Now available

Conspiracy Of Faith: Fighting for Justice after Child Abuse
By Graham Wilmer

The true story of the author's search for justice following his abuse as a child by a teacher at his Catholic school, revealing the difficulties of prosecuting paedophiles within a Church that too often refuses to face up to the problem.

ISBN: 071883058X
Specifications: 234x156mm, 160pp, Paperback
Price: £12.50 • US$25.00
Publication: February 2007

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About this Book

In this powerful book, Graham Wilmer recounts the traumatic experience of being sexually abused as a child by a teacher at the Salesian College in Chertsey, Surrey, and explores the life-long impact that child abuse has on males. He exposes the Salesians in the UK who failed to report the abuse and protected the teacher, painting a disturbing picture of the ineptitude and incompetence of the police, the CPS (Crown Prosecuting Service), central and local government, NASUWT (The National Association of Schoolmasters Union of Women Teachers), the Roman Catholic Church, and the criminal justice system in their collective failures to act when he finally disclosed what had happened.

Despite the recommendations of the Nolan Enquiry into child abuse in the Roman Catholic Church in England and Wales, and the recommendations of the Bichard Enquiry, Graham Wilmer’s story shows just how difficult it is to prosecute teachers who abuse children in Roman Catholic schools.

This is a brave account by a man who suffered in forced silence for forty years until finally making the difficult decision to lay bare the truth, seek justice and bring those who had conspired against him to account. It raises many important issues about the way our society deals with sexual offences against children, and draws the disturbing conclusion that the vast majority of child abusers still operate with impunity, and will continue to do so unless the criminal justice system is radically changed in favour of the victims of abuse rather than the perpetrators.

This is the only book dealing with sexual abuse in a Salesian school. Although it may make you angry, it is not without hope, and will help others who have been through similarly traumatic times at such a young age.

The Lutterworth Press
PO Box 60, Cambridge, CB1 2NT, England
Tel: +44 (0) 1223 350865   Fax: +44 (0) 1223 366951

Press reviews

Extract from The Mill Hill & Edgware Times - February 7th 2007 and This is Hertfordshire News

‘I abused boy’

A retired teacher from Mill Hill has admitted he sexually abused one of his young pupils 40 years ago - despite never being convicted of any offence.

In an interview with this newspaper, Hugh Madley, 63, of Hale Lane, confessed he indecently assaulted the boy at Salesian College, a Catholic boys' grammar school he taught at in Chertsey, Surrey.

His victim, Graham Wilmer, now aged 55, says Mr Madley sexually abused him over a two-year period between 1966 and 1968, when he was aged between 14 and 16 - and was twice taken to Mr Madley's Mill Hill home to be abused.

Mr Madley was questioned by police in 2000 and 2004 about the claims and was due to be tried in 2005, but the case collapsed over a legal technicality.

But on Tuesday - after learning Mr Wilmer has written a book detailing his experiences and naming him as his abuser - Mr Madley confessed that he had sexually abused Mr Wilmer, but said he did not remember doing so.

Asked by this newspaper if Mr Wilmer's claims were true, he said: "I think so, I'm afraid it might have happened. I was prepared to go to prison for it. I'm not 100 per cent sure what's true and what isn't now."

Mr Madley, who is unmarried and suffers severe depression, went on to admit he had indecently assaulted Mr Wilmer, but said he did not believe he had sex with him.

"I wish I could get it clear in my own mind, I must have done it. Why would he say it if it wasn't true?

"I think I did it. I can't imagine he would carry on pursuing the matter if it didn't happen. I wish I could replay it in my mind."

When asked if he might have unconsciously blocked out the painful memories from his mind, he said: "That's what my psychologist said.

"I care about people. The thought of harming people - I'm just not like that."

The former teacher, who at times spoke in disjointed sentences and occasionally broke down during the interview, said he wants to meet Mr Wilmer to help remember what had happened and to help' Mr Wilmer - but he has been told by his solicitor he must not do so.

Mr Madley denied sexually abusing other children and insisted he posed no risk.

Detective Constable John Hobbs, who led the 2004 investigation, agreed Mr Madley was unlikely to carry out further offences, but only because of his age and failing mental health.

Mr Wilmer, who is married with three children, said a nervous breakdown he suffered in 1998 led him to pursue Mr Madley through the courts.

His book, Conspiracy Of Faith: Fighting for Justice after Child Abuse, due to be published by Lutterworth Press on February 22, details his struggle to see justice done.

Mr Wilmer said he felt a degree of sympathy' for Mr Madley at one time, but that evaporated after Mr Madley was prepared to contest the abuse claims in court despite initially admitting his guilt to police.

He said: "He was prepared to put me through a cross-examination, allowing the defence counsel to rummage through my life. The little sympathy was snuffed out after that. I felt intense levels of hatred and I'm still extremely angry he changed his plea."

Extract from Surrey Herald Wednesday, 28th February, 2007

THE horrors of child abuse and the toll it exacts on its victims have been
laid bare in an explosive new book called Conspiracy of Faith. In it,
author Graham Wilmer claims he was sexually abused for two years by a
teacher at Salesian College in Chertsey during the 1960s. STEVE BAX

IT was the dead of night in a remote part of South Wales and 15-year-old
Graham Wilmer stood with a shotgun in his trembling hands.Hugh Madley, the man he hated with a passion, had just taken a shot at a group of rabbits and left the weapon in the boy's hands while he inspected
the area where the creatures had been.
     Madley, then a teacher at Salesian College in Highfield Road, Chertsey
(where Salesian School is now based) had persuaded Graham's parents to
allow the teenager to accompany him on a camping holiday. Graham's heart was filled with dread at the thought that "something awful was about to happen" but he could not bring himself to use the gun against the man he would one day accuse in court of molesting him.
     After rain put paid to their plans to sleep in a tent, the pair went into a
derelict cottage and lit a fire. It was here that Graham alleges, Madley
raped him for the first of many times.
     Now 55 and married with three children, Graham lives in Merseyside and has
written an account of his struggle to come to terms with child abuse, in
his book Conspiracy Of Faith which published on February 22.
     It also makes serious allegations against the Salesian priests who ran the
school, whom the author accuses of "betrayal" by withholding the matter
from his parents and transferring Madley to another school.
     Graham had joined the school in September 1963 and flourished academically
in his first three years, despite the school's ethos of strict religious
discipline and corporal punishment.
     He told the Herald: "It wasn't until September 1966 that Madley arrived as
the new chemistry teacher. He befriended me very early and would offer me
lifts to my home in Pyrford on his motorbike.
     "His grooming technique was isolating me from my circle of friends, and
whenever they would approach in the playground he would get close to me and
try to dismiss them."
     Madley persuaded Graham's parents, who are both still alive, that their son
would require extra curricular tuition in mathematics if he was to become
an engineer, and offered his services.
     Graham added: "After a while he persuaded my mother that, because I had
younger sisters, it was too noisy and it would be better if he could teach
me in my bedroom.
     "That's when the systematic abuse started and it never stopped. To begin
with it was just masturbation - it wasn't until he took me down to the
cottage in Wales that he raped me.
     "During the journey I knew something awful would to happen. But he had such
control over me, I'd resigned myself to my fate. I couldn't see any way out
of it.
     "The biggest weapon he used was my friends Martin Allen and his sister
Nicky. I was hopelessly in love with Nicky and had gone out with her for
six months.
     "Madley kept saying, if you tell anybody they won't believe you and if
Nicky won't believe you. You will be shunned and outcast. I felt
helplessness and as though there was no way out."
     In 1968, Graham's friend Martin was tragically killed while playing rugby
for Salesian College and ignited a chain of events that would bring the
abuse to an end.
     Martin's parents asked Graham to play a part in the funeral service that
would have involved him taking Holy Communion. The teenager, believing he
had sinned in the eyes of his religion because of homosexual acts with
Madley, gave a confession to his housemaster Father Madden.
     The priest encouraged him to repeat the allegations outside of confession
so that the school could deal with them, and soon Graham was brought before
headmaster Father O'Shea and a man, he now believes to be the provincial
rector of the Salesian Order - "the head honcho".
     Graham said in the book "I was given strict instructions not to talk to
anyone about the matter, including my parents", and that the school would
"deal with things".
     Madley confessed to the Salesians and was transferred to a school in
Battersea, while Graham failed his exams due to psychological truama and
was told by Father O'Shea he could not repeat his fifth year.
     For the next 30 years he kept the experience bottled-up in his mind, and
told no-one in his family, not even his wife Barbara and three children,
Rory, now 28, Eve, now 24, and Zachary, now 22.
     But in February 1997 the memories resurfaced when Graham was part of a
public relations team which had to deal with allegations of sexual abuse
against an eight-year-old girl at a psychiatric hospital.
     He suffered a breakdown, received counselling, and initiated legal
proceedings against Madley and the Salesian Order. In 2000, the Crown
Prosecution Service (CPS) decided there was insufficient evidence to
proceed to court, and Graham accepted a £20,000 compensation payment from
the Salesians.
     He said: "The Salesians decided they didn't want me to sue them and we had
lots of meetings. They gave me money and made me sign a hush agreement. I
accepted it hoping it would bring me closure."
     Instead Graham continued to wrestle with his demons, and following
conviction of Ian Huntley for the Soham murders in 2003, he decided to try
to get Madley placed on a sex offenders list.
     Graham convinced the Salesian Order to allow him to proceed with a new
legal bid, and Madley was arrested by Surrey Police and allegedly confessed
to abusing Graham at interview in October 2004.
     He was charged with three counts of indecency with a child and one specimen
count of buggery with a child, under the 1963 Sex Offences Act.
     But the following September the case collapsed at Guildford Crown Court,
when Madley's defence persuaded the trial judge that he had requested a
solicitor at his interview and none was provided.
     The alleged confession was deemed inadmissable as evidence.
So Graham resolved to write Conspiracy of Faith, naming Madley and the
school, and found a Cambridge-based publisher, Lutterworth Press, who were
prepared to print the book.
      The Salesian Order chose not to halt the book through an injunction but
instead, asked for changes to the text, which the author agreed to. Graham added: "My book is something they would rather not have floating
about but the right course of action now is for them to say we did it and
we are sorry."
     The Herald telephoned Madley at his home in Hale Lane, Mill Hill, London,
to give him an opportunity to comment on the allegations in the book. He
said he not a well man and did not wish to comment.
     Sharon Boyce from Saunders Solicitors said on his behalf: "My client has
nothing more to add. I can say that the trial collapsed due to an abuse of
process - the police did not act in accordance with the law.
     The Salesians of Don Bosco issued a statement expressing regret for the way the matter was handled in 1968 - but stopped short of apologising to Mr Wilmer. They stated: “The Salesians of Don Bosco became aware of the allegations of indecent assault in 1999. The alleged offender who denied the allegations at that time, was a layman and not a priest or member of the Order. The offender’s admission of his guilt came much later, in April 2004. None of the events about which Mr Wilmer made allegations took place on the teaching premises of the school or in circumstances which the school could have prevented in advance. The way the matter was handled in 1968, when it came to the attention of the school, would now be regarded as seriously inadequate in the light of current knowledge and standards. The Salesians regret that Mr Wilmer did not receive appropriate support at that time.”

In addition to his book, Graham has set-up a website to help victims of
sexual abuse at -

Conspiracy of Faith: Fighting for Justice is available from bookshops and
internet retailers priced £12.

Francis Beckett's Blog

Tuesday, June 5, 2007

The cruelty of the Catholic church

This week I heard the authentic voice of the Catholic Church I was brought up to believe in. I heard it twice. The first time, everyone else heard it too. The second time, only I heard it - and I want to tell you about it.

But first, what everyone heard. Cardinal Keith O'Brien's statement on abortion was everything the Jesuits taught me to believe in: a cruel, harsh faith in which a politician must either vote the way the church tells you, or fry in Hell forever (for that's what people do if they are denied the sacrament of holy communion); and in which life, however unbearable, must be lived right up until the point where God chooses to relieve you of it. I have not heard it more clearly since Father Bamber sent me to be beaten for failing to memorise the exact words of the creed, in order to teach me about a loving God.

Then I spoke to Graham Wilmer. Wilmer, a man in his fifties, was abused as a child by a teacher at his Salesian school in Chertsey. (Salesians are an order of Catholic priests.) "Abused" is a euphemism. He was buggered, several times, and his life was detroyed.

The many who did the deed, Hugh Madley, owned up to the principal of the Salesians in England after Wilmer at last complained. Wilmer was expelled from school. Madle he was moved to another Salesian school, in Battersea, and his personnel records wiped clean. The Salesians did everything they could to block Wilmer's quest to find out what had happened to him and get justice.

But at last, decades after the event, Madley confessed. Wilmer's remarkable book Conspiracy of Faith (Lutterworth, 2007) is able to name him. The Salesians have now given Wilmer £10,000 a year for four years to run his charity, The Lantern Project, which helps victims of child abuse. And the stories that come to him through this project suggest that the cancer in the Salesians went much, much higher than the wretched Hugh Madley. It's as though the church is determined to ensure a constant supply of children for the likes of Madley to abuse.

The church had compassion for Hugh Madley - so much so that it knowingly put children at risk from him. It has none at all for girls who find themselves pregnant, perhaps as a result of rape, when they have neither the means nor the maturity to cope. The Catholic Church really is the cruel, self-righteous, stalinist outfit I was brought up to believe in.

posted by Francis Beckett at 1:34 AM 0 Comments  

Breaking the silence,,2140727,00.html

When Graham Wilmer was sexually abused by a teacher at his strict Catholic school, he was ordered to keep quiet about it. But 30 years later he decided to bring his tormentor to justice. As Francis Beckett reports, it proved a harrowing task

Friday August 3, 2007
The Guardian

In the summer of 1966, at the age of 14, Graham Wilmer fell in love. He met 14-year-old Nicky Allen through her brother Martin, his closest friend from his Catholic school. Nicky recalls today how "Graham and I walked by the river, held hands, stole the occasional kiss. He was attractive and fun and clever."

Graham remembers it with the same happy nostalgia. "I was in love for the first time. I was in heaven." At the time he was also enjoying life at the Salesian College in Chertsey, Surrey, a private school run by an order of Catholic priests called the Salesians. Today it is a state school known as the Salesian School. The regime was harsh: "Minor misdemeanours were punished by beatings of one sort or another, by hand, fist, belt or cane."

One day Nicky realised he had gone cold on her. She was upset, but she was young and beautiful, and there were plenty more fish in the sea. It was to be more than 30 years before she learned why Graham suddenly felt too dirty and ashamed to touch her. He was withdrawing from her brother Martin's friendship, too. His school work went to pieces. He sank to the bottom of the class.

What happened to him was this. At the end of that summer of 1966 when Graham and Nicky were in love, Graham returned to school and a young science teacher called Hugh Madley befriended him, taking him for rides in his car and coming to his home to give him extra maths lessons. It was the start of two years of regular sexual abuse. The 21-year-old teacher warned his 15-year-old pupil that if he told anyone, he would not be believed.

In the summer of 1967 Madley persuaded Graham's parents to let him take the boy on a camping holiday in South Wales. Graham did not want to go, but his parents must have felt that the friendship of this caring young teacher might have a good effect on their increasingly wayward and miserable son. There the tearful schoolboy was regularly required to perform sex acts with his teacher.

The next year a dreadful tragedy brought Graham to a crisis point. Nicky's brother Martin was injured playing rugby, and died two days later. Martin's father asked Graham to be an altar boy at the requiem mass. This created a dreadful dilemma. If Graham served at the mass, he would be expected to receive holy communion. But every Catholic knew that it was a terrible thing to receive communion while in a state of mortal sin. So, at last, he went to confession, and told one of the Salesian priests his story. The priest asked him to repeat his story outside the seal of the confessional, so that he could take the matter further. Graham agreed.

He was interrogated by three priests: the headmaster, the rector, and a third, Father Wiliams, who, though Graham did not know it, was the head of the Salesian order in Britain. Williams asked strange questions: when Graham had started to masturbate and whether he had sexual fantasies about other boys. It seemed designed to suggest to Graham that the whole affair was his fault.

Williams then took a series of incredible decisions. He told Graham to mention the matter to no one (even his parents remained unaware). Though Madley owned up, Williams simply asked for a promise that he would not do it again. He gave Madley a job in another school, the Salesian school in Battersea, south London, where he taught until he taking early retirement on health grounds, seven years ago.

When Graham failed most of his O-levels that summer, the school refused to let him come back and retake them. There followed years of dead-end jobs and failed relationships with women.

Eventually he stumbled into a job he was good at: writing corporate books and brochures. A lot of his clients had a military connection - and Wilmer, a jovial man who had played rugby when young, seemed to thrive in the macho atmosphere. He met his wife, Barbara, they had four children, and he told no one his secret. He buried it so deep that he almost thought it was gone.

But in 1998, the day after his eldest son left home to go to university, he burst into unaccountable tears. "I was staring at the computer, and nothing was happening." It was clear that he had suffered a serious nervous breakdown. Barbara, a teacher, knew that, for a time at least, she would be the family's only breadwinner. When she finally prised the secret out of him, she saw that he would not rest until he had brought Madley to justice.

Today the present head of the Salesians in Britain, Father Michael Winstanley, admits the abuse. "We have apologised for what happened." But it has taken all Wilmer's obsessive anger to bring the institution to this point. When he first contacted the school, in 1998, he spelled Madley's name incorrectly as "Madely" and the school wrote back saying it had no record of ever employing a teacher with that name. Three years later the Salesians were still trading on this error. A case summary prepared by their lawyers for a mediation in 2001 between them and Wilmer said: "It is a matter of concern to [the Salesians] that at the outset of Mr Wilmer's complaint he was unable to recollect correctly the teacher's name."

This document also says that the Salesian order "does not accept liability for any claims which are Mr Madley's responsibility". Those of the priests who were still alive could not remember a thing, apparently. The order offered Wilmer £20,000 if he signed a document promising to take the matter no further. He thought of the huge debts that he had built up in the three years he had been unable to work, and took the money.

But he pursued Madley. The teacher confessed what he had done in a series of letters, then in telephone conversations with a friend of Wilmer's, which were secretly recorded, and finally in interviews with the police. He was sent for trial in 2004.

Now Wilmer felt an urgent need to tell Nicky Allen why he had so suddenly gone cold on her. He traced her through the old girls' association of her convent school. She was now married with four children and four grandchildren. She was pleased to see him, and went to Madley's trial to support Wilmer.

The trial collapsed on a technicality. Since Madley was clearly distressed, and claimed to have attempted suicide, the police, according to the judge, ought not to have interviewed him without "an appropriate adult" present. The telephone conversations were not evidence since they had been recorded without his knowledge. This left only what Mr Justice Reid called "the testimony, for what it is worth, of Mr Wilmer". And he was "extremely unimpressed" with Wilmer. The justice that he had sought almost obsessively for six years was snatched away from him.

So he wrote a book, Conspiracy of Faith, in which he told the full story and named Madley. The Salesians tried to block it on the grounds that Wilmer had promised to stay quiet when he accepted their £20,000, but it was published in February. Madley's local newspaper quoted him as saying: "I was prepared to go to prison for it. I think I did it." The Salesians then pledged £10,000-a-year for four years to the Lantern Project, the charity Wilmer has set up to help adult victims of child abuse.

But the Lantern Project may simply presage more woes for the Salesians. It has been flooded with allegations from other former pupils of Salesian schools. I asked Winstanley if Madley was the only child abuser employed in Salesian schools. There was a long pause before he replied: "He is the only abuser who has confessed."

Madley, now a 63-year-old bachelor, sounded as if he was weeping for much of the hour I spoke to him on the telephone. He claimed that since the newspaper article appeared, he has been spat on in the street, and told me of suicide attempts.

He agreed that he had sexually abused Wilmer, but insisted that the 14-year-old had led him on. "I dispute that I initiated things back in 1967." Why did the Salesians gave him a job in another school? "I can only think that Father Williams trusted me never to do it again." He insisted that he has kept this promise.

Contrary to the trial judge's assessment, I found Wilmer as impressive a witness as I've met. Much of the time he sounds like what he was before 1998 - a writer who mixes largely with soldiers and businessmen, bluff and entertaining. When he talks of Madley and his tortuous dealing with the Salesians, his voice becomes lower, his sentences longer, and his devotion to the detail, his ability to quote verbatim from a mountain of letters and documents, signal the depth of his obsession.

In the small garden of his house in New Brighton, Merseyside, is a one-room office, built with a lottery grant, which houses the Lantern Project. Above his desk, among the family pictures, there is a picture of one of the project's first clients. "We couldn't save Liam, he killed himself, but his family are still close friends," he says.

Wilmer takes no income from the project. He has found a new profession: fostering children and training other foster parents in the management of damaged children. He took on the first three children in 2005, and two of them are still with them. They are now nine and 12. "Those two are now stabilised," he says with satisfaction.

· Conspiracy of Faith is published by Lutterworth Press. The Lantern Project is at

Sex abuse claims

Friday August 24, 2007
The Guardian

Hugh Madley, the teacher who admitted sexually abusing me when I was a child (Breaking the silence, G2 August 3), claims he did not initiate the abuse. This is not the first time he has made that defence of his actions; he said the same to police in two interviews under caution in October 2004. How is it then, that in the many letters he wrote to me earlier in 2004, in whch he asked me and my family to forgive him for destroying my life, he tells a different story. (His letters are on my website, Madley's defence of his actions is not uncommon in paedophiles, once they are caught, and can be discounted. What is more serious, and needs radical change if we are to resolve the fact that only 5% of child abuse cases in the UK ever get disclosed, is the way the criminal justice system deals with historical child abuse cases. At present, the victim is made to feel like the guilty party for having dared to speak out, as I was in court during my case. What is needed is better training of those involved in investigating and prosecuting historical child abuse cases. "It happened a long, long time ago" is not an excuse for failing to take action, particularly for those responsible for child protection in religious organisations and faith schools.
Graham Wilmer
Wallasey, Wirral. UK