Scottish boarding schools apologise ‘unreservedly’ over historic abuse

Boarding schools across Scotland have offered an “unreserved apology” for the alleged sexual, physical and emotional abuse students faced.

The latest phase of the Scottish Child Abuse Inquiry, heard before Judge Lady Smith, is focusing on the alleged abuse carried out in Scottish boarding schools.

The boarding schools praised survivors who had come forward, saying they hoped to they fully recognise the abuse pupils suffered while in their care.

Mr Jonathan Brodie QC, representing Fettes College in Edinburgh, said: “We want to offer a full and unreserved apology to those who suffered abuse while at Fettes College.

“While words of apology may have limited worth, we fully accept and recognise in the past there was sexual, physical and emotional abuse of pupils while at Fettes College. That has been the result of certain members of staff and by failing to prevent peer-to-peer bullying.

“The school recognises that on occasions it did not act responsibly or appropriately, when evidence of abuse came to light. It is a matter of profound regret. What the school seeks to do now is to listen.

“That there have been past occasions of abuse is evident in the review of school records, and speaking with former teachers and with former pupils.

“Two former teachers admitted sexual abuse and were required to leave.

“Former pupils have come forward with courage to speak to both the school and the inquiry. Some have been remarkably forgiving and all have been insightful. They have provided insight about how abuse may occur and how it was concealed by perpetrators.

“The school promises to listen and reflect on what is contained in the account and all evidence in the inquiry.

“The school wishes to repeat that anyone affected by abuse should come forward to speak to them. The school wishes to listen and to learn.”

Ms Angela Grahame, QC, representing Loretto School in Edinburgh, said: “Loretto School wishes to offer an unreserved apology to those who have suffered abuse in the school.

“By shining a light on the past – distressing as it may be – you will help to improve the experiences of children in the future.

“For any comfort it may give you today, Loretto acknowledges that you were abused while you were in the care of the school. [Loretto] acknowledges that some of you were the victim of a teacher in the 50s and 60s.

“We acknowledge that you were the victims of serious bullying and the school let you down and did not prevent abuse, and did not take sufficient steps to protect you from harm.

“Loretto’s is here to encourage survivors of abuse to speak up. We want to understand where things went wrong. Only by sharing your experiences, can the school understand and enhance its layer of protection and reduce the risk of serious abuse.

“It is only by looking at the past with critical eyes, can the school insure all measures put in place, that will enhance and improve all measures in place today. This would not be possible without survivors coming forward to tell their stories. Your courage is also your legacy to future generations.”

A representative for the now closed Keil School in Dumbarton, said the school was unaware of abuse allegations until a police investigation in 2015.

Rodger Harvey-Jamieson, a former trustee of the school, told the inquiry: “Police were initially investigating a teacher of English and drama who had been at the school in the late 80s and early 90s. At the time he had just been jailed for sexual offences against a boy at his previous school in England.

“The police had also noted the suicide in 2004 of a member of staff who had been at the school between 1991 and 1997, following that member of staff being accused of abusing children at his new school in Lancashire.

“And also it became known that a third former teacher who was at Keil between 1987 and 2000 was also under investigation.

“Police did not provide any feedback about the investigation, other than concerns about a possible paedophile ring may have been unfounded.”

Roddy Dunlop, QC, representing Gordonstoun School, near Elgin, Moray, said the school wanted to offer an “unequivocal apology” to those who suffered abuse at the school.

“Gordonstoun was shocked when it learned about the abuse allegations. The school recognises that the excellent care it provides today was not always the case and is committed to learning from past mistakes.

“Individuals reported serious allegations of sexual abuse. Some experienced severe bullying, and adults neglected their responsibilities to protect them.

“For this, Gordonstoun is sorry.”

The inquiry before Judge Lady Smith continues.

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