Former headteacher ‘too ill to stand trial’ in child sex case filmed giving public talk
West Midlands Police said it is investigating the secret recording that shows Colin Cope joking and reciting poetry at a public talk just eight months after the case against him was halted at Shrewsbury Crown Court
Police say any new evidence will be passed on to the Crown Prosecution Service for consideration of reopening the case against the 83 year-old.
Mr Cope was headteacher at Tettenhall College in Wolverhampton. Many of his victims now live in Shropshire and have come forward offering evidence.
Today the Shropshire Star can also reveal that the allegations against Cope are likely to be looked at by the independent child sex abuse inquiry set up by the Government which is currently without a chairman.
Two of Cope’s alleged victims were Mark Shelton, aged 57, of Shifnal, and Andrew Wood, 56, of Hereford.
Both men have waived their right to anonymity and have spoken about the lasting emotional and psychological damage they allege they suffered in the early 1970s.
Officers from the Metropolitan Police have also interviewed one of Cope’s alleged victims as part of Operation Fairbank to establish whether there are any links to institutional and nationwide paedophile rings.
Cope, who now lives in an 18th century National Trust property in Sturminster Marshall, Dorset, was charged with 11 sexual offences against children aged 11 to 13.
But a jury at Shrewsbury Crown Court never got to hear any of the evidence because Judge Robin Onions stayed the case on Cope’s health grounds and ruled the long passage of time – more than 35 years – since the offences were said to have taken place, created difficulties for the defendant to challenge the prosecution case.
Cope denied any wrongdoing.
Tettenhall College paid £129,000 to settle civil action by five former pupils, including Mr Wood and Mr Shelton.
They received payments ranging from £5,000 to £60,000 when they agreed to settle the claim against the school. Liability was not admitted by the school.
The school stresses the allegations date back more than 40 years.
West Midlands Police spokesman Deb Edmonds confirmed the footage was being reviewed.
West Bromwich East MP Tom Watson who has been at the forefront of exposing child sex abuse said: “If people are healthy enough to stand trial then they should stand trial. It is absolutely right the West Midlands Police review the new video footage. I hope they will be seeking the guidance of the specialist prosecutors in the CPS who are skilled in dealing with allegations of serious sexual crimes. This is because there have been a number of investigations in other police force areas that have required review by the CPS in order to get inquiries back on track.”
Despite extensive efforts the Shropshire Star has been unable to locate Mr Cope. His solicitor, Julian Hardy, declined to comment