The Times, 20th May 2013
By Andrew Norfolk
A paedophile teacher kept his job at a top public school for 16 years after pupils found his collection of indecent videos. Keith Perry taught for 38 years at St Paul’s School, in west London, where a police inquiry began last month into sex crimes allegedly committed against boys by 18 teachers since the 1960s.
Perry was convicted this year after police raided his home last summer and found almost 600 films and photographs showing the abuse of children. In online chat rooms, the “inspirational” former head of history spoke of being sexually obsessed with boys as young as eight.
Perry, 71, who retired in 2003, escaped a jail sentence after it was claimed in court that his addiction to the “utterly repellent” images was a recent lapse by a man of “exemplary character”.
It can be revealed today, however, that Perry’s viewing tastes were discovered in 1986, when boys in a St Paul’s boarding house found a collection of videos hidden behind a row of books in his study, where he often entertained pupils. It was always kept unlocked.
A former pupil told The Times that in Perry’s absence he and a small group of boarders watched an excerpt from one of the films. He said it showed a weeping boy, aged about 13, sitting naked on a chair. The child was instructed to perform a sex act.
Inquiries by The Times confirm the boy’s recollection of having been so disturbed by the video that he reported it to a teacher, who told the school’s senior management of the alleged discovery of “homosexual pornographic videos” in the assistant housemaster’s study.
The teacher said the pupil did not give him a detailed description of the video’s content and the school remained unaware of the allegation that some footage included the abuse of children. No investigation was conducted and no formal disciplinary action was taken against Perry.
It is understood that discussions led to Perry being “quietly advised” to move out of the boarding house, which housed 60 pupils aged from 13 to 18. He taught at St Paul’s for a further 16 years.
Operation Winthorpe, a criminal inquiry led by specialist detectives from the Metropolitan police’s paedophile unit, began work last month after former pupils of St Paul’s and its preparatory school, Colet Court, contacted The Times to allege past sexual abuse by a host of teachers.
Crimes under investigation are said to have taken place between the mid-1960s and last year. It is alleged that on several occasions the school failed to report sexual misconduct by staff. Teachers who were asked to leave found jobs at other boys’ schools.
A former St Paul’s teacher told The Times that the school’s child protection failings in past decades reflected “the rather depressing culture of the day” in many British independent schools. Another said: “In those days, protecting the institution from scandal was all-important.”
Perry admitted last week that he kept pornographic films in his study but denied that any featured children. He also denied being asked to leave the boarding house.
St Paul’s said that it was “co-operating fully with the police investigation”.
The possession of indecent images of children did not become a criminal offence in England and Wales until 1988. The police hotline for Operation Winthorpe is 020-7161 0500.