Letter to Head Master

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robert totterdell
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Letter to Head Master

Post by robert totterdell »

Dear All

As promised I have provided my letter to Simon Reid as below - it is long but I make no apologies.

I will make just one comment - I just do not understand why they have not appointed a liaison officer for victims and why SR & JD are trying to provide support when their task is to care for the well-being and welfare of the current day pupils.

Many of you will disagree with what I say and a few will agree. PLEASE DO NOT BE ABUSIVE IN YOUR COMMENTS TO EACH OTHER AND BE RESPECTFUL OF PEOPLES OPINIONS - you are supposed to be Old Blues, that is other than to me because I really don't give a damn.

Here Below

Dear Simon

Thank you for email to me on 11th June 2019 and for your kind words therein.
I apologise for not having replied sooner but felt that I should wait until the outcome of the Martin trial.
I am guessing that you will not be aware that I attended every day of the trial from the very beginning. I was unable to attend on the Thursday, the day when Martin was found guilty and then sentenced.
Firstly, my attendance brought home to me fully what Jacqui Duggan must have gone through on each of the cases that she attended and I once again feel that she deserves full acknowledgement for her services in these matters. I would suggest that she may well need, also, some counselling.
I found the 7 days of the trial as well as the 4 days when the court was not sitting the most harrowing of my life, and I do not say that lightly.
When I heard the verdict and then later the sentencing, and even as I have started to write this now, I have cried almost non-stop.
One of my escape mechanisms that my Counsellor would confirm to you, is when these matters become for me too much to deal with, I will always make a joke about it all. I have tried this when writing to you today but I just can’t anymore – the humour in my life has been taken from me by what I witnessed in this case.
It is not just the relationship that I now feel with the victim in this case, where so many details and feelings that he expressed are exactly the same as how I feel, but the devastation to my thoughts from what was said by the perpetrator about the running of the school not just in my time but over decades, that has changed my perspective and thought process.
I have argued that CH was almost out of control from the late 1960s. I now have proof that it was pretty much out of control from the early 1960s and definitely from 1963 when Martin came back to the school as a master.
Martin made it clear to all of us, through the smoke and mirrors defence that he presented, that he and he alone was in control of Barnes A from 1972 whilst his predecessor had been in total control previously.
‘There were no rules, each housemaster ran his house as he wanted – privacy and safeguarding only started to appear in the eighties’. ‘You set your own boundaries but mind you if you crossed them you could be for the high jump’. This is of course is a memory of Martin’s of what happened to Peter Burr.
The operation and management of CH has changed since those times and we are all aware of the outstanding new safeguarding policies of the school.
What is a total disgrace is how long it took, and after so many complaints, for the authorities of CH to change their policies and actually fulfil their pledges made to the parents of the pupils.
There has been a complete and total failure by the key management of the school over the last two decades to face up to and deal with the issues of ‘non recent’, aka Historical, sexual abuse at the school and what became apparent in this case, courtesy of the defendant, is the appalling record of aggressive Corporal punishment, which was well over the ‘normal chastisement of the time’ as stated by the former treasurer Guy Perricone.
Mr Martin describes the institution when he was there as a boy just post war (1947 – 1955) and explains that when he returned as a teacher in 1963 it had hardly changed. When he returned to the school as a housemaster in 1972 things had improved in terms of structure with the new Barnes Wallis designed extensions but the place was still rigid in terms of its archaic practices and management. He said that it was ‘not of the time’; I say that it was out of date and out of time and this led to the liberal policies adopted by masters which in itself led to a breeding ground for paedophilia – and I know that Her Honour Judge Henson will agree with me on that, because you could actually feel her sense of incredulity as to what was allowed to happen at the school – Martin was perhaps the first perpetrator to actually explain why things happened the way they did, albeit in an attempt of defence for actions that he undertook.
I have argued from my ‘Rhodesia question’ – ‘boy do they still b****r and beat at the school’ from the Old Blue who had made the transfer of the school from Newgate St to Horsham in 1902 – that paedophilia was institutionalised and endemic at the school as soon as it arrived at Horsham.
I have also argued that the extreme corporal punishment regime was part of this paedophilic abuse in an age where it was very - no - extremely difficult to obtain sexual release for people who had an inclination towards younger members of society. The rigid Edwardian system of abuse was thrown aside in the 1960’s by a modern liberalisation which became out of control in the 1970s through the to the 1990s.
The school authorities couldn’t keep up with the changes in modern society and simply allowed a free for all within the school.
But it was the pupils who paid the price for the liberalisation. It was the victims in these cases who paid the ultimate price. Over the last few days I witnessed that, having already experienced it myself.
You ask me to concern myself with my own welfare and wellbeing.
Please explain to me exactly how CH concerned itself with my welfare and wellbeing when I was entrusted to the school back in 1969?
Whilst Burr, Webb, Martin, Karim, Husband & Dobbie committed the crimes (and a few others) the ultimate crime was committed by CH itself – the school failed us and it needs to stand up and say so.
If this can happen then perhaps a form of reconciliation can occur.
This is not about saying sorry, it’s too late for that, it’s about admitting the failure and providing the support.
In your first letter to me you stated that rather than compensation there may be other ways in which the school could help. I will suggest two ways but I am also fully aware of the school’s legal advice – admit nothing, say nothing, do nothing on the basis of ‘they’ll be dead in a few years.
Cynical? Yes, but from what I heard during the last few days and from what I saw, I have a right to be.
CH apparently had been totally co-operative with the police in these matters. Have they? Have they really? How is it that the only plan of the school that could be provided was a new one which showed the entrance as it is now and not as it was in 1976? What, you don’t have an old plan in the archives? The new plan has all sorts of buildings on it which bear no relationship to what the school looked like in 1976. No wonder the victim was confused – was the school deliberately trying to help the defence – Martin?
There were no pictures of the dormitories or lav ends or changing rooms or swimming pool.
I, with the help of a lot of Old Blue friends, managed to find these.
Why was it that I, as an Old Blue, had to feed the prosecution details, supported by my Old Blue friends, of what the layout of the school was like in 1976? Why did one witness have to describe to the jury the formal dress or uniform of the school? Why didn’t CH from its archives just supply the details?
Throughout this latest trial it felt to me like CH was on the defendant’s side. Unfortunately for the school there was an Old Blue present that could help the Crown, which to remind you is the institution that founded the school.
Why was it that a letter sent to the school in 2013 describing somewhat dubious activities, was only provided to the police, almost by accident, in 2017?
Given numerous complaints by victims and others over some two decades, why was it the school authorities simply did nothing?
Was CH simply trying to hide what had happened?
Please explain why the school failed to notify Governors of the school about the 2015 Webb conviction? Please explain why an Almoner (a Benefactor Governor) was totally unaware of the charges against various masters whilst I as an ordinary Old Blue was made aware?
These are, of course, questions that you and the current Council (Governing) may well not be able to answer but will need to look at.
The questions do need to be answered and that is why I have written to IICSA but should they decide not to involve CH I will attempt to arrange a separate legal inquiry into Christ’s Hospital.
I, of course, am aware that you do not have the power to request certain teachers to explain their actions whilst they were at the school. But it is their actions, or rather their failures, that need explaining.
At this present time Christ’s Hospital stands as the perfect example of how poorly run a Public School could be in the past – the recent past.
Whilst the school has changed it must answer the questions of the past and in fairness, Simon, you were there as a Housemaster when one of the perpetrators was committing some of the very worst abuse. It is no longer enough for former teachers to plead ignorance – Mr Martin provided the evidence of the Common Room. People knew but they remained silent whilst the lives of young and vulnerable children were damaged, and in some cases, destroyed.
So, as you asked at the meeting of the Redress Committee what can we do? Well there is one thing that I think is paramount. Regardless of Civil Claims to the school’s insurers, CH needs to stand up and offer, at a minimum, counselling to the victims. This may come in different forms but it is wholly unacceptable that the school allows some victims to pay out their own pocket for therapy or rely on charities.
One victim has spent several thousands of pounds to get help. CH should offer support for that and for each victim it may be different. They should be asked.
It was good to see that the latest letter to Old Blues was better worded than any previous and it is always good to hear that the situation at the school now is so much different.
It is good to hear how sorry the school is for the victims. Yet I do not believe that this is what they want or require. They want honesty over what was allowed to happen and help to deal with their own issues relating to the events that were allowed to happen.
Interestingly I have been reminded of what is said in the latest letter sent to Old Blues and this is what the most recent court victim has said ‘One of the things that has slightly bemused me is that when the school say in their letter that they’re reaching out to the victims, what does this mean in practice? I’ve not had any correspondence from them.’ In fact, Simon, the school has totally failed to reach out to the victims.
None of us want to hear about how things have changed at the school and how it is a totally different place to what it was; (exactly when did it change as it was a totally contriving & conniving school until 2017)? Christ’s Hospital failed pupils over 6 generations and all it is doing now is trying to avoid the issues. STAND UP AND BE STRONG – you will all be better thought of for it.
I am going to suggest that there should at least be an officer of the school who is given a dedicated responsibility to help and aid the victims – perhaps like Sarah Clifton the Partnership Manager whose letter I received today inviting me to an event as I have made CH a beneficiary to my Will.
How crass is that? Brangwyn’s cartoons in the chapel are awful and nothing like his original drawings and anyway the best one wasn’t even drawn by him. Get real. We have 24 victims who have come forward and about another 75 who haven’t – they are the priority just now and yet the school is just ignoring them. How about we do some victim’s cartoons?
CH has totally misjudged this and that despite your promises at two meetings.
Is it a case that this lowly boy from CH, who is nothing, has to petition the Crown to change the Foundation or even abolish it? This simply because the school will still not stand by its responsibilities.
Why is it that I seem to provide more support as a victim to victims? I am there for every victim why is the school not?
Will Christ’s Hospital please step up to the marc, admit it’s failing and truly provide support to its victims because it is actually CH not just the perpetrators who let everyone down and damaged the innocent lives of many – very many more than the 24 who have come forward.
I hope that you have a good summer break and am sorry to have to bother you with this.
And, once again I apologise for such a long letter but would ask that this is passed to the full Council (Governing) so they can make their input into what has become a crisis which is now approaching a disaster.
Yours sincerely
Robert G S Totterdell
Maine A 1969 – 1972 Middleton A 1972 - 1976
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Re: Letter to Head Master

Post by J.R. »

Many thanks for your post Rob.
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Re: Letter to Head Master

Post by DazedandConfused »

Thank you for sharing your letter. I hope it has an ultimately positive impact for you and the other victims.

The 75 victims who haven’t come forward- do you mean that these are people that you are in touch with who haven’t gone to the police or that this is your estimation of how many victims there are?
Last edited by DazedandConfused on Tue Jul 16, 2019 10:24 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Letter to Head Master

Post by Avon »

I think the time has come to start making things difficult for the school.

They may find engagement preferable to the administrative burden of having to juggle complex freedom of information requests, or requests to be forgotten under GDPR. There are plenty of ways of tying an organisation like CH up in knots. Any ideas?
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Re: Letter to Head Master

Post by robert totterdell »

The numbers are difficult I have allowed that only 25% of victims of all of the current convicted masters have come forward.

The problem that I have is at this point is that I am not allowed to say why as there is an ongoing investigation.

I can say that out of the boys in the 1972 photo of Maine A and then the play programme for Mid A in 1976 there are 16 boys who were abused by Burr.

So with 4 of us coming forward then 25% have come forward.

I have then looked at Webb who is similar.

I will not comment for now on the others but we have 24 victims who have come forward. I can name another twelve from Burr alone.

It is just my guess that about 100 pupils from CH suffered sexual abuse over the 32 year period which allows for the masters who have not been charged although some of us are fully aware that they committed abuse.

This probably doesn't help. Sorry, Rob
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Re: Letter to Head Master

Post by Mid A 15 »


You have my utmost respect for the way you have conducted, and continue to conduct, yourself both on your own behalf and in support of others.

I take my metaphorical hat off to you.
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Re: Letter to Head Master

Post by DazedandConfused »

Thank you Robert. That’s more clarity than I expected you to be able to give and it’s appreciated. I’m not digging for info that could jeopardise further investigations, just continually seeking to make sense of things.
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Re: Letter to Head Master

Post by robert totterdell »

Thank you DazedandConfused and Mid A 15 - I think I've got that right!

What a lot of people don't understand is that it is far more complicated than it seems.

What went on in the 60's, 70's and 80's is a complicated web of intrigue. What went on in the 90's is just - well it's unbelievable - it simply couldn't or shouldn't have happened but it did and got worse. The school did nothing. The perpetrators (and god there are more than those who have been brought forward) committed the 'crimes' or abuse but it is in-explainable how the school authorities, with full knowledge (Webb, Karim & Dobbie prove this) just did nothing.

I have spoken to recent governors and they simply got no information at all and that is up to 2016. What on earth?

I am doing my best but please forgive me when it gets quite difficult - I do break down a lot because I talk to the other victims and I feel for them from my heart and soul.

I have said, to quote from Spock - the needs of the many outweigh the needs of the one - actually it was King Leonidas of Sparta who pretty much said that.

I am trying to get answers for me but much more importantly for the others.

Your support and help is much appreciated as has been that of Old Blues who I am in direct contact with.

Once again I give my email address should you wish to speak directly to me - spicetraders2009@live.co.uk.

Thank for your support - I need it just now.

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Re: Letter to Head Master

Post by Katharine »

It seems to me you are doing a great job Rob.

I’m not surprised you break down at times, a trite comment would be to say that breaking down will help you. It may, or it may not, but you know that you are now helping other victims. The more such abuse can be brought into the open now, the more youngsters now will learn what such abuse is. You are not just helping the CH victims, you may well be helping to get other abusers stopped in their tracks, you are helping to prevent others suffer as you did/do.
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Re: Letter to Head Master

Post by postwarblue »

Until Callaghan's 1967 burst of populist dumbing down, in Common Law there were two levels of criminal act - felony and misdemeanour. One misdemeanour was misprision of felony, failure to report a criminal act of which one had knowledge. A serious sex assault on a child by a teacher would certainly have been a felony, and knowledge of that and failure to report it would have been a criminal act.
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Re: Letter to Head Master

Post by RemedyLaw »

Again Rob, I commend you courage and tenacity in ensuring that justice will prevail in these matters.

Often from experience institutions and organisations do have funding and provision in place for survivors, but restrict to limited liasons and individuals. I am surprised that no effort has been made.

I currently represent a few individuals of whom have asked me to pursue civil claims on their behalf for damages. This will of course lead to consideration of other costs and losses which will ultimately also incorporate provision for future therapy and recoverability of incurred therapy costs.

If CH is insistent that it will not provide services required then perhaps the only alternative is to force them to do so?

My email is charles.derham@verisonalaw.com if you have any ideas or wish to chat further.
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Re: Letter to Head Master

Post by robert totterdell »

Hi postwarblue

Thank you for your reply - you are absolutely right - pre 1967 it would have been a criminal offence if a teacher had known that abuse was being committed and not reported it - this really concerned the Homosexuality laws of the time which were abolished along with a raft of supporting measures.

In the new liberalisation very little attention was paid to the consequences - but then it was Callaghan as Home Secretary.

So since then it is not a criminal offence for a teacher to NOT go to the authorities (by that I mean essentially the police - if he went to the council and the council worker did not go to the police it is not a criminal offence).

In various states of the USA, Canada, Australia, RSA, New Zealand and even Romania there are statute laws requiring any teacher who become aware of any form of abuse against a pupil at or outside of the school to report the matter to the police and they can be criminally prosecuted for not so doing.

Cameron promised in 2010 that he would introduce such a law in the UK. It was dropped after the Home Office, Justice Department and the Treasury decided that it would be too expensive as the number of complaints and inquiries and legal proceedings would require the budgets of both the Police and the Judiciary to be increased.

Thus it shows that the welfare of young children is far less important than finance - the very thing that the young Edward tried to change.

Have a look at MANDATE NOW - I'm supporting it - it would have made a huge difference to what happened at CH.
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Re: Letter to Head Master

Post by richardb »

The work you are doing is incredible Rob. You deserve proper recognition.

It is truly shocking that the school won't even pay for counselling for victims. It may claim to be reaching out to the victims, but it isn't reaching very far.
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Re: Letter to Head Master

Post by wurzel »

Would it be possible (or worth exploring) that the School (or foundation) promises to basically give the Benevolent Society of Blues a blank cheque to deal with any counselling etc required. I am sure the BSB being an arms length organisation already used to confidentially helping people would be able to ascertain who actually needed help and to engage with professionals able to provide that help whilst also meaning victims didnt have to directly deal with the school if they did not want to, this should also be open to victims who might not have actually gone as far as getting involved in the court cases (for whatever reason) but could be easily identified as being genuine by when they were at the school and which house etc - it is not like anyone is going to try and get counselling for this kind of abuse who didnt actually suffer it

Only Rob will know if he feels this kind of help would be correct/useful but just throwing it out there as a possible way fwd to help mend people rather than dwell on the faults/crimes of the past
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Re: Letter to Head Master

Post by robert totterdell »

Wurzel - YES, YES, YES

This is exactly what I am suggesting - sorry I can't think of every way of doing things, a bit too much on my plate!

How do I contact them? Is it the board that runs CHOBA?

Help please!

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