 70s said he had been “physically and psychologically abused” by a priest who had been “nasty, cruel and physically violent towards me”.

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After he left the school, he suffered a “total psychological collapse” that lasted seven or eight years. “I wasn’t able to do anything, I couldn’t function,” he said.

He said he believed that Cardinal Basil Hume, who was abbot of Ampleforth Abbey for 13 years until appointed archbishop of Westminster in 1976, had been aware of abuse at the schools. “I have no doubt he knew exactly what was going on at the time,” he said.

Three monks and two lay teachers have been convicted of sex crimes against more than 30 pupils from the 1960s to 2010.

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