The English Catholic Church continues to be unrepentant in its scathing criticism of the messengers who exposed sexual abuse in the Archdiocese of Birmingham in a BBC documentary 15 years ago. Now one of the original journalists has made public their side of the story behind the scenes
It’s Spring 2003, and The Boston Globe has just won a Pulitzer Prize for a devastating series of reports exposing the systemic cover-up of clerical sex abuse by the Archdiocese of Boston. Meanwhile, thousands of miles away in London, a group of journalists working for a BBC documentary series, Kenyon Confronts, are investigating allegations of abuse by priests that indicate a similar pattern of cover-ups much closer to home in the Archdiocese of Birmingham.
When the half-hour documentary Secrets and Confessions was broadcast in October 2003, it made headlines. This was not because it located Fr James Robinson, a Birmingham priest who had fled to the United States to escape allegations of abusing young boys, and was later extradited and jailed for 21 years on 21 counts of sexual offences. It was because the Church accused its makers of harassing and abusing elderly and vulnerable priests and nuns during their investigation.