Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Sex abuse claim for £5m against Catholic order faces court challenge

Sex abuse claim for £5m against Catholic order faces court challenge
Catholic school appeals ruling that said Patrick Raggett could make case against priest, despite legal time limit for claim
Riazat Butt guardian.co.uk, Tuesday 27 July 2010 09.10 BST Article history
Patrick Raggett outside the Royal Courts of Justice in London after winning the right to pursue a damages action. Photograph: Johnny Green/PA

A Roman Catholic religious order will today appeal a court decision that could see it pay up to £5m to a victim of alleged clerical sexual abuse, the largest compensation claim of its kind in Britain.

The Society of Jesus is attempting to overturn the decision of Mrs Justice Swift, who said there was "entirely compelling" evidence that Patrick Raggett had been the victim of a "sustained course of sexual abuse and assaults" by Father Michael Spencer at Preston Catholic College, Lancashire, between 1969 and 1976.

She accepted Ragget said the claimed abuse had affected his earning potential and put aside the time limit, observing that his delay in bringing forward a claim "was not uncommon in cases of sexual abuse in which the complainant had to suppress his memories".

Raggett, a former City lawyer, told the high court last year that the "insidious abuse" had blighted his adult life, ruining his career and relationships. But the college governors said that even if the abuse had occurred, the case had been brought outside the legal time limit.

The judge ruled in his favour, stating his claim could proceed.

A statement issued last night by the Society of Jesus confirmed the date of the court hearing and that the decision to take the case to appeal had been based on legal advice from the governors' solicitors.

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