The Supreme Court has this week refused to hear a case from the Catholic Church that it could not be held responsible for abuse committed by one of its priests because he was not an ‘employee’. This means the Catholic Church can now be financially liable for child abuse by priests working under its control.
The case arose when a Portsmouth woman brought a civil action against the Church after claiming she was abused by a priest at a children’s home run by the Church.
The woman, identified in court as Miss E, was seven years old when she was admitted to the Firs Children’ Home in 1970. She alleges she was sexually abused by Father Wilfred Baldwin, a priest of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Portsmouth, who died in 2006.
In November 2011, High Court judge Mr Justice Alistair MacDuffs ruled that the church is legally responsible for sexual abuse committed by its priests. This week’s ruling by the Supreme Court has now confirmed that decision.