Press release: New charity investigation: Ampleforth Abbey and St Laurence Education Trust

The Charity Commission, the independent regulator of charities in England and Wales, has opened an investigation into Ampleforth Abbey (registered charity number 1026493) and St Laurence Education Trust (registered charity number 1063808).

Ampleforth Abbey maintains a Roman Catholic religious community which is located on the same site as Ampleforth College in North Yorkshire. St Laurence Education Trust runs 2 Roman Catholic independent schools, Ampleforth College and St Martin’s Ampleforth.

The regulator’s statutory inquiry will investigate the charity trustees’ approach to safeguarding and handling of allegations of sexual abuse.

The investigation follows media reporting regarding individuals with links to Ampleforth College in connection with allegations of sexual abuse. The Commission has been engaging with the trustees on this matter since August 2016. A decision was taken to open the statutory inquiry on 15 November 2016 after considering further information from the trustees and the Commission’s statutory duties.

The inquiry will examine:

  • the administration, governance and management of the charities by the trustees and whether or not the trustees have complied with and fulfilled their duties and responsibilities as trustees under charity law
  • whether, and to what extent, there was/had been misconduct or mismanagement in the administration of the charities by the trustees
  • the charities’ handling of safeguarding matters, including the creation, development, substance and implementation of their safeguarding policy and review procedures
  • how the charities dealt with the risks to the charities and their beneficiaries arising from alleged abuse incidents, including the application of their safeguarding policy and procedures

The Commission stresses that it is not a safeguarding authority and its inquiries will not investigate allegations of abuse or actual incidents of abuse, whether historic or recent. Its concern is with the proper regulation of charities. Anyone with concerns about specific incidents of alleged abuses, whether historic or recent, regarding any charity, should report their concerns to the police and the relevant safeguarding authorities.

The Commission cannot comment further on its investigation while it is ongoing but once inquiries conclude, the regulator’s policy is to publish a report detailing what issues the inquiry looked at, what actions were undertaken as part of the inquiry and what the outcomes were. Reports of previous inquiries by the Commission are available on GOV.UK.

The charities details can be viewed on the Commission’s online charity search tool.


PR 85/16

Notes to editors

  1. The Charity Commission is the independent regulator of charities in England and Wales. To find out more about our work, see our annual report.
  2. Search for charities on our online register.
  3. Section 46 of the Charities Act 2011 gives the Commission the power to institute inquiries. The opening of an inquiry gives the Commission access to a range of investigative, protective and remedial legal powers.
  4. The Commission’s decision to announce the opening of a statutory inquiry is based on whether it is in the public interest to do so and with consideration of our objective to increase public trust and confidence in charities.

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