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Abuse survivor refuses to take ‘leave of absence’ from Vatican commission

Peter Saunders said that he was a 'serial boat rocker' (AP)

An outspoken British abuse survivor has said he will defy a Vatican commission’s request for him to take “take a leave of absence”.

Peter Saunders described a vote of no confidence against him by the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors as “outrageous”.

Mr Saunders, who was appointed to the commission in December 2014, said he was taken by surprise when the Vatican issued a statement on Saturday announcing the leave of absence.

Speaking at a press conference in Rome, he said: “I was asked to consider what my role should be with the commission. I did not make a decision to take or accept any decision on a leave of absence. I said I would reflect on what I would do. I may well have been back in the meeting shortly.

“I then heard that the Vatican had made a statement about my taking a leave of absence. I was never told in advance of any such statement and I find it outrageous that I was not told, much less that the statement occurred before I had had any time to reflect on what I might do next.”

Speaking to BBC Radio 4’s Sunday programme (from 18:30), Mr Saunders said yesterday’s events were a “horrible experience” and the commission was “mostly far more loyal to the Church than it is to the cause of protecting children”.

Mr Saunders is the founder and chief executive of the British National Association for People Abused in Childhood (NAPAC).