Boarding school beatings were so frequent bruises never cleared, child abuse inquiry told

A former pupil of a private boarding school has told how he was sexually abused by another student and beaten so frequently his “buttocks were always bruised”.

The man, who is now aged in his early 60s and gave evidence anonymously, said his experience at Morrison’s Academy in Crieff, Perthshire, in the 1960s and 70s left him with a drug habit and “feeling like a waste of space”.

He compared regular beatings by older pupils to the novel The Lord Of The Flies, saying “there were no boundaries… there was no oversight”.

He was giving evidence on Wednesday at the Scottish Child Abuse Inquiry, which is examining alleged abuse in Scottish boarding schools.

Morrison’s Academy, established in 1860 and a boarding school until 2007, has apologised to all former pupils who suffered abuse “whether that be physical, emotional or sexual”.

The witness told the inquiry he was first beaten by a prefect with a hard-soled slipper after failing to complete lines for running down a corridor.

He said if boys tried to move during the punishments – typically carried out in a windowless room used for shoe cleaning known as the “black hole” – their heads would be held between the thighs of another older pupil to keep them still.

He said: “It hurt. The seniors appeared to enjoy meting out the punishments.

“The beatings were so frequent, to isolate them incident by incident is almost impossible.”

He added his “buttocks were always bruised” and there was “never enough time between beatings for the bruises to clear”.

The inquiry also heard he was molested by an “academically dull” teenage boy who had been held back and was in a classroom with children aged 10 or 11.

Counsel to the inquiry Andrew Brown QC asked if he told anyone about the sexual abuse, which the witness said happened every week for around four years.

He replied: “Not at all, there would have been consequences because to be labelled as a ‘poof’ would certainly have made me a target.

“This was something that could not get out.

“The fear was just ever-present and hyper vigilance was part and parcel of managing that fear.”

He added he first smoked cannabis at 14 and kept using drugs regularly into his 50s to “blunt my emotions” and “escape my emotional self”.

He added: “I have no self-confidence… I very often feel like a waste of space.”

The inquiry, chaired by Lady Smith, continues.

Copyright (c) PA Media Ltd. 2021, All Rights Reserved. Picture (c) Nick Mailer / PA.