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So Headmaster: did you really listen to Alex Renton? Lessons for Warwick School

Tom Winnifrith
Tuesday 10 January 2023

I flagged up my latest piece on historic physical and sexual abuse at Warwick School to the current headmaster yesterday.  He promised that he would listen to the excellent Alex Renton programme on Radio 4 last night. I listened with a glass of brandy in my hand thinking how much this reminded me of Warwick and almost in tears. It was very saddening but illuminating.

Renton detailed two paedophile teachers, one who had abused him and many others at Ashdown House and the other who had committed industrial scale abuse at two schools in Scotland. Both had left the UK for South Africa where they carried on abusing little boys at private schools there. Both left with glowing references from the UK.

The victims demand just two things. That the offenders are brought to justice and that the schools that protected them accept their failings in terms of a duty of care and apologise. That was the key message from the programme.

Warwick knew about the activities of one paedophile teacher Mr X, as I explained yesterday. It did not sack him and report him to the old Bill. Instead it allowed him to wander off into a new position where he could abuse children.  Warwick knew about Geoffrey Eve who physically abused me and many others. It gave him time off to recover after his first attacks. Then he came back and it was in his second stint that I and many, many others were abused. In the end he got a full pension and early retirement but that was after abusing dozens more boys in stint two. There is another Warwick paedophile who, after many cases of abuse at Warwick, was passed on to another school.  The mind boggles.

If Warwick’s newish headmaster really did listen, he needs to start considering what we victims of abuse really want. Not a quiet private apology as I have received over Eve, but a full cleansing operation. And that brings us to the second big takeaway from Renton.  The South African schools where these two teachers abused so many kids have now written to all pupils saying that these events took place and inviting other victims to come forward.

Warwick may have a private enquiry but in its only letter to all pupils it stated:

Quite rightly, in the wake of high-profile failings nationally, there has been a greater focus on safeguarding in schools, and there is likely to be further scrutiny with the publication next month of the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse report into abuse in residential schools. Whilst we have not ourselves been subject to scrutiny by this inquiry, nor Ofsted’s review following the disclosures on ‘Everyone’s Invited’, we are constantly striving to improve.

Let us be clear: Warwick has not received scrutiny because it has done everything it could, historically, to protect abusers and is still today not admitting that there was a problem. Reading those words again just enrages me. I really do feel the desire to inflict the sort of physical viokence Even inflicted on me on the man who wrote those words. What a smug bastard he is. Does he have any idea of the sufferent that was inflicted on so many under Warwick’s “duty of care?”

Did Mr X, who will shortly receive a visit from me as I detailed yesterday, only abuse three boys in the course of more than a decade at Warwick? Like hell he did. If Warwick, as I have urged it to do for more than a decade, wants to deal with this issue it must come clean and admit that it employed a number of men who were either physical or sexual abusers of its boys. It must admit its failings. It must tell all pupils that if they were victims they were not alone and encourage them to come forward. There is no doubt in my mind that if it did so that many many more victims would come forward.

My article of yesterday seems to have been flagged up in an online forum for those attending a re-union of Old Warwickians later this year and one such OW has already stepped forward to give more chilling testimony about the abuse handed out by Geoffrey Eve, of a pupil ( aged 11 or younger) being whacked and beaten by Eve in the line for assembly. The other teachers (most women at Warwick Junior then) saw this and did nothing. They too were frightened by this sadist. This victim was also physically based by Eve and 40 years on says that he is “still angry and bitter”. So am I. I still have nightmares.  So do many others.

Generally those of us with unhappy memories of Warwick do not attend reunions. They are for the hearties from the first XV to recall their “glory days.” Warwick needs to reach out to all former pupils not those who openly hate me for what I have written on this matter, for daring to challenge the narrative that the old school was a wonderful place whose reputation should not be stained in any way. 

Its 2023 and if he listened to Renton last night, current headmaster, James Barker, must be in no doubt as to what he MUST do next. A full admission by Warwick to all ex-pupils is needed now. That will inevitably bring forward new victims and perhaps that will lead to justice being done.

If Warwick refuses to act as I have been urging for more than a decade, I shall start to name the paedophile teachers one by one, starting with one who is very much alive, Mr X.

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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.
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