THE VATICAN has ordered an inquiry into sexual abuse at Ealing Abbey, the first of it kind in Britain, after decades of mistreatment of children.
A number of priests and lay teachers at St Benedict's School in nearby Eaton Rise, have been linked to the scandal, the subject of three previous inquiries.
They include Father Laurence Soper currently on the run after failing to appear at a police station for questioning in March. The 81-year-old taught at St Benedict's between 1972 and 1984 and was abbot of the abbey, in Charlbury Grove, for nine years from 1991.
And Father David Pearce who was jailed for eight years, later cut to five at appeal, for a campaign of abuse between 1972 and 2007, some of this time as head of the junior section of the school.
Despite one of his victims receiving compensation and being put on restricted ministry, Pearce was able to strike one more time before his arrest.
A report by the Charity Commission in January 2010 attacked the abbey's handling of the priest and its failure to protect children.
It was followed months later by an emergency visit to St Benedict's by the Independent School's Inspectorate which criticised its child protection measures.
After that the school commissioned a review by Lord Carlile of Berriew QC whose findings will be published at the end of the month.
The latest inquiry has been ordered by the Vatican's Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. It is led by Bishop Arnold, an auxiliary bishop of Westminster and Father Richard Yeo, president of the English Benedictine Congregation.
A spokesman for the Diocese of Westminster said they visited the abbey last month but could not say when the inquiry would be completed, nor whether the findings would be made public.
He added: "The Vatican will decide what actions, if any, need to be taken.
"The effective safeguarding of children and vulnerable adults is a priority for the Catholic church and Ealing Abbey’s safeguarding policies and procedures formed part of the remit of the Apostolic Visitation. "
Ealing Abbey could not be contacted for comment.