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The Times’ shocking revelations about ‘dark deeds’ at St Paul’s School are anything but

15 May 2014

1:52 PM

15 May 2014

1:52 PM

Shocking revelations in the Times about St Paul’s and Colet Court, the schools that George Osborne attended (along with me).

Someone called Adam Barnard has exposed the terrible goings-on behind the façade of educational excellence in leafy Barnes. Perhaps his most serious allegation is that, after sport, boys were made to shower naked, and there was some sick freak of an adult lurking in the changing room, ostensibly checking that this happened, but in reality perhaps harbouring dark, dark thoughts. Also, Barnard reveals that some of his teachers were a bit scary, and that he sometimes felt a bit uneasy – these were the sort of teachers who probably would have caned boys a lot, had there been corporal punishment. And I will not speak of the sexual abuse that Barnard suffered, because there wasn’t any.


The article’s headline says it all: ‘Colet Court: “It was a world where dark deeds might have gone unchecked”’. ‘Might have’? Yes, and the headmaster might have been a mass murderer. It’s a funny thing for a serious newspaper to print.

Why not just say: ‘I feel guilty about my privileged education’, instead of trying to besmirch the reputation of a pretty great institution?

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  • Davidh

    This from Adam’s article in The Times says much: “though I certainly was not abused at Colet Court or St Paul’s, the coverage of the investigation is making me look at old memories in new ways”.

    Is “looking at old memories in new ways” a little bit like making things up? Goes to the heart of the problem with these historical abuse investigations. Give them publicity and people start looking at their old memories in new ways. No publicity and people who did suffer real abuse may not come forward.

  • rtj1211

    You can go too far the other way you know. I went to the ‘Quaker Eton’ aka Leighton Park School in Reading. During the time just before-, during and just after my stay there, the kindly and benevolent disciplinary approach succeeding in achieving the following:

    1. Discos being banned due to visiting bands dealing in drugs with the U18s.
    2. The Daily Express leading its daily outrage rag with the story that two pupils two years below me had been busted for importing pot and selling it to pupils from a base in the East End.
    3. An Oxbridge Candidate was told to pack his bags and go during 7th term for making a 14 year old girl pregnant.
    4. Ugly rumours surrounded the Canoeing team and whether or not they were, or were not, imbibing in steroid use during their stellar careers as international canoeists. I am completely ignorant as to whether there was any basis in fact for that or not.
    5. The new head in my final year called the Maths students in for a fairly well-deserved bollocking as the Mock A results were so appalling as to render his first set of marks as head somewhat deleterious to future recruitment campaigns. Having got an A and a Cambridge place the previous term, I disregarded his strictures whilst understanding where he was coming from.
    6. Forensic examination of the school photo in the early 1980s identified 3 people whose drug taking the night before was clear from the dilated pupils to be found in the prints.
    7. Now that no politician of any note since Michael Foot has been to the school, the Press tend to take little notice of goings on there.

  • overmind

    There is a very pythonesque aspect to this article. It reminds me of the “A minute passed” sketch on the monty pyton recording “monty pytons previous record” record.

  • english_pensioner

    Showering naked? This was the practice at a well known London Boys’ Grammar School that I attended where we all had to run through a series of showers, in one end and out the other. And you occasionally got slapped by the gym master if you didn’t move fast enough.

    • Tony_E

      I’m only 42, so I can tell you that this was certainly the practice at every school I attended right to the late 80’s – communal showers after sports.

      Do you know anyone who showers in their clothes?

  • Tim Hedges

    I too am an Old Pauline. May I suggest that Theo Hobson does as I have done: write to the enquiry saying he neither witnessed nor heard of anything of these events
    Tim Hedges

    • Tim Hedges

      Really, James HC, it’s not me assuming everybody is innocent, it’s you assuming they are all guilty. If there are allegations, of course there must be an enquiry, but that enquiry, to be balanced, must hear both the good and the bad.
      Are you suggesting that not having experienced or heard of these things during my 5 years at the school I should nevertheless keep quiet so we can get on and condemn someone nem con? I don’t think Dean Colet would have approved of that.

  • Fergus Pickering

    More than fifty years ago we showered naked at my Edinburgh School (no fees for me). Then The Daily xpress found out and we were no longer allowed to. which meant you couldn’t swim after school unless you had brought a costume and towel. I remember a clener saying as she entered the changing rooms, ‘Don’t worry love. I’ve seen more of those than you’ve had hot dinners.’ I also found out that the Head of the School had the most enormous dong.

  • sarah_13

    My son read the article today and said exactly the same thing! He attended St Paul’s school and left last summer and absolutely loved it, and unlike the very privileged boy who wrote that pointless and unhelpful article he is not ashamed of having been lucky enough to have parents who sacrificed a very great deal to send him to that excellent school. He loved the school and the teaching was excellent. I’m not sure if the author of the Times article realises that institutions like St. Pauls do not exist in some vacuum, they need funding and that relies on reputation and people sending their children to the school. Not only that but there are many many people whose livelihoods depend on the school. The privileged young many who wrote that article might like to consider what he as added to the St Paul’s debate and the investigations.

    And as a by the way I went to a northern comprehensive and there were plenty of weirdos who taught us there, we were watched in the showers, teachers regularly humiliated kids and all the PE teachers were odd. My brother’s would have gladly exchanged their school for St’ Paul’s any day of the week. Weirdos are not exclusive to the private sector. I trust operation yew tree will be extending it’s search to many other schools rather than focusing solely on St’ Paul’s.

  • Ian_Pace

    I am glad the author of this blog post and so many commentators think this is a matter to be brushed off so lightly. But I would also refer them to some of the accounts by former pupils of the behaviour of Alan Doggett, director of music, as reported earlier in The Times:

    ‘Luke’s abuse by Alan Doggett, Colet Court’s director of music, was a once-only indecent assault during the boy’s compulsory audition for the choir. Doggett’s auditions of boarders were always when pupils were dressed for bed. Luke stood by the piano. As he sang, Doggett’s hand explored beneath the waistband of his pyjamas.

    A far worse fate awaited another boy in his dormitory, a year younger than Luke, who was angelic in both voice and looks. He was Doggett’s chosen one, summoned far too often from their dormitory to spend long hours at night in the choirmaster’s bedroom.

    “He had one particular favourite who received regular visits in the dormitory at night. He’d abuse the poor boy without seeming to care that we could all see and watch what was happening.”

    Other ex-pupils spoke this week of open gossip among the boys that “half a crown” was the “going rate for a session with Doggett”. One said that his year group even coined a new verb: to be “Doggoed” was to be groped and fondled.’

    (more on this at )

    Judging by this blog and some responses, the worst aspects of the public school ethos, and the total lack of any human empathy contained therein, are alive and kicking. The Spectator should be ashamed of itself for allowing a piece which treats alleged survivors in such a dismissive manner.

  • Sarka

    When I was a teenager I was at St. Paul’s Girls. We used to have joint discos with St. Paul’s Boys – in the early 70s. What total wash-outs they were! I well remember the first time I was approached by a St. Paul’s boy to ask me to dance. He looked a bit wimpy but I said I would. By way of conversation he told me his OL results. He asked what mine were. Mine turned out to be better, so he just turned on his heel and walked off.
    I now realise that he wasn’t a pathetic idiot, and sexist to boot, but just the victim of sexual abuse – if not actual sexual abuse then the abusive thought-waves emanating from the evil St. Paul’s games master as the poor boy cowered pitifully under the cold shower in the altogether.

  • Smithersjones2013

    My god people showering naked. Everyone knows the best way to shower is with several layers of winter clothing covered by waders, brolly and a plastic Macintosh.

    I hear one of the female teachers (the shameless hussy) accidentally exposed her ankle to some of her boys in class one occasion accidentally as well! What is the world coming to.

    So the Times joins the rest of the MSM in its march toward comicdom.

  • Spectator reader

    I’m not sure that it can be assumed that Adam Barnard feels guilty for receiving a privileged education. Even if he does, it seems bizarre to suggest that unconscious social guilt is in fact the real reason that he is making allegations of sexual abuse. I don’t quite see how alleging sexual abuse would make him feel less guilty about being privileged?

    It seems clumsy of the Spectator to try to shoe-horn a tired point about reverse snobbism into a poorly thought out article about sexual abuse, while making an ad hominem attack on someone who is reporting abuse.

    Even if the various allegations of abuse are some kind of confused and convoluted attempt to besmirch the good name of St Paul’s, the school would do further damage to its public image by not taking them seriously. It would also be in dereliction of its duty of care towards its students.

    However, my understanding is that at least one of the masters involved has already been convicted of being in possession of indecent images of minors. Clearly Scotland Yard are taking these allegations more seriously than The Spectator, having appointed the head of Operation Yew Tree to lead an investigation into eighteen teachers.

    • Mr Grumpy

      Regardless of your attempt to play the “no smoke without fire” card, either Mr Barnard has actual abuse to reveal or he hasn’t.

      If nude showering under the games master’s eye is the worst of it, that makes most over-50s victims, I would think.

  • Realpolitik/ fruitcake/ racist

    At prep school Matrons usually made sure we showered, that was about it, I remember a matron would sit in on bath nights to get an eye-full. At my public school we were left to our own devices.

    • sarah_13

      Weirdo teachers are not exclusive to the private sector at my comprehensive we had plenty, I would say a disproportionate amount of od bods staffed the PE department.

  • Ulysses Returns

    Just about anyone who attended a public school in the 60s could tell
    similar tales. Just before I arrived at Mill Hill in ’68 b*ggery was
    supposedly rife. I remember one particularly obnoxious Housemaster in
    School House (not the redoubtable OJ Waite) who taught Mathematics and
    would leave the class early to rush down to see the f*gs (3rd formers)
    change after PE. Every time I was called to his study I would rip off
    the piece of card he had sellotaped over the keyhole to prevent spying
    on his activities with some of the more effeminate young boys. Our view
    at the time was, he was a disgusting creep, but we all considered him
    harmless – we were more interested in what Frank Harris had to say in My
    Life and Loves and trying to emulate his works with the local girls. (* Edited to pass the prissy moderator).

    • McRobbie

      I can recall a similar creepy chemistry teacher in my secondary modern school, a boys school at the time… nowhere near a public school environment. The boys treated him as a bit of a joke and avoided him wherever possible.

      • sarah_13

        Precisely, my northern comprehensive school PE department was staffed by a disporotionate number of odd bods. Nowhere near a public school. I trust plod will be broadening their enquiries instead of trying to make up for their lack of investigation into jimmy savile.

  • Hexhamgeezer

    Showering naked? That’s possibly one step removed from drug fuelled teacher lead mass gang rape. What a narrow escape young Adam almost had. I feel his (lack of) pain.

    • telemachus

      There has to be some explanation for Osborne’s uncaring detached ness and heaping of more misery on the poor and disabled
      I am sure his mother loved him so it had to be the school
      We should delve deeper

      • HookesLaw

        I think we are more interested in the misery Brown heaped upon the nation by spending money we did not have.

        • telemachus

          And restored the health of Health and Education

          • McRobbie

            Now that’s a bit rich..too use a nasty leftie word! education standards 3rd world level post labour…and a non caring caring profession post burnham and really are getting desperate to spout that rubbish off as being a success story.

            • telemachus

              Not sure what you have been reading
              The objective measures of education and health between 1997 and 2010 speak for themselves
              Ask who got rid of the disaster of 50% of patients dying on cardiac waiting lists?

          • Realpolitik/ fruitcake/ racist

            1. they start taxing at £6,500…….. compared to the coalition’s £10,500..if they represented the working man why tax low-paid workers so harshly forcing them onto benefits as they are better off on them?????)

            2. they didn’t regulate the banks in 13 years. (Blair now a banker worth upwards of 60 MILLION- and he started the new labour movement…..) Google “Peter Mandelson on yacht with Nat Rothschild” “Google Brown at Bilderberg” etc. “I want us to do even more to encourage the risk takers” (Gordon Brown, Mansion House speech, 17 June 2004) I believe, too, we should consider how we can continue to extend our risk-based approach, applying the concept of risk not just to the enforcement of regulation, but also to the design and indeed to the decision as to whether to regulate at all… And we will take the fight on deregulation to Europe.” (Speech to the CBI, 5 June 2006)

            3. more tax has been paid by top earners EVERY year under the coalition than ANY under labour.

            4. They want to increase debt BY £3,200 per person

            5. spend 11.6% more than they take in tax.

            6. they destroyed our economy. Labour presided over the slowest growth in 50 years, they produced the fastest decline in British manufacturing since manufacturing began, they left us mired in the longest recession since the war, they bequeathed maybe the largest deficit in peacetime history, and they handed over a debt so huge we will still be repaying it when the earth is swallowed by an expanding sun, a cosmological termination which might therefore come as some relief.

            7. they want to continue to send 57million a day to the EU

            8. they want higher immigration (last time allowed the biggest mass immigration into the United Kingdom in our nation’s history: three million people, possibly more than entered these island in the preceding 1,000 years combined.)

            9. they have destroyed the NHS in Wales (where they are currently in power, why wouldn’t they do it here too?????- the coalition have ring-fenced our NHS budget so they CAN’T cut it, but labour will.) Our last labour government blew £250,000,000 on private surgery because their NHS was so bad1,200 died in Mid-Staffordshire Hospital alone, that’s more than died in Mid-Staffordshire during the Black Death.
            along with their gagging orders on whistle blowers within the NHS

            10. they raid the pensions.

            11. Iraq+Afghanistan.

            12.They sold off 400 tons of UK gold reserves and invested the money in euros, compare the change in the value of gold to the change in the value of the euro in recent years if you have some free time.

            13. run by the unions

            14. They bloated the welfare budget.

            15. They didn’t keep up with house building when demand rocketed, allowing house prices to triple

            16. They failed to build a lot of necessary infrastructure such as power stations.

            17. they didn’t invest in infrastructure (despite borrowing 1 trillion and taking 13 years of tax) Well, yes: they built the Millennium Dome. It’s easy to forget the Millennium Dome, because, after all, who would want to remember it, but this thing burned up 800 million pounds, was maybe the greatest marketing flop in recorded time, and it turned out to be a great big dirty tent where queueing families could pay £60, just to look at uplifting representations of litter.

            18. They continually increased fuel duty by over 107%, harming motorists.

            19. They signed the Lisbon treaty, giving vast amounts of power to the EU and going against their own manifesto in with they specifically said they would give the people a referendum.

            20. Allowing rich people to buy peerages.

            21. Started HS2

            22. They left us with the largest budget deficit in the G20 relative to GDP.

            23.They lumbered the NHS with vast PFI repayments which are coming out of Foundation trusts and straight into the pockets of the private sector. £50 Billion’s worth of loans which are costing us £300 Billion in repayments-genius!…….

            24. Housing waiting lists DOUBLED under Labour

            25. Europe. labour’s biggest achievement in Europe was to give away half our precious rebate, won by Thatcher, at a cost to you and me of £9 billion so far – and in return they got precisely nothing, unless you count a chortling, after-dinner promise from Jacques Chirac, that he’d make Tony Blair President of the EU, which he didn’t. A small mercy.

            26. Education. ensuring English youngsters are amongst the worst educated in the western world, and closing the grammar schools preventing the poor from achieving.

            27. giving everyones personal information to america

   “labour MP wants muslim prime minister”

            29. they can’t even run their party finances ( lost 2 million recently in banking)

            30. The party is almost identical to the previous labour government who got us in to this mess (ed balls).

            31. labour25 pedophile scandals.

            32. Medi Hassan wrote Miliband’s biography is a militant muslim who described westerners as animals (a video you can find on here)

            33. The espouse the same political policies and views as the French President Hollande which are destroying France, where the rich have left youth unemployment is at 25% and they have seen the largest drop in investment for over 60 years.

            34. 5 Labour MPs—and no Tories or Lib Dems—have been found guilty of expenses fraud by a court and sent to prison. Ed Balls claimed £33 parliamentary expenses for poppy wreaths he had laid at his constituency ceremony.

            35. you’re voting for the racist Diane Abbott, weak and incompetent Ed Miliband and the oaf who destroyed our economy 4 years ago- Ed Balls,

            36. labour corruption privatisation of Qinteq defence service making LABOUR Lord Drayson worth over £542 MILLION

            37. The gap between rich and poor was wider when Labour were in power.

            38.- Gave away sovereignty through Lisbon and the Human Rights Act

            39. – Abused state finances with 0.7% overseas aid pledge

            40. Abolished Primary Purpose Rule and allowed immediate A8 accession allowing 7 million immigrants into Britain 1997 to 2010 in a deliberate attempt to build its voting base.

            41. – Sucked up to crony public sector Unions by inflating pay and pensions of an unreformed public sector

            42. – Imposed postal voting extension open to political corruption.

            43. – Spent so much money on Labour cronies that it had a 5% structural deficit at the height of the boom.

            44. – Impoverished millions with the Climate Change Act of alternative energy zealotry.

            45. – Created the catastrophe of multicultural extremism.

            46. Sent our military to wars under equipped

            47. – Created welfare as a lifestyle, with the totally dysfunctional tax credit system, and the catastrophe of excessive housing benefit

            48. Labour insisted on 50% of pupils going to university even though degree level jobs for only 20%.

            49. £12.7 billion of tax pounds wasted on connecting for health IT fiasco that ended up being canned as it would never work and all investment put into it lost. That would have paid the salaries of 60,000 nurses for 10 years.

            50. Mapely Steps scandal. labour sold off 1,000 government buildings to a private company, for 300k each, making payments to Mapeley STEPS to make the deal more attractive, and effectively FREE, then leased them back for a period of 20 years at current market rate. gov inquiry concluded… it was ‘an oversight’

            As for the Labour Party right now, they’ve opposed every cut that aims to tackle the deficit their party created and are not offering a plan of what they would do differently. Apart from keeping all the cuts (which they are opposed to)

          • sarah_13

            My father was privy to the lack care of the NHS under Mr Brown. A total shameful disgrace. My mother worked in the NHS for over 40 years only to find so called nurses looking after her husband who couldn’t even be bothered to give patients water. They are all too busy talking or eating to attend to patients. The NHS like schools have become institutions for the staff and not those they teach or care for. Disgraceful irresponsibility engenered by a selfish irresponsible leaders first Tony Blair and then Gordon Brown.

            • telemachus

              No one would defend that
              This is why Gordon sent Andy Burnham in to enforce regulation on a service now awash with resources

          • balance_and_reason


      • Realpolitik/ fruitcake/ racist
      • balance_and_reason

        Like rising employment, rising wages, falling taxes, a sense of reassurance that the countries economy is not being run by a crack whore with a gold amex….other good things….(I realise both Brown and Balls would struggle to do any biz as the afore mentioned allegory)

  • MirthaTidville

    Don`t worry its probably got a firm of lawyers attached who are feeling left what with the raft of money making celebs currently gripping the dock rails…