The Charity Commission has appointed an interim manager to address safeguarding concerns at two monastic charities facing claims of historic sexual abuse.
The Charity Commission opened statutory inquiries into Ampleforth Abbey and the St Laurence Education Trust, two linked monastic charities, in November 2016, over their responses to allegations of abuse and their safeguarding processes.
Ampleforth Abbey runs a Benedictine monastic community and the St Laurence Education Trust runs two private schools, including Ampleforth College, which are located on the same site as the Abbey.
In late 2016, the media reported that police were investigating complaints of indecent assault made by four former pupils against the Right Rev Cuthbert Madden, abbot of Ampleforth, which dated back to the early 1990s. Madden denied all the allegations, but stood down from his position during the police investigation.
In a statement released today, the Commission said it appointed Emma Moody of law firm Womble Bond Dickinson as the interim manager of both charities on 21 March 2018.
The regulator said it is “not satisfied that the charities’ current safeguarding policies, procedures and practices are adequate and working properly. This includes concerns about the charities’ compliance with established safeguarding procedures”.
Moody will have “all the powers and duties of a trustee, to the exclusion of the trustees, in respect of a number of safeguarding related matters”.
The Commission said the organisations’ trustees will continue to have “all the other powers and duties of trustees” outside of safeguarding functions.
Moody will be tasked with:
- Reviewing the charities’ governance, culture, policies and practices with regard to safeguarding
- Identifying and implementing whatever is necessary to provide a safe environment for children
- Reviewing both organisation’s “progress with implementing the recommendations” arising from an independent review conducted in 2017
Harvey Grenville, head of investigations and enforcement at the Charity Commission, said: “It is of paramount importance that beneficiaries, and others who come into contact with charities, are protected from harm.
“We are not satisfied that the trustees of these charities have made enough progress in improving the safeguarding environment for pupils in the schools connected to the charities. For this reason, we have appointed an interim manager to expedite changes in the safeguarding arrangements at the schools.”
Joint statement from the charities
In a joint statement on the Ampleforth College website, the two charities welcomed the appointment of an interim manager, and said both organisations were “committed” to working with Moody and her team.
“The safeguarding of children and adults is paramount in all the works of the Ampleforth Abbey Trust and the St Laurence Education Trust. We welcome the insight which Emma Moody and her team will bring to Ampleforth, and are committed to working with them to implement their recommendations regarding governance in relation to safeguarding,” the statement said.
It also called the appointment a “precautionary measure” and said the interim management will have “no impact on day to day religious and educational activities” of the charities or the students at the schools.