Source: Jordans Solicitors published on this site Tuesday 11thAugust 2020 by Jill Powell
From a blog by Jane Matthews
Michael Studdert, former Anglian Priest died in August 2017 aged 78 with an estate of approximately £35 million.
Studdert was convicted on 3 occasions of offences relating to the possession, importing and making or distribution of indecent images between 1988 and 2006. He was sentenced to jail in 2006 with Thomas O’Carroll, the founder of Paedophile Information Exchange, after over 100,000 indecent images were found in his home.
Shortly after this conviction, Studdert was banned from exercising any Priestly function within the Church for the rest of his life.
Studdert left almost £5 million in his will to the EAC Educational Trust which is a registered Charity he set up in 1985 to “relieve poverty and to advice education to the benefit of the pubic and particularly amongst the families of the Clergy and Church of England, single parent families and other poor families.”
A High Court Judge has Ordered that the executors of his estate not to distribute his estate until investigations of potential victims of abuse have been made. Whilst Studdert was never convicted of sexual assaults on a child, the Judge said, “he is satisfied that Studdert had committed historic sexual assaults in England and Wales.”
A firm of Solicitors who were appointed to manage his estate compiled evidence, which showed “that Studdert was likely to have had sexual contact with children in Poland, where he had strong connections and also travelled with O’Carroll extensively in Eastern Europe.”
Studdert’s executors applied to the High Court because “they were rightly concerned that the estate might be subject to claims from survivors of historic abuse.”
A series of hearing took place between January 2019 and April 2019 and the Court found:
‘There is a real prospect that the deceased may have committed historic sexual assault both within the jurisdiction of England and Wales and outside the said jurisdiction in Eastern Europe, and in particular within Poland.
The Court also found that these historic assaults may have given rise to personal injury claims against the deceased and hence his estate, although no claims have been intimated and the (executors) are not aware of the identity of any possible Claimants.”
The executors were also Ordered to contact the Police and the Church of England to establish whether there was any further information about potential abuse by Studdert.
They have also been Ordered to ‘create dedicated websites’ in English, Polish, Danish and Italian with details of Studdert’s date of death and criminal convictions, as well as advertising the website on Twitter, Facebook, and Wikipedia.”
The Judge concluded:
‘It remains to be seen what emerges from the steps that are taken by the (executors).
‘It is clear, however, that a complete bar on the distribution of the estate should not remain in place indefinitely.’
‘Consideration may be given to setting up a compensation scheme if one is warranted.’
The website set up by Studdert’s executors is available at www.michaelstuddert.org Jordans Solicitors help victims of child abuse
If you have been a victim of child abuse, and would like to speak to one of our Specialist Abuse Lawyers in confidence, please do not hesitate to contact us.
We can advise you on the available options for pursuing a civil claim for compensation.
Jordans Solicitors successfully represent and have secured compensation for numerous victims of abuse.
And we are experts in overcoming the particular challenges that arise in these sensitive cases.
Our Abuse Team can be contacted on 0800 955 5094 or 033 0300 1103 for a free and confidential initial consultation.