Daily Express, 10th September 1982
East Anglian Daily Times, 11th July 2012
by Colin Adwent
Alan Brigden twice tried to take his life in a bid to evade justice. On the first occasion he was discovered by a neighbour after taking an overdose of tablets.
Then, as he was recovering, Brigden – who was known as Alan Morton when he taught Maths at St George’s – left hospital and tried to drown himself.
It can also be revealed that more than 20 years ago Brigden was investigated on suspicion of child sex abuse, but the Dutch authorities did not pursue the case.
At his first hearing before Ipswich magistrates following his extradition prosecutor Lorraine Irwin told the court: “Between arrest and extradition Netherlands granted conditional bail to the defendant.
“However, on October 25 (2010), come the extradition hearing, the defendant didn’t appear. It took police and prosecutors three days to locate the defendant.
“What happened to the defendant during that period was he attempted suicide, by taking an overdose of tablets. He was discovered by a neighbour and was taken to hospital.
“He walked out of hospital without permission or the knowledge of staff and jumped into a nearby lake. He was recovered from the lake and put back into medical care.”
Brigden had been living in Holland since 1990.
In 2004 he became a Dutch national and had a Dutch passport at the time of his arrest. Fighting an application for bail Miss Irwin added: “When arrested, his home address was searched and relevant photo images were found. A child’s underwear with name tape of one of the victims in this case was found at his (Brigden’s) address.
“Because of the number of images and literature found at the address the Crown says this defendant has a relevant interest in young children and therefore there is a danger that if granted bail he would re-offend.”
East Anglian Daily Times, 14th June 2011
by Colin Adwent
A TEACHER arrested in February on suspicion of sex assaults on pupils at the former St George’s School in Great Finborough in the 1980s has been found dead.
Alan Williams’ body was discovered at his home in Stowupland Street, Stowmarket, eight days after detectives investigating the allegations extended his police bail.
The 59-year-old – who was employed as a music teacher at Ashfold School in Aylesbury, Buckinghamshire, at the time of his arrest on February 5 – had worked at St George’s school at the time of the allegations.
Last September, St George’s former headteacher Derek Slade was jailed for a total of 21 years after being convicted of more than 50 offences including child sex abuse, beatings and child pornography.
A long-running inquiry into complaints of sexual abuse made by ex-pupils of the school continued after Slade’s imprisonment following his trial at Ipswich Crown Court.
Williams was arrested after it is understood former pupils at the private school, which taught children of military personnel, made allegations against him. However, the number of pupils who made allegations is not known.
Although Suffolk police have not released Williams’ name, they have confirmed officers were called to his home after a relative found a deceased male at the address.
An inquest will be held at a later date to determine the cause of death.
Lisa McGrann, a spokeswoman for Suffolk Constabulary, said: “Police were called to Stowupland Street in Stowmarket at 10.43am on Friday, June 10, by a woman concerned for the welfare of a family member who she had been unable to contact.
“Officers forced entry to a house and a 59-year-old man was found deceased.
“The death is not being treated as suspicious and the coroner has been informed.”
Williams was due to answer bail on Monday last week, however he was re-bailed the previous Thursday. He was then due to answer his police bail by returning to the new Bury St Edmunds police investigation centre on July 12.
His former headteacher Derek Slade, now in his early 60s, abused 12 boys at the school, which was based at Wicklewood, near Wymondham, Norfolk, and Great Finborough between 1978 and 1983. The victims were aged between eight and 13 at the time.
Slade, of Burton-on-Trent, had admitted 15 indecent assaults and five assaults on boys, along with 17 child porn offences involving 4,486 indecent images.
He also admitted possessing a false passport. At his trial, he was found guilty of three offences of buggery, four other indecent assaults and six further charges of actual bodily harm.
A spokeswoman for Ashfold School said: “The police informed us on Friday that Alan Williams, the former director of music at Ashfold, had died.
“Mr Williams was suspended on February 6, 2011 after being arrested by Suffolk police in connection with ongoing historic criminal investigations.
“Despite extensive police enquiries, it was confirmed again on Friday that none of the allegations relate to Ashfold School or any of its current or former pupils.”
East Anglian Daily Times, 26th July 2012
by Colin Adwent
VICTIMS of a sadistic child sex predator believe three schools in the Stowmarket area were linked by a paedophile ring in the 1980s.
Mike Parker, who was one of the 12 former pupils of St George’s School in Great Finborough abused by its headteacher Derek Slade, said ex-students would be calling for a public inquiry when various investigations and court cases are concluded.
Teachers at the schools, which were within three miles of each other, have now been convicted of child sex crimes in the 1980s. The convictions and other allegations have led to more than 100 former pupils seeking damages for alleged abuse.
Over the years four teachers from the schools have been convicted of child sex offences, while two other suspects have committed suicide after being arrested.
There has been a long-running police inquiry focusing on St George’s School, which moved to Suffolk from Wicklewood in Norfolk in the early 1980s.
A separate police investigation is currently under way into allegations surrounding Oakwood School in Stowmarket, which closed in 2000.
In addition, papers have been filed at Cambridge County Court in a civil case involving around 70 alleged victims who claim to have been physically and sexually abused at the school between the 1970s and late 1990s.
Meanwhile, a letter before action has also been served on Suffolk County Council by Andrew Grove and Co solicitors, which represents six victims of the former Stowmarket Middle School music teacher and concert band leader Derek Cable.
Cable was sentenced to four years imprisonment in 2003 for sex offences dating back to the mid 1980s.
Mr Parker, who waived his right to anonymity, has been at the head of a campaign to uncover what went on at St George’s.
He said: “A lot of the pupils of St George’s are saying the same thing. It’s clear, without a doubt as far as we are concerned, that these were not just isolated incidents.
“In our opinion they are linked. We believe these people knew each other.
“I think with more and more investigations, and people coming to trial, it starts to show a clear and definite link that this was rife in this area.
“This abuse was not just isolated to St George’s. Something’s been well hidden for the last 30 years.
“Once all the police inquiries are over we will be pushing for a public inquiry to look at the whole area and what was going on at the time. It’s needs to be looked at. Let’s not make the same mistakes again.”
East Anglian Daily Times, 2nd October 2012
by Colin Adwent
A LAW suit is set to begin on behalf of eight boys in India who claim to have been abused by the paedophile headteacher of a former Suffolk school.
Among those who are said to have given sadistic Derek Slade the principal’s job at a school for orphans and the poor in India are a former leader of Islington Borough Council and the Lord Mayor of Leicester.
Slade, was the head of St George’s School in Great Finborough, near Stowmarket, and Wicklewood, near Wymondham, Norfolk in the late 1970s and early 1980s.
He was jailed for 21 years after being convicted of sexual and physical abuse relating to 12 boys at the school, following a trial at Ipswich Crown Court in 2010.
Now Pannone Solicitors in London has been instructed by the Official Solicitor to pursue compensation claims on behalf of eight teenage boys who say they were sexually abused in Gujarat, India.
The claims are against Derek Sawyer, former leader of Islington Borough Council and former chairman of the London Regional Courts Board, Abdul Osman, the Lord Mayor of Leicester and the Help a Poor Child charity
The eight boys allege that they were sexually abused by Slade their headmaster at the Anglo-Kutchi Medium School where they boarded and supposedly received an English education.
The claim the Official Solicitor is bringing is to obtain compensation from the three defendants because it is the victims’ case that the defendants between them “ran” the school, and employed Slade.
The claim is brought on the basis that the three defendants owed the boys a duty of care and that meant keeping them safe from harm. It is alleged that this obligation was breached each time the boys were abused by Slade.
Alan Collins partner at Pannone said that the boys’ experience at the Anglo-Kutchi Medium School in India, if proved, would be similar to that suffered by the boys at St. George’s.
Mr Collins said: “We hope that anyone who was approached to donate monies to the school or assist financially in any way will come forward, as they may be able to provide information which may help the victims of Derek Slade.”
The claim comes after an investigation by the BBC’s Inside Out “Abuse of Trust” programme following Slade’s conviction.
In a statement Help a Poor Child said: “The charity has never had any involvement in the ownership or running of Anglo-Kutchi Medium School in India.
“Furthermore, the charity had no role in the appointment of Derek Slade to a tuition position at that school.
“All material facts were made known to the police prior to the BBC’s first programme about Mr Slade. It was accepted by the police that the charity had not conducted itself in any manner as to merit the slightest criticism. That remains the position to this day notwithstanding unsubstantiated allegations made by Pannone Solicitors in its quest to recover damages and costs in a civil action it is contemplating on behalf of a client.”
Mr Sawyer and Mr Osman could not be contacted for comment.
East Anglian Daily Times, 4th February 2013
by Colin Adwent
THREE former Suffolk schools are now at the centre of criminal investigations into historic child abuse allegations.
The accusations, which relate to alleged physical and sexual assaults, are said to have occurred between the late 1970s and run through to the 1990s.
A solicitor representing ex-pupils of one of the schools – Oakwood School in Stowmarket – has said the number of claimants has reached three figures.
Andrew Grove, who is based in Cambridge, said: “We now have 100 complainants on the civil claim relating to Oakwood School.”
Last week detectives said they were re-opening the 1992 inquiry into alleged abuse at Kesgrave Hall independent school.
The investigation, codenamed Operation Garford, comes after former students’ calls for it to be re-opened were backed by Central Suffolk and North Ipswich MP Dr Dan Poulter.
Responding to the new inquiry, Dr Poulter said: “I am pleased that Suffolk Police are conducting a full and thorough investigation into the alleged child abuse at Kesgrave Hall school, following my intervention.
“A number of people have written to me raising concerns about abuse when they or their family members were pupils at the school, and I would again urge anyone who has been the victim of abuse to come forward and immediately contact Suffolk police.”
Four people were suspended in 1992 during the Kesgrave Hall inquiry. No charges were ever brought. The school closed in 1993.
However, a woodwork teacher Alan Stancliffe, was convicted and jailed in 1999 and again in 2007 for indecent assaults on three ex-pupils.
Two other police inquiries involving the former St George’s School in Great Finborough, near Stowmarket, and Oakwood School are also continuing.
Operation Racecourse (St George’s) has been running since the late 2000s. It has led to the independent school’s ex-headmaster Derek Slade being jailed for 21 years in 2010 for sexual and physical abuse against pupils between the late 1970s and early 1980s.
Alan Brigden (aka Morton), 67, who taught maths at St George’s, was jailed for five years last year for sexual abuse after being extradited back from Holland despite two suicide attempts.
A third man, music teacher Alan Williams, 59, who lived in Stowmarket, took his own life after being arrested on suspicion of abuse.
A 59-year-old man who taught at St George’s is currently on police bail after being arrested on suspicion of sexual abuse.
Operation Oxenton (Oakwood School) is a criminal inquiry involving 95 complainants from the civil case.
There have already been convictions linked to Oakwood School dating back to the late 1980s.
Teacher Keith Hatton was jailed for four years in 1987 for nine sex assaults, while a part-time assistant John Wills, 45, of Stowmarket – who was a teacher in other schools and a foster carer – was jailed for eight months in 1995 for sexually abusing a child.
A Stowmarket clergyman with connections to the school, took his own life in 2003 after being arrested on suspicion of sexual assault
Oakwood School shut in 2000.
East Anglia Daily Times, 22nd December 2012
by Colin Adwent
A SECOND convicted paedophile teacher worked at the Suffolk school which is at the centre of an inquiry into nearly 100 child abuse allegations, it has emerged.
An internal report obtained by the East Anglian Daily Times has provided proof that John Wills spent six years helping care for boys at the former Oakwood School in Stowmarket on one, or two, evenings a week.
Suffolk Constabulary is currently conducting what is believed to be its largest-ever child abuse investigation after 95 ex-pupils of the school made accusations of being physically or sexually abused.
In the late 1980s Keith Hatton, a teacher at Oakwood, was sentenced to four years in jail after pleading guilty at Ipswich Crown Court to nine indecent assaults on pupils.
A further inquiry into sex allegations against a clergyman connected to Oakwood led to his arrest in 2003. He subsequently took his own life before a decision was made on whether there would be any charges.
However, now it can be revealed Wills, who was a teacher and a single parent foster carer, also worked at Oakwood as a part-time assistant, according to a county council report before his conviction 17 years ago.
Wills – who was aged 43 at the time and taught at Claydon High, Westbourne High and Holbrook High – was jailed for eight months in October 1995 after admitting indecent assault on a boy.
Wills is also one of the people who have been named to Cambridge-based solicitors Andrew Grove and Co which is pursuing a civil claim against the county council on behalf of the 95 former pupils.
It is understood one of the claimants has made an allegation against him.
Andrew Grove said: “We are claiming against Suffolk County Council as Mr Wills’ employer, and possibly against Mr Wills himself.”
Wills, who was also a scout leader, was only ever convicted of sexually assaulting one boy. However, a second male was awarded £11,400 in August 2000 by the Criminal Injuries Compensation Board after allegations of sexual abuse. It made the payment on the ‘balance of probabilities’ with the bias in favour of Wills’ alleged victim.
The allegations being made against staff at Oakwood School range from the 1970s to the 1990s. The school, which catered for boys with behavioural problems, closed in 1999, after concerns were raised. It re-opened, but then closed for good in 2000.
A spokesman for Suffolk Council said: “It would be inappropriate for us to comment on the particulars of the allegations during a police investigation. We would however urge people who feel they have any relevant information to contact police to help with their inquiries.”
Meanwhile, earlier this week several former pupils of Kesgrave Hall school called for an inquiry into physical and sexual abuse allegations to be re-opened. The original investigation occurred in 1992, although no charges were pursued at the time. Central Suffolk and North Ipswich MP Dan Poulter has also sent a letter to chief constable Simon Ash urging him to re-open the inquiry.
A major investigation is also continuing into abuse at a third Suffolk school, St George’s in Great Finborough, near Oakwood. Two former teachers at the independent school have already been jailed. Another took his life after being arrested on suspicion of sexual assault.
On Tuesday a 59-year-old man from the Ipswich area was the fourth person to be arrested during the long-running investigation over an allegation of sexual abuse. He has now been released on bail until March.
In 1987 two people were shot and killed at the Four Elms children’s home in Stonham Parva, Suffolk. They were Vic Copperman, the owner of Four Elms, and his girlfriend, Thea Trevelyan.
Deidre Washington was convicted for their murders, although the judge gave her just 18 months in jail after hearing that she killed the couple because her teenage daughter, who had special needs, had been sexually abused at the home.
In November 2012, the BBC reported that Lawrence McLean, who stayed at Four Elms as a child, was seeking compensation from Suffolk Council for the years of abuse he suffered.
He said at weekends children at the home were lined up and taken into a van where they were sexually assaulted.
He said if any children refused, they were given whisky to get them drunk.
Mr McLean said he was also forced to perform acts in the bed of Victor Copperman, who was once an officer in charge at the home.
An internal Suffolk County Council report in 2010 found that Mr McLean had been “controlled by staff at Four Elms, scary games had been played… and he had been taken into the officer in charge’s bed”. The report concluded: “There is a substantial body of recording of the view by professionals that Lawrence McLean had been psychologically and sexually abused during the period of his residence at Four Elms.” The report recommended that Mr Mclean deserved an apology from the council and be paid £6,500 compensation.
Suffolk County Council refused to apologise and offered him £200 and six counselling sessions.
Stonham Parva is just a few miles from the village of Eye in Suffolk, where Lord Henniker’s estate is located. This is where childcare expert and network paedophile Peter Righton and his partner were invited to stay after Righton’s conviction for importing child pornography. Islington Council sent children to Henniker’s estate for years under a scheme called the Islington Suffolk Project. Source: Country house hideaway of disgraced care chief