Interim manager appointed to charity facing child abuse claims

St Laurence Education Trust runs the independent schools Ampleforth College and St Martin's Ampleforth in North Yorkshire

The Amplethorpe Valley
The Amplethorpe Valley

The Charity Commission has appointed an interim manager to a charity that runs a Catholic school at the centre of child abuse claims.

Former pupils at Ampleforth College in North Yorkshire told the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse last year they were abused by priests.

Interim managers oversee the running of a charity on a temporary basis in cases where the commission believes the organisation is failing.

The commission said it had appointed Emma Moody, a partner of the Newcastle law firm Womble Bond Dickinson as interim manager of the St Laurence Education Trust, which runs the independent schools Ampleforth College and St Martin's Ampleforth.

Moody's appointment also includes Ampleforth Abbey, a related charity that maintains a monastery on the same site as the college.

The commission said it had decided to appoint Moody after reviewing what progress trustees had made in implementing recommendations contained in Professor Sue Proctor's independent review last year of safeguarding at the schools.

Harvey Grenville, head of investigations and enforcement at the commission, said in a statement: "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."

Moody would take over trustee duties "in respect of a number of safeguarding-related matters", the commission added.

It said she would also review governance, leadership, management, culture, policies and practices with regard to safeguarding, and review the charities’ progress on implementing Proctor's recommendations.

The commission opened a statutory inquiry into the trust and abbey in November 2016 to investigate the trustees' approach to safeguarding and their handling of abuse allegations. It has yet to publish its findings.

The schools of Ampleforth College and St Martin's Ampleforth provide a Benedictine education to more than 700 boys and girls aged three to 18.

The monastic community at Ampleforth, run according to the rule of St Benedict, is the largest in the country.

In a statement on its website, Ampleforth College described Moody's appointment as a "precautionary measure" that would "have no impact on the day-to-day religious and educational activities" of students.

It added: "The Charity Commission believes that this appointment is necessary to ensure that previous and current safeguarding concerns are identified, addressed and, importantly, that the charities' plans for the future are sufficiently robust to achieve long-term change.

"It has tasked Emma with investigating its concerns and report her findings and recommendations."

The statement also expressed "sincere and heartfelt apologies to anyone who has suffered harm whilst in Ampleforth's care".

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