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.


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.


I had a look at it.

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.


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.


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.


It seems appropriate on November 3 to remember the appalling crimes of the De La Salle brothers which both they and their defender, the Rev. Des Bill at Catholic Safeguarding, seem to be unconcerned by.

And my old school St Joseph’s College,Ipswich which is still listed as a DLS school and still competes for the rugby De La Salle Cup.

Below is an eloquent and moving account by Jimmy Boyle of DLS crimes.

He revealed: “The violence at St John’s was the worst I’ve ever witnessed, either on the streets or in the toughest jails.

“Today, I’m still haunted by the sound of breaking bones as a monk deliberately smashed a child’s leg to smithereens.  or the footsteps in the night that heralded yet another horrific rape of a terrified crying child.”

“Scotland’s prisons were littered with the casualties of the De La Salle regime. Inside prison, we De La Salle boys were like a secret brotherhood. We all recognised the signs.”

On Nov 3 I shall be remembering is his school mates who didn’t survive the rapes, torture and beatings of the De La Salle brothers.

Lest we forget.

He made a heartfelt plea to the Catholic Church: “Drop this conspiracy of silence and open your hearts to the suffering of these men.”

You will see the report is dated 2001. How much has changed in 20 years?

Not much. The De La Salles continue to pay only lip service to acknowledging their crimes.

Doubtless they may think that they ‘rode out the storm’ of Jimmy Boyle’s charges against them and – behind closed doors – congratulate themselves on sitting tight and  it all went away.

But not this time.

Because today social media enables us to expose their crimes to a wider public in a way that was just not possible twenty years ago. 

And their crimes are better known today, more so than 20 years ago.

I intend to make them more well known.

They are running out of time.

JIMMY BOYLE; EXCLUSIVE. Sunday Mail, (Glasgow, Scotland) 6 May 2001 Byline: Marion Scott

IT’S hard to believe now that society once labelled him the most feared and violent man in the country.

But, vicious as he was in his youth, one thing struck terror in the heart of former hardman Jimmy Boyle…

The De La Salle Brothers, the Catholic order of monks which ran List D Schools throughout Scotland with a sickening regime so brutal, it brought hard cases like Boyle to their knees.

Breaking a 43-year silence over the “sadistic beatings” at St John’s List D School, Glasgow, Jimmy Boyle told the Sunday Mail of the horrific catalogue of abuse.

He revealed: “The violence at St John’s was the worst I’ve ever witnessed, either on the streets or in the toughest jails.

“It was terrifying   and vicious because the violence and abuse was directed at innocent, vulnerable children.

“Today, I’m still haunted by the sound of breaking bones as a monk deliberately smashed a child’s leg to smithereens.  or the footsteps in the night that heralded yet another horrific rape of a terrifiedcrying child.”

Boyle, 57, now a sculptor, was moved to come out of seclusion seclusion in the South of France  to support hundreds of other victims of De La Salle brutality.

He made a heartfelt plea to the Catholic Church: “Drop this conspiracy of silence and open your hearts to the suffering of these men.

“We are all living testament to what happened in these schools. You know we are telling the truth.

“This is a weeping sore that will not go away until they are given justice.”

Born in 1944 to a poor family in Glasgow’s Gorbals, Boyle was hardly out of short trousers before he’d started on a life of crime, with shoplifting and petty thefts.

, tough and street-wise as he was, nothing prepared young Boyle for life inside St John’s List D School in Springboig.

Barely 14, Boyle had stolen a cash box containing pounds 7 from a stall at a fun fair, a crime which was to earn him 14 nightmare months under the care of the De La Salle Brothers. [See NOTE 1]

At St John’s, he was soon to learn that, inside that building, brutality and gratuitous violence were as much a way of life as breathing.

He said: “As I stood in the school corridor, scared and thinking of my mum crying at the court, I was met by a De La Salle brother, his black robes flying around him as he walked towards me.

“He neither looked directly at me, nor said a single word. As he passed, he lifted his hand and smashed it down on my head.

“He was carrying a red snooker ball and I hit the deck like a pack of cards, as stunned by the blow as I was that a monk could do such a thing.

“It was the first taste of many beatings and tortures to come. Although some of us, like me, had already been in trouble with the law for petty offences, many boys had been placed there under care and protection orders.

“They were the most vulnerable and the easiest targets for paedophile paedophile  monks, for the psychopaths and for the brutal monsters who stalked the corridors of the De La Salle schools
“Every single one of us who went through that regime still bear scars on our hearts and souls. There was rampant child abuse, rape and paedophilia

“Children were passed around like parcels of meat for the satisfaction of paedophile monks who ruled by terror and hid behind a conspiracy of silence.

“We’d lie in our dorm beds, night after night, and listen to kids being taken away to be raped and abused.

“I can still hear the sound of those footsteps walking across the dorm, stopping at a bed, then walking off again with a sobbing child as we cowered in fear under our bedcovers.

“I was a tough street kid, brought up in the Gorbals, so I was never a target for sex abuse.

“But we saw and heard it going on all around us, and knew there was no-one we could turn to or tell about it.

“We’d already earned the label of ‘bad boys’, so nobody cared or wanted to believe Catholic monks were paedophile monsters.

“It was unthinkable in those days to accuse a monk or a priest of sex abuse or of beating a child. My mother was a devout Catholic. Even she wouldn’t have believed me if I’d told her what was going on.

“I was luckier than many of the other boys. I was subjected only to their brutality. I was never sexually abused. But the fear that you could be victim to sexual abuse was always there. We’d do anything to stay safe and keep the paedophiles at bay.

“One brother, nicknamed ‘Bounce’ because he was so fat, liked pornographic magazines as well as young boys. Whenever we got a weekend pass home, we’d bring him back some porn, so he’d pick on other boys for sex.

“It was like a survival game, but we were all casualties. What happened to me at that school still affects me deeply. Talking about it now, all these years later, is still very hard.

“I’m not making excuses for what I did in my life. But I, and most other De La Salle boys, went on to a life of crime, or to destroy ourselves through drink or drugs.

“Scotland’s prisons were littered with the casualties of the De La Salle regime. Inside prison, we De La Salle boys were like a secret brotherhood. We all recognised the signs.

“We knew instantly who’d been inside a De La Salle school because we all carried the same deep emotional and psychological scars. In our darkest moments, we’d talk about our horrific experiences there. All of us agreed, no matter how tough any prison regime, none was as brutal as De La Salle.

“The stories were the same from all the De La Salle schools – St Mary’s, Bishopbriggs, St John’s, St Ninian’s, Gartmore, and St Joseph’s, Tranent.

“We found many monks moved around from school to school, abusing boys at will.

“Many of us had learned to fight against authority before we arrived at these schools. But we still trusted, respected and feared the Catholic Church.

“What hurt the most was these so-called men of God, the last men on Earth we expected to betray us, turning into abusers, and taking our last bastion of hope away.”

After 14 months of brutality, Boyle was finally released from St John’s. But the experiences had changed him. Long before he arrived at St John’s, he had lost any respect and fear of authority figures. After St John’s, he couldn’t even trust the very Church his mother Bessie had lived her life and her family around.

It was the ultimate betrayal. Afterwards, Boyle was in and out of jail for most of his young adult life. He became a notorious knife man, involved in gang fights, slashings, bottle attacks and money lending.

He earned the nickname Babyface Boyle. But there was nothing cute or cuddly.  about Boyle in those days. In 1967, he was found guilty of murdering a rival gang member, William ‘Babs’ Rooney, and was jailed for life.

Railing against prison authorities led Boyle to years of dirty protests and extra jail time for violent outbursts against warders. Locked away like an animal inside the solitary segregation cages now banned in Scotland’s jails, Boyle was the most hated and feared prisoner in the system.

He was ruthless, fearless and uncontrollable. In May 1973, as ringleader of the Porterfield prison riots. , he was sentenced to a further six years for the attempted murder of six warders.

His salvation came after he became one of the first prisoners to enter the controversial and experimental Special Unit at Barlinnie.

In the Special Unit, Boyle discovered he no longer needed a knife or a weapon to express himself or make his mark on society. He found art and sculpture a more acceptable forum, and began carving out a whole new life.

He had been in prison for 10 years when he met psychologist Sarah Trevelyan, the middle-class daughter of former film censor John.

Drawn by his book, A Sense of Freedom, Sarah met him and soon saw through the hardman image to the real Boyle. Despite all the odds, and the huge gap in cultures, they were married in 1980.

Released two years later from jail, Boyle developed a respectable career as an artist and writer, feted by television and the media. Although they recently split, Jimmy and Sarah remain extremely close, continuing to work together for their life-defining charity, The Gateway Exchange programme.

Jimmy said: “I’ve been very, very lucky. I’ve gone on to enjoy a wonderful life, success and happiness. But, I know I’m one of the lucky few. Only a tiny handful of my contemporaries have managed to break away from the past.

“Most are still traumatised and badly affected by what happened. I recently met one of my old St John’s schoolmates. He looked like a man in his 70s. I know this man was repeatedly abused. He was passed around the monks like a parcel of meat.

“He’s a shadow of a man now. He shakes all the time and looks totally defeated by life.

“Larry Winters, who was in the Special Unit with me, was also at St John’s. He wasn’t a tough city boy. Being brought up in the country, Larry didn’t have my hard edge. He was mercilessly abused by the monks.

“The De La Salle Brothers were big strong brutes of men. The sexual abuse they inflicted made the boys feel dirty and worthless inside.

“These victims have found it virtually impossible to have normal, happy relationships for the rest of their lives.

“They’ve found it difficult to relate to wives and girlfriends, and even to their own children. The damage is enormous. None of us realised how badly we were affected until we left these schools, and tried to get on with life in the real world.”

Visibly moved by the plight of the hundreds of men who have come forward and accused the De La Salle Brothers of the most horrific acts of abuse, Boyle went on: “I share their pain.

“I’m dismayed and disappointed that Cardinal Winning has allowed this situation to drag on without intervening. As a man with a good heart, he cannot stay silent any longer.

“I’m disgusted by the Church’s response to this scandal. The evidence of systematic abuse is overwhelming.

“How can they say the De La Salle order weren’t responsible for running these schools?

“I was there for 14 months and, apart from a couple of civilian workers, I saw no-one other than De La Salle Brothers. I never saw any Board of Governors, or any other civilians. The head of St John’s when I was there was a Brother Peter. He was a wonderful man who did nothing but inspire me.

“I believe I was protected from the full horror of the abuse because he was a benign influence. But it didn’t stop the rest of the monks destroying other children in their care.

“The Nolan Report sets out guidelines which are supposed to stop anything like this ever happening again. But it also calls for past abuses to be investigated.

“I call on the Church to do that now, and end the suffering of these men and their families. This isn’t about compensation, because no amount of money can ease such suffering. This is about justice.

“For 40 years, men have been suffering in silence, battling to come to terms with this horror. The Church can make a start towards the healing process by at least saying sorry.

“My wife Sarah was extremely supportive and helped me get over the traumas I suffered. She understood the effects of such abuse.

“She and our two children have given me their full backing to support the Sunday Mail campaign and to talk of my own experiences in the hope it will help others.

“If families in difficulty need support or counselling, we will try to help through our Gateway Exchange Opportunities Trust.

“I will be calling on First Minister Henry McLeish to ensure this issue is brought into the public arena, and I’m willing to give testimony to what happened in these schools.”

Applicants for counselling and support can write to: Gateway Exchange Opportunities Trust, 13 Inverleith Place Lane, Edinburgh, EH3 5QJ.

Life and crimes of Jimmy Boyle

1944: Born in Glasgow’s Gorbals. Is thieving while still at school.

1954: Sent to St John’s De La Salle List D School for stealing pounds 7 from a fun fair cash box, and later describes the regime as the most brutal he’s ever witnessed.

1956: Leaves St John’s after 14 months. Soon joins the Glasgow street gang scene and earns a reputation as a hardman with a knife in the feared Gorbals ‘Cumbie’ gang.

1967: After various knife fights, sentenced to life imprisonment for the murder of rival gang member William ‘Babs’ Rooney.

1968: Begins a campaign of violence against prison authorities at Invernessand Peterhead and after being sent to the solitary block, begins a dirty protest in the notorious “cages”. Another four years added to his sentence for assaulting officers at Peterhead.

1973: Described as ringleader of the Porterfield prison riots, and sentenced to a further six years. Categorised as most dangerous, violent prisoner in the country. Out of the blue, is invited to join Barlinnie Prison Special Unit.

1977: An art teacher gives Boyle a lump of clay, and a dam of creativity bursts forth. He writes his autobiography, A Sense of Freedom, in just six weeks, and it is published to critical acclaim.

1978: Beautiful middle-class psycho-therapist Sarah Trevelyan reads his book, and decides to meet Boyle. She quickly sees through the hardman image and their friendship blossoms.

1979: Second half of his autobiography, The Pain of Confinement, is published. A Sense of Freedom, with actor David Hayman’s portrayal of Boyle, becomes a celebrated TV movie.

1980: He marries Sarah while still in prison and creates a media frenzy.

1982: Finally released from prison, Boyle is by now a sculptor, writer, artist, and totally transformed human being.

1984: Uses the proceeds from A Sense of Freedom to launch a trust for underprivileged kids.

1985: Daughter Suzi is born.

1988: Son, Kydd, follows.

1994: Murder of son James, from first marriage, aged 28, in Glasgow.

1999: First novel, Hero of the Underworld is published.

2000: He and Sarah part.

2001: Quits for the South of France to protect children from his past, but pledges to continue his work with Sarah for their Gateway Trust project.

Life and crimes of De La Salle

1680: De La Salle Brothers are founded in France by John Baptist de La Salle. Not ordained monks in the true sense, but men with a vocation to teach.

1949: Recognised when the Pope proclaims St John Baptist de La Salle the “Patron Saint of All Teachers”.

1950s: De La Salle Brothers take in thousands of Scottish Catholic children placed at their four List D schools under care and protection orders, or for minor petty offences such as truancy. Four schools – St John’s, Springboig, St Mary’s, Bishopbriggs, St Ninian’s, Gartmore, and St Joseph’s, Tranent – all have the motto: ” To touch the hearts of your pupils is the greatest miracle you can perform.”

1954: Jimmy Boyle is sent to St John’s, Springboig for stealing pounds 7.

1982: With the costs of keeping each child at a De La Salle School reaching pounds 2000 a week at today’s prices, the Scottish Office decide to change tack and the schools close.

1999: The Irish government is forced to apologise to thousands of victims of orphanages and schools, including De La Salle, after reports of widespread abuse. A commission investigating child abuse is launched, Legal Aid made available, and a compensation tribunal established. Over pounds 4million a year is pledged to provide counselling for the many victims.

2000: James Bond actor Pierce Brosnan reveals he was a victim of De La Salle brutality, repeatedly physically abused at school in Navan in the 1960s.

2000: In Belfast, suspected “pervert” monk, Joseph Scallyknown as Brother Flo, is sued after abuse allegations from a former De La Salle pupil. Brother Flo, 64, was head of the De La Salle Boys’ Home at Rubane, Kircubbin, County Down, from 1977 until the mid 80s.

2000: In Queensland, Australia, the De La Salle Brothers are among religious orders at the centre of horrific child abuse allegations. After the Catholic Church denies the allegations, the Australian government launch an on-going Commission of Inquiry into a catalogue of abuse at orphanages and detention schools dating from 1911 until the present day.

2001: The Sunday Mail reveals monks and civilian teachers are the subject of reports to the Procurator Fiscal after allegations of torture, sexual abuse and brutality at De La Salle Schools in Scotland between the 50s and the 80s.

Hundreds of alleged victims come forward, but the Scottish Legal Aid Board turn down their applications, claiming there is no evidence of “systematic abuse”. NOTES: [1] Extract from article in The Herald Scotland on 2 June 2001 by Jean West – “She Taught Me How To Love”: He had already tasted years in punitive institutions – including a draconian spell at St John’s List D Catholic school in Glasgow, run by De La Salle monks and now subject of a childcare scandal – for petty theft and significant violence.


Below are the responses I’ve had so far to the De La Salle’s (DLS)  ‘public’ – but actually rather private – apology to all survivors.  I agree with all these responses below.  And in particular that ‘it is a chink in their armour’. It’s clearly going to be a long battle, one in which Catholic Safeguarding can be more supportive and pro-active. Telling me that they are ‘disappointed’ if survivors do not accept the DLS apology is NOT a neutral position. It is protecting the DLS against survivors.

One observer tweeted me:

Its a clerical apology i.e. designed to deflect criticism of abusers rather than give closure to survivors.

A St Joseph’s College Ipswich survivor had this comment:

” (It’s) a mediocre stalemate. This apology is a cluster of words that has no audience, a statement with no backbone or authority of compassion. ‘But it is a step forward’.”

A survivor of the De La Salle St Gilbert’s School direct messaged me:

I think you’re right about the Catholic safeguarding standard I’ve been asking them have there been any changes and if so what are they I’m still waiting for answer’s they arranged a meeting with the papal nuncio in June where I met him still waiting for his response. I can feel another let down

A survivor of the Benedictines emailed me :

The public / private statement nonsense comes across as subtle gaslighting.

Another St Jo’s survivor emailed me:

It is getting somewhere but where they are is a long way away from what has to be done. 

They really stuffed my ability to think straight and therefore  most of my life.

A survivor of the Comboni religious order tweeted:
Disgusting response that’s been written by their lawyers. It’s the type of response that many orders churn out. It’s standard. Full of “ifs” and “buts”. It’s blaming the victims, once again. Words like “disappointing” “for not seeing” take the pressure off them & put it on others.

He went on to say regarding the Combonis, with words that could apply to the De La Salles both now and in the future:

In my experience of the Comboni Missionary Order-they are more concerned in listening to their lawyers & insurance companies than listening to the men abused as children at the Order’s child seminary. Once they acknowledge abuse happened they have to change & they don’t want to. Their statements in response to abuse have all been written by their lawyers. They contain lots of “ifs” and “buts” “this is purely a commercial transaction & in no way an admission of liability.”

A friend – who is not a Catholic – gave me his view:

I think you are dead on about that apology.Its about as sincere as a used car salesman. I mean we are talking about the worst forms of behaviour our species are capable of….electric shocks on children!!!!! That makes my blood boil! No, it has to be only action, transparency, genuine self reflection on the part of the organisation,and harsh sentencing in the courts.

Sorry’s no good, sorry’s too late and sorry wont help. But a genuine and genuinely public apology would be a good start.

An acknowledgement that this is way more sinister than a few bad apples.

Who wants to be associated in any way with those that organise and protect these groups?

The normal reaction would be to stamp it out with ruthless efficiency.

Reading that actually made me really angry, but it is a chink in their armour.

At the end of the day we, the public are not apt to forget or forgive and I’m just an observer not a victim. It disgusts me on behalf of the survivors. You deserve so much more and nothing less than justice done.


I am delighted with the symbolism for change that Nazir Afzal’s appointment as Chair of Catholic Safeguarding  means and his clear sincerity. As Chair his is by no means a full time role, but I guess it’s quality rather than quantity that matters.

Neverthless, like other survivors, I’m afraid I simply do not believe ‘The Catholic Church has recognised the failures of the past and the need to put things right’.

Recent events – like the De La Salle inadequate ‘apology’  to survivors would bear this out.

I’ve pointed out to Catholic Safeguarding that they need to be pro-active, rather than reactive and given examples of the real difference this would make. This is in line with lawyer and activist Richard Scorer’s call for a ‘fundamental reset’ in the Church’s approach to dealing with abuse.

I received no response from Safeguarding to my suggestion.

I still recall my original experience with Catholic Safeguarding. I think it was around 2003 when I was told that a protestant woman was being put in charge. I was impressed! I really thought it would make a difference. It didn’t. Think she lasted two years and came up against considerable resistance from the Catholic hierarchy.

As a result, I chose to forget about Safeguarding and find other ways to expose the truth about St Joseph’s College, Ipswich, the De La Salles, the Knights of St Columba and abusive Catholic priests.

I’d be interested to know what other people think.

  Nazir Afzal OBE on his appointment

 I am delighted that the Catholic Church has taken what some might consider a brave and bold decision in appointing me as the first ever independent Chair of the CSSA board. I’ve spent three decades responding to harms in every community and institution. I learnt that victims have been failed by every institution who were responsible for safeguarding them. I also understood how reputation was thought more important than exposing those who abuse. Nowhere was safe. Victims were not only abused by perpetrators but then again by those who should have protected them and acted to stop it. The effects of abuse are lifelong and often undetected with victims beset by feelings of shame, guilt and fear. That had to change. The Catholic Church has recognised the failures of the past and the need to put things right. This is what attracted me to the role. To make a difference, you have to act differently. It usually takes great courage to do so. When I helped deliver justice to thousands of victims of abuse, I realised that they were the most courageous of all.  


An international day to recognize survivors of sexual abuse, bring their stories into the light, raise awareness of the widespread nature of the issue and organize for change in the culture that allows sexual abuse to continue.

It’s very appropriate that on November 3 a  De La Salle brother is to be sentenced for horrendous crimes at St Ninian’s School. ‘Scotland’s biggest-ever abuse scandal’.

He is Brother Benedict, Michael Murphy, who used an electric torture machine on children.

One pupil at St Ninian’s was force fed by him causing him to vomit and then made to eat the sick. Another boy who was at St Joseph’s (East Lothian) had his head held under cold water and was pushed into a hole containing urine and excrement.

Murphy, who had denied all the charges, claimed that an electric generator device he used to administer shocks to the children was nicknamed “the tickler” by the boys. He told the court: “They enjoyed the current coming through the wires, through their hands. They enjoyed the tickler.“

He said he had carried an object made from three long leather boot laces and used it to give boys “just a wee flick on the backside”. He said: “You have to have discipline.”

One former pupil who suffered at his hands described it as “a cat o’ nine tails”.

One man who attended St Ninian’s told the court that during his time at the institution Brother Benedict put his hand in a vice and tightened it, leaving him with a cut and crushed little finger. He was later diagnosed with gangrene and the digit was partially amputated.

On another occasion he was linked up to the generator with crocodile clips and the monk started winding a handle at “100 mph”.

He said: “I thought I was going to die. You can’t do nothing when you are getting electrocuted.” He collapsed and came round with the school matron who called him a stupid little boy because his pants were on the wrong way.

On another occasion the brother asked him to sit on his knee and punched him when he fidgeted. He was concussed and was aware of being touched under his clothes.

Here’s an account of an earlier trial of Brother Benedict:

Now a 64-year-old man, he was giving evidence in the trial of Michael Murphy, known as Brother Benedict, at the High Court in Edinburgh.

He claims to have been called into a room on the first occasion by the monk, who had something in his hands that looked like “little rods”.

The witness said Murphy put them up his shorts to his privates and he felt an electric shock.

He told the court: “I didn’t have a chance.”

Adding: “The one thing I can’t forget really isn’t just the incident itself, but he seemed to find it funny.”

The man said he “passed out”, claiming: “When I came to, he seemed to find this amusing. He was laughing.”

Here’s what ‘Doogster 61’, a Survivor of the De La Salle’s St Ninians School had to say:

Hi Pat, just to let you know, I was a victim of Brother Benedict.

St. Ninians Gartmore.

He was found guilty of 29 charges and will be sentenced on 3rd November. Waited 51 years for this justice.

DeSalle. The brotherhood from hell!

A complete misconception of the words pray & prey!


I’ve just received today this De La Salle (DLS) general apology to survivors from Catholic Safeguarding.

I have some thoughts on it and on the role of Catholic Safeguarding, but first here is the apology itself.


“The Trustees of De La Salle GB  acknowledge social media posts alleging historic abuse in De La Salle school settings. The Trust is also committed to cooperating with the police in any investigation into any allegation made.

We strongly denounce the abuse of children and those who commit such acts. We realise that only the victim can fully understand the nature of the hurt and the damage caused by their abuser, especially when it has occurred at the hands of someone who was in a position of trust, being responsible for their wellbeing.

WHERE A BROTHER OR MEMBER OF STAFF AT ANY DE LA SALLE SCHOOL WAS RESPONSIBLE FOR THE ABUSE OF ANY PUPIL WE OFFER AN UNRESERVED APOLOGY.  (My caps)  It goes against everything that compelled our Founder to respond to the needs and challenges of the young people of Rheims in the 17th century”.

October 2021

My thoughts on this apology are BELOW and I welcome the views of everyone on this subject. Do let me know how far you agree or disagree with my conclusions and that may help in framing a possible response now or in the future. After all, I’m representing the views and experiences of a number of survivors as well as myself.


I feel the apology is a small but positive first step and it seems to be in response to this blog and the social media posts of others who have spoken out.  So that is encouraging and to be welcomed! Thank you to all the DLS survivors who had the courage to speak out and relate their often painful testimonies. You’re all stars! It looks like it could finally be worth it.



It’s actually far from public.

As you can see from the above, it arrived without any official letterhead and it was unsigned.

I only became aware of it because Catholic Safeguarding mentioned it and I had to request a copy from them!  No other DLS survivor is aware of it that I know and I am in contact with numerous DLS survivors.

So how was it publicly released?  I’ve tried a number of Google search terms and can find nothing. I’ve also checked a key Lasallian website and it’s not there either. Therefore:

It is NOT a public apology if the public can’t read it.

It is NOT a public apology if you apologise to yourself in private.

That appears to be what happened here – that it had a limited circulation to Catholic Safeguarding and similar bodies.

Therefore the DLS have done the minimum necessary and that is NOT a good sign for the future.   

ALL DLS survivors need to read this apology.  

Not just those who read my blog. The DLS survivors of St Ninian’s for example where a DLS brother who tortured children with electric shocks is being sentenced on November 3.

So I would ask the DLS and Catholic Safeguarding or journalists reading this blog, to make this apology more widely known.


In my view, a blanket statement and generalised apology as above is useful but not enough.

Especially where a particular school, like St Joseph’s College, Ipswich, was a proven hub for widespread sexual and extreme physical abuse, the apology needs to be specific.

And, indeed, for all survivors of DLS abuse.

And the DLS also need to back it up with deeds. Otherwise it’s meaningless just saying ‘sorry’ to multiple cases of extreme violence, torture, rape and sexual abuse.  The deeds do not have to mean financial compensation necessarily. There are other ways of proving sincerity and I’ve suggested some to Safeguarding, in line with actions in the States against a Benedictine order there.  That order have shown full transparency and compassion to survivors and that’s what I, for one, am looking for rather than cash.  It could actually save the DLS money!

I have passed details of  allegations of sexual and physical abuse by THIRTEEN DLS brothers and lay teachers and a school chaplain at St Joseph’s – and also at DLS schools elsewhere in Southern England – to Catholic Safeguarding.

They have in turn passed them to Operation Hydrant, the police force that deals with historic abuse.

As these 13 cases have already featured on my blog, and are thus already in the public domain, I can publish them again or forward them to any interested party. They include, of course: Brother Solomon aka The Swinging Monk aka Mike Mercado, Brother Kevin and Brother James.

And they also include a detailed account of just how the DLS covered up abusive crimes by their members.

To quote from it

‘What is abundantly clear to me is that it was not just one individual who was responsible for moving these monsters around to avoid detection, but an administrative organisation. Someone somewhere knew exactly what kind of person Brother Kevin was/is and actively appointed him in a position of trust and authority over young boys, some as young as 6 or 7 years old.’

Here’s what Safeguarding have told me: ‘I have forwarded it to Operation Hydrant and have asked for their comment and advice on any next steps.’

They have also told me that they will consider further steps regarding the DLS once Hydrant have looked into it.  They had this to say:

‘As a police investigation is ongoing I would wish to see the outcome of this before the SCOE commission considers and determines what more needs to be done in respect of the issues you raise.’

I’d absolutely agree with this and can understand and appreciate we may now have to wait some time. Hydrant may or may not want further statements from survivors who have written to this site. These include myself. But I would also hope that the sheer volume of testimonies  – combined with endless cases nationwide against the De La Salle order, historic and more recent- would indicate that corruption, cover-ups and abuse was clearly rife with no indication when it stopped and therefore today’s DLS order should be investigated at every level.

It should also be born in mind that the DLS today are still in charge of children. At what point in the past the DLS  changed their ways – and why – I have no way of knowing.


Catholic Safeguarding officer Rev. Des Bill alerted me to the existence of the apology when he said to me “It is disappointing if the statement recently issued by the order may not be seen, by victims and survivors, as acknowledging any abuse that may have been committed in any De La Salle school setting.”

‘Disappointing’ , to me, is a weaponised word. I and many others use it as a rebuke for conduct or responses we don’t like. I assume his rather oblique disappointment is with me personally.

One of my twitter followers also had this to say about his response: ‘That’s really **** lawyer-speak.’

What I took away from Bill’s response, rightly or wrongly, is that the view of Catholic Safeguarding is that DLS have apologized, we survivors should accept their minimal, general and unpublicized apology and that should be it.

In short, we (or perhaps me, personally) should be silent now at least until Hydrant reports and advises.

I can absolutely see Bill’s point of view, but in the interim there are other serious aspects to all this, some of which Safeguarding could deal with alone or at the very least acknowledge. 

That hasn’t happened thus far.


I had thought that the reformed Catholic Safeguarding of today was there primarily to support survivors, rather than to safeguard the Church and its religious orders against survivors.

Des Bill’s statement above and the statement below indicates otherwise.  Remarkably, he had this to say to me, without any evidence:

“I believe De La Salle are not distancing themselves from their responsibility and accountability for historic abuse at St Joseph’s or elsewhere.”

This indicates to me that Safeguarding are primarily supportive towards the De La Salles, rather than the survivors.

I have asked Des Bill for clear evidence when the DLS have been pro-active as he suggests, rather than distancing themselves.

This has not been forthcoming.

By comparison, I can provide endless clear evidence where the DLS have seriously distanced themselves from responsibility and accountability for their abuse.

As follows:

Here’s the view of one survivor

Here’s an excerpt from this link:

I’ve asked for an education from the De La Salle order. I was treated with utter contempt by a representative. The order didn’t have the courage to meet with me in person, so they sent a messenger to scold and embarrass me. All I was asking for was a chance to be educated.

And here’s the opinion of a National Newspaper, Scottish Mail in 2003 on the DLS St Ninian’s case.


DE LA SALLE monks are trying to wash their hands of 200 sex abuse claims that could cost pounds 20million in compensation.

The order is using a technicality to try to stop a mass claim in a landmark civil court action.

They say cases dating back to the 1970s are timebarred and should have been raised within three years of any attack – or by the time victims were aged 19.

Here’s the Guardian in 2001 showing, once again, how the DLS are trying to distance themselves.

Former pupils at the school, which closed in 1982, have alleged they were tortured, beaten and sexually molested by a number of the monks and civilian staff.

A spokesman for the order said all the allegations were vigorously denied, and the home had been run in an “exemplary” manner.

(The account later continues)

“I was battered so many times on my head and ears I cannot hear a thing on my left side, and I’ve undergone extensive surgery because of it. There was a field next to the school with an electric fence. I saw the monks, on a number of occasions, forcing boys to grasp it until they cried out in pain.”

John McCormick, a Glasgow-based lawyer representing the De La Salle order, said the monks had cooperated fully with police. “Nobody has been charged,” he said. “The allegations are vigorously denied.

“All the evidence available to me indicates that St Ninian’s was run in an exemplary manner. Unlike those making the allegations and their advisers I will reserve any further comment until after the results of the civil action are known.”


Solicitor John McCormick’s dead father Frank was a governor of St Ninian’s at Gartmore, Stirlingshire.

McCormick has been blamed for labelling the victims attention seekers and accusing them of being motivated by greed.

He told the Catholic Observer: “There are many reasons why people make spurious allegations, including, of course, the obvious, a claim for compensation.

“There are also people with various attention-seeking psychological conditions.”

McCormick also battled to stop victims getting financial assistance to fund civil actions against the Catholic order despite their tormentors gaining Legal Aid to defend themselves in court.

He told the Scottish Legal Aid Board the De La Salle order never “owned, governed, or ran” the former List D Schools, St Mary’s Bishopbriggs, St Joseph’s, Tranent, St Nininan’s, Gartmore, or St John’s, Springboig.

Yet all of these schools were listed in the Scottish Catholic Directory as De La Salle Schools, and large number of Catholic Church heirarchy held responsible positions in them.  “


Despite the efforts of the DLS and their front man McCormick, three men from St Ninians – including a DLS brother – have been found guilty of abuse and will be sentenced on November 3.

I pointed all the above ‘distancing’  out to Catholic Safeguarding and they have chosen not to respond.


I’m extremely grateful that Safeguarding have passed the charges  to Hydrant. That is very positive! Neverthless it’s clear to me from the foregoing that Safeguarding are partisan towards the DLS and either dismissive of my objectives – truth and justice – or disbelieving of the questionable role of the DLS.  

That is worrying.

I also found their attitude at odds with their mission statement:

Care and support of those who have been harmed by abuse with whom we build these relationships will be foremost, ensuring that any engagement does not create anxiety or the possibility of re-traumatisation for the individual involved. Positive engagement can be part of the healing process for the person who has been harmed by abuse and care will be taken to ensure that those we speak with are not adversely affected. 

Suggestions from those who have been harmed by abuse will be welcomed and considered as part of the ongoing development of the safeguarding service. 

I found Des Bill’s reponse to me extremely terse and hardly welcoming to the evidence I submitted to him. He also did not respond to important points I raised – separate to Hydrant and relevant for a response from Safeguarding alone.

The result was it was indeed retraumatising.

As a boy my claims  of abuse by key figures in the Church were dismissed by Catholics in authority and here it was happening all over again. Hardly a unique story.

I also felt, rightly or wrongly, that he was exasperated by the sheer volume of claims against the DLS whom you can see for yourselves he clearly holds in some regard.  Even in summary with links to more testimonies the document amounted to over 6,000 words.  That’s a measure of just what we’re dealing with here and how very serious it is.

I’m hardly alone in my concerns.  Other Catholic survivors have endlessly complained about the singular lack of compassion in their dealings with the Church. To also quote from IICSA’s report into the Catholic Church:

‘The support offered to victims which was in some cases entirely absent or, in one case, “grudgingly offered”.680.She told us that when reading the records she could feel “the compassion” for those accused of child sexual abuse.“When it came to the alleged victims, that was rarely visible in the reports. If there was consideration for their needs, it was rarely … with any sense of great compassion.”’

In my future dealings with Safeguarding, I will now have to sadly recognise that they remain part of the problem with the Catholic Church as well as being part of the solution.


Today, I received this comment from ‘Doogster 61’, an Old Boy of the De La Salle’s St Ninians School.

Hi Pat, just to let you know, I was a victim of Brother Benedict.

St. Ninians Gartmore.

He was found guilty of 29 charges and will be sentenced on 3rd November. Waited 51 years for this justice.

DeSalle. The brotherhood from hell!

A complete misconception of the words pray & prey!


My heart goes out to you, Doogster. I’m so pleased you finally got justice.

I had looked at St Ninian’s before. But for readers unfamiliar with the case, I’ve highlighted some relevant areas below.

Many of them are also relevant to St Joseph’s College, Ipswich, up to and including the early 1990s. Of course,like all groomers, these abusers didn’t pick on everyone, but only selected victims. That’s why St J’s  Old Boys sometimes write in and say, ‘They never did anything to me.’ I wasn’t so fortunate and, like Doogster, I will have justice.

In the meantime, parents considering sending their children to a De La Salle school, or one closely connected with the De La Salles, should consider the case below.

As late as the early 1990s, a psychotherapist friend told me he had several troubled young clients from St Joseph’s, Ipswich. This was after the DLS had left, I believe. But his advice to their parents was still, ‘You want you son to heal? Get them out of that school. NOW!’

He told me parents rarely listened to his advice. St Joseph’s was such a ‘good school’, you see.

Where, when, how and if the De La Salles ever changed has never been made clear to anyone. We just assume they’ve cleaned up their act.

Until it is made clear, they truly are:

‘The Brotherhood from Hell’.


Here’s Wikipedia’s account

In 1953, the Archdiocese of Glasgow bought the house to establish St. Ninian’s, a list D school run by the De La Salle Brothers, a Roman Catholic religious order. During this period the house was the site of numerous cases of child abuse, perpetrated by the staff of St. Ninians. These cases did not come to light until several decades later.[4]

Here’s the Guardian in January 2001

Members of an order of Roman Catholic monks have been accused of physically and sexually abusing boys at a residential school in Scotland, including giving them electric shocks by making them grasp the exposed wires of a generator, it emerged yesterday.

Police in Stirling confirmed that a report had been sent to the procurator fiscal after a three-year inquiry into St Ninian’s school at Gartmore in Stirlingshire, which was run by the De La Salle Brothers.

Former pupils at the school, which closed in 1982, have alleged they were tortured, beaten and sexually molested by a number of the monks and civilian staff.

A spokesman for the order said all the allegations were vigorously denied, and the home had been run in an “exemplary” manner.

Former pupil Christopher Fearns, 34, now a social worker, was sent to the school when he was eight. He has alleged that he was beaten with a riding crop two or three times a week for four years.

“They were constantly beating us,” he said. “They told us they’d beat the devil out of us. One brother whipped me with a horsewhip. He’d tied knots in the end to make it even more painful and I was beaten solidly for 10 minutes.

“I was battered so many times on my head and ears I cannot hear a thing on my left side, and I’ve undergone extensive surgery because of it. There was a field next to the school with an electric fence. I saw the monks, on a number of occasions, forcing boys to grasp it until they cried out in pain.”

John McCormick, a Glasgow-based lawyer representing the De La Salle order, said the monks had cooperated fully with police. “Nobody has been charged,” he said. “The allegations are vigorously denied.

“All the evidence available to me indicates that St Ninian’s was run in an exemplary manner. Unlike those making the allegations and their advisers I will reserve any further comment until after the results of the civil action are known.”

Daily Record October 5, 2021

A former monk who was branded an “animal” is facing his third jail sentence for a catalogue of abuse and brutality he meted out to children at residential schools, including one in Stirlingshire.

Michael Murphy, 88, was convicted of 29 offences of assault, indecent assault and indecent conduct against boys who were housed at St Ninian’s List D School, at Gartmore as well as at St Joseph’s School at Tranent, in East Lothian.

A total of 20 boys, some of whom were as young as seven or eight, were subjected to abuse by the religious brother who beat them and administered electric shocks to young children. The offending began in 1961 and continued until 1981.

Murphy, who was known as Brother Benedict or Brother Ben, had denied a total of 43 charges involving 29 youngsters at the start of a lengthy trial at the High Court in Edinburgh.

But after the Crown withdrew charges during the proceedings the jury was required to return verdicts on a total of 33 charges. He was acquitted of four alleged offences.

The trial judge, Lady Carmichael, told him that a custodial sentence was “inevitable”.


But many escaped according to the Scottish Sunday Mail. Here’s the link…-a0103894720

One items stood out for me in this account and showed the De La Salle needs investigating from to bottom.

January 14: We tell how boys abused by the monks were used as medical guinea pigs after being given mysterious white pills.

THE COVER-UP – This part of the Sunday Mail article is particularly relevant because it’s always been my personal memory and belief that St Joseph’s College, Ipswich, its governors and lawyers were all closely interwoven in my day – through the Knights of St Columba – and perhaps still are. Note the same attempt to distance the DLS from their crimes. Today’s St J’s has a similar outlook

Yet St J’s today is part of the De La Salle rugby trophy!

Here’s what the Sunday Mail has to say:

THE lawyer accused of a sickening smear campaign against the De La Salle victims is the son of a former governor at their school.

Solicitor John McCormick’s dead father Frank was a governor of St Ninian’s at Gartmore, Stirlingshire.

McCormick has been blamed for labelling the victims attention seekers and accusing them of being motivated by greed.

He told the Catholic Observer: “There are many reasons why people make spurious allegations, including, of course, the obvious, a claim for compensation.

“There are also people with various attention-seeking psychological conditions.”

McCormick also battled to stop victims getting financial assistance to fund civil actions against the Catholic order despite their tormentors gaining Legal Aid to defend themselves in court.

He told the Scottish Legal Aid Board the De La Salle order never “owned, governed, or ran” the former List D Schools, St Mary’s Bishopbriggs, St Joseph’s, Tranent, St Nininan’s, Gartmore, or St John’s, Springboig.

Yet all of these schools were listed in the Scottish Catholic Directory as De La Salle Schools, and large number of Catholic Church heirarchy held reponsible positions in them. Lawyers for all three convicted abusers also attacked victims in court during the two-week trial.

They tried to convince the jury that none should be believed because some had troubled pasts. They claimed that all the men were lying and chasing compensation.

But they could not explain why one flew from Australia and was visibly shaking as he faced his abuser in court.

And they could not explain why several victims give evidence without joining the civil action against De La Salle.

Scott Brady QC, for Murphy, even criticised Sunday Mail investigator Marion Scott as he smeared the victims at the High Court.

Brady suggested the claims of the vast majority of victims who had contacted the Sunday Mail had been investigated and found to be false. But today, we reveal that many were never interviewed by police and many others saw their abusers escape charges.

Brady said: “Marion Scott told us 200 people called her up and identified Bootsie (Murphy’s nickname) and she passed their details to the police.

“Just five per cent of those remain now. Does that mean that 95 per cent of them were telling a pack of lies? If they were – how easy would it be for the other five per cent?”

The lawyers persuaded the judge to ban publication of photos of the men during the trial in case it helped victims identify them.

In the meantime, Murphy had lost up to two stone in weight and was not wearing the glasses that he used to wear at the school.

McKinstrey’s lawyer, George Pollock, also tried to demolish the character of witnesses. He described one of McKinstrey’s victims as someone who’d “lied all his life”. And he attacked another of McKinstrey’s victims because he had criminal convictions for theft.

He also attacked newspapers and TV programmes for reporting the scandal. He said: “In this country we do not have trial by TV, trial by documentary, trial by newspaper – we have trial by judge and jury.”

Nightwatchman James McKinstrey, 70, of Port of Monteith was convicted of four sexual abuse charges, despite protests from his defence that he was mentally retarded.

But we can reveal that McKinstrey tried to infiltrate an abuse survivors support group only months before his court appearance.

Furious Frank Docherty, of the support group In Care Abuse Survivors said: “He tried to get us to accept him into our group, claiming he had been a victim of a Catholic care home.

“He told us he’d been abused himself when he was a child and that was why he’d abused boys at St Ninian’s.

“There was no sign that he was mentally retarded. It was simply an attempt to forge an alibi for his own sick perversions.”


A former RE teacher and assistant housemaster at an Ipswich independent school has been remanded in custody after being accused of historic sexual offences.

Francis Carolan, 58, who previously worked at St Joseph’s College in Ipswich, appeared at Suffolk Magistrates’ Court on Thursday to face four charges of indecent assault on a boy under the age of 16. 

The alleged offences date back to the early 1990s against one alleged victim, Wayne Ablett, prosecuting, told the court. 


I’m indebted to a fellow survivor who sent me this image of the current advert for St J’s.

It would appear that the La Sallian connection is no longer there.

So that’s progress.

Although I’m not alone in thinking the finances of the school and the De La Salles may still be linked in some way (as seems to be the case with St J’s Beulah Hill), at least they’re no longer flaunting their connection to a shamed religious order which – at the time in question 1960s – 1980s  – had a strong organised criminal element.

That said, last time I checked, two weeks ago, St J’s Ipswich was still listed as a La Sallian school – presumably because there’s some financial association.

And, of course, according to a recent media report, the current St J’s knows nothing of the DLS organisation and its past crimes from which they say they are entirely disconnected. So the Wikipedia entry is an error?  But St J’s is still connected with the great DLS achievements of the past.  Just not the bad stuff. Not the disgusting sexual abuse and the psychotic violence of the brothers. That’s classic moral double-think and hypocrisy which I had a gut full of as a pupil at St J’s, so that at least hasn’t changed.

The advert used to be  depicted like this (‘providing Christian education in the La Sallian Tradition.’)

It only took some seven years approx for them to change a sign that was deeply offensive and inflammatory  to me and many survivors. They might as well have said ‘In the Jimmy Savile tradition’.

Ironically, if they’d taken notice of my complaint at the time, this blog would never have taken the form it has – exposing the numerous crimes of the DLS and the Catholic laity with some positive results.

I hope not just ‘The La Sallian Tradition’ has gone away, but also the Kearney memorial prize – a teacher from my era who most certainly does not deserve to be remembered in such a complimentary and positive way.  As far as I can tell that prize, too, is no longer in existence. If so, that, too, is progress.

Exposing the crimes of the DLS and the laity and RC lay teachers with whom the order were closely connected is still a work in progress and I hope to update with more news soon.

As always, any information about them all will be  useful and valuable not just to survivors, but also to investigators.

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:

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