Rowing back from reporting sexual abuse?

Is the Anglican Church going to change tack and not report all allegations of sexual abuse to the police? It has been reported in the Australian that Anglican Primate Phillip spinall has given personal support to the two Catholic Church leaders in the eye of the Hepworth sexual abuse affair, urging people not to rush to judgment over what happened to the future archbishop or the handling of the case  The Australian reports that r spinall praised the Catholic Archbishop of Adelaide, Philip Wilson, as "one of the church leaders in the country most educated" in dealing with sex abuse complaints, while archdiocese vicar-general avid appo was "deeply understanding" of victims' needs. The report goes on to say that it has been revealed that r spinall had commissioned a review into the policy he had developed in Brisbane to report all sexual abuse complaints against Anglican clergy and church staff to police, regardless of the complainant's wishes or any time lapse. r spinall emphasised that he could not comment on the Catholic hierarchy's management of the complaint by Archbishop John Hepworth of the breakaway raditional Anglican Communion that he suffered systematic sexual abuse for more than a decade at the hands of Catholic clergy in Adelaide and Melbourne, forcing him to flee the priesthood. The Anglican Primate told The Australian he knew Archbishop Wilson and Monsignor appo and had great respect for both. "You know, I think there are two sides to the story," he said. "And I recognise the restrictions on some of the people in authority in churches about being able to tell what they know." The unresolved response of the Catholic archdiocese in Adelaide has been contrasted unfavourably with that of Melbourne's, which handles sex abuse claims differently to the rest of the church in Australia. It dealt with Archbishop Hepworth's complaint within a year, apologised, offered a financial settlement and acknowledged he had been sexually abused by late Catholic priest Ronald Pickering and in "many other instances" by clergy in South Australia. Archbishop Hepworth according to the Australian says he told Monsignor appo of his ordeal four years ago, but the archdiocese disputes that he requested a church probe in 2008. This began in February this year, as the Melbourne archdiocese was approaching its settlement with Archbishop Hepworth, reached in August.

I mentioned last week in my blog that independent South Australian senator Nick Xenophon subsequently used parliamentary privilege to name serving Adelaide priest Monsignor Ian Dempsey as the only survivor of the trio alleged to have raped and sexually abused Archbishop Hepworth between 1960 and 1972 in Adelaide and Melbourne. Monsignor Dempsey has rejected the claim he was involved in any abuse. The Australian further reports that r spinall said he was "very slow to judge other churches", having had extensive experience in dealing with sex abuse complaints against clergy and church workers, including the claimed cover-ups in Queensland in the 1990s that caught up with his predecessor as archbishop of Brisbane, Peter Hollingworth, and forced him to quit his post as governor-general in 2003. "I know when you are dealing with any abused person how much pain and trauma this causes to people," r spinall said. "And I know I have done my utmost . . . to make sure that we do the right thing by people. "And I know how often we still disappoint people, and seem unintentionally to exacerbate their hurt. "Sometimes what we try to do is misunderstood and misinterpreted because there is a lack of trust there, which I understand. "Sometimes what is recorded is to my mind not accurate it doesn't fully reflect what I know we have bent over backwards to try to do, and I am restricted in what I can say about the particular circumstances because of the need to protect the privacy of the person. "So it just makes me pause when I hear stories of other churches, and particularly about people whom I know personally and have great respect." The Catholic archdiocese in delaide has said Archbishop Hepworth was encouraged over a "significant period of time" to take his complaint to the police. Archbishop Hepworth says he has spoken to the police three times since this newspaper broke the story of his ordeal, but the South Australia police would not say last week if this meant a criminal probe. Surely all allegations of sexual abuse should be reported to the police? If the complainant subsequently prefers for charges not be brought then so be it. That is a matter for them and the police. Experience has shown me that victims are to put it mildly are very nervous of reporting the abuse in the first place and should be shown and given support to follow through. It is not in my opinion for the church or any other organisation to decide what should and should not be reported to the police. hat is a recipe for brushing serious criminal offences under the carpet. I hope that the nglican church does not recoil from its policy of reporting all crime to the police. If you have been abused and would like to me Alan Collins or my colleague Charles Derham please contact us in confidence. Alan Collins Charles Derham (0) 2392492472


Lisa has specialised in childhood abuse and social care negligence for the last 8 years and has extensive experience in relation to civil abuse litigation, CICA claim maximisation and Redress Scheme claims. She offers a sympathetic and professional approach to her clients’ problems and advises on funding options (including insurance and Conditional Fee Agreements.)

Since 2018 she has travelled around the country to see clients who were failed by Lambeth Council during their childhood in order to collate evidence for submission to the Lambeth Children’s Home Compensation Scheme. Lisa’s style of working is tailored to providing emotional support whilst applying the specialist legal expertise required to ensure her client’s have the best evidence for making a successful claim.

Lisa is able to access key psychiatric and social care experts to obtain evidence and therapy recommendations for clients. She can direct clients to treatment providers if required. Often such treatment costs can be claimed as part of the compensation process. This is a priority to ensure her clients have the best opportunity to make positive steps into the future. Lisa excels in applying questions to psychiatric experts to clarify and ensure they have a deeper understanding of the case issues where required. She is also experienced in negotiation to maximise outcome according to specific scheme terms.

For the last year and half, Lisa has been leading the firm’s participation in the National Abuse Inquiry specifically relating to the IICSA Lambeth investigation acting on behalf of 6 core participants. Such work involved the preparation of core participant applications, section 40 funding applications, detailed consideration of social care record evidence, witness statements preparation, attending preliminary hearings for consideration on the extent of other key party involvement, detailed work on documentary disclosure evidence from the council, police and other core participants to identify deep seated failings within the past care and policing systems, cross referencing, and work with counsel on composing Rule 10 questioning of corporate and police witnesses giving evidence at the IICSA Lambeth hearing. Lisa also accompanied a key core participant giving evidence to the IICSA hearing providing support and understanding to ensure her client’s evidence was sensitively taken into account when the panel make recommendations to protect children in the future. Questions were raised on the effectiveness of the current Serious Case Review system and how this has been operating within police and council’s across the country, something which has also been identified whilst working on specific civil cases. The hope is that improvements in the child protection mechanisms can ensure the safety of children in future.

Lisa also specialises in CICA claims, an area of work which has increased significantly following the lifting of the pre 1979 same home abuse rule which facilitated many victims being able to finally achieve justice relating to serious childhood abuse.

Lisa also has extensive particular experience in running civil claims relating to foster carer abuse, abuse in private/public/approved school institutions, church abuse, and abuse linked to gymnastics.

Her extensive knowledge of the Civil Procedure Rules, skills in evidence gathering and analysis of liability and causation, and experience in risk assessment and settlement negotiation make her a valuable asset to clients and colleagues alike.

Lisa has more than 20 years’ experience of dealing with Personal Injury matters ranging from road traffic accidents to workplace injury and liability.

Lisa is fluent in German and Persian. She also has experience in Civil Litigation regarding Debt Recovery, Breach of Contract, and Insolvency Law

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Within this time, never once did I feel it was about the money for her. She was very considerate and dealt with many personal matters in a caring and professional way. It was a very sensitive case but she put in a lot of hard work and went the extra mile each time. Her wide range of expertise was indispensable during this difficult time. Because of this I trusted all her advice and as a result, this took a lot of pressure off of me.

She managed to reach a very amicable conclusion between the defendants and myself. You don’t know how much your passion impacts the lives of others. For this I am forever grateful. I would recommend your firm a hundred times over."
Anonymous, April 2019

Lisa studied ‘Contract Law, European Law and Employment Law’ as part of her degree in BA (Hons) Business Administration. She has also studied other business subjects, including accounting.

Having completed her degree, Lisa started work for Verisona Law in November 1999 in the Personal Injury department as a Trainee Litigation Clerk and since then has developed extensive skills in relation to personal injury litigation and case preparation.

  • Road traffic accidents
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  • Abuse 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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