Police look into ‘decades of abuse’ at top school (09.04.14)

The Times, 9th April 2014

by Andrew Norfolk

Anthony Fuggle, 57, has been questioned and released on bail

Anthony Fuggle, 57, has been questioned and released on bail

Police have begun a criminal inquiry into decades of alleged sexual abuse at a top boys’ public school, as it emerged that a current teacher was arrested just six months ago for possessing indecent images of children.

The inquiry into St Paul’s School in London, and its prep school, Colet Court, come after revelations in The Times last month that prompted former pupils to contact police.

So many complaints have been made during the past fortnight that officers are investigating more than six “persons of interest” who taught at the school, whose alumni include George Osborne, the Chancellor.

The officer leading the inquiry said that it had spiralled rapidly into “a complex investigation with further victims, witnesses and suspects being identified on an almost daily basis”.

Detective Inspector Jon Rhodes also appealed for more witnesses to “come forward if they have information”.

The Metropolitan Police said in a statement: “We can confirm that the child abuse investigation team is investigating historic allegations of sexual abuse alleged to have taken place between the 1960s and 1980s. We are aware of a number of potential victims and witnesses we wish to speak to over the course of the investigation.”

It can be revealed that Colet Court’s director of administration, a classics teacher at the preparatory school for more than 20 years, resigned during the current academic year after his arrest on suspicion of possessing child abuse images.

Anthony Fuggle, 57, has been questioned and released on bail. Police were alerted in September after photographs of boys and “inappropriate written material” were found on a school computer during routine IT checks.

A file on the case is with the Crown Prosecution Service. Mr Fuggle was unavailable for comment.

A meeting was held on Friday between police and the school’s current leadership team, at which St Paul’s pledged its full co-operation to the inquiry and its belief that any former employee guilty of child-sex offences should face justice. Letters and e-mails were sent last week to parents of boys at St Paul’s and Colet Court and also to former pupils who are members of the Old Pauline Club.

Two weeks ago, this newspaper revealed that six former teachers at St Paul’s and its prep school, which share a campus in Barnes, southwest London, were suspected of sexually assaulting boys from the mid 1960s to the late 1980s.

Students in that era included Mr Osborne, who was at Colet Court and St Paul’s in the 1980s, and Dominic Grieve, QC, the Attorney-General, a pupil at the prep school in the 1960s. There is no suggestion that either was abused as a schoolboy.

Former pupils subsequently contacted this newspaper to accuse more ex-members of staff of sexual misconduct. In total, abuse allegations have been made to The Times against 13 schoolmasters, five of whom taught at St Paul’s and eight at Colet Court. Six of the men are known or thought to be dead.

Offences are said to have been committed against pupils aged 9 to 17, ranging from indecent assaults, voyeurism and sexually motivated beatings to boys being groomed by a teacher who later paid them for penetrative sex.

In two of the 13 cases, at least five ex-pupils have separately made allegations against the same teacher. Former pupils initially came forward in January after St Paul’s was not named in a news article listing 130 British independent schools linked to the abuse of hundreds of boys.

A month later, police began a criminal inquiry into a complaint made by an ex-pupil against a former teacher, Patrick Marshall, alleging sexual offences in the late 1970s.

Mr Marshall, 65, who taught geography and coached rowing at St Paul’s, was arrested and released on bail pending further inquiries. He denies wrongdoing.

Liz Dux, a lawyer specialising in abuse cases, said that no independent school of St Paul’s status and academic reputation had faced such wide- ranging allegations.

Her firm, Slater & Gordon, whose clients include more than 140 alleged victims of Jimmy Savile, represents an ex-pupil who claims to have been sexually abused at St Paul’s in the 1970s.

Ms Dux said that it was “already clear that some of these complaints were known about by other members of staff at the time”. She voiced concern about the adequacy of the school’s response when allegations were brought to its attention during the years that are under police investigation.

The school said yesterday that it was working with the police to ensure that any former teachers who failed in their “heavy duty of responsibility for the wellbeing of pupils” were held accountable, whether for offences “50 years ago or more recently”.

A spokesman said: “We have direct access to the investigative team, and all allegations of historic abuse which are brought to our attention are forwarded immediately to them.”

andrew.norfolk@thetimes.co.uk

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1 comment
  1. Thank you for this, which I’ve found very horrific but eye-opening.

    At the other part of the world, Jakarta International School (JIS) has caused an uproar as a mother of a five-year-old boy reported a series of abuse done to her son at the school.

    A fortnight ago the matter seemed to focus on some Indonesians -the cleaners- who did it. None the less, further investigation reveals that a US-citizen man who used to teach there in fact had been on FBI’s paedophile list for years. To my mind ‘JIS case’ will open the floodgate of allegations of abuse similar to your reportage.

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