The Sunday Telegraph

Catholic Church triples the size of payout to Tolkien abuse victim

- AfBy Catherine Pepinster

HUNDREDS of people abused by Catholic clergy could be in line for larger compensati­on payouts after a landmark decision by the Archbishop of Birmingham.

The Sunday Telegraph can reveal that the Church has agreed to triple the compensati­on paid to a survivor of abuse by Father John Tolkien, the son of JRR Tolkien.

The Archdioces­e of Birmingham took the unpreceden­ted decision to reopen previous financial settlement­s to two abuse victims, a year after it was severely criticised by the Independen­t Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse (IICSA) for its handling of cases.

Compensati­on is normally after claims are settled on a full and final basis, but the Archdioces­e has agreed that it needed to rectify further what happened to two victims. Lawyers told The Telegraph the decision could pave the way for other compensati­on cases to be reopened. Richard Scorer, a specialist lawyer on abuse at Slater and Gordon, said it was the first time in his 25 years dealing with cases involving the Catholic Church that it had increased the financial reparation to a victim after a case had been settled.

“They have recognised their conduct was wrong. It may well pave the way for other survivors to seek further compensati­on,” Mr Scorer said.

Around 750 survivors of abuse by Catholic priests in England and Wales have been paid on average £10,000 compensati­on each. If this were tripled, it could mean the Church paying out more than £22million.

Tolkien targeted young boys, often dressing up his abuse in a quasi-religious ceremony with his victims surrounded by candles. His victim, whose compensati­on was tripled to £15,000, wants to see a road in Stoke-on-Trent, named Tolkien Way after the priest, renamed. The IICSA report into Birmingham found that more than 130 allegation­s of child sexual abuse were made against 78 individual­s associated with the Archdioces­e over 75 years. Of those, Fr Tolkien, who died in 2003, was among the most serious offenders.

The decision to triple the compensati­on was made by the Archbishop of Birmingham, Bernard Longley.

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