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Breaking: Chethams rape trial ends in non-guilty verdict

June 8, 2015 by norman lebrecht

24 comments.


Malcolm Layfield, former violin teacher at Chetham’s School of Music and head of strings at RNCM, has been found not guilty of rape, according to journalist tweets from Manchester Crown Court. The jury took less than two hours to reach their verdict.

Layfield, now 63, had insisted his sexual relationship with the teenager had been consensual, as it had been in his relations with other students around the same time, in the 1980s.

More here.

malcolm layfield


Comments (24)

  1. Olassus says:

    Good barrister.

  2. Olga says:

    I am surprised that this ridiculous case ever got to court. It was a shocking waste of public money.

    1. Angela Rodion says:

      Olga, thank you. I was shot down in flames here a few days ago for suggesting that there was no case.

    2. Anon says:

      Presumably, based on your definitive statement, you have conclusive information about this situation that could be very enlightening. Or am I wrong?

  3. V.Lind says:

    On such evidence as has been published, this is the right decision. However, the school, and all others, should consider disciplinary action. Criminal or not, Layfield’s behaviour was utterly inappropriate, and all institutions of learning, or others that have the care of young people in their remit, should be vigilant in protecting the students/patients/clients from those nominally in positions of power over them.

    It would, however, also be useful if young people would start giving thought to their actions before embarking on sexual adventures.

    1. Alexander says:

      I think it’s Mr Layfield who ought to have been doing the thinking. So he’s not a rapist, but his behaviour was grossly inappropriate. I have taught 6th formers (16-18) and university undergraduates and would never have so much as considered the possibility of having sexual relations with a student. It’s a line that one simply cannot cross. It is completely unethical both personally and pedagogically. Where there exists such an imbalance in power the pupil can never be held responsible. Mr Layfield’s behaviour is, though not criminal, unspeakably unethical.

      1. Phillip says:

        ‘Where there exists such an imbalance in power the pupil can never be held responsible’. ‘Never’?? Really? There’s always such an imbalance of power, in one direction? You lack imagination.

      2. Phillip says:

        ‘Where there exists such an imbalance in power the pupil can never be held responsible’. ‘Never’?? There’s always such an ‘imbalance of power’ in one direction, is there? You lack imagination, and a basic grasp of human, male and female nature.

  4. Angela Rodion says:

    No case.

    1. Alexander says:

      It’s simply not true that there was “no case”. There was the case that the CPS presented in court. Do you think that every time a defendant is found not guilty it means that there was no “no case”? Prosecution doesn’t presume guilt. That is why we have trials. The decision to prosecute means that there is a public interest and that there is enough evidence that suggests that the suspect is guilty to make it worthwhile to authorise the police to charge him, to give him the opportunity to enter a plea, and, if he does not admit that he is guilty, to have the evidence tried in court.

  5. Alexander says:

    I wonder whether Olga and Angela Rodion understand how the CPS decides to prosecute. The fact that a defendant has been found not guilty does not mean that he should not have been prosecuted. The CPS prosecutes people when they believe that it is in the public interest to do so and that there is a realistic prospect of conviction. Therefore when a defendant is found to be not guilty it does not mean that the CPS has made a mistake. It means that the CPS and the defence have both done their respective jobs and the jury has reached a verdict based on the evidence that has been presented to it in court. That is the role of the CPS. They do not decide who is and is not guilty, and they do not expect, or even want, everybody they prosecute to be convicted. In this case the CPS will have reviewed the evidence gathered by the police and decided that there was a public interest in having that evidence presented to a jury and that in their opinion it was more likely than not that Mr Layfield would be found guilty.

    1. pooroperaman says:

      ‘The fact that a defendant has been found not guilty does not mean that he should not have been prosecuted.’

      B***ocks. Not guilty means innocent. Innocent means no case to answer. Stop hounding this man.

      1. SVM says:

        Layfield *did* have a case to answer, and rightly so; on the basis of the evidence and arguments presented in court, he was acquitted of the charges laid forth in that case. If there had really been no case to answer, it would have been dismissed long before reaching the stage of a public court hearing. It is not the place of commentators or of the CPS to pre-determine the decisions of a court of law either way.

        Finally, it is worth observing that (according to Helen Pidd’s report from the trial) Layfield admitted to having a relationship with a pupil who was 17 at the time; whilst that may have been legal in the 1980s, it would be illegal today (although 17 is above the age of consent, the law now prohibits a teacher from being in a relationship with his/her pupil if the pupil were under 18; furthermore, as Alexander has said, it is grossly unethical for a teacher to enter into a relationship with his/her pupil of *any* age).

        1. pooroperaman says:

          ‘he was acquitted of the charges laid forth in that case’

          So there was no case to answer, and the ‘evidence’ was no such thing. If you’re acquitted, you should never have been prosecuted in the first place, and any prosecution is therefore a malicious attack on you.

          1. V.Lind says:

            That is absolute rubbish, and has been ably refuted by the comments above describing the purposes of a prosecution. Remember O.J. Simpson? Burden of proof has something to do with it, and we all know that able advocacy can dismantle a prosecution case. Also mistakes in evidence chains, technical or legal missteps, faulty witnesses and many other factors can take down a case that had to be made on the existing evidence at times of committal to trial. See Rumpole for the lighter side of this.

            I have already posted on another related thread that I believe this was the correct verdict, while I believe Layfield to be guilty of extremely inappropriate behaviour. I was essentially throwing the ball into Chetham’s court, but it now seems the problem was systemic there. If that alone gets explored and cleaned up, then there is justification for this prosecution — while Layfield was, correctly in my view, cleared of a criminal charge there still ought to be consequences for individuals and institutions that behave so egregiously toward those under their care.

          2. Alexander says:

            I’m afraid you’re talking complete nonsense. You say, “If you’re acquitted, you should never have been prosecuted in the first place, and any prosecution is therefore a malicious attack on you.” That clearly makes no sense at all. The whole point of the trial is to determine whether or not the defendant is guilty. It is simply impossible to have a system where the only people who are ever charged with offences are people who are definitely going to be found guilty during the course of the trial. Or rather, it’s not impossible, and there are jurisdictions where this is more or less what happens, but they are not jurisdictions under which any of us would want to live. The CPS does not maliciously attack innocent people by prosecuting them for crimes which it later turns out that they didn’t commit. Being charged isn’t the same thing as being convicted. It just means that it has been determined that it is worthwhile for the question of your guilt or innocence to be put to a jury. This is a good result for justice. It shows that we have a system that prosecutes people whose guilt is probable and acquits people whose guilt is not certain.

  6. Marg says:

    His behaviour while not criminal should be grounds to fire him anyhow. In the corporate world he would have been shown the door way back.

  7. pooroperaman says:

    Good. Can we now see the odious Martin Roscoe brought to book for his part in the destruction of this man’s career?

    1. SVM says:

      It is not a crime to participate in an unsuccessful prosecution.

      As for the letters to Edward Gregson et al., it is worth noting that Roscoe’s main argument against Layfield’s appointment to Head of Strings at the RNCM was the fact that Layfield had been in relationships with pupils, something which Layfield has admitted. By my reading of the letters, Roscoe’s argument was that Layfield’s behaviour was not commensurate with the trust and responsibility vested in a Head of Strings, as a result of the *existence* of these relationships, irrespective of whether such relationships were consensual.

    2. Alexander says:

      Martin Roscoe has done nothing wrong. Rather, he is a good and courageous man. As far as I am aware, Martin Roscoe himself never accused Malcolm Layfield of being a rapist. If he did believe him to be a rapist then he ought to have taken his complaints to the police, not to the senior management of the RNCM. What Martin Roscoe argued was that Malcolm Layfield was a wholly unsuitable person to be a head of department given his history of inappropriate relationships with students. You are confusing two separate issues. One does not have to be a convicted criminal to be unsuitable to hold a particular position of responsibility. Malcolm Layfield’s behaviour, while not actually criminal, was nonetheless, and by his own admission, under oath in a court of law, in no way commensurate with his professional responsibilities as a teacher.

      1. Olga says:

        Not everyone agrees that Martin Roscoe is entirely “good and courageous”. Indeed, there are some who consider that he has effectively conducted a witch-hunt. The fact is that people find it easier to cope with a highly polarised evil man/good man scenario but of course, the truth is never so simple and this sort of thinking, though understandable, is very naive.

        1. Alexander says:

          Conducted a with-hunt against a man who has stated under oath in a court of law that he has had sex with at least six female students aged 17 upwards? Martin Roscoe has simply drawn attention to the fact that such a person is wholly unsuitable to hold a senior position in an educational institution. I fail to see how else this can be interpreted. I have myself taught 17-year-old girls and the idea that I would ever have sex with one could not have been further from my mind. If I had ever had sex with a student, let alone with at least six of them, that is something which I would expect to haunt me for the rest of my life and to ruin my career. It is something which teachers know that they simply do not do, and certainly do not do again and again and again and again and again. People say that the 1980s were a different time, and certainly the law has changed since then, but the fact is that the very large majority of teachers in the 1980s were not having sex with students. Indeed, Martin Roscoe is 62 and Malcolm Layfield is 63: this is not a case of a much younger person holding an older colleague to standards which did not exist at the time when the events occurred. We are all agreed now that Malcolm Layfield is not a rapist and does not deserve to spend (potentially) the rest of his life in prison. However, there are many of us who still believe that his behaviour (about which there is no doubt) was inappropriate, unprofessional, and unethical.

  8. pooroperaman says:

    ‘Being charged isn’t the same thing as being convicted.’

    Oh no? It seems to have made little difference to Layfield. He should never have been prosecuted.

    1. Alexander says:

      Have you not read any of the above discussion? And as for thinking that being charged and being convicted are the same thing, the main difference is that Malcolm Layfield emerges from the trial an innocent man and has not been sentenced to imprisonment, as he would have been if he had been convicted. He has lost his marriage, but that would be expected when almost any wife learns that her husband has conducted half a dozen extramarital affairs. He has also lost his teaching career. Again, that would be expected when a teacher admits to having had sex with six of his students.


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