RC Church seeks sex abuse cover

THE ROMAN Catholic Church in Britain is considering insurance against compensation claims by families whose children have been sexually abused by priests.

Church leaders are concerned that they could soon face financially crippling civil lawsuits.

This follows the increase in abuse cases involving members of the Church in Britain, and the growth of compensation actions in the United States and Canada which have cost millions.

A working party headed by the Bishop of Plymouth, the Rt Rev Mgr Christopher Budd, is examining the problem of child sexual abuse by priests and drawing up recommendations on insurance and compensation. Three Catholic priests have been convicted of sexual abuse in the last year and two more are awaiting trial.

The potential problem of compensation was highlighted last week in the BBC's Everyman programme, which revealed that the Archbishop of Birmingham, the Most Rev Maurice Couve de Murville, is being sued by the parents of two children who were sexually abused by a priest.

The priest, Fr Samuel Penney, was convicted in March and jailed for seven years. The parents claim the archbishop was told about the abuse several years before police were called in.

The working party, which met for the first time this month, includes representatives from the police and social services. Experts on insurance will also be consulted. The findings, which will include recommendations on all aspects of child abuse, will be presented to the annual bishops' conference in November.

Bishop Budd said: 'With the higher profile child abuse now has, I think people who were abused in the past may come forward. It seems likely that we will get families taking out legal proceedings and suing - we need to be ready for this scenario.

'Statistically only a very small minority of people within the Church have been involved in abuse, but it must be dealt with.'

A confidential briefing document called 'Child Sexual Abuse By Priests' compiled for the group said: 'Advice should be sought on the future likelihood and patterns of civil compensation.'

It also recommended: 'Advice should be sought on questions of insurance policies to cover possible liabilities.'

The report warns: 'Given the estimate that about 10 per cent of people are thought to have suffered some degree of abuse as children, and the incidence of priestly abuse in cultures not vastly dissimilar (USA, Canada) it is reasonable to assume that the present troubles are not just a passing phase . . . New episodes are bound to continue to occur since preventative measures are likely to be slow in their effect.'

At least 20 US priests have been imprisoned on child abuse charges in the past six years. Between 1983 and 1987, some 200 US priests or brothers were publicly accused of molesting youngsters. An estimated dollars 400m has been spent in legal and medical fees and settlement payments. Thomas Mrozka was one of the most successful US litigants. Twelve years after he was first sexually abused by a parish priest, a jury awarded him dollars 1.2m and fined the Catholic Church dollars 2.5m.

TV review, page 20

Arts and Entertainment
arts + entsWith one of the best comic roles around, it's no wonder she rarely bothers with films
News
people
News
i100
News
Davis says: 'My career has been about filling a niche - there were fewer short actors and fewer roles – but now I'm being offered all kinds of things'
PeopleWarwick Davis on Ricky Gervais, Harry Potter and his perfect role
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
Voices
A Russian hunter at the Medved bear-hunting lodge in Siberia
Save the tigerWildlife charities turn to those who kill animals to help save them
Sport
Frank Lampard will pass Billy Wright and equal Bobby Charton’s caps tally of 106 caps against
sportFormer Chelsea midfielder in Etihad stopgap before New York contract
News
i100
Sport
Usain Bolt of Jamaica smiles and shakes hands with a competitor after Jamaica won their first heat in the men's 4x100m relay
sport
News
Chancellor George Osborne, along with the Prime Minister, have been 'complacently claiming the economy is now fixed', according to shadow Chancellor Ed Balls
i100... which is awkward, because he is their boss, after all
Arts and Entertainment
The first film introduced Daniel Radcliffe to our screens, pictured here as he prepares to board the train to Hogwarts for the first time.
booksHow reading Harry Potter helps children grow up to be gay-friendly
Life and Style
A small bag of the drug Ecstasy
Health
News
i100
Life and Style
Floral-print swim shorts, £26, by Topman, topman.com; sunglasses, £215, by Paul Smith, mpaulsmith.co.uk
FashionBag yourself the perfect pair
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

(Senior) IT Support Engineer - 1st-3rd Line Support

£40000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A successful IT service provider that has bee...

Wind Farm Civil Design Engineer

£55000 - £65000 Per Annum: The Green Recruitment Company: The Green Recruitmen...

Principal Marine Mechanical Engineer

£60000 - £70000 Per Annum: The Green Recruitment Company: The Green Recruitmen...

Principle Geotechnical Engineer

£55000 - £65000 Per Annum: The Green Recruitment Company: The Green Recruitmen...

Day In a Page

Save the Tiger: Meet the hunters tasked with protecting Russia's rare Amur tiger

Hunters protect Russia's rare Amur tiger

In an unusual move, wildlife charities have enlisted those who kill animals to help save them. Oliver Poole travels to Siberia to investigate
Transfers: How has your club fared in summer sales?

How has your club fared in summer sales?

Who have bagged the bargain buys and who have landed the giant turkeys
Warwick Davis: The British actor on Ricky Gervais, how the Harry Potter set became his office, and why he'd like to play a spy

'I'm a realist; I know how hard this business is'

Warwick Davis on Ricky Gervais, Harry Potter and his perfect role
The best swim shorts for men: Bag yourself the perfect pair and make a splash this summer

The best swim shorts for men

Bag yourself the perfect pair and make a splash this summer
Has Ukip’s Glastonbury branch really been possessed by the devil?

Has Ukip’s Glastonbury branch really been possessed by the devil?

Meet the couple blamed for bringing Lucifer into local politics
Dress the Gaza situation up all you like, but the truth hurts

Robert Fisk on Gaza conflict

Dress the situation up all you like, but the truth hurts
Save the tiger: Tiger, tiger burning less brightly as numbers plummet

Tiger, tiger burning less brightly

When William Blake wrote his famous poem there were probably more than 100,000 tigers in the wild. These days they probably number around 3,200
5 News's Andy Bell retraces his grandfather's steps on the First World War battlefields

In grandfather's footsteps

5 News's political editor Andy Bell only knows his grandfather from the compelling diary he kept during WWI. But when he returned to the killing fields where Edwin Vaughan suffered so much, his ancestor came to life
Lifestyle guru Martha Stewart reveals she has flying robot ... to take photos of her farm

Martha Stewart has flying robot

The lifestyle guru used the drone to get a bird's eye view her 153-acre farm in Bedford, New York
Former Labour minister Meg Hillier has demanded 'pootling lanes' for women cyclists

Do women cyclists need 'pootling lanes'?

Simon Usborne (who's more of a hurtler) explains why winning the space race is key to happy riding
A tale of two presidents: George W Bush downs his paintbrush to pen father’s life story

A tale of two presidents

George W Bush downs his paintbrush to pen father’s life story
Restaurateur Mitch Tonks has given the Great Western Pullman dining car a makeover

The dining car makes a comeback

Restaurateur Mitch Tonks has given the Great Western Pullman dining car a makeover
Gallery rage: How are institutions tackling the discomfort of overcrowding this summer?

Gallery rage

How are institutions tackling the discomfort of overcrowding this summer?
Louis van Gaal has £500,000 video surveillance system installed to monitor Manchester United players

Eye on the prize

Louis van Gaal has £500,000 video surveillance system installed to monitor Manchester United players
Women's rugby: Tamara Taylor adds fuel to the ire in quest to land World Cup

Women's rugby

Tamara Taylor adds fuel to the ire in quest to land World Cup