THE DE LA SALLES – TALKING TO THE LOCAL PRESS

I’ve been talking to the East Anglian Daily Times, the local Ipswich paper, about the De La Salles.

The EADT are keen to speak to other St Joseph’s Old Boys about this whole business and what their take is on the allegations about the order. Your own experiences and so forth.

I think that would be a great idea as I don’t feel I should be the sole media voice on the DLS. It’s important to have different perspectives.

The EADT assure me your anonymity would be completely protected.

If you’d like to get in touch with them, their contact details are below 

EADT CONTACT DETAILS

Sarah Burgess

Investigations Reporter

M: ‪07809551238

E: sarah.burgess1@archant.co.uk

@sarahburgesss

DE LA SALLES – POSITIVE NEWS

I’m always a little wary of being optimistic where bringing Catholic child abusers to justice is concerned.  Even so, I think this is encouraging news and is certainly a big step forward, following the DLS not-so-public public apology.

Catholic Safeguarding have written back to me. As I’ve previously related, the allegations on this site are with Hydrant and Safeguarding confirmed this is the case.

But the key NEW information they gave me is as follows:

Firstly, they informed me:

“De La Salle have now written to the police asking them to investigate all allegations and concerns made about the order and any members of it.”

I have to say I read this sentence several times before fully absorbing it. I really couldn’t believe it. This, surely, is progress, although I know we’re not at the end of the road yet.

Catholic Safeguarding also responded to my raising concerns about the Scottish DLS St Ninian’s case.

Here’s what they had to say:

“Thank you for bringing the latest court case to my attention, the concerns raised will be placed before DLS and communicated to Hydrant and I will bring it to the attention of the SCOE Commission at our next meeting.

In respect of SCOE, although the victim testimony is powerful, safeguarding matters pertaining to Scotland are not under our remit for any member religious orders within SCOE, only those pertaining to England and Wales, so this case or others that may exist, outside of England and Wales, are not considered by us.

Safeguarding matters in Scotland are overseen by the Scottish Catholic Safeguarding Service.”

So special thanks to the two survivors of St Ninians who wrote and told me what happened to them.  You are super stars!

I would hope there will be some traction as the English Safeguarding and the DLS and Hydrant presumably bring the Scottish Safeguarding into the loop.  If you don’t hear anything in a couple of months, do let me know.

Thanks also to all the survivors of all the De La Salles schools for writing into this site with your testimonies.  Hey – we finally got somewhere!

I think there is cause for a little cautious celebration all round.

CATHOLIC SAFEGUARDING – DIFFERENT ORGANISATIONS AND RESPONSIBILITIES

This is really a memo to self on Catholic Safeguarding because I’ve been seeing them as one organisation whereas in fact – especially from a survivor’s point of view –  they are TWO very distinct bodies with distinct points of view.

So I thought I’d make it clear for others who may well be facing similar difficulties understanding them and who to get in touch with.

It is confusing but that may just me!  I’m not used to the internal workings of large organisations and if and where they overlap. If you’ve worked for some big company like Unilever or a government ministry this is probably a walk in the park!

ONE

The Rev Des Bill, chair of the Catholic Church’s Safeguarding Commission for Orders in Education (SCOE) 

Des is the safeguarding lead person for the De La Salles and other Orders connected with education. So he is directly involved with the De La Salles.

It’s my understanding that Des Bill initiated the suspension of Brother Laurence and commissioned an investigation into the allegations, commissioning Jo Norman to look into them. For all this he is to be commended.

He also passed on my allegations about the DLS and the Knights to Operation Hydrant which I need to ask him about shortly.  

Because the way it was done did not follow the usual approved procedure, according to my own communication with Hydrant.

Although these are all valuable steps, Des appears to be negative, to put it gently, to recent progress in bringing the DLS to book. Thus, as I’ve exampled, he is partisan towards the DLS when they have distanced themselves from their crimes and seems to be involved with the DLS public apology fiasco which was not public and was not much of an apology.

And he doesn’t seem to be responding to the most recent concerns I’ve raised.

Never mind.

Whilst I am not experienced in dealing with large organizations, I have considerable experience in how to deal with people who are not being helpful.

TWO

Catholic Safeguarding Standards Agency (CSSA). Colette Limbrick is the CEO.

I think the CSSA’s functions overlap with the SCOE and I guess I will find out more about how that works as things develop.

They are certainly supportive and I value that.

THREE

Nazir Afzal is the chair of the CSSA, but I understand it’s not an everyday role. Whereas I think chair is a full time post for Des Bill.

Nazir, of course, is well known and a fellow survivor thoroughly recommends his book The Prosecutor.

How Nazir responds to survivors we have yet to see. But we survivors are most definitely moving forward in his direction, too.

I will try to make everything much clearer in the future when I refer to ‘Catholic Safeguarding’.

THE DE LA SALLES –  YET MORE DISTANCING FROM THE TRUTH!

I really do not enjoy highlighting the failings of the De La Salle Brothers and Catholic Safeguarding. I have far better things to do with my time. I could be enjoying the stunning view from our garden. I could be promoting my books. I could be working on my next novel.

But this latest development can’t be ignored. Because survivors have been grievously harmed by this religious order.  And both they and Catholic Safeguarding have to do much better to put things right.

THE ‘PUBLIC’ APOLOGY

As I said previously, it was not a public apology. But there’s some news on this:

Before complaining on my blog it was not a public apology, I did a word search on Google quoting a phrase from the apology.

Nothing came up.

A national journalist looked for the apology in a similar way.

Nothing came up.

Today, if you put a phrase from the apology in Google …

Hey presto! It comes up!

This means the De La Salles have belatedly  added the apology on their website  AFTER my blog had said it was not a public apology.

Previously the only person I know who saw the apology was Catholic Safeguarding who omitted to send it to me until I asked them for it.

The intention was obviously for the apology to have zero public impact.

Such blatant manipulation of information does not put the De La Salles in a good light.

And it’s still far from public as it’s buried on the DLS website without comment.

It should go out to all media IF THEY MEAN THEY ARE SORRY.  Of course it’s obvious they do not mean it.

I’ve also been made aware by others of yet further media obfuscation by the DLS.

Conclusion? The De La Salles haven’t changed at all from the bad old days of cover-up and denial.

THE DE LA SALLE WEBSITE

I had a look at it. https://www.lasalleigbm.org/

Three paragraphs stood out for me:

‘The De La Salle Brothers are fully committed to protecting children, young people and adults at risk from neglect and from all forms of abuse. ‘

‘We will be open, transparent and accountable.’

‘We will respond to those affected by abuse with sensitivity, respect and compassion and endeavour to support them in whatever way is appropriate.’

None of this rings true.

Thus there is no mention of the De La Salle brothers who have been found guilty of abuse.

There is nothing in the News section of their website, either – even though a De La Salle brother who liked to electrocute children’s genitals is being sentenced today.

And no mention of DLS proven abusers who definitely run into double figures and may run into triple figures.

It’s like none of it ever happened.

That is not normal. Something is very wrong here.

Therefore from all the foregoing I put it to the Reverend Des Bill at  Catholic Safeguarding once again that – contrary to what he is claiming –  it is therefore provable that the DLS are distancing themselves from their criminal past.

A GENUINE APOLOGY FROM THE DE LA SALLES?

Perhaps naively, I actually think this is still possible!

I see two possible alternative paths ahead:

1)The De La Salles and Des Bill continue with a defensive pattern of behaviour – with obfuscation and denial  – which alienates survivors and is the very opposite of Christian beliefs.  I guess they’re both hoping that an annoying survivor like me will eventually get fed-up and go away. That’s unlikely – I’ve too much emotional investment in this matter to let it go. But I do seek closure.

2) To enter into a proper dialogue with the DLS and Safeguarding about them creating a true, sincere and meaningful apology.  I think it’s possible, after consultation with the numerous survivors I’m in touch with, to present a draft of what most survivors expect from the DLS. 

And to listen to DLS alternative and improved suggestions for a genuine apology.

It’s clear that the previous apology was just one small step in the right direction.

I’m happy to cut through these necessary but acrimonious posts and talk on the phone or Skype with the DLS and Des Bill. And try to find a solution.

Although it’s my understanding that it’s even a challenge communicating with the DLS who are very difficult to make contact with on these matters. Perhaps that’s down to their lawyers who may have advised them not to speak to survivors?

Whatever else, it’s clear that the DLS and the Reverend Des Bill are in denial about the horrifying and widespread extent of the DLS crimes. I realise it’s shaking the very ground they’re walking on and there must be a devastating price they are now paying in cognitive dissonance by blocking out the truth.  And I know what that feels like, because we survivors similarly had the ground shaking beneath our feet because of DLS abuse. And which many of us similarly tried to deny and block from our minds.

So embracing the truth could actually be truly healing for the DLS and Safeguarding as well as for us.

I realise this second option will probably be dismissed or ignored by the DLS but it will happen eventually, whether they like it or not.   And it’s my understanding that Catholic Safeguarding actually have the power to ensure a true dialogue is opened.

Now.

Over to both of them.

My offer of negotiations with the DLS and Safeguarding for a genuine apology to help heal survivors has been made here today, November 3 2021,  for the record.

Call for inquiry into former De La Salle school

An article in the Tablet 17th September with the headline as above. Here’s the link:

https://www.thetablet.co.uk/news/14518/call-for-inquiry-into-former-de-la-salle-school-

Good to see the story of St Joseph’s featured in a publication read by the Catholic community. And it’s encouraging to know that the Tablet was interested.

A few details I should comment on. I was the developer of Dredd, rather than its creator.  Brother Solomon – ‘The Swinging Monk’ – actually had a pop career as a pianist, not as a singer AFAIK.

And Brother Laurence Hughes is in his 70s.

The 90 year old referred to is another individual

BROTHER LAURENCE HUGHES: ST JOHN’S COLLEGE, SOUTHSEA

A recollection by Paul Pimms which I’m passing onto Jo Norman at Catholic Safeguarding.

I remember Brother Laurence Hughes very well indeed from when he taught at St John’s College in Southsea in the 1970’s (he left there to go to St Joseph’s). He loved being violent and not a week would pass without him slippering several boys with a hard soled slipper. His swing was mighty and hard. Sometimes he would have 5 or 6 boys lined up in a row. He clearly got off on it. I was also caned by him. He usually did this in his boarding house (Woodleigh), in the front lounge in front of the whole boarding house (around 38-40 boys). Sometimes he would take the boys into Woodleigh Annexe (a classroom joined onto Woodleigh House) and do it in a private session! You could see the rush that he got when he caned boys. You could see the euphoria in his face. It definitely gave him a buzz!

MEDIA UPDATE ON THE DE LA SALLES

Thanks to an Old Boy for bringing this Tablet article to my attention

Here is the link to the story which is about 2/3 of the way down the page. Dated 30th August 2021.

https://www.thetablet.co.uk/news/14434/news-briefing-britain-and-ireland

Brother Laurence Hughes FSC has stepped down as head of the De La Salle Brothers, a teaching congregation, after an allegation of abuse.  A spokesman said: “The De La Salle Brothers are aware of an allegation of non-recent physical abuse involving Brother Laurence Hughes. This allegation has been reported to the police and is being dealt with in accordance with the safeguarding procedures of the Catholic Church. An independent investigation into the allegation is being carried out. As required by these procedures, Brother Laurence has stepped down from all appointments and responsibilities.” A Suffolk Constabulary spokesman said: “We are aware of non-recent sexual abuse allegations following a third party referral made. Following enquiries, a 90-year-old male was arrested in June this year in connection with this. However, due to insufficient evidence and the suspect’s failing health the investigation is unlikely to proceed any further. A second suspect related to the non-recent same offences has deceased.”

Also:

The East Anglian Daily Times are running a relevant article this week. Possibly tomorrow Wednesday or Thursday.

ST JOSEPH’S – SUNDAY TIMES ARTICLE

Article about De La Salle Brothers, St Jo’s etc, in today’s Sunday Times.

https://tinyurl.com/46f92hab

I had to subscribe to read it, so if you don’t want to, below is the text only version of the article.

It all seems pretty accurate apart from Dredd. As I endlessly say, I was the developer of Judge Dredd, not the creator. I think the distinction is often lost on journalists. Otherwise it’s fine.

I haven’t included the readers’ responses which are a predictable mix of agreeing with the article, or defending the Church.

ARTICLE:

Abusive monks were my model for Judge Dredd

The creator of the violent comic-book lawman drew dark inspiration from his Catholic upbringing. Now he too is seeking justice

For more than 40 years a rampaging, ultra-violent lawman called Judge Dredd has stalked the pages of British comics, as well as featuring in films, novels and video games. A television series is even in the pipeline.
Yet behind the blood-spattered fiction of a ruthless enforcer lies a very different story: that of a vulnerable schoolboy who has never forgotten the abuse he says he suffered at the hands of the Roman Catholic monks who ran his school.
The man whose childhood misery inspired him to create the Judge Dredd character is now fighting for a public reckoning of his own.
As a boy, Pat Mills, a writer and publisher often described as the “godfather of British comics”, attended St Joseph’s, a private school in Ipswich that at the time was run by monks from the De La Salle order.
“Judge Dredd causes fear and terror, and those were the feelings we had around the De La Salle brothers,” Mills, 72, said last week. “Dredd was a composite bogeyman of all my recollections of fear of my teachers.”
Mills has spent years accumulating evidence from fellow former pupils who claim to have suffered sexual or physical abuse at St Joseph’s. A group of old boys is now calling for an inquiry into the way the school was run and the manner in which children were mistreated from the 1960s to the 1990s.
Appeals to Catholic authorities to take action have already resulted in the suspension of Brother Laurence Hughes, a former St Joseph’s teacher who currently heads the De La Salle order.
The Rev Des Bill, chairman of the Catholic Church’s Safeguarding Commission for Orders in Education (SCOE), said Hughes had been suspended pending an independent investigation “to ensure recommendations and actions taken are objective and not influenced by any person within SCOE or the De La Salle congregation”. The matter has also been reported to the police.
Mills says he was sexually abused by priests and witnessed the physical abuse of other boys. He believes he was targeted as the child of a poor widow whose fees were waived because he had agreed that he had a vocation to the priesthood.
“I don’t know if I really did … but they knew my life was difficult and I didn’t have a father figure,” he said. “It is easier to admit to yourself physical abuse, but sexual abuse is more intimate. I blocked that out until my forties, and then the memories came flooding back.”
He began recording his experiences on a blog eight years ago. Other former pupils have added their own stories.
Among the accusations levelled against teachers were of boys being lashed with cat-o’-nine-tails and hit repeatedly with other objects. Some of the most serious sexual charges were levelled against one teacher, Brother James Ryan, who is now dead.
Ryan was “renowned for his savagery”, said Mills. “I would draw on his anger — particularly for Judge Dredd.” When the judge set off to punish the fictional town of Repentance in one of Mills’s stories, he said, “Brother James was very inspiring.”
Mills also claims to have been abused by the school’s chaplain, the late Father William Jolly. Another monk allegedly involved in the abuse was the late Brother Solomon, who left to start a short-lived singing career as “the swinging monk”.
Founded in France in 1680, the De La Salle order has four communities in Britain, where it owned several voluntary-aided schools. Accounts submitted to the Charity Commission show that the order set aside £7.7 million in 2015 to settle a case of alleged abuse of pupils at the St William’s Institute, Middlesbrough, between 1958 and 1992.
The abolition of time limits on childhood abuse cases in Scotland has also left the order facing 60 claims, five of which have been settled at a cost of £762,000.
The order is no longer involved with St Joseph’s, which counts the musician Brian Eno and the Labour MPs Chris Mullin and John McDonnell among its former pupils.

BROTHER LAURENCE HUGHES: REQUEST FROM CATHOLIC SAFEGUARDING

Update from a St Jo’s Old Boy below. My emphasis on his post.

Jules Gooch commented on BROTHER LAURENCE HUGHES: NEWS UPDATE

Update – Had a good conversation with Jo Norman today who is looking into this matter. I recounted my memory of the swimming pool assult and she would like to hear from anyone else who had experience of or witnessed the kind of behaviour that we are discussing here. We also briefly discussed a number of other individuals who were involved in similar matters. I think this is possibly a good opportunity to see some kind of consequence / justice for what these people got up to. If you feel you can and want to I recommend you in the first instance contact Des Bill with details. Des Bill deacondesb@gmail.com

BROTHER LAURENCE HUGHES – CATHOLIC SAFEGUARDING INFO.

The posts below from St Jo’s Old Boys reminded me I should have given details of Catholic Safeguarding as they are a complex organization https://www.csas.uk.net/links/

The relevant department for the De La Salle Order is the Safeguarding Commission for Orders in Education (SCOE).

The St Jo’s Old Boy who heard from SCOE that Brother Laurence has been suspended was officially informed by:

Rev Dcn  Des Bill

Independent Chair,

SCOE

desbill.SCOE@gmail.com

He advised that an independent safeguarding professional has been commissioned to manage the case.

So I would suggest that Old Boys who want to share information about Brother Laurence contact  Rev Dcn Des Bill direct at the above email address.

……………………………..

James commented on BROTHER LAURENCE HUGHES   Brother Laurence Hughes , He should leave the order and retire . I am a old boy from St Joseph’s Ipswich. He beat a boy around the head at the swimming pool & gave him six of the best with the slipper. He is a sadist. I know the boys name , I watched what happened to him . This is 43 years later. 

I received this post today:

My attention has been drawn to this by another old boy who reached out to me. I am the boy at the swimming pool and want to share the story. I can confirm directly that BLH was a bully and a savage. What is the best way to proceed?