'Church cover-up must be challenged for the sake of abuse victims'
A SOLICITOR representing more than 150 victims of alleged abuse at a notorious Market Weighton care home has called for a public inquiry.
David Greenwood, of Jordan's Solicitors, is fighting for compensation for the men who suffered physical and sexual abuse at the hands of staff at the now demolished St William's through the 1960s to the 1990s.
He says the Catholic Church should be held to account over the abuse.
Mr Greenwood said: "The Government can either put up with church's inadequate excuses on safeguarding, or take positive action to improve safeguarding for children.
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"The culture of cover-up is embedded in the Catholic Church. It will never be challenged without full public scrutiny."
The care home has been the subject of three separate police investigations.
The former principal, Brother James Carragher, was jailed following the first two inquiries.
The home closed in the mid-1990s amid spiralling debts and the initial child sex scandal.
Father Anthony McCallen, who often gave Mass at the home, was also jailed for abusing boys in his parish in Hull.
Carragher was a member of the De La Salle Order of Christian Brother's – a teaching ministry employed by the Diocese Of Middlesbrough to run the school.
In a joint letter sent to the Government, signed by a number of solicitors but led by Mr Greenwood, they state: "Officials of church organisations hold influential and highly respected roles within the community.
"Historically, they have enjoyed the trust of the public and unquestioned access to children.
"This has undoubtedly created extensive opportunities for abuse.
"From cases we are handling, we are aware of some 41 Catholic priests who have been convicted of serious sexual offences.
"Yet these very same organisations, particularly in the Catholic Church, have persistently ignored and in many cases covered up complaints of abuse."
After the second police inquiry, several staff members complained to the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) and a five-year, £1 million probe was launched.
Humberside Police were criticised by the IPCC as part of what became known as Operation Gullane.
In total, the 3,000-plus page document made 400 individual criticisms, including "major" and "institutional" failings such as under funding, a lack of supervision, an inconsistent approach to arresting suspects and a failure to pursue reasonable lines of inquiry.
Mr Greenwood then took on the civil case on behalf of the many alleged victims.
The Middlesbrough Diocese has been told by the High Court that it alone is liable for any compensation claims.
The third investigation by Humberside Police, codenamed Operation Reno, continues.
Ten detectives have arrested and interviewed nine suspects – in their 60s and 70s – and have identified 50 new alleged victims.
The letter continues: "We have seen clear evidence of cover-ups on some of our cases and we believe these are the tip of the iceberg."
The group of solicitors has also said other religious institutions should be part of the inquiry also.
They state: "The available evidence shows that the practical implementation of new safeguarding policies in both the Catholic Church and the Church of England, and other denominations, has been tentative, patchy and has met significant institutional resistance at senior levels in the church hierarchy.
"There is now overwhelming evidence that religious organisations are too compromised by their own failings to police themselves effectively."