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Caldey Island monk sexual abuse ‘reported to abbot’

Father Thaddeus Kotik
Image caption Father Thaddeus Kotik befriended children on the island

A monk who sexually abused children on Caldey Island in the 1970s and 1980s was reported to the abbot but not to police, according to a letter seen by BBC Wales.

Brother Robert O’Brien acknowledged he knew about the abuse by Father Thaddeus Kotik in 1990 and said he had warned him of the “severe penalties”.

Dyfed-Powys Police said it received reports of the abuse in 2014 and 2016.

They investigated but could not prosecute as Kotik died in 1992.

Six women have been paid compensation in an out-of-court settlement by Caldey Abbey following the sexual abuse claims.

But there are fears there could be more victims and calls have been made for an independent inquiry by the Minister and Clergy Sexual Abuse Survivors group.

It comes as the letter from Brother Robert showed Kotik’s behaviour was known about in the monastery.

“The conduct of Father Thaddeus Kotik was a serious heartache to me and I rebuked him very sharply, urging on him the welfare of these little ones, warning him of the severe penalties this country rightly imposes,” he wrote.

Brother Robert was also aware of the methods Kotik used.

“He likes to ‘spoil’ as much as ‘be spoilt’ so won their friendship with biscuits and sweets. When I began to be anxious I forbade him to go to the (the victim’s) home,” the letter continued.

“I summoned Father Thaddeus and warned him of the wrong he was doing the children. He was very contrite, assured me it had gone no further.

“I tried to keep an eye on his goings and comings. I think he did improve a while.

“I believed that it was touches through their clothes and sadly touches by them on his body but again through his clothes. It is possible though, I hope not, that Fr Thaddeus did abuse… more seriously.

“I feel fairly sure I can prevent any repetition with the young children on the island.”

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Gaia Pope’s father makes emotional tribute

Gaia Pope’s father has made an emotional tribute to his daughter.

Police are treating the 19-year-old’s death as “unexplained” after her body was found in a field near Swanage, Dorset, on Saturday.

Her father Richard Sutherland, who said his daughter had had “a lot of issues” and “clearly just couldn’t cope with that”, said she “remains in our hearts”.

Miss Pope’s cousin Marienna Pope-Weidemann said she was determined that “lessons will be learned”.

Visibly upset, she said: “It should not have taken 11 days to find her so close and we need to know why.”

Dame Katherine Grainger urges improvements in athlete welfare

Dame Katherine Grainger is Britain’s most decorated female Olympic athlete and the first British woman to win medals at five successive Games

UK Sport chair and Olympic gold medallist Dame Katherine Grainger has urged British sports to improve athlete welfare.

Several governing bodies are embroiled in bullying allegations and Grainger said they must “rise to the challenge” of improving high-performance culture.

The 42-year-old rower, who won rowing gold at London 2012, said there was “a lot more to do” on duty of care, and that this would mean more medals, not fewer.

It comes as UK Sport releases new guidance to coaches and staff on how to treat athletes with more respect.

The funding agency says coaching staff will be given guidance on four so-called “golden threads” of a positive and winning sporting culture – inspiration, integrity, the pursuit of excellence, and respect – tailored to “12 critical moments in an athlete’s journey through their sport”.

What is the background?

UK Sport’s ‘no-compromise’ funding strategy, which allocates money according to medal potential, has been credited with transforming the country’s Olympic and Paralympic fortunes.

But months of negative headlines involving athlete complaints have raised fears that medal success has come at the expense of welfare.

Last week, British Gymnastics became the latest governing body to be dragged into the crisis, after inquiries into duty of care standards at British Cycling,British Swimming,British Canoeing,GB Taekwondo and the British Bobsleigh and Skeleton Association among others.

Commonwealth champion Dan Keatings told BBC Sport he experienced a culture of “bullying and manipulation” throughout his time as a British gymnast, and several of his former team-mates are in dispute with the governing body over their refusal to sign new contracts.

Last month, MPs on a parliamentary select committee were told that British athletes were threatened with not being selected if they spoke out about classification concerns in Paralympic sports.

Meanwhile, Jess Varnish is suing British Cycling and UK Sport after she claimed to be the victim of bullying and discrimination when she was dropped from the Olympic squad last year.

If her lawyers successfully argue that she should have had employee status as a competitor and therefore better protections, the case could have major ramifications for all contracted athletes who are funded by UK Sport.

‘There is a lot more to do’

“I recognise and accept that there have been a number of difficult issues across a range of sports in recent months that have challenged our system, and we have to rise to that challenge,” said Grainger, who became one of the most powerful figures in British sport when appointed in July.

“These issues do not take away from the achievements of our athletes and coaches, but neither can we brush them under the carpet or just hope that they go away.

“We have to aim to be the best in the world at athlete welfare, culture, governance and integrity just as we aim to be so in performance.

“And we have to be seen to be the best in order to maintain public trust and pride in our achievements.”

June 2017: Athlete welfare a huge concern – UK Sport chair Grainger

UK Sport has already appointed a new head of integrity and says it has conducted a review of policies across the high performance system.

It is also understood to be considering more funding for the British Athletes Commission.

Last week the sports minister Tracey Crouch said she was open to appointing an independent ombudsman to investigate cases of bullying and discrimination, a key recommendation of Dame Tanni Grey-Thompson’s duty of care review earlier this year.

“We have done a lot already but there is a lot more to do,” added Grainger. “In particular we have to concentrate on putting these new and improved policies into action.

“Getting our culture right is simply the right thing to do. This isn’t about putting welfare before performance because there isn’t a choice between the two.

“I genuinely believe that a better culture will lead to a stronger system and that in turn will help improve performances.”

GALLERY: Festival gives Bradford the WOW factor

ORGANISERS praised the “honesty” of Bradford and its people as a festival reflecting some of the most pressing issues facing women today took place this weekend.

The Women of the World (WOW) Festival aims to celebrate the successes of women from all walks of life, as well as tackling hard-hitting topics such as domestic abuse, body identity, and honour-based violence.

As with its inaugural appearance in Bradford last year, the 2017 event and its line-up was shaped by women from the district, including teenagers known as the ‘Wowsers.’

A packed programme, organised by the Southbank Centre, took place at the Kala Sangam arts centre with many sessions being fully subscribed.

Among the variety of speakers on Saturday were online stars Hannah Witton and Grace Victory, who spoke on the Taking on the Trolls panel, and Harnaam Kaur, who wears a beard due to her polycystic ovary syndrome and was part of a panel talking about how women are defined by their hair.

Also in the programme was a session at Bradford Cathedral focusing on international activism, a workshop entitled ‘dating with disabilities’, and a performance by Dance United, a local dance group made up of survivors of domestic abuse.

On Sunday, speakers included Samayya Afzal from the Peace Museum delivering a session on colonialism and its impact on women, and author Reni Eddo-Lodge, who spoke about the links between class and race.

There was also a panel of women who spoke about their real-life experiences of honour abuse and forced marriage, a suffra-jitsu self-defence class, and a workshop by Joanne Armitage about making music on a laptop using code.

Prior to the festival, Bradford WOW programmers Laura Brooks and Saliha Rubani said: “We are both so proud of Bradford, its capacity for change, its rich cultural diversity, and its ability to surprise people.”

Speaking yesterday, Jack Lynch, the festival’s marketing and audience development officer, said: “This has been about putting people from Bradford on an equal footing with our authors and speakers.

“So many people have been given a spotlight to tell their stories.

“The event has really celebrated the diversity of Bradford and the discussions around themes like honour have been really moving.

“The youth aspect has been great, and one of the most popular sessions was organised by the Wowsers, entitled ‘I Am Perfect As Me’. They discussed themes such as mental health and body image and the workshop was actually oversubscribed, which was amazing.

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“The event will be coming back to Bradford next year, and we are so proud of the people here and the relationships we are nurturing.

“The festival reflects Bradford in that its a very honest and down-to-earth festival, with honest stories and discussions. It’s something we want to build on here year-on-year.”

Gaia Pope: Sister says teenager was ‘light of my life’

Gaia PopeImage copyright PA
Image caption Gaia Pope was last seen in Swanage on 7 November

The sister of Gaia Pope has described the teenager as the “absolute light of my life“, after police found a body on Saturday.

Clara Pope-Sutherland said her sister was “intelligent, beautiful and emotionally wise”, in a tribute to the 19-year-old from Dorset.

The body was found at about 15:00 (GMT) near Swanage, close to where items of her clothing were found on Thursday.

Dorset Police said it was “confident” it was the missing woman.

Miss Pope had not been seen for 11 days before the discovery of the body near the coast path.

Det Supt Paul Kessell, of Dorset Police’s major crime investigation team, said a post-mortem examination would take place and forensic examinations would continue.

“This will guide the investigation in respect of the circumstances of the death, which at this time remains unexplained,” he said.

Det Supt Kessell said all the clothing had been found and the public was no longer needed to help with the searches.

He said Miss Pope’s family was being supported by specially-trained officers.

Media playback is unsupported on your device

Media captionGaia Pope’s cousin and sister spoke after the body was found

Miss Pope’s cousin, Marienna Pope-Weidemann, said: “We are absolutely devastated and unable to put those feelings of loss into words.

“Our little bird has flown, but she will always be with us.”

‘Community spirit’

The teenager’s body was discovered by police on Saturday afternoon as local people took part in three mass searches of land around Swanage.

Addressing those volunteers who searched, her sister said everyone’s hard work had been “absolutely worth it”.

It had been a “ray of light” in the nightmare, said Miss Pope-Weidemann.

During the search for Miss Pope three people were arrested on suspicion of murder and released under investigation.

They were 71-year-old Rosemary Dinch; her 49-year-old son Paul Elsey; and her 19-year-old grandson Nathan Elsey – all of whom were known to Miss Pope.

Image copyright Matt Cardy/Getty Images
Image caption Land close to where the items of clothing were found was searched

The search for Gaia Pope

Image copyright Gaia Pope

7 November: Miss Pope is driven by a family member from Langton Matravers to Swanage. At 14:55, she is caught on CCTV at St Michael’s Garage buying ice cream. The last confirmed sighting is at 16:00 at an address in Manor Gardens on Morrison Road

8 November: Her family makes a plea through police for her to make contact. Dorset Police says it is “becoming increasingly concerned”

9 November: Searches by police, the coastguard and force helicopter are carried out in the Swanage area. Miss Pope’s relatives release a statement saying they are “frantic with worry”

10 November: CCTV footage shows Miss Pope on Morrison Road, Manor Gardens, at 15:39 on 7 November

13 November: Rosemary Dinch and Nathan Elsey are arrested on suspicion of murder and released under investigation

14 November: Searches continue with the coastguard and volunteers from Dorset Search and Rescue and Wessex 4×4

15 November: CCTV images of Miss Pope at St Michael’s Garage are released. Searches continue to concentrate inland

16 November: Paul Elsey is arrested on suspicion of murder. Miss Pope’s clothing is discovered in a field near Swanage and a police cordon is set up

17 November: Mr Elsey is released under investigation

18 November: Police discover a body near the coast path and a field close to where items of her clothing were found on Thursday

Gaia Pope’s relatives pay tribute after body find

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Body found in missing Gaia Pope search

Gaia PopeImage copyright PA
Image caption Gaia Pope was last seen in Swanage on 7 November

A body has been found in the hunt for missing teenager Gaia Pope.

Dorset Police said they are “confident” the remains on land near Swanage are that of the 19-year-old, who has been missing for 11 days.

Officers made the discovery at 15:00 GMT near a coastal path and field where items of her clothing were found on Thursday.

Three people have previously been arrested on suspicion of murder and released while inquiries continue.

‘Traumatic’

Det Supt Paul Kessell said: “Although the body has yet to be formally identified, we are confident that we have found Gaia.

“Her family has been informed and are being supported by specially-trained officers. Our thoughts remain with all of her family and friends at this very traumatic time.

“They have requested privacy and that we make no further media releases at this point.”

Image copyright Matt Cardy/Getty Images
Image caption Land close to where the items of clothing were found was searched

Extensive searches have taken place to locate the teenager, who was last seen in Morrison Road on 7 November.

Since she disappeared hundreds of missing person posters have been distributed across the county and volunteers have helped scour the town.

Earlier, Miss Pope’s father, Richard Sutherland, told search teams their efforts were “heart-warming”.

Detectives have detained 71-year-old Rosemary Dinch, her 49-year-old son Paul Elsey, and her 19-year-old nephew, Nathan Elsey – all of whom were known to Miss Pope.

Police thanked the public for their help and said they no longer required their assistance.

A post-mortem examination is due to take place.

CAR REVIEW: Audi Q2

THE Q2 has brought big car features and the usual dose of Audi style to the small crossover market.

Its sharply squared LED headlights and nicely sculpted bonnet give the Q2 a vivid look that ranks among the best in class.

It’s also good to drive, roomy and offers a range of personalisation options, although it’s important to keep those tempting options in check to stop the price spiralling out of control.

Within the German giant’s ever-expanding range of crossovers, the Q2 sits below the Q3, the new Q5 and the much larger seven-seat Q7.

Behind the wheel, the Q2 is a sure-footed, sprightly and smooth performer.

The 2.0-litre TDI engine is more than sufficient for a relatively small family car, developing 148bhp and 250lb ft of torque, with the vehicle performing the sprint from 0-62mph in 8.1 seconds with a potential top speed of 131mph.

What’s more, that pace seems to be delivered effortlessly with the minimum of fuss and noise.

Meanwhile, the permanent Quattro all-wheel drive system gives the car a superbly grippy feel in the corners and was especially useful on the greasy, leaf-covered roads experienced in Yorkshire in recent weeks.

The transmission is Audi’s impressive seven-speed S tronic dual-clutch gearbox, which shifts in a seamless manner.

All in all, it makes for a relaxed, composed and confidence-inspiring driving experience, with the car being equally at home in either urban or rural environments.

In town, the short wheelbase and compact chassis mean you can easily swing the Q2 into tight parking spaces, while, out on the open road, the brisk acceleration and extra traction from four-wheel drive come into their own.

When cornering, there’s an element of predictable and safe understeer, while body roll is well contained.

With progressive steering as standard, the car adapts to the driving situation, with the steering getting quicker the more you turn the wheel. That means fewer turns of the wheel are needed when manoeuvring, but the car still feels stable at motorway speeds.

Inside, the Q2 interior is roomy enough for four adults to travel comfortably, with plenty of seating adjustment for those in the front.

The boot is also a decent size albeit a little shallow, but quite sufficient for everyday situations such as a big shop.

The quality of materials used in the cabin is generally good, being smart and subtle rather than brash and over-the-top.

This test car came with added options that brought a strong sense of sportiness – namely the stylish flat-bottomed leather-trimmed steering wheel with gear shift paddles along with the matt brushed aluminium interior inlays, costing an extra £150 each.

A more expensive, yet very pleasant option came in the form of the black and silver front sports seats with stylish stitching and Milano leather, adding a further £1,300 to the price.

For another £1,595, you can have the ‘technology pack’ including the superb Audi Virtual Cockpit, which can be viewed through two different modes – the Classic mode and Infotainment mode – presenting the driver with four key areas of information: driving information, media and on-demand information, communication and navigation.

It’s a tremendous piece of kit which brings further ease to motoring, but it also illustrates one of the key questions presented by the Q2 – when do you stop spending money on options that make a good car even better?

All in all, there’s no question that the Q2 is distinctive and versatile.

There may be nothing new about pint-sized SUVs, with the likes of the Nissan Juke and Renault Captur being well established in this market. But the Q2, which combines a premium badge with bold, Coupé-like design and allroad high ground-clearance, is bound to appeal to plenty of buyers.

Audi Q2 quattro S tronic

PRICE: £27,675 (£34,990 as tested with options)

ENGINE: 2.0-litre TDI

EMISSIONS: 125g/km

FUEL: 58.9mpg combined

PERFORMANCE: 0-62mph in 8.1 seconds and top speed of 131mph

WARRANTY: 3 years or 60,000 miles

Union protests over body cams for firefighters pilot scheme

FIREFIGHTERS in Bradford will become the first across West Yorkshire to wear body cameras in a bid to reduce attacks on crews if a new trial is given the go-ahead next week.

The Executive Committee of West Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Service (WYFRS) has been asked to approve the purchase of six Body Worn Video (BWV) devices, costing a total of £3,528, to be used at Bradford, Odsal, and Fairweather Green stations, along with one crew from Leeds.

Fire chiefs state that BWV could be an “independent witness” that would offer a visual deterrent to those predisposed to attacking firefighters, but the planned trial is not being supported by union groups.

The Fire Brigades Union (FBU) stated that the cameras would provide “worthless” recording and be like a “red rag to a bull” to attackers, with the Fire Officers Association expressing concerns over “trust in the use of the footage.”

A report due to go before the committee on Wednesday states that the four stations had been chosen for the trial due to recording “significantly higher” levels of attacks on crews over the past three years in comparison to other areas of the county.

In January, WYFRS set up an Attacks on Firefighters Working Group in response to a rise in attacks over the previous year, with a particular on and around the Bonfire Night period.

In 2016/17, crews in the Bradford district were subjected to 39 recorded attacks, up from 31 in 2015/16, an increase of 26 per cent.

Although 26 attacks were said to have involved the throwing of missiles from a distance labelled ‘unknown’, 12 were recorded as objects being thrown from less than 10m away, incidents that WYFRS hope could be captured by BWV.

The report states: “It is proposed that a limited and controlled trial of BWVs will assist WYFRS understand the benefits they offer, as well as the most effective and efficient deployment options prior to any consideration of a service-wide roll out of the technology.

“Footage from appliance-mounted cameras does not provide the service with the evidential quality images required to secure conviction of those who undertake such attacks on our staff.

“The approach to reducing these attacks is multi-faceted, and no single intervention is likely to solve the problem. Safety of our staff at operational incidents is paramount, and a trial of BWV will provide an evidence base of the success, or otherwise, of such an intervention.

“The success criteria will be a reduction of attacks on firefighters, specifically those that are within close proximity, and evidence capture of a sufficient quality to enable the assailants to be identified to support prosecutions.”

WYFRS states that before BWV could be used in a public arena, a “set of operational protocols” would need to be established.

Outlining one policy, the report states: “Where practicable, the user should make a verbal announcement to indicate that the BWV equipment is in use, this should be made using clear language such as ‘video and audio recording is taking place.’ The visual indicator that recording is being carried out can itself act as a deterrent to would-be attackers.”

As part of its research into the use of BWV, the working group states it has received positive feedback from three partner agencies – West Yorkshire Police, Bradford Council, and Leeds Teaching Hospitals – who have reported improvements in staff safety following the adoption of the technology.

The report states that in the case of the Council, approximately 75 staff in the wardens and enforcement Team have already been issued BWV, with the cameras set to be introduced to the authority’s taxi licensing officers, bailiffs, and housing and environmental health officers.

Amjad Ishaq, the Council’s environmental services and enforcement manager, said in the report that BMV had produced “an amazing effect in reducing aggression and hostility towards staff.”

WYFRS states it acknowledges that the proposed trial has proved “contentious” with representative bodies, and the FBU said that utilising BWV would only “ostracise the communities we are trying to engage in.”

David Williams, secretary of the FBU in West Yorkshire, said: “It’s blatantly obvious that it won’t work.

“You shouting at someone that you’re recording them is not going to make them put down that firework or missile. If anything, it could be like waving a red rag to a bull.

“We’ve gone from discretely capturing video footage on appliances to now actively wearing cameras and declaring it.

“Most attacks against us are from a distance so this won’t make an ounce of difference.”

Mr Williams said that the union’s real concern over the trial was a further increase of recording and CCTV, which he said was already “phenomenally” overused.

Despite a reassurance that any BWV footage would only be used appropriately, he said: “We already have 560 pieces of audio recording equipment for less than 1,000 firefighters.

“Recently, a watch manager has been dismissed for something that he said.

“Being a firefighter is a fraught and anxious working environment. If you are being attacked for simply doing your job, then inappropriate language can sometimes be used.

“These recordings could see members dismissed left, right, and centre for being put in an untenable position.

“Alternatively, firefighters will not report attacks for fears of repercussions from what might have been said.

“I’ve said it time and time again, this is not a good idea and the executive should listen to the FBU and scrap it.”

Grammar school row head resigns

Aydin OnacImage copyright St Olave’s school
Image caption Head teacher Aydin Önaç has now resigned

The head of a grammar school at the centre of a row about pupils being forced to leave before their A-levels has resigned.

Aydin Önaç, headmaster of St Olave’s Grammar School in Orpington, south east London, will leave his post at Christmas, a letter to parents said.

Mr Önaç was suspended by the school’s governing body last month.

Parents began legal action over the A-level exclusions but the school later backed down and let the pupils return.

St Olave’s is one of England‘s top-performing grammar schools, with pupils selected on academic ability.

In September, a group of sixth-formers who did not get high enough grades at AS-level were told they would not be allowed to return to do their A-levels.

In the letter to parents, sent late on Friday afternoon, acting head Andrew Rees said the headmaster was departing for “personal reasons”.

“He leaves, with great sadness, a school which is now regarded as one of the nation’s most outstanding schools and one in which parents and pupils can have great pride and confidence.

“Mr Önaç would like to thank all those governors, staff, parents and students who have supported him over the last seven years and extends his very best wishes to them for the future.”

Parent Andrew Gebbett, who has two sons at the school, expressed relief at Mr Önaç’s decision to leave.

“The school can now move on,” he said.

Image copyright PA
Image caption St Olave’s was at the centre of a controversy over pupils being removed from the school before A-levels

One parent of a pupil affected by the exclusions but who has now left the school added: “There will be a lot of people who will be breaking open bottles of champagne tonight.

“You reap what you sow.”

The parent, who asked not to be named, said it was appropriate that the school’s motto was “‘to right the wrong’ – and that’s what’s been done”.

Another parent in a similar position said she hoped the council‘s continuing investigation into the matter “is robust and continues to be robust”.

She said it was a shame that parents had had to resort to legal action and the media but “if we had taken the regular channels, nothing would have happened”.