” Oh my God” – Gove’s reaction to the prolific paedophile Salesian priest

Michael Gove: shock and awe at revelation at school he declined inquiry

Michael Gove: shock and awe at revelation at school he declined inquiry

Graham Wilmer’s new book The Devil’s Advocate reveals an amazing tussle he had with the Department for Education over trying to get them to consider an inquiry into the running of the Salesian schools as the Met Police Operation Torva was uncovering growing evidence of pedophilia in their order.

A report on the Exaro website reveals the full details of a row between the ministry and Graham Wilmer, who is now a member of Theresa May’s independent panel into national child sexual abuse.

Wilmer says that he “had written several times” to Gove to investigate the Salesian order, which runs several schools in the UK. Wilmer is director of the Lantern Project, a charity that supports CSA victims.

Wilmer writes, “He [Gove] did not respond initially, but one of his officials did, telling me that, while she was ‘saddened to hear what had happened to me’, they were not going to investigate because ‘it was too long ago.’

Eventually he got a letter from Edward Timpson, the children’s minister saying:

“Departmental officials have written to Mr Wilmer a number of times to explain that the secretary of state’s powers in this area are extremely limited.

“The investigation of allegations of abuse is a matter for the local police force, and it is not within the secretary of state’s powers to run a parallel investigation.

“I think that it would also, legal issues aside, be counter-productive and unhelpful. We need to see the outcome of any police investigation before concluding that the department can or should take action.”

Well as my previous blog discloses we now have a finding from the police exposing Father Terence O’Brien, being a prolific paedophile over many years.

So taking the opportunity of being at the Conservative conference I bumped into Michael Gove in a hotel corridor. I put it to him that the police investigation was now completed and they had discovered a prolific paedophile at the Salesian college in Battersea who died in the year 2000

Gove’s reaction was ” Oh my God” but before I could question him further he was hustled away by his minders who informed me he was already late for a meeting.

I have a feeling that this will not be the end of the story. the ministry claims it has few powers to investigate schools and was obviously not keen to do so.

This sounds very much like a matter that will have to be taken up by the inquiry.

Exposed: The sick priest who posed as a psychotherapist to abuse children

Psychotherapists are key people to help disturbed people and child sex abuse victims. There is probably no viler misuse of the profession than to masquerade as one to sexually abuse children.

Yet this is what Father Terence O’Brien did again and again at one of the country’s top Roman Catholic Salesian schools in Battersea, south London according to a  Met police investigation report obtained by Exaro.

The details are available in a new book The Devil’s Advocate: Child Abuse and the Men in Black by Graham Wilmer, a sex abuse victim, who runs the Lantern Project in the Wirral to help survivors and is now a member of the new national inquiry into child sexual abuse set up by Theresa May, the home secretary. You can buy his book here and all the profits go to fund his project.

He describes O’Brien as the Salesian order equivalent  to Jimmy Savile- a prolific paedophile- who died in 2000 but got away with it for years. You read the full story on the Exaro website.

But to give  you an idea of just how vile he is – here is an extract from the police report ( look away now if you are of a sensitive disposition) :

“Fr. O’Brien was a prolific paedophile, who would subject children to strip naked and be massaged, masturbated and physically penetrated, under the pretext that they were being rid of bad spirits that made them behave badly. The children were brought to Fr O’Brien by their parents in the belief that he was a child psychotherapist, and could treat them for their behaviour.

“This abuse was practised on children on a weekly basis, sometimes for years. The victims were instructed never to inform anyone of their treatment, or it would not work.

“Fr O’Brien was not a psychotherapist at all, yet he was allowed to practice his trade upon the grounds of the Salesian school without question, on a regular basis.”

Now you might have thought the Salesian order which runs this reputable school would want to make amends for such damning police findings. But this is their response:

Fr O’Brien did not at any time work from or in the Salesian College in Battersea . He did occupy Salesian property in Battersea but this was not on the school site nor was it part of the school. At no time did he conduct any of his practice from any Salesian school.

 “Fr O’Brien is a subject of Operation Torva, the inquiry being carried out by the Metropolitan Police. We are cooperating fully with the police in their inquiry and unable to comment further beyond saying that there were no allegations concerning Fr O’Brien until the late 1980s and 1990s and allegations were dealt with by the police.

  “In accordance with the Safeguarding policy of the Catholic Church, we do not investigate any allegation of offences against Children. These are passed to the Police.

 The Salesians will, of course, cooperate fully with the forthcoming government inquiry if they are required to do so.”

After further checks I am told the house actually adjoined the school. So the main concern of the Salesians is that Father O’Brien employed as a priest and teacher by the Salesians used a house next door to the school to carry out these vile acts on pupils and children ( both boys and girls) . So it is all right as  it didn’t happen technically  to be on school premises. And they won’t co-operate with the inquiry unless required.

If ever there was a need for this new national inquiry – this is it. Their attitude to this is both sickening and perverse.


Michael Gove: A Paedophile’s Unwitting Friend?

Dereliction of duty to protect the nation's school children from child abusers

Michael Gove:Dereliction of duty to protect school children from child abusers

Michael Gove is not known for being shy and retiring when it comes to forcing decisions on the nation’s schools. Yet rather curiously he has disclosed that he has no intention of intervening to ensure that when children are sexually abused in the nation’s state funded and private schools that the incident should be reported.

My colleagues Frederika Whitehead and Mark Conrad have written the full story for Exaro News ( see http://www.exaronews.com/articles/4999/michael-gove-blocks-move-to-force-schools-to-report-sex-abuse) .

Put simply he has written to Cheryl Gillan, the ex-minister and Tory MP for nearby Chesham and Amersham, saying that he is against mandatory reporting of allegations to the specific local officer  because it could ” swamp ” officialdom ” with every incident reported”. He says : ” schools should be trusted to make their own professional judgement ” to report the matter.

This statement is extraordinary for two reasons. Why does Gove think authorities are going to be swamped? Does he think they are loads of kids in the nation’s schools waiting to accuse their teachers of sexual abuse? Or does he suspect, as the abused tell us, that this much more widespread than we realise and he frankly doesn’t want to know?

Also sadly the idea of relying on schools to use their professional judgement to report sexual abuse cases appears to be rather hollow from my experience. In the investigations I have covered what appears to happen is that schools and social services are prone to cover this up. Both the London borough of Richmond and the  Roman Catholic Salesian order have paid off victims and in the case of the Salesians got the person to sign a gagging order not to reveal what happened. This results in the perpetrators often being moved to avoid a scandal and getting new jobs elsewhere  where they repeat the pattern, Jimmy Savile style.

I am sure that Michael Gove is not a supporter of paedophilia nor am I accusing or even inferring in the headline that he is remotely sympathetic to child abusers. But unwittingly by not doing so he is  giving aid and comfort to those who want this hushed up. My accusation against Gove is more dereliction of duty as secretary of state for education in not providing the protection of the law for children who are sexually abused. I know from other sources that the Metropolitan Police Paedophile Unit take a similar view.

Exclusive: Met Police launch nationwide child abuse investigation into Catholic order

 National child abuse hero Graham Wilner: Picture reproduced courtesy Rory Wilmer Photography

Campaigning hero Graham Wilmer: Picture reproduced courtesy Rory Wilmer Photography

Over the last two weeks the Met Police Child Abuse Investigation Command  has been  secretly running a new investigation into alleged child abuse involving former schoolboys who went to primary and secondary  schools run by the Roman Catholic Salesian Order in England and Scotland.

Some 23 alleged victims have already contacted in one of the biggest operations since Operation Yewtree  which involved  Jimmy Savile and Operation Fernbridge investigation into sexual abuse at Elm Guest House in Barnes – including tracing people who had left the country for Thailand.

The full story is revealed today in The People (http://www.mirror.co.uk/news/uk-news/paedo-probe-catholic-schools-20-1911825) and Exaro News( http://www.exaronews.com/articles/4979/met-investigates-catholic-order-s-schools-over-child-sex-abuse ). It is known to involve at least 30 victims and 20 priests and teachers, some of whom are now dead, and stretching back some 50 years. Some of the figures were prominent members of the Order which was set up in London in the late nineteenth century and now stretches world-wide.

The impetus for the new investigation comes from one former pupil of  a Salesian school, Graham Wilmer, who was sexually abused himself, and has tirelessly and heroically  campaigned for a full-scale police investigation into the order for decades.

He now runs the Lantern Project (http://www.lanternproject.org.uk) in the Wirral  which counsels victims of child sexual abuse and has managed to pass to the police 50 names of victims and abusers, some of whom had left the country.

The extraordinary decision to launch the investigation was finally prompted – after three false attempts – by a former pupil of a London Salesian school who was a senior colleague of Commander Peter Spindler, now at HM Inspectorate of Constabulary. He knew of the abuse in the order and directly contacted Spindler. His intervention led to Spindler launching the inquiry and the contacting of  victims. (See http://www.exaronews.com/articles/4980/operation-torva-ex-pupil-joined-police-and-triggered-met-probe )

The Scotland Yard codename for the exercise is Operation Torva.

One of the schools where abuse by staff was alleged to have taken place was a Salesian College in Battersea, south London. Famous pupils there include Catherine Tate  who attended the sixth form and Lord O’Donnell, the former cabinet Secretary, who was head boy.

The Met Police said: “The Metropolitan Police takes allegations of sexual abuse very seriously regardless of when they took place. All allegations when reported will be recorded and investigated and where possible evidence will be put before the court in order that offenders will have to answer for their actions. Officers from the Metropolitan Police have been engaging with members of the Lantern Project in order to work in partnership to encourage those who have suffered abuse to come forward.

Graham Wilmer said: “It is a matter of great comfort to us that the response we have had, when talking to the police, has always been very positive, and no one should be concerned about how they will be treated if they report abuse to the police. I would urge any one who has been abused in a Salesian school, or elsewhere, to come forward and make contact with the police in the first instant.

“It has always been a matter of real concern to me that, up until the Jimmy Savile case, it has been very difficult to get justice for victims of sexual abuse, as nobody really wanted to know. Now, everything as changed, and the police, the DPP and the CPS are actively encouraging victims to come forward and seek help.

However, there is still no sign from government that they will provide the funding necessary to support survivor groups, such as the Lantern Project, without which the support that victims who come forward desperately need, will simply not be there.”

The police are taking calls  from victims on 101 or 999 and victims can also contact the Lantern Project on 0151 630 6956 if they don’t want call the police to report child abuse in the Salesian Order.