THE abuse exposed by the jailing of a former Winchester churchman shows the importance of a Church of England 'redress' scheme.

Specialist lawyers say the conviction and jailing for 16 years of Clive McCleester earlier this month shows the "desperate need" for a Church redress scheme.

McCleester, 76, formerly of the Hospital of St Cross, was head verger at Winchester Cathedral in the 1990s. He was convicted for the abuse of a boy at Tylney Hall School in north Hampshire in the 1960s and 70s and that of a boy at Southwark Cathedral between 1984-87.

The police have urged other victims of McCleester to come forward.

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Hywel Thomas, a specialist abuse lawyer at Simpson Millar, said there is a "desperate need" for a scheme to help people who experienced abuse by someone representing the Church to be bought in as quickly as possible.

A proposed redress scheme was announced by the Church of England last month, which said it had set aside £150m in funds to provide financial compensation as well as a range of wider support and, where possible, an apology from the institution where the abuse took place.

While abuse survivors are currently able to bring a civil claim against the employer of their attacker, including individuals who worked for the Church, the Church of England’s proposed redress scheme is intended to demonstrate that the Church is truly sorry for its past failings relating to safeguarding.

Mr Thomas said: “Like many abuse cases, Clive McCleester took advantage of his role working both within a school and within the church to abuse boys. While his recent conviction will provide some limited comfort to his victims, his despicable actions will continue to have a significant impact on the lives of those he attacked.

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“What is particularly concerning are the reports suggesting that McCleester’s behaviour had come under scrutiny previously and, like the police, if there are any further victims we would urge them to come forward to get the support that they need and are entitled to.

“Anyone who has been affected may also be able to bring a civil claim for compensation against the Church, which can provide them with vital funds that can help them to access the help needed to rebuild their lives following the abuse that they endured.

“However, this case also demonstrates the need for a redress scheme, which also holds the Church to account for its safeguarding failures.”

Speaking after the conviction, a spokesperson for the Diocese of Southwark offered a "full and unreserved apology to all those affected by this matter, and we commend the bravery of those who brought this to light".

Mr Thomas added: “The apology from the Church will be well meant, but words mean little to many of our clients who feel badly let down by the very institutions that were supposed to protect them.

“It is absolutely essential that the proposed redress scheme which will provide financial payments alongside therapeutic, spiritual and emotional support, as well as acknowledgment of wrongdoing and an apology, is introduced as quickly as possible.”

Simpson Millar’s Abuse Team has been helping survivors of abuse for more than 30 years to bring a civil claim against their attacker’s employer, or a criminal injuries claim.

The firm has helped many survivors bring a successful claim even if the abuse happened many years ago, allowing them to get the closure and justice they deserve.

If you or a member of your family suffered abuse as a result of the actions of Clive McCleester you can contact Simpson Millar for free confidential advice.