Letter to the Head Master

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Letter to the Head Master

Post by richardb » Fri Aug 03, 2018 8:07 pm

I have been threatening for some weeks to write to Reid. What is set out below is my first draft which I am going to invite comments on for a few days.
It will need a bit of tinkering with the layout but I think you will get my drift.


Dear Mr. Reid,

Over the last twelve months I have read with increasing horror the unfolding events regarding historical sexual abuse at the school and feel compelled to write to you for answers.

By way of background, I was a pupil at the school from September 1971 until December 1978. When I joined I was a boarder in Leigh Hunt A where Peter John Howard Webb was a junior housemaster. Peter Phillip de Wharton Burr was a teacher at the school.

Shortly after Ajaz Karim started as a pupil at the school and James Andrew Husband joined the teaching staff. I was one of the first pupils taught by Husband.

Gary William Dobbie is someone that I do not know and have never come across.

In order to ensure that I have been fully informed I have ensured that I have read so far as possible all that has been published in the press, although I recognise that this can be incomplete and misleading. I have read the transcripts of the judgments of the Court of Appeal in relation to sentences of Webb and Burr and attend for the sentence hearing of Husband. I understand from the Clerk that the School had someone at Court as a watching brief for the trial of Husband and Dobbie.

I have been able to identify the following chronology:
  • (i) Webb started teaching at the School in 1967 and Burr in 1969;
    (ii) Burr pleaded guilty to offences against four male pupils between 1969 and 1975;
    (iii) Webb pleaded guilty to sexual offences against four male pupils between 1974 and 1984;
    (iv) in 1974 Husband joined the School staff;
    (v) in 1975 Burr left the School, apparently having resigned;
    (vi) in February 1984 Webb was also allowed to resign;
    (vii) Ajaz Karim was convicted of indecently assaulting six female pupils;
    (viii) Husband was convicted of raping and indecently assaulting one female pupil between 1990 and 1994. He also appears to have acknowledged that he had consensual sexual intercourse with two – possibly three – female pupils aged 16-17;
    (ix) Karim was allowed to resign in 1993;
    (x) Husband was dismissed in 1994;
    (xi) Dobbie was convicted of indecently assaulting six male pupils and two female pupils between 1998 and 2001;
    (xii) in 2015 Webb pleaded guilty to indecently assaulting a male pupil.
This shows that fifteen male pupils and nine female pupils were the subject of sexual offences, and a further two the subject of sexual activity with Husband which may not then have been a criminal offence (it is now) but represented on any view a gross abuse of trust. That takes no account of any complaints which are still going through the system.

I have also been able to identify the following specific matters of concern:
  • (a) on 24th February 1984 the then Head Master, Derek Baker, wrote to parents referring to the pressures that preparing for the merger of the two sites and saying that Webb “had felt these pressures more than most” which have “produced strains which he has found it impossible to sustain, and which have affected his behaviour”. The letter then continues: “This, and the medical advice he has sought, have led to his resignation”. No mention is made of Webb’s departure from the school having been brought about because he sexually abused pupils, if that was the case;
    (b) Karim was apparently allowed to resign rather than be dismissed and was then given a favourable reference which made no reference of any misconduct by him; and
    (c) one of Karim’s victims was led to believe by a member of the Senior Management Team that ran the risk of being named in the press if Karim was dealt with publicly.
Before turning to the specific matters that I would invite you to answer, I should say that while I am pleased to see that the School is now a much safer place for pupils – due in large part to the legislative and extra statutory measures which have been implemented – my concerns relate to the past as a person who could easily have been sexually abused and, given the nature of his offending, may well have been as it may have occurred while I was asleep. My concerns about the past are shared by a significant number of Old Blues who would similarly like answers.

Accordingly, kindly provide me with answers to the following specific questions:
  • (1) did Burr leave the school in 1975 because of any matter for which he was subsequently convicted, i.e was he allowed to resign because he had been caught sexually abusing pupils?;
    (2) if the answer to (1) is “yes”, was he given favourable references by the school? In particular was he given a reference which in support of an application for a post at The Oratory School where he taught in the late 1970s?;
    (3) why were the police not involved in relation to Burr’s known abusing of pupils?;
    (4) did Webb leave the school in 1974 because of any matter for which he has now been convicted in either 2015 or 2015?;
    (5) if the answer to (4) is “yes” was Webb ever given any favourable references?
    (6) why did the Head Master write in wholly false terms to parents in 1984? Was he instructed to do so, and if so who by?;
    (7) Does the School now accept that Derek Baker’s letter dated 24th February 1984 was untrue and should not have been sent?
    (8) Webb apparently appeared before a Department of Education panel and banned from teaching. Were parents ever told that? If not, why not?;
    (8) When Webb pleaded guilty and was sentenced to eighteen months imprisonment in 2015, why were Old Blues not told? Had they been, other complainants could have come forward at that stage;
    (9) why was Karim allowed to resign and not sacked? How many favourable references was he given? Why was he given favourable references?;
    (10) Does the School now accepted that no pupil should ever have been given the impression – which was wrong – that they may find their name in the media if they pursued a complaint about a teacher “publicly”?;
    (11) Why were the police not involved in relation to Karim? Does the School now accept that they should have been?
    (12) What was the reason for Husband’s dismissal? Was he given any favourable references and, if so, how many? Did the School give him a reference to enable him to obtain the position of Town Clerk at Pickering Town Council which potentially gave him access to teenage girls?
I do not doubt that I received an excellent education far beyond anything I may otherwise have received. What does sadden me is that I am left feeling very very let down by the school. One of my overriding memories is an extremely vivid image in my mind of being awoken by a teacher leaning over me in a dormitory. I am not suggesting that anything untoward happened but I believe that the teacher was Webb. Since I cannot say anything occurred, I consider that I have had a lucky escape.

I would like some honesty and answers not just for myself but for others who feel not just lucky that it wasn’t us, but who know that it was people who we regarded as friends at school who were abused but felt unable to share it with their friends.

The School is undoubtedly a safer place now for pupils for all manner of reasons but there is still a past which needs to be addressed. The Old Blues are that past and we would like some answers.

Yours sincerely,
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Re: Letter to the Head Master

Post by marty » Fri Aug 03, 2018 8:57 pm

Richard, this is great. I would make the following points.

1. Unless the school is particularly stupid they will be monitoring this forum. So I imagine Mr Reid will have read this and any subsequent iterations before the final version of your letter ends up in his pigeon hole!

2. re xi, Dobbie was convicted of crimes between 1988 and 2001, not 1998 and 2001; and re (4) Webb's convictions are 2015 and 2018.

3. I wonder whether it is worth asking a question about Dobbie's exit from CH, as you have done with the others? i.e. what were the circumstances, were there any suspicions, did he resign or was he pushed, did he receive any references etc..?

4. Just a suggestion but perhaps the letter would carry even more weight if you were to invite other signatories? If so, I would happily be one of them.

5,. Typos / suggestions in red.

Best

Marty
richardb wrote:
Fri Aug 03, 2018 8:07 pm
I have been threatening for some weeks to write to Reid. What is set out below is my first draft which I am going to invite comments on for a few days.
It will need a bit of tinkering with the layout but I think you will get my drift.


Dear Mr. Reid,

Over the last twelve months I have read with increasing horror the unfolding events regarding historical sexual abuse at the school and feel compelled to write to you for answers.

By way of background, I was a pupil at the school from September 1971 until December 1978. When I joined I was a boarder in Leigh Hunt A where Peter John Howard Webb was a junior housemaster. Peter Phillip de Wharton Burr was a teacher at the school.

Shortly after Ajaz Karim started as a pupil at the school and James Andrew Husband joined the teaching staff. I was one of the first pupils taught by Husband.

Gary William Dobbie is someone that I do not know and have never come across.

In order to ensure that I have been fully informed I have ensured that I have read so far as possible all that has been published in the press, although I recognise that this can be incomplete and misleading. I have read the transcripts of the judgments of the Court of Appeal in relation to sentences of Webb and Burr and attended for the sentence hearing of Husband. I understand from the Clerk that the School had someone at Court as a watching brief for the trial of Husband and Dobbie.

I have been able to identify the following chronology:
  • (i) Webb started teaching at the School in 1967 and Burr in 1969;
    (ii) Burr pleaded guilty to offences against four male pupils between 1969 and 1975;
    (iii) Webb pleaded guilty to sexual offences against four male pupils between 1974 and 1984;
    (iv) in 1974 Husband joined the School staff;
    (v) in 1975 Burr left the School, apparently having resigned;
    (vi) in February 1984 Webb was also allowed to resign;
    (vii) Ajaz Karim was convicted of indecently assaulting six female pupils;
    (viii) Husband was convicted of raping and indecently assaulting one female pupil between 1990 and 1994. He also appears to have acknowledged that he had consensual sexual intercourse with two – possibly three – female pupils aged 16-17;
    (ix) Karim was allowed to resign in 1993;
    (x) Husband was dismissed in 1994;
    (xi) Dobbie was convicted of indecently assaulting six male pupils and two female pupils between 1998 and 2001;
    (xii) in 2015 Webb pleaded guilty to indecently assaulting a male pupil.
This shows that fifteen male pupils and nine female pupils were the subject of sexual offences, and a further two the subject of sexual activity with Husband which may not then have been a criminal offence (it is now) but represented on any view a gross abuse of trust. That takes no account of any complaints which are still going through the system.

I have also been able to identify the following specific matters of concern:
  • (a) on 24th February 1984 the then Head Master, Derek Baker, wrote to parents referring to the pressures that preparing for the merger of the two sites and saying that Webb “had felt these pressures more than most” which have “produced strains which he has found it impossible to sustain, and which have affected his behaviour”. The letter then continues: “This, and the medical advice he has sought, have led to his resignation”. No mention is made of Webb’s departure from the school having been brought about because he sexually abused pupils, if that was the case;
    (b) Karim was apparently allowed to resign rather than be dismissed and was then given a favourable reference which made no reference of any misconduct by him; and
    (c) one of Karim’s victims was led to believe by a member of the Senior Management Team that they ran the risk of being named in the press if Karim was dealt with publicly.
Before turning to the specific matters that I would invite you to answer, I should say that while I am pleased to see that the School is now a much safer place for pupils – due in large part to the legislative and extra statutory measures which have been implemented – my concerns relate to the past as a person who could easily have been sexually abused and, given the nature of his offending, may well have been as it may have occurred while I was asleep. My concerns about the past are shared by a significant number of Old Blues who would similarly like answers.

Accordingly, kindly provide me with answers to the following specific questions:
  • (1) did Burr leave the school in 1975 because of any matter for which he was subsequently convicted, i.e was he allowed to resign because he had been caught sexually abusing pupils?;
    (2) if the answer to (1) is “yes”, was he given favourable references by the school? In particular was he given a reference which was in support of an application for a post at The Oratory School where he taught in the late 1970s?;
    (3) why were the police not involved in relation to Burr’s known abusing of pupils?;
    (4) did Webb leave the school in 1974 because of any matter for which he has now been convicted in either 2015 or 2018?;
    (5) if the answer to (4) is “yes” was Webb ever given any favourable references?
    (6) why did the Head Master write in wholly false terms to parents in 1984? Was he instructed to do so, and if so who by?;
    (7) Does the School now accept that Derek Baker’s letter dated 24th February 1984 was untrue and should not have been sent?
    (8) Webb apparently appeared before a Department of Education panel and banned from teaching. Were parents ever told that? If not, why not?;
    (8) When Webb pleaded guilty and was sentenced to eighteen months imprisonment in 2015, why were Old Blues not told? Had they been, other complainants could have come forward at that stage;
    (9) why was Karim allowed to resign and not sacked? How many favourable references was he given? Why was he given favourable references?;
    (10) Does the School now accepted that no pupil should ever have been given the impression – which was wrong – that they may find their name in the media if they pursued a complaint about a teacher “publicly”?;
    (11) Why were the police not involved in relation to Karim? Does the School now accept that they should have been?
    (12) What was the reason for Husband’s dismissal? Was he given any favourable references and, if so, how many? Did the School give him a reference to enable him to obtain the position of Town Clerk at Pickering Town Council which potentially gave him access to teenage girls?
I do not doubt that I received an excellent education far beyond anything I may otherwise have received. What does sadden me is that I am left feeling very very let down by the school. One of my overriding memories is an extremely vivid image in my mind of being awoken by a teacher leaning over me in a dormitory. I am not suggesting that anything untoward happened but I believe that the teacher was Webb. Since I cannot say anything occurred, I consider that I have had a lucky escape.

I would like some honesty and answers not just for myself but for others who feel not just lucky that it wasn’t us, but who know that it was people who we regarded as friends at school who were abused but felt unable to share it with their friends.

The School is undoubtedly a safer place now for pupils for all manner of reasons but there is still a past which needs to be addressed. The Old Blues are that past and we would like some answers.

Yours sincerely,
Paradise is for the blessed. Not for the sex-obsessed.

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Re: Letter to the Head Master

Post by richardb » Fri Aug 03, 2018 9:01 pm

Thanks Marty.

Typos noted. I did wonder about the dates for Dobbie given the underlying evidence that I was aware of. His leaving is probably worth its own thread. Will add in questions about his departure.

Anyone else who wants to sign is all too welcome.

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Re: Letter to the Head Master

Post by marty » Fri Aug 03, 2018 9:10 pm

No worries.

https://www.sussex.police.uk/news/forme ... ic-school/

Dobbie's convictions span by far the greatest period (13 years). Webb's span 10 years, Karim's 8 years, Burr 6 years and Husband 4 years. We know the school knew about Webb, Karim and Husband so I find it not wholly plausible (although I guess not impossible) that no one EVER got wind of what Dobbie was up to.
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Re: Letter to the Head Master

Post by rockfreak » Fri Aug 03, 2018 9:11 pm

Some of these people are exactly what Nick Duffell is talking about in his books about Boarding School Survivors. You are trying to psychologically square the good education and the magnificent facilities at CH against the risk of being groped by some perv. WISE BL**DY UP! You shouldn't have to run this risk in the first place! If you were at day school, like anywhere else in developed civilised Europe, your parents would probably pick up any unhappiness on your part and the matter would be dealt with straight away.
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Re: Letter to the Head Master

Post by cstegerlewis » Fri Aug 03, 2018 9:13 pm

Point 4, you reference Webb leaving in 74, not 84
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Re: Letter to the Head Master

Post by richardb » Fri Aug 03, 2018 9:21 pm

marty wrote:
Fri Aug 03, 2018 9:10 pm
No worries.

https://www.sussex.police.uk/news/forme ... ic-school/

Dobbie's convictions span by far the greatest period (13 years). Webb's span 10 years, Karim's 8 years, Burr 6 years and Husband 4 years. We know the school knew about Webb, Karim and Husband so I find it not wholly plausible (although I guess not impossible) that no one EVER got wind of what Dobbie was up to.
I have a large number of toerags who are in and out of the police station. Sometimes they escape capture. Other times the prosecution hasn't got the evidence to prove it. Or the witnesses don't turn up at court.

There are times I feel acutely embarrassed at telling the court that the accused hasn't been in trouble for X years when I know he has.

Don't ever believe that the filthy five convicted for all the things they did. They have only been convicted of what they were caught for. For example, Webb will have been fumbling around in the dark long before 1974 but he got away with it, for whatever reason.

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Re: Letter to the Head Master

Post by richardb » Fri Aug 03, 2018 9:21 pm

cstegerlewis wrote:
Fri Aug 03, 2018 9:13 pm
Point 4, you reference Webb leaving in 74, not 84
Thanks Craig.

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Re: Letter to the Head Master

Post by Jim Rayner » Fri Aug 03, 2018 9:32 pm

Well done Richard!

I believe some of the dates are incorrect.
(i) Webb started teaching in 1965 not 1967. I joined LHA in 1967 and he had already been there for two years. This is confirmed by the dates given in the Sentencing appeal transcript.
Similarly I don’t think Burr started in 1969 although that is the date of his earliest admitted offences. I’m fairly certain he was there in 1967 and this post http://www.chforum.info/php/viewtopic.p ... rr#p140311 would suggest he arrived earlier.

(4) Webb left in 1984 not 1974.

A couple of other thoughts.

Is it worth asking whether the school is aware of any other credible allegations against former staff which cannot be pursued because they have subsequently died? I feel it’s important that victims should be listened to and those of us who were not victims learn the truth about risks we were potentially exposed to.

I’d certainly like to be associated with a letter but I’m not sure of the best way of doing that. We are near contemporaries and both spent 3 years in a house where Webb was a junior housemaster, but our experiences are different. And of course there are others on the forum who were at the school much later.

Finally I believe the school should be challenged to say what it plans to do to provide the very best professional support for the victims who for decades have been let down by the school.
LHA 67-70; ThA 70-74

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Re: Letter to the Head Master

Post by richardb » Fri Aug 03, 2018 9:36 pm

Jim,

Thanks for that.

I have invited comments so that I can tweak it.

The general background remains the same. I have put the bit at the end about the vivid image I have so he can't just dismiss me as a busybody, but I hope he won't take the opportunity to patronise me.

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Re: Letter to the Head Master

Post by Mid A 15 » Fri Aug 03, 2018 9:45 pm

Jim has beaten me to the punch but I concur with his comments re timings for Webb and Burr.

I left Maine A in the summer of 1968 and Burr had been a junior housemaster for all of that academic year. In fact I think he came in with Basil Gregory in September 1966 when Maine A became a junior house fully. There are other old lags hovering around like Plum Senior who can put me right if I've got that wrong.

Suffice to say Burr was junior house master in Maine A from September 1967 definitely and quite possibly September 1966.
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Re: Letter to the Head Master

Post by richardb » Fri Aug 03, 2018 9:51 pm

It's amazing how these dates can't be pinned down.

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Re: Letter to the Head Master

Post by TMF » Fri Aug 03, 2018 10:08 pm

The letter is very good - thank you for putting it together.

I would ask:

n) Please comment on the fact that Webb's duties/responsibilities were changed around 1979. The 1976-1977 and 1978-1979 Blue Books both list Webb as the Deputy Dining Hall Warden. However, after hundreds of boys in the Dining Hall chanted "Pedo, Pedo, Pedo' endlessly at Webb, this responsibility was given to another master. Webb never officiated in the Dining Hall again. Who assigned alternative responsibilities to Webb?

And if you are reading this forum and you are from the school - please go ahead and answer directly!

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Re: Letter to the Head Master

Post by richardb » Fri Aug 03, 2018 10:14 pm

The school read it. And former staff. And maybe former members of the SMT.

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Re: Letter to the Head Master

Post by bakunin » Fri Aug 03, 2018 10:45 pm

Thinks for writing this.

Can we ask the school (in this letter or separately) to provide the names of any deceased employees against whom there have been multiple credible accusations?

If they accept it shows they are making a good faith effort to shed light on past abuses, if they refuse, well, they might have a number of legitimate excuses but it also suggests they'd rather things remain in the dark.

Or would the police be willing to release this information at some point in the future? I know they don't want to do so too early because they want as much independent information from witnesses as possible, but credible witnesses came forward against Dobbie after he was named, who wouldn't have had the confidence to do so before.
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