A classics teacher resigned after being arrested on suspicion of possessing indecent images of boys said to have been found on a school computer during IT checks. He had taught at the preparatory wing of St Paul’s School for more than 20 years and regularly organised school trips abroad.
Fuggle is no longer on the staff after resigning last September and it emerged last week he is on bail. Until the last few months the abuse allegations have focused on the school’s past, but while there is no suggestion that Fuggle is implicated in that alleged abuse, his arrest brings the allegations into the present.
In March 2013, when the revelations first came to light, six teachers were implicated in the suspected sexual abuse of boys as young as ten between the Sixties and Eighties. Former pupils who came forward claimed the authorities at St Paul’s hushed up the wrongdoing.
Among the perpetrators, the former pupils alleged, was a housemaster who fondled boys in the dormitory, a choirmaster who paid boys half a crown after molesting them, a teacher who beat ‘naughty’ boys, and a maths tutor who kept a register of pupils he punished in private spanking sessions. Now the number of suspects has risen from six to 18, ten of whom taught at Colet Court and eight at St Paul’s with some of the former schoolmasters now deceased. The schools share the same riverside campus in Barnes, South-West London.
A Scotland Yard detective, who headed the Jimmy Savile inquiry, is leading the St Paul’s investigation, which has been given its own codename: Operation Winthorpe. Officers have already compiled a list of up to 100 potential victims and witnesses.
Many of those who attend the £32,000-a-year St Paul’s are from the West London middle classes with Chancellor George Osborne attending both schools during the Eighties and Attorney General Dominic Grieve attending both schools in the Sixties. St Paul’s is close to Rocks Lane with No.â€‰27 Rocks Lane previously being Elm Guest House, the now-notorious centre of an alleged VIP paedophile ring in the Seventies and Eighties.
Cyril Smith, the late, disgraced Liberal Democrat MP for Rochdale, was a visitor, along with, it is claimed, other politicians, judges, high-ranking police officers, celebrities and members of the Paedophile Information Exchange. (Read our article on Cyril Smith here and read our article on PIE here) It is alleged that some guests preyed on boys from nearby children’s home, Elm Tree. Like St Paul’s, the historical events at Elm Guest House are the subject of an ongoing Scotland Yard investigation (Operation Fernbridge).
Former choir-master at Colet Court, Alan Doggart, was also a member of PIE during this period. Doggett took his own life in 1978 shortly after leaving the school. Just hours before his death he appeared before West London magistrates charged with two indecent assaults on a ten-year-old boy from another school.
Fuggle is not the only member of the St Paul’s community to leave in the current academic year who has had to defend himself against allegations of impropriety. A second teacher, Tim Harbord, 61, left the preparatory division in December 2013 after 25 years, following his arrest on suspicion of sexually grooming a pupil. He was questioned after the boy’s parents contacted the school to return a leather jacket sent by Mr Harbord to their son as a present.
Speaking from his home in Norfolk, Mr Harbord, a sports coach who taught English and history, said: ‘They (the police) went through all sorts of questions. It was the most despairing time of my life, but then I got a call to say the matter wasn’t going any further.’
In March, a third teacher, geography master Patrick Marshall, 65, also a rowing coach at St Paul’s, was questioned over the suspected molestation of a 15-year-old boy in the Seventies. He was released on bail and denies any wrongdoing.
In the same month, a fourth teacher, 70-year-old Keith Perry, who used to be St Paul’s head of history and taught there for 38 years, received a two-year suspended sentence at Southwark Crown Court for possessing hundreds of extreme images of naked boys. In internet chatrooms he wrote of being ‘obsessed’ with boys as young as eight.
During his time at St Paul’s, another teacher, Stephen Hale, was forced to leave after sado-masochistic pornography and a spanking register of pupils he’d punished were found in his room by a cleaner in 1987. St Paul’s told the Department for Education he had agreed to resign for breaking the school rules on corporal punishment. They didn’t mention what was found in his quarters on the Barnes campus. It meant Mr Hale was not placed on the list of teachers barred from working with children and today his whereabouts are unknown.
St Paul’s has attempted to draw a line under that era to separate the past from the present, pointing out that ‘robust safeguarding procedures’ to protect pupils are now in place and that the school ‘deals quickly, sensitively and resolutely with any allegations of abuse’.
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