Gordonstoun, the school described by Prince Charles as ‘Colditz in Kilts’, is yet again under scrutiny for abusive practices carried out by teachers against pupils over the years.
In early October, a former pupil of Aberlour House, which acts as the junior school of Gordonstoun, told the Scottish Child Abuse Inquiry (SCAI) of his horrific childhood experiences at the school.
John Findlay described how he was attacked by a teacher, Derek Jones, who drugged him before sexually abusing him. Findlay was ‘horrendously conscious’ but unable to stop the attack.
Shortly afterwards he told his parents about the incident, who contacted Aberlour’s headmaster.
The family were told that the teacher would never work at a school again, so a decision was made not to press charges. It was later discovered that despite Gordonstoun’s reassurances, Jones went on to work, and potentially abuse, at other schools in England and abroad.
Mr Findlay told the inquiry that the abuse continues to affect him.
‘It’s affected absolutely every element of my life,’ he said.
‘When you get abused like that, by somebody that you trust, it means you never trust anybody.’
‘If affects you personally, it affects your family life, it affects your friendships, it affects your life professionally.’
‘Imagine your life without trust, trust is the basis for everything good in life.’
Mr Findlay is not the first to come forward with reports of abuse taking place at Aberlour House and Gordonstoun.
A series of allegations against teachers have emerged in recent years and not all are historic. Kevin Lomas, another teacher at Gordonstoun, was jailed in 2008 for sexual offences against young girls. During the 16 years Lomas worked at Gordonstoun he had a reputation for inappropriate sexual activity. He was known for his attempts to kiss young girls, ‘with tongue.’
Over recent years, stories of sex scandals and cover-ups in celebrated public schools have sparked talk among Gordonstoun’s ex-pupils. Discussions lead to the creation of a Facebook group in 2013, where members disclosed things that happened to them at the school.
The group discussed the culture of bullying and sexual abuse. They called for Gordonstoun to issue an apology to victims and a fund to help them seek assistance.
The SCAI has considered the calls of victims and several brave individuals have given evidence in the inquiry. They have spoken of impact that the abuse has had on them throughout their adult lives.
The principal of Gordonstoun, Lisa Kerr, was present at the evidence sessions and has apologised unreservedly to those who were failed during their time at the school. Ms Kerr stated that it has been ‘difficult but crucial’ to face up to Gordonstoun’s past in order to strengthen their resolve to make sure that it doesn’t happen again.
It is apparent that safeguarding against abuse is increasingly prioritised in many schools, however, it cannot always be prevented.
Unfortunately, despite changes in the law, school culture, and safeguarding policies, the power dynamic between teachers and pupils will always leave the door open for abuse.
At Farleys, our team of specialist abuse lawyers have helped many survivors who have been abused in educational settings. As professionals in this field, our solicitors strive to achieve the best possible outcome for survivors in securing an award that reflects the pain, suffering and loss experienced.
If matters have been reported to the police, survivors are sometimes entitled to make a Criminal Injuries Compensation Claim. Alternatively, Civil Claims can be pursued against the authority responsible. Although no financial award will ever truly reflect the harm suffered, any recompense through these avenues can help survivors to receive support and bring closure to their ordeal.
If you or someone you know has been the victim of child sexual abuse, we may be able to help and assist. Call our abuse line on 0330 134 6430 to speak with a member of our dedicated team who will deal with your enquiry with the utmost confidentiality and integrity or send your enquiry through our online contact form.