'Cesspit of sadism and paedophilia': School's survivors share experiences

Former pupils from the top fee-paying Edinburgh Academy share their accounts of abuse between the years of 1960 and 2000.

Former pupils who suffered sexual and physical abuse at one of Scotland’s top fee-paying schools are to share their experiences at public hearings.

Eighteen former teachers and staff members at Edinburgh Academy have been accused of molesting pupils between 1960 and 2000.

The school will be the focus of the Scottish Child Abuse Inquiry taking place from August 8.

There will be 30 witnesses attending in person with a further 20 witness statements at the hearings.

BBC broadcaster Nicky CampbellITV

BBC broadcaster Nicky Campbell, who has spoken out about the abuse he suffered at the school, formed Edinburgh Academy Survivors last year with 39 former pupils.

A spokesman for the group condemned the school and said their own accounts are likely “the tip of a very big iceberg.”

EA Survivors spokesperson Giles Moffatt said: “Let there be no doubt that the Edinburgh Academy was once a cesspit of sadism and paedophilia.

“Past headmasters and governors of the school have been oblivious, indifferent, and downright callous about what happened on their watch.

“Our little group of 40-odd is the tip of a very big iceberg, formed over 50 years and affecting thousands of boys and girls, which is why we are looking to this inquiry to look into the history without fear or favour.”

Moffatt added: “We feel for those who gave evidence at similar hearings before us. Many went in blind and had limited power against the institutions which let them down in the first place.

“Fettes and Loretto in particular, mobilised the full arsenal of weapons of damage limitation. As a result, the Inquiry produced a report on Loretto which in places had echoes of a school prospectus.

“We would like to thank Police Scotland and the Crown Office for the decisive action they are taking and thankfully arrests and extraditions are on the horizon.

“We also recognise that the Edinburgh Academy of today is a considerably better place than years gone by, and we have been encouraged by the response of the school’s current management.”

The inquiry has been investigating residential care provisions at boarding schools for a number of years.

The Edinburgh Academy hearings follow similar inquiries into other leading Scottish schools including Fettes College and Loretto.

Mr Campbell previously alleged he was abused while at the school by former maths teacher and rugby coach Iain Wares, who also taught at Fettes College and now lives in South Africa.

The 83-year-old was previously classed as a “protected person” under an order preventing his identification after claims that he abused children in the 1960s and 1970s at the two private schools came to light.

Scottish Child Abuse Inquiry chair Lady Smith ruled the true identity of the alleged perpetrator could be revealed after a legal challenge in March.

Wares faces more than 80 charges of historic abuse in Scotland relating to more than 40 victims.

Campbell is among those who have called for him to be extradited to Scotland.

SCAI Chair Lady Smith said: “Since March 2021, evidence about the background, administration and regulation of seven specific boarding schools in Scotland, and about the experiences of children who were boarders there, has been explored at public hearings as part of the Boarding Schools case study.

“Evidence about the experiences of boarders at Fettes College was heard during November and December 2021. Some of the Fettes’ witnesses also spoke of what happened at Edinburgh Academy.

Inquiry has investigated cases at schools including Fettes CollegeGoogle Maps

“After we completed our evidential hearings in relation to the initial group of seven schools in our Boarding Schools case study, a significant number of applicants and other witnesses came forward to provide evidence of their experiences at the Edinburgh Academy. So many that I decided their evidence needed to be explored in another set of public hearings.

“These hearings will take place throughout August, during which we plan to hear from over 30 witnesses in person, and over 20 witness statements will be read in.”

An Edinburgh Academy spokeswoman 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.”

The inquiry’s boarding schools case study has examined the background, administration and regulation of boarding schools in Scotland, and the experiences of boarders at some specific schools.

The inquiry, which aims to raise public awareness of the abuse of children in care, is considering evidence up to December 17 2014, and which is within the living memory of any person who suffered abuse.

EA Survivors was formed by chance in 2022 following a podcast by Alex Renton and Nicky Campbell, which put a public spotlight on historical abuse at the Edinburgh Academy.

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