Slippedisc Editorial: When searching for paedophiles, do not ignore music schools

Slippedisc Editorial: When searching for paedophiles, do not ignore music schools


norman lebrecht

July 10, 2014

The establishment of a UK judicial inquiry into long-running rumours of child abuse by powerful men is one of those rare initiatives that restores faith in due process. A distinguished judge will, we are assured, get to the bottom of hundreds of complaints that politicians and public figures were given access to vulnerable boys and girls in social care homes. Some good may yet come of the odious life and crimes of Jimmy Savile.

There is a risk, however, of further suppression. Hysteria in high places will occupy the headlines in the coming months and occlude other occurrences of abuse in certain schools, notably in music schools. One man, Mike Brewer, was jailed last year for crimes he committed at Chetham’s in Manchester, another has pleaded guilty and a third has been charged.


A leading figure in the early music world, Philip Pickett, will face trial in January on charges that relate to the Guildhall School in London.

Police have live inquiries into half a dozen further cases, cut back from thirty in aftermath of the Brewer trial.

What is regrettable is that no action was taken against teachers and governors in Manchester who knew of Brewer’s crimes and covered up for him. Measures have been put in places to detect abuse, but past stains persist in several school and they will not be purged without a proper inquiry. Nigel Kennedy has drawn attention to past abuses at the Yehudi Menuhin School. The Purcell School exists in a state of denial about fairly recent events, reported on this site. Music schools are fertile places for child abuse. They need to be covered by the judicial inquiry.