Inquiry into paedophile William Vahey finds serious failures at school
— November 26, 2014
Report finds Southbank International could have stopped Vahey after emergence of ‘intrinsically inappropriate conduct’
The headmaster of an elite London school where the US paedophile William Vahey abused more than 60 boys dismissed a complaint about his worrying conduct on a field trip as “unfair pressure” by “vindictive parents”, an independent report in to his criminality has revealed.
After an eight-month inquiry into the sex abuse scandal at Southbank International school in London, where Vahey worked from 2009 to 2013, the senior barristerHugh Davies QC concluded Vahey’s systematic abuse was the result of serious failures and “straightforward errors” by the leadership at the £25,000-a-year school.
Vahey drugged teenage boys with sedatives secreted in Oreo cookies and soft drinks while on school trips to places such as Jordan, Nepal and India as recently 2013.
In less than four years he went on 17 school trips and set up his own travel club. He offered to look after the “ill” children he had dosed, moving them to different rooms and abusing them.
He killed himself in March after hundreds of photographs of his victims were found on his computer. The case has devastated the school community, which includes many international business and diplomatic families.
The report was commissioned by Sir Chris Woodhead, the former chief inspector of schools in England and head of Ofsted. Woodhead is now the chairman of Southbank International’s board.
In a damning report seen by the Guardian, Davies found the headmaster and deputy head, who have now left, had received four separate complaints about Vahey’s suspicious conduct but did not report them to local authority child protection experts.
Davies said “a clear pattern of intrinsically inappropriate conduct” emerged from teachers, pupils and parents that was sufficient for Vahey to have been stopped, but that did not happen.
“Vahey’s conduct on trips, most particularly his altering of accommodation arrangements, was manifestly inappropriate,” Davies said. “Teachers surely must know this should not happen. It should accordingly have been reported, recorded and fully investigated at the time.”
When reports were made to the school’s leaders, their response was “objectively inadequate” and the reporting procedures were incoherent, he said.
Davies’s report comes as Scotland Yard and the FBI continue to investigate Vahey’s abuse in the UK and abroad. He taught in schools from Indonesia to Venezuela.
Davies’s findings will be made available to the child protection expert Dame Moira Gibb, who is conducting a statutory serious case review into the scandal.
Davies found that during one trip Vahey urged colleagues not to tell parents that several boys had fallen ill. He also made inappropriate comments to students, which a parent later reported to the then headmaster, Terry Hedger.
According to Davies’s report, Hedger told Vahey he would not be going on a subsequent trip as a result, but did not tell the school board or its owner, Cognita, about the incident.
In fact he sought to reassure Vahey, who sent an angry email complaining the decision could undermine his reputation.
Hedger emailed to say “my intention is to ensure that your fine reputation and standing in the community Visit Site