Wednesday, 16 March 2011

St. Bede's College

On the front page of the Manchester Evening News, yesterday, was a story entitled "Church says sorry over sex abuse claims." It was an apology from the Bishop of Salford for abuse, which a long since departed convicted Priest abuser, had committed at St. Bede's College in Manchester.

The allegations were uncovered by Mike Harding, the well known folk singer, himself a former pupil but not a victim of abuse of St. Bede's. The apology was given publicly in terms, which were allegedly vetted by the school's insurers, and "did not go far enough" according to Mike. There was a lack of genuineness about the way in which the apology was worded.

It is easy to understand how angry victims of abuse feel about the past, which cannot, of course be altered by the present. Many survivors' motivation in coming forward, is to ensure that the same sort of thing does not happen again, and the children of today are protected. Ironically, today's bishop, though no doubt genuine in the sincerity of his apology, is many years detached from the abuse itself. The survivors really want those involved to apologise, rather than an insurer vetted bishop from the present. Tragically this is frequently impossible to achieve.

It is sad that people these days are made to feel guilty about making claims for compensation. The insurer's lobby is stronger than ever. It is in their interests to save money and discourage people from telling the truth and exercising their deserved rights to be given money, in order to compensate for mistakes made in the past.

In the case of abuse victims, money is often not their motivation, but rather a quest for justice, and an apology. If the nature of the gesture lack sincerity, then it often causes yet more unmanageably anger. A lot of work should go into getting the apology right. More work should also be done on making the compensation for abuse victims more appropriate for the abuse which has been committed and the harm it has caused. What our clients get in reality is a pittance. I have been quoted in the press as saying that it equates to the cost of a cup of coffee per day.

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