Church dossier helped us snare paedophile priest, police officer tells LBC

12 February 2021, 12:35

Joseph Quigley was jailed for more than 11 years in January
Joseph Quigley was jailed for more than 11 years in January. Picture: Paul Beard/BPM media

By Lindsey Alder

A police officer has told LBC a priest convicted of child sex abuse was only caught when information held by the Catholic church was eventually brought to them by his victim.

Joseph Quigley was jailed for more than 11 years in January for abusing a teenage boy whilst working in the clergy in the West Midlands.

He was a priest in Warwick and working as a private tutor when he carried out the attacks between 2006 and 2009.

The victim, who was under 16 when it happened, reported it to the Archdiocese of Birmingham in 2012 but the full details were not passed onto police - despite an earlier allegation about him to the church in 2008.

It took him another 6 years before he had the courage to come forward to the police himself.

Lead investigator DS Abigail Simpson from Warwickshire Police said examining the church's safeguarding file on Quigley was eye-opening.

“Certainly for us it was a pivotal point in the investigation as there was a lot of evidence found within those files that really…supported that these offences had occurred and that Mr Quigley did have an unhealthy sexual interest in young people”.

“I think if the police had been notified at the time these offences were reported (2012), then absolutely we could have investigated earlier.

"I think it’s difficult to answer (whether he would have been brought to justice had the victim not come forward) but ultimately I think it would have been incredibly difficult because the police weren’t aware of all of the issues that had occurred throughout his career… so absolutely if the victim hadn’t come forward I don’t believe we would have been in a position to carry out an investigation because we simply didn’t know”.

In 2009 Quigley was sent for treatment in America but it took till 2012 for the Archdiocese to notify police of concerns about him.

But the Warwickshire force tell LBC that at this time, no details of victims were offered and no formal complaint was made.

Tamina Greaves was the chief prosecutor on the case - she told LBC the information held by the church was vital evidence:

“What those files demonstrated was that the defendant had actually accepted the physical assaults, accepted that he had behaved inappropriately in a sexual manner.

"What this case demonstrates is that it doesn’t matter how long ago an incident has happened, it doesn’t matter who you are, it doesn’t matter if you’re a priest. Nobody is above the law and if the evidence is there, no matter what your standing is in the community, we will prosecute. I hope that encourages victims to come forward.”

Almost 2 years ago a review looked at cases of Archdiocese of Birmingham staff convicted of abuse - stating “the plight of victims was ignored or swept under the carpet to protect the Church's reputation…and they could have been stopped much earlier”.

The Quigley case wasn't included in this report as it was an active investigation.

Richard Scorer is his victim's lawyer - he says the Archdiocese now need to own up to their mistakes:

“How do we have a situation where they knew about this man in 2008, but it wasn’t for 10 years till we have a police investigation happening?

"Why was it that after they’d sent Quigley abroad for treatment do we have a situation where he’s still involved in school inspections apparently?

"It’s incredibly important if they want to be taken seriously in relation to child protection and they want people to trust them then they have to come out now and give an open and transparent and honest account of what’s happened.”

The Archdiocese of Birmingham have apologised in a statement - calling Quigley's crimes “deplorable and unacceptable”, adding they will “learn from any failings so nothing like this ever happens again”.

They've also commissioned Barnardo's to undertake an independent review of the church's actions.

Here’s their additional statement relating to the claims that the police weren’t properly notified in 2012:

“In 2012, the Archdiocese notified West Midlands Police of the allegations against Joseph Quigley. The Archdiocese was informed that West Midlands Police logged the allegations as intelligence and had passed the allegations to Warwickshire Police.

The allegations were also referred by the Archdiocese to the Local Authority Designated Officers (LADO) of both Birmingham and Warwickshire.

As evidenced in court, the allegations which led to conviction were made to Diocesan staff in 2012.

Records show that, separately, in 2008 a complaint was made, initially by a third party, concerning aspects of a relationship between a man and Joseph Quigley. The man was interviewed and it became apparent that he may have had contact with Joseph Quigley while a sixth form student at a school at which Joseph Quigley was chaplain.

The complaint was considered by the Archdiocese of Birmingham’s Safeguarding Officer and Safeguarding Commission. Advice was sought from the police, in the person of a member of the Commission who was a serving officer. A serving probation officer was also a member of the Commission.

The decision was made that the matter should be referred to the Children’s Services manager who had responsibility for those in positions of trust.

Joseph Quigley was removed from parish ministry and following assessment was sent, in early 2009, for therapeutic intervention at the St Luke’s Centre in the USA, returning in the summer of 2009.

No charges were brought against Joseph Quigley in respect of this complaint."

Detective Chief Inspector Jon Belcher from Warwickshire Police said: “We received an intelligence report in 2012 which detailed concerns raised by the church surrounding Joseph Quigley’s behaviour, however no details of any victims were provided nor was any formal complaint about Quigley made.

"Following on from receiving this information and in line with our safeguarding procedures, Warwickshire Police made a referral to the Warwickshire LADO.

"In December 2018, the victim in this case came forward and reported Quigley to Warwickshire Police and an investigation was launched which saw Quigley convicted of his crimes on 3 December.”

West Midlands Police said: “We received intelligence regarding a 56-year-old man in 2012. This information was passed to the Local Authorities Designated Officer (LADO) who deal with issues surrounding people in a position of trust, as well as passed to the investigating force.”

Warwickshire LADO (Local Authority Designated Officers) said in a statement: "The victim in this case was exceptionally brave coming forward with information which led to this man's conviction. I hope they may find some closure and that others may be reassured that it is never too late to report such crimes.

In 2012 Warwickshire LADO was contacted by the church regarding Joseph Quigley’s behaviour. No victim details or specific allegations relating to Warwickshire were given and no formal complaint was raised so it was not possible to take the investigation further. When the victim came forward in December 2018 the council supported the investigation which led to this conviction."

There is no current timeline for the independent review from Barnardos on the Archdiocese of Birmingham’s actions in this case. We await further notification from the Archdiocese on when this is likely to be published.