North Yorkshire Police have raised concerns that the former head teacher of Ampleforth College, Father Leo Chamberlain tried to exclude officers from their enquiries in 1995 and 2002.

Father Leo Chamberlain denied, “influencing a boy’s parents during a phone call in 1995”. During the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse he told the Inquiry that there had been, “no skulduggery.”

Detective Superintendent Barry Honeysett who led the inquiry into abuse at Ampleforth commented that he had told Father Chamberlain, “that he did not trust the private school because victims of abuse had been spoken to by staff before the Police were called in.”

When lead Counsel, Riel Karmy- Jones put Detective Superintendent Honeysett’s concerns to Chamberlain he said:

“He had to spoken to the boy’s parents to inform them of the situation and in doing so, had made no obstruction to the police inquiry. The police thought there was a conspiracy between him and Father Wright to close the matter down, which he said was not the case. He told the inquiry that during the 1980s, a teacher who had abused pupils would be got rid of and it was thought wrongly that to keep it all very quiet was in the best interests of the victim.”

Evidence was heard at the Inquiry that the,”Abbott of Ampleforth, Father Timothy Wright, went to visit a complainant of child sex abuse, causing mistrust between the Church and North Yorkshire Police.”

At an earlier hearing it was heard that Chamberlain was warned about employing Father Piers Grant-Ferris. Ferris was convicted of 20 counts of indecent assault in 2006. A Psychologist employed by the school, Elizabeth Mann showed the Inquiry a letter she wrote in 2003 which stated that Ferris “posed a risk to pupils.”

Chamberlain told the Inquiry that he thought it would be safe to employ Ferris as he would be working in a very visible area. He employed Ferris in the Abbey shop which he described as a” Goldfish bowl”. He said, “Because it was a very visible place I thought well, we could probably make it work. But I think I could have been wrong about that.”

Jordans Solicitors are currently representing a large number of clients who have suffered sexual abuse through their involvement with religious organisations and as pupils at schools. Where a person abuses their position of trust and commits an act of assault, a claim may be possible. We would encourage anyone affected to contact Jordans Solicitors to pursue a civil claim on 0800 9555 094.

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