BBC drama on paedophile priest slammed by charities

BBC drama on paedophile priest slammed by charities

A BBC drama on a paedophile priest was slammed today by leading charities, sex abuse victims, the former director general and human rights groups.

'Orphan Black' star Paul Sun-Hyung Lee stars as Josef Wesel in the six-part drama, which has been branded 'depressing' and a 'wake-up call' over the scale of child sex abuse in the priesthood.

The film, written by Francis FitzGerald, unfolds in the 1960s in Belgium, where the former Archbishop of Antwerp, Gabriel Hubertus Kampfelder, faced calls to resign amid allegations of sex abuse, but never did.

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Former Lord Chief Justice Lord Hoffmann said the film, about a paedophile priest in Belgium, is an excellent example of what not to do when faced with such a serious issue

David Cameron speaking at an event about child sex abuse in a Catholic church in Liverpool in 2013

The drama, directed by Vincenzo Natali, tackles the crimes of a priest involved in horrific abuse

The allegations date back to when the archbishop was archbishop of Antwerp from 1969 to 1995.

Actor Paul Sun-Hyung Lee plays Reverend Gabriel Hubertus Kampfelder, who made headlines when he was accused of child sex abuse.

Paul said in a video: 'We do have to confront the issue of child abuse in our society at all levels.'

It's not just the casting that has been slammed - both the drama's official website and Facebook page have more than 27,000 Likes - and praise for the film has also been mixed, with some critics saying it is not as raw as it could be.

The head of the Church of England said he could not tell a story of a paedophile priest without feeling sick

One critic said: 'You have made a dullish drama and one to forget.'

Announcing the drama this month, BBC controller of drama Victoria Fea said: 'As we discussed last year, this is a matter of great importance. We want to give people hope and try to come to terms with this very dark period in the past.'

David Cameron paid tribute to the 'terrific' film and said: 'The scale of the sexual abuse that children faced in Catholic church were very significant. It was a terrible abuse of power and we all have a responsibility to try to deal with it and to call people to account.'

Father Chris Taylor, a Catholic priest who looks after children and who worked with the Archbishop of Durham, said he would not watch the drama but would donate his 10 pounds to charity.

'It makes me cringe. I was very surprised and I felt very sick actually,' he said.

'I work with Catholic schools and parishioners and I felt really sick about it because it was just real.'

Former Lord Chief Justice Lord Hoffmann said the drama, about a paedophile priest in Belgium, is an excellent example of what not to do when faced with such a serious issue.

In his response to the drama's release, he said: 'From all our discussions it is clear that concern is mounting across the (Catholic) world.

'It is a wake-up call, but it needs to be a wide-ranging wake-up call to the media and other publics who have learnt about it through stories, images and claims of sexual abuse in this modern era.'

BBC director general Tony Hall admitted the corporation had 'learned lessons' about how it should cover cases of child abuse involving the Catholic Church in the wake of the Jimmy Savile scandal.

He said there had been considerable damage to the institution of the Catholic Church caused by child abuse scandals, but criticised the public's general response to the crimes.

He also defended the BBC for its decision to publish Edward Kennedy's secret material.

The 55-year-old Jimmy Savile's taped confession of killing teacher Derek Bell in 2008 made headlines when it emerged last year that he gave details of other sex offences.

Mr Hall said: 'It's a matter of regret that some people felt the BBC should not be publishing it.'

Other documents went to a royal commission, which was 'very limited in what it has exposed,' Mr Hall said.

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