Laurence Soper and Chris Denning
The BBC has reported on two cases of child abusers, with a similar theme. Both returned to the UK from abroad after unsuccessful attempts to extradite them, only to be arrested.
Laurence Soper was a Roman Catholic priest employed as a teacher by St Benedict's School in Ealing. He was accused of offences against children over a period from 1971 to 1983. He was arrested in 2010 and bailed, but failed to return to a London police station in March 2011. It is thought that he went abroad to Europe. A European Arrest Warrant was issued for him in 2012 and he eventually was detained in Kosovo in May of this year. Recently it was reported that there were difficulties getting an extradition order, but now Mr Soper has returned to the UK. He is due to appear at Isleworth Crown Court on the 19th September.
Former BBC DJ Chris Denning has pleaded guilty to 21 child sex offences committed between 1969 and 1986. He is currently serving a 13-year jail term for sexual assaults against 24 victims aged nine to 16 from the 1960s to 1980s. Denning was arrested in the Czech Republic in 1997 and eventually jailed in 2000 by a Prague court for four and a half years for having sexual contact with minors. The UK tried and failed to have Denning extradited from the Czech Republic, but in 2005 he was arrested at Heathrow, having arrived from Austria. In January 2006, a British court sentenced him to four years after he admitted five charges of indecent assault on boys under 16 during the 70s and 80s. Denning was then extradited to Slovakia, where he was given a five-year sentence in 2008 for making indecent images of children.
Soper's former employers, St Benedict's School have already settled a number of claims brought in relation to his abuse. In 2011, Christopher Cleugh, headmaster of St Benedict's said the school would adopt the recommendations of an inquiry, led by Lord Carlile.
Lord Carlile's report examined multiple attacks on pupils since 1970. His inquiry began in 2010 after Father David Pearce, the former head of the junior school, was jailed for eight years in 2009, after being convicted of abusing five boys over a period of 36 years. Lord Carlile criticised the governance of the school and recommended setting up two trusts to remove "all power from the abbey" while maintaining the Benedictine connection for the parents.
In 2006, the High Court awarded damages to one of Father David's victims.
In relation to Chris Denning, the writer does not know whether any claims in relation to his abuse have been brought against the BBC, in the same way as some claims against the estate of Jimmy Saville were brought against him.
Under the present 2012 CICA Scheme, a claim in relation to abuse by both men is certainly feasible, but the Scheme has draconian limitation provisions, which need careful reading. Delay can be fatal to a claim.
Civil claims are also a possibility against both Soper and Denning direct. It is sometimes wrongly assumed that such men have no assets, but experience shows that they may own houses or businesses, or very possibly later in life inherit large sums from a relative. Problems begin, of course, when a number of Claimants make claims against the same set of assets. This is what happened in the Jimmy Saville case.
Mr Savile's estate was the subject of some major litigation. First there were a group of individuals who alleged that they had been abused by Jimmy Savile. They brought personal injury claims against his estate. Some of the Claimants had claims against other defendants with whom Jimmy Savile was associated: the BBC, certain NHS hospital trusts and the charities Barnardo's and Mind. It is understood that other organisations, such as the NHS and the BBC settled a part of these claims, but it was agreed that the estate would also contribute.
The next set of competing claims came from those charities to whom Jimmy Saville had made bequests. They were looking at losing those gifts if the monies were distributed to victims.
There was also a relation of Mr Savile who had been the subject of a bequest from him.
To complicate matters further, those organisations who were potentially liable to victims of Jimmy Saville indicated that they would be claiming against his estate for their losses.
The dispute over the estate came before Mr Justice Sales in the Chancery Division of the High Court, in a series of hearings in 2013 and 2014, the last of which was In the estate of Jimmy Savile  EWHC 1683 (Ch). The trustees of the Savile Estate attempted to remove the Bank as executor, but ultimately failed. A Scheme was set up to distribute the monies in the estate and this was approved by Justice Sales.
Sales J said that the Nat West Bank was "a professional executor of good repute" which was capable of being neutral and impartial in administering the estate as between the different competing interests. It had also established a track record of effective and appropriate administration of the estate in the unusual and testing circumstances of this case.
Finally Sales J said:-
"The negotiation of the Scheme has required a good deal of give and take between the parties to the negotiations, in the course of which the PI Claimants and the Third Party Defendants have developed confidence in the fair approach of the Bank to handling the claims. The Scheme provides a general framework, but its effective implementation in seeking to arrive at as many settlements of valid and meritorious claims as possible, to facilitate ultimate distributions from the estate, will also depend on effective co-operation between the parties going forward."
The Jimmy Savile litigation demonstrates the guiding principle of claims against individuals or their estate. There is only ever so much money in the "pot" to go around and consequently early resolution (if possible) of the litigation is always desirable even though it may mean that victims are under compensated.
Your comment will be posted after it is approved.
Leave a Reply.