The head of England's Benedictine order has offered his resignation over concerns of a "conflict of interest" in the investigation into children suffering sexual abuse at the hands of Ealing Abbey clerics.
Father Richard Yeo is currently a member of the team leading the inquiry into the allegations but is said to have understood he may be dogged by accusations should he remain involved in the case, The Times reports.
Yeo was appointed to conduct the Apostolic Visitation alongside an auxiliary bishop of Westminster, Bishop John Arnold, after the broadsheet exposed pupils at St Benedict's were subject to decades of abuse by lay teachers and monks. The Visitation was ordered by the Congregation for the Doctrine of Faith in Rome, to investigate the abuse which spanned more than 40 years at the school.
Christopher Cleugh, headmaster of the Catholic school said the events had left a "terrible legacy" and last month apologised for "past failures" which led to the sexual abuse going unchecked. He added the school would adopt the recommendations made by an independent inquiry by Lord Carlile of Berriew and admitted the school should “have done more”.
In his report, Lord Carlile recommended that governance of the school should be made independent from the governance of the Trust of St Benedict’s Abbey, while delivering “effective monitoring, safeguarding policies and procedures”. The report was launched following the conviction of the school’s former head Father David Pearce, who was jailed in 2009 for abusing pupils over a 36-year period and described as "devil in a dog's collar".
The report highlighted the “wholly outdated and demonstrably unacceptable” governance of the school. Cleugh said St Benedict’s would move immediately “to put into action all the recommendations". This includes stripping the Monks of their role in running the school.
At the start of his report, Lord Carlile also expressed his disappointment at Father Yeo failing to act earlier to review schools the Benedictine order managed. He also added the Vactican's decision to appoint Yeo to the Apostolic Visitation was "foolish".
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