APRIL 2nd 2017
There were fresh calls last night to widen the Scottish government’s child abuse inquiry after a former pupil of a military boarding school in Dunblane claimed he was abused by a teacher.
It has emerged police launched an investigation after a victim broke decades of silence to reveal his abuse at the hands of a housemaster at Queen Victoria School (QVS) in the 1970s.
The man, now in his fifties, was told by detectives last month that his abuser, who died 24 years ago, would have faced being charged if he had still been alive. The former pupil is believed to be the first victim of alleged sexual abuse at the school known to have come forward. It reignites concerns first raised in 1991 by a QVS teacher who feared boys were at risk. A police probe failed to find evidence of wrongdoing at the time.
Separately, detectives have looked into claims that a woman was abused as a child in the 1990s by her father who had links to QVS.
The Scottish Child Abuse Inquiry (SCAI), launched in 2015, has named dozens of establishments under investigation, but QVS is not one of them. The school is funded by the Ministry of Defence (MoD) and counts Prince Philip as its patron.
Janine Rennie, from the charity Wellbeing Scotland, said: “If the inquiry is going to be effective, it cannot exclude an establishment where there is evidence of abuse.”
The former QVS pupil told police last year that he was abused by a teacher, Ben Phillips, while in primary school. Speaking to The Sunday Times, he recalled Phillips “fondling” his genitals while he was in bed in the dormitory and putting his hand down his pants while he was standing at Phillips’ desk during class. The man only told his father of the abuse in 2013.
“I think it’s my duty to mention these facts,” the man said. “[The police] took my case very seriously. It was only [last month] that an officer gave me a final update. If certain teachers had still been alive then there would be enough evidence with what they had accumulated from myself and other ex-pupils to make a case.
“I thought going to the police was the right thing to do, as there may be old boys out there who have suffered over the years.”
The Sunday Times understands that the MoD and QVS co-operated fully with the investigation into Phillips, who lived and worked at the school. He died in 1993, aged 46, when he fell from a ladder while hanging Christmas decorations.
We can also reveal that police investigated claims by a woman that she was abused as a girl in Dunblane in the 1990s. A local resident first raised concerns over the girl’s welfare in 1991, and in 2015 was asked by detectives to provide a fresh statement. The resident, who spoke to this paper last week, said the woman’s father had close connections with QVS and that the case was quietly dropped.
An MoD spokeswoman said: “We take any allegations of this nature very seriously and any claims of historical abuse involving Queen Victoria School have been passed to the police. We will fully co-operate with their inquiries.”
A spokesman for the SCAI said it will announce further investigations in due course that “may include other boarding schools”.
A spokeswoman for Police Scotland said: “There is no ongoing investigation in connection with Queen Victoria School. Police Scotland will not discuss further details of any reports made.”
Meanwhile, police in Kent have launched a review after a parent of an ex-pupil at The Duke of York’s Royal Military School complained that the force failed to robustly investigate a historical allegation.