Roman Catholic Church Argues Priests Are Self Employed; English High Court Disagreed

Mr Justice McDuff

Today in the English High Court, Mr Justice McDuff handed down a landmark decision against the Roman Catholic Church involving sexual abuse.  In what most Bajans will consider to be a bizarre and totally inappropriate defense, counsel Crispin Hollis, acting for the Roman Catholic Diocese of Portsmouth, tried to invoke employment law, pleading that Fr Wilfred Baldwin, an ordained Roman Catholic priest, was self-employed that therefore no liability attached to the Church for the sexual abuse of a minor. The Daily Mail report above makes for sickening reading.

The judge, however, disagreed.

If this decision is upheld on appeal, it will open the flood gates to claims against Churches and is most likely to be upheld in all common law jurisdictions, including Barbados. This surely is one of those decisions where the courts and common sense are in accord and a triumph for common sense and under-aged victims of sexual abuse whose abusers seek to hide behind religion.

The judge said, “Whether or not the relationship may be regarded as “akin to employment”, the principal features of the relationship dictate that the defendants should be held responsible for the actions which they initiated by the appointment and all that went with it……..”

The victim was 7 years old at the time of the commencement of the sexual abuse, which went on for some years. The actual judgment of McDuff J ought to be available online here shortly, for the legal eagles in the BU family.

This is an issue that the BU family may want to weigh in on.

0 thoughts on “Roman Catholic Church Argues Priests Are Self Employed; English High Court Disagreed


  1. “The decision could have far-reaching implications for Roman Catholic Church which now faces having to pay millions to sex abuse victims following the High Court’s ruling that it could be liable for priests’ crimes.

    In a landmark ruling, Mr Justice MacDuff said the Church can be held responsible for the sins of its clergy because of the ‘immense power’ it gave them.”

    Serious business!


  2. Indeed. And I do not think it will strike at the RC Church alone. I must admit to being very surprised by the arguments of counsel for the RC Church. Not because they do not have merit (they are in fact very cleverly crafted and may even work on appeal), but because the RC Church allowed him to make them. Allowing those arguments to be made is a public relations disaster and forseeably so. It doesn’t take the genius of Einstein to see that.

    I am even more appalled that an organization that preaches the virtues of truth and justice and “suffer the little children” should itself be guilty of trying to deny truth, pervert justice and causing the little children to suffer. Clearly the direct line that they and, lets face it MANY other Christian sects, claim to have to the Almighty is down and out and has been for a long time.

    I will read with interest the entire judgment later.


  3. One can called the Church’s defense “A drowning man grasping at the last straw” totally agree with Amused comments. For in indeed the church must lead the way for righteousness and not get in the way


    • Can we say that the RC’s position is grounded in a ‘cover your ass’ argument rather than doing what all right thinking people would admit is taking the high road? Note we did not say regious but instead preferred ‘right thinking’. No wonder…!

      Where is the outrage?


  4. David we have churches here guilty of many crimes including rape and elderly abuse.

    Recently I was told of a story about the Seventh Days Adventist here in Barbados . A pastor and an Elder have cleaned out an old lady’s bank accounts and made her change her will leaving her property to the church. The old lady is senile and when her daughter who lived abroad, came home to visit her she found out that her mother had no money in all her accounts. She did some investigations and found out that these two church members were assisting the old lady on a regular basis. The told her that they wanted to fix her house and that she must take money from her account to do that. They took her to the bank and she withdrew the money and handed it to them. Her house was never fixed but theirs was. The latest story was that they told her there was a barrel at the port for her and they needed $6000.00 to clear it. The daughter who lives abroad says that she has never sent a barrel for her mother. The church claims that they have no proof that the members robbed this old woman and but they will change back the will. The lady is suffering from Alzheimer and has been for some time. The church Pastor and Elder saw this as a way to con her into releasing her funds without anyone noticing. They even took her to a lawyer (probably another church member) to get the will changed.


  5. @islandgal. Thanks for that. It demonstrates clearly the lack of organised care for the elderly and those not competent. In other words, the lack of a properly organised social services system to identify these problems and to take action, in cases like this and others, to apply to the courts to have a guardian appointed for these people, the guardians being responsible to the courts for their actions. What the daughter of this lady now needs to do, since she lives overseas, is to have a guardian in Barbados appointed for her mother.

    We now need to ask the Chief Justice to organise the Justice System in such a way that such applications are dealt with easily, cheaply and QUICKLY. Not have to wait YEARS until some blasted idiot at the Registry who should have been fired years ago gets around to it.

    Ultimately, the solution to the problem lies in the need to get social services to work together with communities and the individuals in those communities in order to identify persons at risk, as this lady was.

    This then agrees with David’s point that these things need to be tested by the Courts. I agree. I believe that the sexual abuse of children is far more widespread than we know and likely some of this abuse comes from church authorities. But the trouble, in the case of the church, is that the church lobby is so strong that there is a reluctance to investigate and prosecute complaints. This is made worse by the majority of almost brain-washed parents who consider church authorities and those who “preach and pray” incapable to telling a lie and would rather believe these people than their own children. Worse still, they would rather ignore the complaints of their children if they might prejudice their hopes for Heaven by exposing and prosecuting those that abuse those children.

    I believe that if the true picture of child, vulnerable adult and elder abuse was known, we would be seriously shocked.


  6. @David and Islandgal. Subsequent to my last comment, I read this BBC report that I think drives home my point.

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-london-15640173 .

    I see from another Report in the Times Online that the complaints being made in that case go back to 1942.

    I have to wonder what proper investigations in Barbados might uncover. Trouble is that in our small community, everybody will try to save face and pretend it isn’t happening.


  7. When we choose to remain silent we are guilty as the perpetrator. If we all adopt this attitude in all walks of life we will continue to encourage criminals to hide behind their religion, their political parties and their companies.


  8. @ Amused | November 9, 2011 at 9:02 AM

    “You said, quote “. . . . .to apply to the courts to have a guardian appointed for these people, the guardians being responsible to the courts for their actions. What the daughter of this lady now needs to do, since she lives overseas, is to have a guardian in Barbados appointed for her mother.” End quote.
    ************************************************************
    Just one question for you, sir,. . . . . . . .And, who is now going to guard the guardians? Do you think for one moment that these “guardians” are not going to seek their own selfish interests as well?


  9. @de hood. Is your question applied to the particular incident that Islandgal has highlighted, or are you questioning the concept in general?

    If in particular, then presumably the lady’s daughter who discovered the abuse would know someone she trusts whose name she can put forward to the courts as guardian. The courts will likely accept her nomination.

    If in general, agreed that no system is perfect and I am waiting for you to suggest an alternative to court-appointed guardians.


  10. @ Amused

    Seems like this is one of those occasions when one is “damned if you do and damned if you don’t”.


  11. @de hood. I agree. I didn’t mean my comments to you to be adversarial. It was a sincere request to you to think the matter through and see if any possible alternative solution presents itself to you. “Quis custodiet ipsos custodes” is a valid question in any matter involving trust in any country, unfortunately. By the way, my use of the Latin is because I read it in a novel about the Spanish Civil War that was part of the curriculum at school when I was really young – I don’t even think I was in my teens yet. Over the years, I have certainly come to realise the truth of it as, clearly, have you.


  12. @ Amused
    We certainly have a “catch 22” situation here. I have lived long enough to see first hand what a little money (as well as a bit of the spirit of Mount Gay etc. 🙂 ) can do to an otherwise sound-thinking individual. But, my friend, these days even the reverends/pastors don’t seem to be what they should be (character/integrity wise). Most everyone seem to be saying. “do as I say but not as I do”. What a sad state to which mankind seems to have brought themselves! However, that’s a topic for a whole new blog. I don’t know if it can be properly dealt with in this forum anyhow. But, you are quite right it is a problem that needs our attention (how to safeguard the weak and ailing old-timers).


  13. Quoting islandgal246 “islandgal246 | November 9, 2011 at 7:56 AM | David we have churches here guilty of many crimes including rape and elderly abuse. Recently I was told of a story about the Seventh Days Adventist”

    Seventh Day Badventists you mean.


  14. Quoting amused “I am even more appalled that an organization that preaches the virtues of truth and justice and “suffer the little children”

    Maybe the peadeophile priests and their enabling superiors interpreted the Scripture to mean “make the little children suffer”


  15. The lady’s daughter who lives overseas needs to return to Barbados to live so that she can look after her mother. Expecting somebody else to look after your demented old mother (or father) is an exercise in stupidity. If it is to much of a sacrifice for the daughter, why should anybody else do it?

    Tek ya time answering.


  16. @Random Thoughts | November 9, 2011 at 11:07 PM. The word “Thoughts” in your moniker is a contradiction. If you had thought, you would no have made that comment. Better keep it at “Random”.


  17. @ David November 10, 2011 at 12:37 AM |

    So Hoodie, you are saying we can’t trust the Church?
    ***************************************************************
    Not the church,David. Just some of the miscreants who hide behind their faith.


  18. @ David
    Apologies, perhaps I made too broad a statement when I commented about the reverends/pastors in my earlier post. I should have made it clear that SOME of them were untrustworthy not all of them.


  19. It seems that more criminals are in the Church than outside. I have always said that Jesus must be a criminal because most criminals always meet him in prison.


  20. @ islandgal246 | November 10, 2011 at 4:45 PM |
    Don’t be surprised if you invoke the wrath of the Jesus brigade with their biblical quotations ready to crucify you and commit you to the fiery flames of damnation!
    Open the bat cave and release Zoe on the island for blaspheming, dolatry and rejecting Jesus as the Lord God & Saviour of all mankind!


  21. @MTA: “Don’t be surprised if you invoke the wrath of the Jesus brigade with their biblical quotations ready to crucify you and commit you to the fiery flames of damnation!

    Please correct me if I am wrong, but was not the fundamental message of Jesus one of acceptance?


  22. @ Christopher Halsall | November 10, 2011 at 5:47 PM |
    Yes! A message of love and truth, acceptance of diversity, forgiveness and justice for the wronged!
    Oh what a tangled web we weave when the message is lost in translation!
    I strongly feel that the Church has been taken over so much by the children of darkness and evil that the voices of the few innocents that remain are drowned out by those who have executed a coup against the genuine Jesus and what he really stood for.


  23. Miller they can take it however they want to, one can find many people named Jesus in this world. Try Venezuela and Mexico.


  24. Quote: millertheanunnaki | November 10, 2011 at 6:04 PM

    “Oh what a tangled web we weave when the message is lost in translation!” End quote.
    *******************************************************
    Very well said. Not only do we have mis-translation but we also have mis-interpretation of the mis-translation!


  25. @ islandgal246 | November 10, 2011 at 6:21 PM |
    Agree! But you do understand that it is the Spaniards who started this Jesus meek and mild image to control the natives and imported blacks of the Western world. Yeshua or Isa(h) was not part of their everyday vocabulary.


  26. Miller …if only Black people would only stop and see how brainwashed they have been. But NO Jesus the white God will come to save them no matter what and take them through the pearly gates to live forever and ever.


  27. Quoting amused “If you had thought, you would no have made that comment”

    I do not only talk the talk. I walk the walk.


  28. islandgal246 | November 10, 2011 at 7:21 PM |
    It would take at least another 50 years (if mankind has that long before he runs short of oxygen from the burning of fossil fuels) to de-programme black people. Remember blacks did not know diddly-squat about Jesus and the propaganda story book while slavery was economically viable. It is only from around 1860’s that the spreading of the mind controlling substance called religion in the form of “Christian instruction” was promoted as a way of manipulating black people while making them woefully dependent on the white peddlers of lies and deception called priests and missionaries.

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