The sex abuse scandal that first hit Hollywood and Westminster has now swept the corridors of Britain’s illustrious educational institutions. Former pupils at one of the UK’s top girls’ schools have said they were sexually abused while studying there.
Two ex-pupils of St Paul’s Girls’ School in West London have revealed details of their abuse, which allegedly took place between the 1970s and 1990s. Other allegations were raised by people on behalf of friends.
The claims were made as part of the #metoo campaign, which encourages people to reveal current and historical claims of sexual abuse in the wake of the Harvey Weinstein revelations.
The school in Hammersmith, which regularly tops the national league tables for exam results, sent a letter to its alumni to make them aware of the claims raised.
The letter, signed by High Mistress Sarah Fletcher, and seen by the Huffington Post, states that the £24,000 (US$ 31,460)-a-year-fee school has called for the Local Authority Designated Officer to carry out “an independent safeguarding inspection” to ensure that current pupils are as safe as possible.
“They have told us of past sexual abuse at St Paul’s,” she wrote.
“Two wrote from personal experience, others about what they had heard from friends. The allegations relate to a period spanning from the 1970s to 1990s. We immediately passed the information onto the relevant authorities, and we remain in close contact with them.
“I have written to everyone concerned thanking them for coming forward and expressing our absolute condemnation of all such behavior. I have let staff and parents know, and will be talking to our students. The police can only do their job, however, if they have a name [to work with].”
Fletcher also urged all those who claim to have been abused to report the perpetrator to the police.
“I realize this is a big and difficult step to take, and we shall do all we can to support anyone who decides to go to the police,” she added. “We can never say it could never happen here. We can, however, try our hardest to make sure that we are robust in setting the highest standards in safeguarding that we can.”
The school, whose alumni are known as Old Paulinas, has contributed to the education of some top women in Britain’s politics, arts and business.
They include Tory MP Vicky Ford, journalists Sophie Raworth and Susanna Reid, TV presenter Victoria Coren Mitchell and actresses Rachel Weisz, Emily Mortimer and Joely Richardson. Novelist and broadcaster Rachel Johnson also attended the school. There is no suggestion any of them have alleged abuse.