WHEN convicted paedophile Michael Studdert, above, died in 2017 aged 78 a Church of England charity was destined get a sizeable chunk of his £4.7-million estate.
However, according to this report, victims of the priest, who is believed to have abused children in Wales, England, Poland, Denmark and Italy, may be entitled to some or all of the estate.
A High Court ruling said Studdert’s bequest to a charity he set up to support families of clergy of the Church of England cannot be spent until efforts are made to find those who may have been abused by the vicar.
He was jailed alongside Paedophile Information Exchange founder Thomas O’Carroll in December 2006 for operating a vast child porn library from his home in Surrey.
Studdert was banned from exercising any priestly function within the Church of England for the rest of his life shortly after that conviction.
He is not known to have ever been convicted of the sexual assault of a child but a judge has said he is “satisfied Studdert had committed historic sexual assault in England and Wales” as well as in Poland, Denmark and Italy.
Evidence compiled by a firm of solicitors appointed to manage his £4.7m estate found Studdert was “likely” to have had sexual contact with children in Poland, where he had “strong connections”, and had also travelled with O’Carroll “extensively” in eastern Europe.
Studdert left most of his millions to the EAC Educational Trust, a registered charity he set up in 1985 to:
Relieve poverty and to advance education for the benefit of the public and particularly amongst the families of clergy of the Church of England, single-parent families, and other poor families.
His executors took the matter to the High Court:
Because they were rightly concerned that the estate might be subject to claims from survivors of historic abuse.
Following a series of hearings between January 2019 and this April 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 executors were ordered by the court 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.
Nockolds Solicitors, acting on behalf of the Studdert’s executors, set up a website here.