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Warwick School – your mea culpa on historic sexual and physical abuse is an outright fail

Tom Winnifrith
Wednesday 2 January 2019

The Old Warwickian, the glossy quarterly for those of us who attended Warwick School, arrived just now. As ever it is full of pages of smiling rugger buggers and sporty young men of old and of the same fine fellows at OW receptions around the world today. I see a couple of my contemporaries (Alan Dee and Clark Sergeant) at a reunion last year. They are still recognisable but, like me, much older, Do I look that much older? Almost certainly yes. But I suspect I look far less respectable.

On the back page the new Headmaster Deneal Smith finally addresses, as he promised he would, the issue of historic abuse. He invites anyone who suffered such abuse to contact him ([email protected]). But his article is inadequate.

Smith says he is “aware that independent schools in an earlier era were very different, and safeguarding would not be a term that previous generations of pupils would have understood in the way it is today.” What I think he means to say is “I am aware that a number of old boys have made very specific allegations against specific Warwick masters of old regarding both sexual and physical abuse and Warwick is truly sorry.”

I, like Smith, am aware of the master who sexually abused at least two boys but will not name him as the Police are finally investigating after one brave man stepped forward. I am all too aware of the physical abuse handed out by Geoffrey Eve over many years since I was a victim. The Police can do nothing.

The man who has reported a master for sexual abuse only did so after we chatted at length and I reassured him that he was not the only victim.  The article by Deneal Smith in the OW fails to admit Warwick’s guilty past, let alone to say sorry. And thus there may be other victims who will read it and will also think that they were the only ones and so it was somehow their fault. They may not come forward as a result

I hope that any other victims will stumble across this and will realise that they are not alone and will step forward and force the issue, force Warwick to admit to its failings. Because it is not just the abuse but the way that Warwick as an institution failed to tackle it and covered it up. Thus the master accused of sexual abuse was able to continue teaching young buys after leaving Warwick. God only knows what else he was able to do because of the institutional failings of Warwick.

Eve had already been given time off after earlier abuse only to return in time to abuse me aged ten and then to carry on abusing other boys for another three of four years.  That was Warwick’s failing.

Warwick needs to accept its manifest and shameful failings but also to reach out to all old boys making it clear that if they suffered they were not the only ones. Sorry Dr Smith B+ for Effort, C- for Attainment.

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About Tom Winnifrith
Tom Winnifrith is the editor of When he is not harvesting olives in Greece, he is (planning to) raise goats in Wales.
[email protected]
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