In a letter dated 31st July 1951 from Fr Harvey9 to Fr Gordon,10 who would appear to be a senior member of the Congregation, it was stated: Dear Father Gordon, A very serious situation has arisen at Broadgreen. Bro. Guthrie has been accused of serious offences against boys, and the matter has been placed in the hands of the police; so I expect they will begin their investigation as soon as possible. Br Gerhard11 will probably also be brought into it. Whether anyone else will be accused, I don’t know. I saw Br Guthrie this morning and he has no defence; I have told him I shall report to the Superior General, and he will probably be dismissed. Hence, I believe he will cross to Ireland to-day. I have told him what he does or where he goes is no concern of mine, but I have not transferred him to Belmont Park. I told him, however, that I will communicate to you any instructions, etc. that I receive from Fr. General. I have sent Bro. Rory12 this morning to Moffat to inform Bro. Gerhard of the situation, and he will probably do like Br Guthrie. You should receive their clerical suits if they offer them, and also help them with clothing, and in any other way, at least for the time being. Whatever these fellows do, is on their own initiative. They are not to remain at Belmont Park. You would, however, do well to know where they stay, at least for the time being. But I do not want to know. As you see, I am in a very difficult situation, and am trying to act for the good of the Congregation. I am now just going to ... with Messrs. [Solicitors], to interview a K.C.13 on the matter. I will then perhaps see things much clearer and will write you again as soon as possible. In the meantime, please aid me with your prayers. Greetings in the Sacred Hearts of Jesus and Mary. Yours devotedly ... in JC
Fr Harvey wrote again on 1st August 1951, following his meeting with the legal team. The mood had changed, because with the two Brothers out of the way he had been given some assurances that the matter would ‘fizzle out’. He wrote: Dear Father Gordon, Further to my letter of yesterday, I think I can say that things are somewhat better, and we are hoping there will be no publicity in the matter. [The Solicitors] have helped very considerably; they took me yesterday to interview Counsel in ... and as a result I feel more at ease. Afterwards, I went directly to the Camp at Fleetwood and saw each of the Brothers privately. None of them has anything to fear if the police make their enquiries, so with Gerhard and Br Guthrie out of the way, we are hoping the matter will fizzle out. Now with regard to Br Guthrie and Gerhard. Before I went to see Counsel, I got them away quickly, and told them to keep away from our Houses but to get in touch with you eventually, as I would communicate to you any further orders or directions regarding them. My rights and duties have now been made clear to me as the result of my visit to Counsel. I have written again to Fr. General this morning suggesting that Br Guthrie be dismissed and that Gerhard be allowed to remain. As you know, Gerhard has been doing well at Moffat since January, and it is only as a result of Br Guthrie’s irregularities that his case has now become known. I would be glad if you will get in touch with Gerhard and Br Guthrie immediately; they should both be sent to Lota and await till I arrive there next week. The sooner you get hold of them both, the better, as both were given a considerable sum of money, and you require an account of it. I will discuss with you next week the future of these two men. If you think it better to separate them by keeping one at Belmont for the time being, then I have no objection, but you should warn them against ‘talking’. Greetings in the Sacred Hearts of Jesus and Mary, Yours devotedly in J.C. P.S. I am anxious to know if both are safe in Ireland. When you are sure of this will you please send me a telegram, “Everything all right”.
Fr Harvey wrote again to Fr Gordon on 17th September 1951: Dear Father Gordon, I am afraid the Broadgreen affair has taken a very serious turn; they phone me that proceedings will have to be taken. However, I have asked for Counsel’s advice, and am now awaiting a message from him. The police are coming again to see me on Wednesday afternoon; they are very sympathetic and will do all they can to help; but the matter seems to be out of their hands. However, you must do nothing until you hear from me. I will let you know immediately what transpires on Wednesday. If I get any special instructions from Counsel today, I will write again to you, even today. In the meantime, we can only re double our prayers. Greetings in the SS.HH of Jesus and Mary, Yours devotedly in J. C.
Ten days later, in a letter to Fr Gordon, concerning the behaviour of another Brother, Br Johann,14 Fr Harvey mentioned that he was still very occupied with the Broadgreen affair and was meeting the Chief Superintendent of Police in a last-ditch effort to put things right. Br Johann had been physically abusive to staff and boys, and the authorities appear to have been in no doubt at all that this conduct deserved expulsion from the Congregation.
The meeting took place and on the same day, 27th September 1951, Fr Harvey again wrote: Dear Father Gordon, I have done all I possibly could; but there is no other way. The two Brothers must come back and stand their trial. I have promised the police they will come back on their own. If they do not, a warrant will be issued and that will make matters worse for them. Hence, I think they had better come back at once. At the moment, I do not know if the strike has been settled, so I cannot say if the [boat/train] service is running. They should travel back next Monday night; so that they can come back to Runshaw. If you can find time to come with them I would be glad to talk matters over with you and Fr.Jan.15 I realize, however, that you will probably not want to be away from home, particularly as I have asked you to see to this matter of Br Johann. However, you might consider if it is wise to let the two fellows come over by themselves. What about sending [an escort] with them? To-morrow I am meeting [the Solicitors] and probably we shall go also to see the Counsel in ... I am feeling the strain very much, and I know I must be very careful or I shall have a collapse. Please help me still more with your prayers. Greetings in the SS.HH of Jesus and Mary, Yours devotedly in J. C
Following his meeting with counsel, it was agreed that Fr Harvey would defend the two Brothers and, in a further letter to Fr Gordon, he stated that ‘Everything possible will be done to keep down the publicity of the affair’.
By March of the following year, it was clear from a letter from Fr Harvey to Fr Gordon that Br Guthrie had been transferred to Lota, and he was still contemplating where to send Br Gerhard. Fr Gordon, by letter dated 18th March 1952, confirmed that he was sending Br Guthrie to Lota, as suggested by Fr Harvey: If you think the other can be made better use of elsewhere it is alright with me. I have found both of them very willing and useful and I am sure the poor fellows will make well. The both admit that they have a better outlook regarding Spiritual matters. Lack of prayer was the cause of their trouble in the past.
The case against him was so overwhelming in 1951 it defies belief that the authorities could have seen fit to place him in a residential school for vulnerable young boys. Yet, this is precisely what they did, in the hope that ‘Br Guthrie will be all right in Lota’. On 1st August 1951, when Br Guthrie was in trouble with the police in England, Father Harvey wrote: p.s. I am anxious to know if both are safe in Ireland. When you are sure of this will you please send me a telegram, “Everything all right”.