‘Abusive’ teacher at Edinburgh Academy ‘was like Jimmy Savile’, Nicky Campbell tells inquiry

Broadcaster Nicky Campbell has told an inquiry of sexual abuse he endured at Edinburgh Academy as he compared a teacher to Jimmy Savile.

Mr Campbell, 62, attended Edinburgh Academy, a fee-paying school, between 1966 and 1978, from the ages of five to 17.

He told the Scottish Child Abuse Inquiry that he was sexually assaulted by a teacher, Hamish Dawson, who died in 2009, and alleged he witnessed a primary-age child being sexually assaulted by another teacher, Iain Wares, whom he compared to Savile.

Permission was given by the inquiry’s chair earlier this year to identify Wares, 83, who was previously a “protected person” and was referred to by a pseudonym.

Mr Campbell (pictured arriving to give evidence) said he had used prescription medication to cope with the memories of Edinburgh Academy, and said he was “haunted” in the middle of the night by his schooldays.

Mr Campbell said he hid the abuse, which began in junior school but escalated in senior school, from his adoptive parents, Sheila and Frank Campbell.

He recalled being in preparatory school when he allegedly saw Wares molesting a pupil aged about 10 years old in the showers.

Mr Campbell said: “This has haunted me since it happened.

“It all haunts you. I have had my penis touched by a teacher.

“The smell of carbolic soap is triggering.

“I remember Wares leaning over the back of my friend and masturbating him.

“He would have been about nine or 10 years old.

“I remember my friend laughing and giggling, ‘it’s a game, stop, stop’.

“I remember Wares saying, ‘it’s a game, it’s a game’, and my friend moving away.”

He added: “We weren’t taught by him, but people would say, ‘He’s dangerous, weirdo, weirdo, weirdo.

“Violence was a big thing for him too.”

On one occasion, aged 14 or 15 years old, Mr Campbell claimed he was attacked by a teacher, who cannot be identified for legal reasons, so violently that a friend who witnessed it thought he was being mugged by a stranger.

Mr Campbell recalled threatening to call the police after the assault – which prompted his mother to contact Edinburgh Academy.

In a two-hour testimony before Lady Smith, Mr Campbell said taking part in the Scottish Child Abuse Inquiry was “the best decision he had ever made”.

He described himself as a “survivor”, and said: “I’m 62 years old but Hamish Dawson’s hands are still in my underwear playing with my penis.”

He described the physical assault by another teacher as “being tossed like a ragdoll, punching and kicking me,” and said the abuse “helped shape our lives in the most heinous way”.

Mr Campbell spoke with contempt about the Crown and Procurator Fiscal Office which, in 2019, ruled it was “not in the public interest” to extradite Wares, now in his 80s, from South Africa, on the grounds of age.

He compared Wares to Jimmy Savile, saying: “Savile was on everyone’s minds at the BBC.

“Savile’s opportunities were one-to-one. Iain Ware’s was one-to-20 boys.”

Mr Campbell became visibly angry when speaking about Wares living in a “plush retirement home” – and demanded a public apology from Edinburgh Academy, claiming it moved the teacher on to Fettes College, another high profile school also in Edinburgh.

Mr Campbell said: “You sent him there after a parent complained. You must do it unreservedly, and do it now.”

He said mandatory reporting “breaks this pernicious code” and urged for it to be brought in.

A spokesman for the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service (COPFS) said: “This has been a complex investigation and COPFS appreciates that it has been difficult for all those involved.

“In order to protect any future proceedings and to preserve the rights of the complainers, the Crown will not comment further at this stage.”

Mr Campbell wrote a memoir, Blue-Eyed Son, published in 2004, and was given an OBE for services to children in the Queen’s birthday honours in 2015.

An Edinburgh Academy spokesperson said: “Schools should be safe places for everyone and, at various points in our history, this was not the case for too many of our pupils.

“They were wronged by specific individuals whose roles were to educate, protect and nurture them. For this, the Edinburgh Academy unreservedly apologises.

“We recognise that abuse during childhood has wide-ranging consequences for that individual throughout their life and we are fully committed to supporting our former pupils and helping in the investigations into accusations of historical abuse.

“Given the seriousness of these matters, we believe it’s right that we give our views to the inquiry in the first instance and reserve any detailed comment for an appropriate time when its work has progressed.

“The Edinburgh Academy thanks those members of our community who have come forward and assisted the SCAI with its proceedings. This will have been an incredibly difficult undertaking and we applaud their courage in doing so.”

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