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Abuse lawyer sets up in Britain

12 January 2011

by Ed Thornton

A HIGH-profile lawyer from the United States, who has filed thousands of lawsuits against the Roman Catholic Church on behalf of survivors of sexual abuse by clergy, has set up a new law firm in the UK.

Jeff Anderson, who is based in Minnesota, has formed a partnership with Ann Olivarius, a solicitor in London. The firm, Jeff Anderson — Ann Olivarius Law, intends to act on behalf of survivors of sexual abuse in the UK.

At a press conference in London on Tuesday, Mr Anderson said: “It is our hope and our plan to use the legal system here . . . to get help and justice for those who have been wounded and harmed, and with them to do what we can to protect others.”

The firm does not have any cases against Anglican clerics, but the firm is “evaluating a number of situations, and [is] eager to work with the survivors as they come forward”.

Ms Olivarius said: “If you followed the clergy-abuse scandal as it grew in the United States, it was clear that, if not for Jeff Anderson, the Catholic Church hierarchy and its clergy might have never been held responsible as they are today. It seemed to me we needed the same kind of pressure for justice and ac­countability on this side of the Atlantic.”

Peter Saunders, the chief executive of the National Association of People Abused in Childhood, said his Christian faith inspired him to campaign for victims of sexual abuse. “The two big institutions we are up against are the institution of the Church, not just the [Roman] Catholic Church, which generally has a pretty grim record of making life easy for abusers; and the family, which is where most children suffer abuse.”

In the autumn, a High Court judge was appointed to investigate claims that two Anglican priests were allowed to continue working at churches in the Chichester diocese, after serious allegations of sexual abuse had been made against them (News, 29 October 2010).

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