Michael Studdert: Contact made over paedophile priest's £4.7m estate

By Phil Shepka
BBC News

image copyrightMichael Studdert's estate
image captionMichael Studdert was jailed after more than 100,000 indecent images were found at his home

A website to track down potential victims of a paedophile priest for compensation from his £4.7m estate has received contact from individuals.

Michael Studdert was jailed for four years in 2006 over indecent images but was never convicted of physical abuse before his death aged 78, in 2017.

A High Court judge ruled there was a "real prospect" he may have committed sexual assaults in the UK and abroad.

The website for potential victims has been online since the end of July.

Daniel Winter, from the executors of Studdert's will, said the website aimed to "allow survivors of historical assault to come forward and state an intention to seek financial compensation from his legal estate".

In the meantime Studdert's estate has been "effectively frozen", Mr Winter, of Nockolds Solicitors, said.

Letters from DJ

Studdert was banned from working in a priestly function in the Church of England after being jailed in 2006 for possessing, making and distributing indecent images of children.

More than 100,000 indecent images were found at his home.

The former teacher and school chaplain, who worked in places including Surrey, Berkshire and Manchester, died in August 2017 while living in Bishop's Stortford in Hertfordshire.

After being informed by police of his criminal past, solicitors undertook a review of his personal documents and spoke with his contacts.

Mr Winter said they "formed the view that there was a real possibility that Studdert's criminal behaviour may not have been limited to dealing in child pornography and that he may have physically abused children".

He said their "suspicions were enhanced" when letters to Studdert from former BBC Radio 1 DJ Chris Denning "unaware of his death, reached us through the postal re-direction service".

Denning has been convicted of abusing boys as young as eight.

image copyrightMet Police
image captionChris Denning was part of the original line-up that launched Radio 1 in 1967

Mr Winter said the case was taken to the High Court for guidance as "an unknown number of potential claims for compensation could substantially impact what is available for Studdert's intended beneficiaries".

In a judgement, Chief Master Marsh said Studdert had "strong connections with Poland where the age of consent is 15" and it "seems likely... Studdert had sexual contact with children under the age of 16 in Poland".

Chief Master Marsh directed a website, which was also to be translated into Polish, Italian and Danish, and social media accounts be set up.

Mr Winter confirmed the website had received contact but said "due to confidentiality [we] are unable to share any further details".

Mr Winter said: "It is anticipated that Chief Master Marsh will make further directions once the website has run its course and Nockolds has been able to establish the potential pool of survivors who wish to claim compensation."

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