Convicted Oldham Headteacher was Able to Sexually Abuse Boys in Plain Sight for Years

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Kate Hall

Solicitor Graduate, Abuse

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Christopher Pickup, a now 76-year-old retired teacher, sexually abused 19 pupils whilst working at two separate Oldham schools in the 1970s and 80s. The boys Pickup assaulted were all between the ages of eight and 11 at the time the abuse took place.

After being found guilty of 37 sexual offences earlier this year, Pickup has this month been sentenced to 10 years in prison. He has also been ordered to pay court costs totalling £58,760 as well as signing the Sex Offenders Register.

If you or a loved one suffered abuse as a child, our Abuse Solicitors could help you take the first steps towards accessing support and compensation. Get in touch with our friendly and approachable team for more information.

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How was the Abuse Allowed to Take Place?

Throughout Pickup’s trial, the Court heard how he had been a teacher who “everybody loved” and that he was well-respected by children, parents and colleagues.

The prosecutor in Pickup’s case explained how this respect and trust led him to develop “supreme confidence”, enabling him to carry out brazen sexual assaults that took place in public as well as in his private office.

Pickup was easily able to create situations where he would be alone with young boys because of the position of power he held. One of the occasions where this happened was on a school trip. Pickup made up an excuse to bring one male pupil to his bedroom, he then made the boy take his trousers down and inflicted corporal punishment before exposing himself.

Despite the horror of the abuse they were subjected to, the young boys affected felt that they were on their own and one even stated that he thought he “must have done something wrong” at the time.

Judge Bernadette Baxter, who presided over this case, commented that Pickup would have been completely aware of the power he had because of the esteem he was held in by the whole school community. He would therefore have known that it was extremely unlikely that any of the boys would report what had happened.

How has this Abuse Affected the People Involved?

It’s impossible to overstate the impact that Pickup’s abuse will have had on the people affected. The Court heard the many different ways that each of the men affected had struggled as a result of the abuse.

Sexual abuse can leave victims with emotional scars, especially when it takes place in what children assume to be a safe space – like a school – and when the abuser is a person with authority, which is often the case.

The effects of sexual abuse are long-lasting, and can often stay with a victim for the rest of their lives. There is an increasing amount of support available to these victims, from specialised therapy and support groups to organisations, charities and resources.

In this case, one of these men said that he had been left feeling uncomfortable around teachers while another explained how he had spiralled into drug and drink abuse later in life. This emotional torment has been worsened by the fact that none of the survivors of Pickup’s abuse have ever received an apology, even after he was found guilty.

Detective Constables Craig Rice and Natalie Sykes from Oldham’s Non-Recent Sexual Offences Team highlighted the effects of Pickup’s abuse, stating: “experiencing sexual abuse at any stage in life can have a devastating and long-lasting impact on an individual’s life, but to experience it is a child by someone who you respect and trust is unfathomable.”

Greater Manchester Police have commended the bravery of the people who were affected by this abuse in coming forward and have encouraged anyone else affected by non-recent abuse to report their experience.

If This Has Happened to You:

If you’ve experienced abuse as a child, you might feel hesitant to take legal action if a lot of time has passed. But as we’ve seen in this case, a successful prosecution can still be brought decades after abuse has taken place.

It can be scary to think of speaking out about what happened to you. Whether it’s the idea of taking on a person of authority, or if it’s the thought of going back to the past that’s daunting, we completely understand, and we’re here to advise you along the way. It’s important to talk about what happened to you, and we’re here to point you in the direction of the support you can get to help you deal with having to revisit the past.

Many people are coming out and talking about their experiences now, which has helped them move towards getting the closure they need. Speaking up about abuse can also help you begin your journey towards healing.

If you’ve already been through the process of reporting your abuse to the police, our Manchester-based Abuse Law Solicitors could help you make a civil claim for compensation.

If you were abused in your former school, we would bring a claim on your behalf against the Local Authority who failed in their legal responsibility to keep you safe and protect you from physical and sexual abuse. 

We’ll provide you with support throughout the claims process and offer you access to our large network of survivor groups. No matter how long ago the abuse took place, it’s never too late to seek legal action.

Whenever you’re ready to talk, we’ll listen to the details of your situation as part of a confidential, no-obligation conversation and let you know what the next steps will be if you decide to go forward.

Get in touch with our friendly and approachable team for initial advice.


BBC News. (2nd September 2022). Former Oldham primary school teacher jailed for sexual abuse. Retrieved from

Manchester Evening News. (2nd September 2022). Vile headteacher sexually attacked young boys in school. Retrieved from

Daily Mail. (2nd September 2022). Paedophile headteacher, 76, who sexually assaulted 19 boys as young as eight over the course of a decade is jailed for 10 years. Retrieved from

Kate Hall

Solicitor Graduate, Abuse

Areas of Expertise:
Abuse Claims

Kate works as a Solicitor Graduate Apprentice in our Abuse Claims Department, with a goal to qualify as a Solicitor in 2024.

After completing her education at Leeds Beckett University in 2018, Kate decided to specialise in Abuse Claims. Within this department, she has gained experience dealing with Civil Claims against various institutions including local authorities, public schools, religious institutions and charitable organisations. This includes the Manchester Homes 2 Group Action and the claims against Manchester City Council for abuse at St Anne’s School. Kate has also successfully navigated claims through the Lambeth and Manchester City Redress Schemes.

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