Ex-pupils Make Sex Abuse Claims against 15 Staff at Yehudi Menuhin Music School

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Hywel Thomas

Senior Associate Solicitor, Abuse

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Back in 2013, violinist Nigel Kennedy claimed that he and other children had been sexually abused at his former school, Yehudi Menuhin Music School. Following the school’s involvement in a recent Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse, 14 more former pupils have made new allegations against 15 members of staff.

Nigel Kennedy, 66, claimed in 2013 that children had been abused at the school. He specifically accused his former teacher, Marcel Gazelle, who died in 1969, of being a ‘repeat offender’ of abuse. Gazelle was a pianist and the founding music director of Yehudi Menuhin School. He is said to have abused children as young as 10 years of age in the 1960s.

In March 2022, the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse (IICSA) published a report into residential schools and specifically music schools. Yehudi Menuhin School cooperated with this inquiry which shed light on their reluctance to take action after claims of child sex abuse were made. This mirrors the response from many other schools across the country. IICSA said in their report:

“In the specialist music schools examined, the power and influence of often revered and influential music teachers made some pupils even more vulnerable to being sexually abused by them. The reputation of both the musicians and the schools were often seen as more important than their victims…”

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Fresh Allegations Made After IICSA’s Report

Following IICSA’s report, 14 former pupils have spoken out about alleged sexual, emotional and physical abuse they experienced at the hands of 15 different members of staff all employed at Yehudi Menuhin School. The incidents are said to have happened between 1964 and 2007. In response to the report, the school said:

“There is no place for conduct of this kind in the Yehudi Menuhin School or in any residential music school and we condemn the abuse described in the report.

The school takes any allegation of this nature extremely seriously, and these claims are being dealt with as a matter of urgency.”

We are deeply saddened to hear about this alleged culture of abuse at Yehudi Menuhin School, but we are pleased that IICSA’s report has motivated the former pupils to courageously come forward to expose the abusers. We join IICSA in hoping that the government will work towards better preventative and reporting measures in institutions like these.

 

Police Launch Inquiry

In June 2023, Surrey Police Force launched an inquiry following the allegations made by 22 former pupils that state that they suffered from sexual abuse at Yehudi Menuhin School between the years 1964 and 2007.

Surrey Police have said: "We have been made aware of disclosures of non-recent sexual abuse at the Yehudi Menuhin School."

We, of course, welcome the investigation and remain hopeful for a positive outcome for the survivors of the abuse. Our expert team of Abuse Solicitors here at Simpson Millar have years of experience dealing with sexual abuse claims made against private schools and individuals that were in a position of power, such as, but certainly not limited to, Chetham’s School for Music.

 

How We Can Help Sexual Abuse Survivors Pursue Claims

Our specialised Abuse Solicitors are currently working with a number of people who have come forward about abuse they have unfortunately experienced at school.

We understand that it’s difficult to speak out if you think you may have been abused, but when you’re ready, our expert lawyers are here to listen and answer any questions you may have. If you get in touch, we can give you completely confidential, no obligation advice on what options are available to you.

We know that if you’re a survivor of abuse of any nature, just the thought of talking about your experience and pursuing legal action can feel daunting, but please be assured that our approachable Abuse Solicitors are specialists and will use their experience to handle your case with both sensitivity and understanding.

Survivors of any kind of abuse can often face a lot of different challenges which can prevent them from seeking help. The trauma endured during any kind of abuse can evoke a sense of fear, shame, and apprehension which understandably makes it difficult for survivors to come forward. It can be difficult and survivors can be reluctant to open up about painful memories.

This could be for many reasons, however the most common are a fear of not being believed concern about experiencing flashbacks or feeling that their experiences are simply too personal or too shameful to share.

Particularly in cases concerning child abuse, there is a power dynamic which may continue to impact the survivor, even if the abuse has ended. This can leave survivors feeling disempowered and voiceless. However, we believe that it’s essential for survivors to understand that legal recourse can be an important step towards healing and holding their perpetrators to account.

If you are able to, reporting your experience to the police can contribute to any relevant ongoing investigations and possibly prevent further harm to others.

If, and when, you are ready to speak and think about the possibility of making a claim for compensation arising from past abuse, our experienced team of Abuse Solicitors will be there to talk you through the process and listen to your experience with sensitivity as our team have been trained in dealing specifically with cases of this nature.

Every person in our team of Child Abuse Solicitors is trained to navigate the complex legal process so that you don’t have to. They’ll make sure that you feel supported throughout the process and will advocate for you as much as possible. Here at Simpson Millar, we’re determined and dedicated to providing you with a safe and understanding environment throughout the legal process. We may even be able to assist with your case on a No Win No Fee basis.

We also appreciate that abuse doesn’t only impact the survivor but the family and friends of the person who has experienced the abuse. If you want us to, we will do our very best to be there for both you and your support network too.

Given the impact abuse can have, we can also help with any physical health or mental health issues or conditions that you are experiencing. It’s important that you are compensated for the suffering that you experienced as well as taking care of your future. If any treatment was to be recommended in your case, this is something that we could arrange for you if you wished to proceed with the treatment.

We are hopeful that the spotlight on such issues encourages reflection on the importance of stringent child protection measures and the need for transparent investigations to ensure the safety and wellbeing of all students.

If you have been affected by any of the issues raised in this article, our team can be contacted on 0808 239 1287. Alternatively, you can request a call back. We’re here to listen. The following organisations may also be able to provide you with some help and support:

  • Support for Survivors – can be contacted on 0115 962 2722 or by email at [email protected]. Further information can be found on their website at supportforsurvivors.org

  • The National Association for People Abused in Childhood (NAPAC) – can be contacted by telephone on 0808 801 0331 or by email at [email protected]. Further resources are available on their website at napac.org.uk

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Hywel Thomas Profile Picture

Hywel Thomas

Senior Associate Solicitor, Abuse

Areas of Expertise:
Abuse Claims

With a background in Personal Injury Claims and Criminal Injury Compensation Claims, Hywel started specialising in Abuse Claims in 2001. Over the years, he has seen the area of abuse law evolve, presenting new challenges and learning opportunities. He has tackled cases against diverse groups, from local authorities to private schools, charities, medical organisations, and even individuals.

His passion for understanding psychological injuries led him to this area of Law.  Hywel's work extends beyond seeking financial compensation for his clients; he focuses on helping victims and survivors access support, making a real difference in their healing process. He values each client's unique motivations, ensuring they achieve what they desire through the legal process.

References

Support for Survivors. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://supportforsurvivors.org/ (Accessed December 11, 2023)

National Association for People Abused in Childhood (NAPAC). (n.d.). Retrieved from https://napac.org.uk/ (Accessed December 11, 2023)

Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse. (2022). Investigation Report: Residential Schools. Retrieved from https://www.iicsa.org.uk/reports-recommendations/publications/investigation/residential-schools (Accessed December 11, 2023).

Simpson Millar Solicitors. (2023). Chetham's School Sexual Abuse. Retrieved from https://www.simpsonmillar.co.uk/media/abuse-claims/chethams-school-sexual-abuse/ (Accessed December 11, 2023).

Simpson Millar Solicitors. (n.d.). Child Abuse in Schools. Retrieved from https://www.simpsonmillar.co.uk/abuse-claims-solicitors/child-abuse-in-schools/ (Accessed December 11, 2023).

Simpson Millar Solicitors. (n.d.). Abuse Claims Solicitors. Retrieved from https://www.simpsonmillar.co.uk/abuse-claims-solicitors/ (Accessed December 11, 2023).

Simpson Millar Solicitors. (n.d.). No Win No Fee Personal Injury Solicitors. Retrieved from https://www.simpsonmillar.co.uk/personal-injury-solicitors/no-win-no-fee-personal-injury-solicitors/ (Accessed December 11, 2023).

Simpson Millar Solicitors. (n.d.). Simpson Millar. Retrieved from https://www.simpsonmillar.co.uk/#form (Accessed December 11, 2023)

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