Top private school says sorry for 'brutal and unrestrained' treatment, including 'children being paid to swim naked'

30 August 2023, 22:14 | Updated: 30 August 2023, 23:27

The Edinburgh Academy
The Edinburgh Academy. Picture: Alamy

By Kit Heren

A private school has apologised for the "brutal and unrestrained" punishments meted out to children by staff in previous decades.

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Some 20 employees of Edinburgh Academy are accused of accusations including beating a pupil with a cricket bat, strangling another child and paying boys to swim naked.

One pupil is said to have suffered a "small bleed on the brain" from the abuse.

The allegations emerged during the Scottish Child Abuse inquiry, during which TV star Nicky Campbell gave evidence. Mr Campbell went to the school between 1966 and 1978, between the ages of 5 and 17.

Edinburgh Academy admitted "serious sexual abuse was widespread" at the school.

Read more: Children as young as 10 arrested for rape, child abuse images and murder, shocking figures reveal

Read more: Eight women among 21 members of 'abhorrent and cruel' child sex abuse ring jailed for total of 145 years

The Edinburgh Academy
The Edinburgh Academy. Picture: Alamy

One former teacher, Iain Wares, was described by a lawyer for survivors as "one of the most prolific abusers in Scottish criminal history".

The school apologised for not calling the police on him, and instead letting him move on to Fettes, another private school in Edinburgh. Tony Blair was a student at the school between 1966 and 1971.

Fettes also said sorry for allowing Wares to keep working despite the recommendations of a psychiatrist. He was finally dismissed in 1979 and moved back to South Africa.

British authorities have been trying to have Wares extradited to Scotland, where he faces 74 charges.

Lord Advocate Dorothy Bain KC, said delays were due to the Covid pandemic.

Nicky Campbell was a pupil at the school
Nicky Campbell was a pupil at the school. Picture: Alamy

"In 2020 we were told that the extradition had been ordered but that the accused's surrender would be delayed due to pandemic travel restrictions," she said.

"We were later told that he had exercised his right to appeal," Ms Bain added. "Appeal procedure in South Africa is different in timescale and approach to here."

Calum McNeill KC, who was representing Edinburgh Academy, admitted that "brutal" and "unrestrained" abuse had taken place at the school. while "serious sexual abuse was widespread and continued undetected".

Pupils also sexually abused other pupils, he said.

Corporal punishment was legal in the UK until 2000, but Mr McNeill said that "it is clear that beatings took place which were not punishment."

He added: "The atmosphere of fear and constant vigilance against injustice is something the school is deeply ashamed [of]."

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