Naming and Shaming?

Is it right to name and shame an alleged abuser in the media? An interesting question that provokes heated argument. South Australian senator Nick Xenophon used parliamentary privilege to accuse a Catholic priest of rape. Was this right or foolhardy? Adelaide Catholic priest Ian Dempsey said it was "totally unfair and unjust" of the independent South Australian senator to use parliamentary privilege to accuse him of raping John Hepworth, now a leading Anglican churchman, more than 40 years ago. He denies the alleagtions. Senator Xenophon said he had acted in good faith and without malice in naming Monsignor Dempsey under parliamentary privilege, but said: "I regret the course of events went down this path". He said the matter might have played out differently had he known Monsignor Dempsey was about to go on one month's annual leave. "It would have given an opportunity for there to be a satisfactory outcome without the need to name the priest in question," he told reporters in delaide. "I find it bewildering and extraordinary that no one in the Catholic Church decided to advise me the priest in question was about to gove on leave."

Senator Xenophon said he named Monsignor empsey because the hurch had taken too long to address the rape allegations against him that emerged four years ago. The Adelaide Catholic Church has said it was not being tardy because Archbishop Hepworth had only this year decided to proceed with his claim. According to Australian media Archbishop Hepworth said he was the victim of violent rapes by two priests and a trainee priest, beginning in 1960, when he was 15. At the time Archbishop Hepworth, who is now the primate of the splinter group raditional Anglican Communion in Adelaide, was studying to be a priest at a seminary. Archbishop Hepworth has said he broke away from the Catholic Church because of the 12 years of abuse. This story clearly has some way to go. There is further coverage in For more on this article, or if you wish to discuss in confidence any claim you might have please contact me Alan Collins or my colleague Charles Derham 0044 (0) 2392 492472


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

"Thank you for all your much appreciated hard work. I will truly never forget your kindness towards me. Your patience, respect and understanding at all times was beyond words. The sincere compassion shown meant more to me than words could ever express. This firm will forever hold a special place in my heart."


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