'We Will Win The Ultimate War': Hundreds Seek Compensation From Catholic Church For Alleged Children's Home Abuse

The Vatican, centre of the Catholic Church which faces a potential multi-million pound payout over alleged sexual abuse at a care home in East Yorkshire.Reuters

A lawyer representing 249 men who are seeking compensation for alleged sexual abuse at a Catholic children's home has vowed to continue with a multi-million pound compensation claim despite a judge dismissing three out of the four first test cases.

Judgement in a fifth case will be given next month, after the high court in Leeds awarded one of the claimants £14,000 in compensation and ruled against three other men.

"[I am] disappointed that the judge did not see through all these arguments about minor inconsistencies but this is a skirmish, we will win the ultimate war," said the men's lawyer, David Greenwood of Switalskis outside court. "There are 245 cases still to go, so I'm very confident we will succeed."

The claims were made against the Diocese of Middlesbrough and the De La Salle Institute which ran the St William's children's home in Market Weighton, East Yorkshire.

The civil case followed the imprisonment earlier this year of the home's former principal and chaplain for sexual offences against 11 boys between 1970 and 1991.

In the third time he was imprisoned for sexually abusing boys at the home, the former principal, James Carragher was jailed for 15 years over 21 indecent assaults and three serious sex offences while being cleared of a further 30 charges.

The former chaplain, Anthony MacCallen was convicted of 11 charges, including a serious sexual offence, and acquitted of eight others.

The residential school, which closed in 1992, took boys from troubled backgrounds referred by local authorities.

The civil action was launched in 2004 but was delayed by a dispute between the diocese and brotherhood over which was liable for compensation of up to £8m.

Eventually, in 2012, the supreme court ruled that both were liable.

One survivor, Nigel Feeley, told the BBC that he had lived through a nightmare. "He had the power. You couldn't get away from it. You had to live the nightmare," he said. "You couldn't scream at him and say go away, get off me, because he had the power."

Today, Greenwood added: "I would say, obviously, on the central issue of whether it happened or not, there was compelling evidence given by all four, all five, of these claimants, and that should be the main issue that we are talking about...There was a lot of sexual abuse going on at St William's and these boys deserve justice."

Another set of compensation claims is expected to go before the High Court in late 2017.

In previous statements, both the Diocese of Middlesbrough and the De La Salle brotherhood have publicly condemned abuse.