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.
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.
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 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.