Another Catholic Church cover-up?

Those of us familiar with representing victims of child abuse are only too familiar with stories of cover-ups, and pressure being brought to bear not to speak out. I can only speak as I find but in such cases I am often struck by a prevailing inner conflict between doing the right thing and speaking out and a deep faith (some may say that it was indoctrination or brainwashing?). What follows sounds only too familiar, and it will be interesting to see how the story unfolds. Last month it was reported in The Australian that the Catholic Church was defended itself against fresh claims that it tried to cover up a police investigation into the abuse of intellectually disabled children at one of its Adelaide schools. The allegations were aired last night on the ABC's Four Corners program, which used documents dating back 20 years to reveal the church received legal advice telling it to avoid mentioning in writing charges of sexual abuse against a volunteer bus driver at St Ann's Special School in delaide. This kept the allegations from the public, and no attempt was made by the school or the Catholic Education Office to pursue the police inquiry into the bus driver, which stalled.

Church spokeswoman told The Australian last night the program was based on old material that was no longer relevant as the church had moved forward in its policies and procedures, including setting up preventive measures that were rigorously enforced. "The management practices of the late 1980s and early 90s arenot those of today, and there has been significant progress in dealing with this complex and painful issue," the spokeswoman said. "(Adelaide) Archbishop Philip Wilson's response in 2002 when he learned of the appalling abuse at St Ann's was to immediately write to the police commissioner to request the extradition of Brian Perkins from Queensland. "He adopted a generous and compassionate approach through the provision of ex-gratia payments, which was highly commended at the time." Archbishop Wilson was installed in 2001, shortly before a group of parents took their story to the media. In 2002, Monsignor David Cappo, the Rann government's social inclusion commissioner, met parents who wanted an inquiry, but the program was told he refused to accept parents' input into the terms of reference and that he "made a sudden exit". In the program, Archbishop Wilson denied the documents showed a cover-up. Archbishop Wilson and Monsignor Cappo face a separate accusation of failing to resolve a complaint by Archbishop John Hepworth of clerical sexual abuse. Archbishop Wilson and Monsignor Cappo, deny the accusation. For more on this story I suggest you go to The Australian If you want to discuss the issue of child abuse claims and what is involved please contact me in confidence. Alan Collins 0044 (0) 2392 492472 lternatively please contact my colleague Charles Derham. 0044 (0) 2392492472


Charles has considerable specialist experience in pursuing claims for compensation for those who have been abused in childhood. His specific expertise means that he is recognised locally, nationally and internationally for his work which has taken him all over the world including, USA, Australia and New Zealand.

He is also recognised for his significant involvement in the high profile litigation against St Georges School (Anglemoss Limited) and Cyntwell High School. These cases involved a staggering number of individuals who pursued those responsible whom despite heavily defending the claims brought against them settled by way of out of court settlements.

Charles regularly features in local and national press and he is often asked to provide his professional opinion and commentary on relevant abuse law issues and developments on radio and television broadcasts. Such broadcasts include BBC South Today, BBC Wales, ITV and ITN News.

Charles is a member of the Association of Child Abuse Lawyers.

You can follow Charles on Twitter and Facebook.

Charles obtained his Law degree at Kingston University, before successfully completing his Legal Practice Course. He trained and qualified with Verisona Law beginning his specialism in the field of child abuse claims. He received his higher rights of Audience in 2012 making him one of the youngest Solicitor-Advocates in the country who is able to represent his clients in the High Court. Charles is head of the abuse team who collectively have secured compensation for hundreds of victims of abuse.

He began diversifying in to other aspects of abuse law and his team are one of the very few in the country who specialise in claims against social services.

He is involved in complex group action litigation and also represents a number of individuals and who are pursuing private companies, local authorities and perpetrators in pursuit of their justice.

Charles has strong contacts with some of the most prominent barristers who advise on abuse claims including a number of QC’s. He also has robust connections with highly qualified expert witnesses he instructs in support of those who he represents.

  • Child abuse claims
  • Claims against social services
  • Complex/Catastrophic Clinical Negligence claims

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