Page 1, 30th March 2001

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Page 1, 30th March 2001 — Oratory school cleared after police probe
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Oratory school cleared after police probe

By Simon Caldwell

AN INVESTIGATION into child abuse claims against a former chaplain of the Catholic school where the Prime Minister sends two of his children is expected to be abandoned this week.

The London Oratory became the focus of a major probe after Fr David Martin was accused in a series of anonymous letters sent to newspapers, Cardinal Cormac MurphyO'Connor, and Lord Nolan, chairman of the Church's review of child protection procedures.

However, it is believed detectives did not receive a single complaint from any pupil in the course of their inquiries.

Sources also told The Catholic Herald that most of the children did not even know of Fr Martin, who died in 1998 of bronchopneumonia, since he visited the school just once a week to celebrate Mass for the younger pupils.

Ironically, the allegations against him related to the much older sixth form students who. it was claimed, would visit him in his room at the Church of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, also known as the Oratory, on Brompton Road, London.

A former friend, who did not wish to be named, said: "It was total nonsense."

A spokeswoman for Hammersmith and Fulham Council confirmed that the social services' investigation would be concluding "fairly soon" and said a statement would be issued later next week.

A Metropolitan Police spokeswoman said officers already considered their investigation to be "inactive". She said: "The allegations were made in October. There is no evidence at this stage that we need to continue investigating them. No further allegations have come out of the allegations. They appear to have been all contained in the initial letters."

She added: "If any further evidence conies in, we will look at it. The police will never close down a file unless we have got somebody charged and convicted."

Sources claim officers are now trying to trace the authors of the letters, but the police have refused to either confirm or deny the rumours since the informa

tion was "not in the public domain".

Fr Martin, who was 44 when he died in the Catholic Hospital of St John and St Elizabeth, St John's Wood, London, was junior house chaplain and governor of the boys' school — where Tony Blair and his wife Cherie send sons Euan and Nicholas.

He was also believed to have been a homosexual and it was claimed his illness was AIDS-related.

The allegations made front page headlines when the story broke in December. The Church was also severely criticised after it emerged that Fr Martin was ordained at the Oratory in 1994, by the late Cardinal Basil Hume, although he had admitted in 1991 he was I-11V positive.

Fr Martin, a Scot who was raised in a Baptist family, worked as a stockbroker in the City before he converted to Catholicism in 1980. Six years later he became a novice with the Rosminians then joined the Oratorians as a novice in 1988.

John McIntosh, head of the Oratory, was unavailable for comment.

Editoral Comment — p7




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