‘No faith in seeing a penny’ - Boarding school abuse victims’ latest compensation blow
- Credit: Archant
Former pupils who were beaten and sexually abused by teachers at a boarding school could have compensation delayed due to a missed payment from its owners.
Victims of abuse at St George's School near Wymondham in Norfolk, which moved to Great Finborough near Stowmarket in 1980, already felt "betrayed" after learning they would only get a fraction of compensation agreed following a seven year legal fight.
They have since been told even those payments are behind schedule, with one victim saying: "I have no faith in seeing a penny anymore."
Dozens of pupils were abused at the school in the late 1970s and early 1980s. Headmaster Derek Slade, who made boys as young as eight strip naked for beatings and organised "midnight feasts" where he and friends sexually abused pupils, was jailed for 21 years in 2010 and died in prison in 2016. Two other teachers were jailed for abuse in 2012 and 2016.
Anglemoss Ltd, which owned the school at the time, agreed last year to pay £855,000 to 36 ex-pupils. But around 75% of the total went on case costs including £250,000 to liquidators Grant Thornton (GT). It left just £5,000 for each victim to be paid over several years.
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Now it has emerged next June's compensation instalment could be missed because Anglemoss's payment was £100,000 short.
Former pupil Charlie Wright said: "We all believe the victims should have been paid first, not the GT wages."
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"I'm 55 now. This happened when I was 14-15 years old - and still it goes on."
GT's liquidation report said the amount received was short "as a result of one unpaid instalment" due to problems re-mortgaging a property to raise funds.
The Sinclair family, directors of Anglemoss, had already moved assets out of the company into other businesses they ran before dissolving it in 2014, unable to pay compensation claims totalling £1.1m. GT said in 2011 the transfer was "inappropriate" because of Anglemoss's "substantial liabilities".
Money Anglemoss had agreed to pay victims in 2013, including five-figure sums, never arrived. Meanwhile, the new company running the renamed Finborough School - headed up by James Sinclair, the son of St George's founder John Sinclair, built a £2.5m sports centre.
One victim, speaking anonymously, said he was not surprised by the latest blow."It's just more of the same," he said. "I have no faith in seeing a penny anymore."
Liquidators seeking best outcome
Liquidators said they were seeking the best outcome for the victims in the case.
A spokesman for Grant Thornton said: "Officers from Grant Thornton UK LLP were appointed joint liquidators of Anglemoss Ltd in May 2014, in an effort to identify and recover any remaining assets for creditors.
"As noted in their latest filings to Companies House, the liquidators are aware of the circumstances that have led to the missed payment and have set out further details in their latest progress report. They continue to monitor the situation and are carrying out their statutory obligations to ensure the best possible outcome for creditors is achieved in the circumstances of the liquidation."
The firm said previously it had taken a "substantial reduction" in its fees so more money could go to the ex-pupils.
Representatives for Anglemoss Ltd did not respond to a request for comment.