29 August 2019, The Tablet

News Briefing: Britain and Ireland

Peter Saunders has resigned from the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse

News Briefing: Britain and Ireland

(Left to right) Lieve Halsberghe, Peter Saunders and Peter Isely during a Ending Clerical Abuse press conference at the Ballsbridge Hotel in Dublin ahead of the visit to Ireland by Pope Francis.
Danny Lawson/PA Archive/PA Images

Peter Saunders, the head of the National Association for People Abused in Childhood, has resigned from the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse after it emerged that he was arrested in 2008 after a sexual encounter with an abuse victim. The woman complained to the police and alleged that the encounter had not been consensual. Saunders, 61, who was questioned but not charged, did not declare the incident when he joined IICSA’s Victims and Survivors Panel in 2015. Saunders told The Mail on Sunday: “The incident was not as [the woman] alleged. It was a totally consensual, albeit drunken encounter, the shame of which I will live with for the rest of my life.” A spokesman for IICSA said: “The inquiry holds our consultative panel members to the same high standards we expect of our staff. Peter Saunders offered his resignation and we have accepted it with immediate effect.”

The Court of Appeal has rejected an attempt to overturn a Public Spaces Protection Order (PSPO) that prevents pro-life activists from holding prayer vigils outside an abortion clinic in the London Borough of Ealing. The PSPO prevents certain activities such as protests from taking place within a certain radius of the clinic, and was put in place by Ealing Council following claims that women attending the clinic had been harassed. Pro-life activists challenged the PSPO on the grounds that it contravened their right to freedom of expression.

A groundbreaking conference on women and LGBT+ people in the Orthodox Church took place last week in Oxford. The conference was sponsored by the British Council. It took place at St Stephen’s House under the Chatham House rule (whereby what was said may be reported but not who said it), and was organised by researchers from the University of Exeter and the Orthodox Christian Studies Center at Fordham University, New York.

Cathedral architects, including Jonathan Louth, architect to St George’s Cathedral in Southwark, have signed a letter to The Sunday Times condemning plans to demolish part of Richmond House, in Whitehall, in order to build a temporary chamber to house MPs during the renovation of the Palace of Westminster. Richmond House’s architect, Sir William Whitfield (1920-2019) was a leading cathedral architect, who was Surveyor to St Paul’s and worked at Canterbury, Hereford and St Albans. The letter calls the building “one of the best civic buildings of its era”.

The former President of Ireland, Dr Mary McAleese, has said she was “surprised and thrilled” by the Catholic Faculty of Theology of Tübingen University’s decision to award her the 2019 Alfons Auer Ethics Prize. The prestigious award is named after the late Rev Professor Alfons Auer, who died in 2005. Valued at €25,000, the prize has been presented biannually since 2015 when it was awarded to Canadian philosopher and political scientist Professor Charles Taylor. The award will be presented to Dr McAleese, a canon lawyer, at a ceremony at the University of Tübingen in Germany on 30 October.

The University of Glasgow has launched an Additional Teaching Qualification in Religious Education for Catholic schools that will allow teachers in other subjects to qualify as RE teachers. The initiative was launched by the St Andrew’s Foundation for Catholic Teacher Education and will involve taking one class per month, plus 16 hours per semester of online activity and the preparation of two 4,000-word portfolios. Among the topics to be covered are Christology, revelation, liturgy and the sacraments, ecclesiology, ethics and morality, together with study of the Judaic and Muslim traditions.

The relics of St Thérèse of Lisieux are due to arrive at Carfin in Scotland this week ahead of a tour of Scottish dioceses lasting until 20 September. Archbishop Leo Cushley will lead a welcome ceremony at St Mary’s Cathedral in Edinburgh next Saturday.






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