A CATHOLIC brotherhood which supplied teachers to a Catholic children’s home in East Yorkshire can be held legally responsible for the sexual abuse of boys, leading judges have ruled.

About 170 men - including victims from York - are seeking damages after alleging they were abused as children at St William's in Market Weighton which provided residential care and education for boys, aged 10 to 16, with emotional and behavioural problems.

The home’s former principal, Father James Carragher, was jailed for 14 years in 2004 after admitting abusing boys in his care.

Compensation claims on behalf of former pupils were first submitted in 2004. St William's was owned by the Diocese of Middlesbrough but many of the staff were members of the De La Salle Brotherhood, a Catholic order of lay teachers.

In 2010, the Court of Appeal found that only the diocese was liable for the abuse in the UK’s biggest historic child abuse compensation case, covering a litany of sex crimes at St William’s over a 34-year period.

It is the argument over liability which prompted the diocese's appeal to the Supreme Court – an appeal which a panel of five Supreme Court justices upheld today.

They concluded that legal responsibility should be shared between the welfare society and the brotherhood. The decision means individual claims can now be examined by the courts.

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