Whistleblower’s regret over pervert headteacher

A WHISTLEBLOWER has spoken of the regret at not being able to stop a paedophile headteacher abusing pupils at a Suffolk school.

Derek Slade was jailed at Ipswich Crown Court yesterday for 21 years after being convicted of more than 50 offences including buggery, indecent assault, and actually bodily harm.

The offences were committed on boys at St George’s in Great Finborough, near Stowmarket, between 1978 and 1983.

After the 61-year-old’s sentencing George de Stratton said he believes he was the first person to report his concerns for pupils to the authorities in 1982. However, he now lives with guilt, feeling that he should have done more to pursue the matter and protect the boys.

The 79-year-old, who has devoted much of his life to charity work in India, said: “I believe I was the first one to report all this nearly 30 years ago. I thought I had done everything I needed to, then I went off to India. I feel guilty because I should have pursued it and that hurts me. I feel terrible.”

You may also want to watch:

Slade was exonerated over abuse allegations in a top-level government inquiry in 1983, the year he left St George’s.

Compounding Mr de Stratton’s regret is his belief that Slade is likely to have continued abusing boys in the intervening 28 years, particularly as the headteacher set up a school for orphans in India.

Most Read

Mr de Stratton, of Norwich Road, Ipswich, said: “I can’t imagine what he could have been up to over there. I’m almost certain there will be more victims. I’m quite appalled.”

Mr de Stratton was invited to give a lecture to pupils at St George’s, before Slade’s cruelty was exposed in an undercover investigation by BBC Radio 4’s Checkpoint programme.

He recalled having concerns when he arrived at the school.

Mr de Stratton said: “I was horrified. I felt as if I was walking into a Victorian mental institution - the stench when I walked in the door, the mould on the windows, it was bitterly cold, the floors were bare and the paintwork was peeling. I though it wasn’t fit for habitation. The children must have been perished.”

Mr de Stratton recalled being taken into a class of around 15 to 20 pupils by a woman.

The reaction he got from the children worried him greatly.

He said: “They just gazed at me, showing no emotion whatsoever. They were stock-still, almost as if they were paralysed.

“I started chatting away and there was no reaction. The woman made no comment at all. I felt the whole thing was so peculiar.

“After about 20 minutes I said I was sorry, but I didn’t think we could proceed much further.

“The atmosphere haunted me. I had no idea about the abuse of course.

“Children do react. They misbehave, or giggle, or make funny signs, but these could have been little statues – they didn’t move. Now I believe they were absolutely terrified.”

A Suffolk County Council spokeswoman said: “Suffolk County Council was not involved in any child protection enquiries at the time.”

Mr de Stratton, who was at Slade’s sentencing yesterday, now plans to use his influence and contacts to lobby the government to ensure no other school in Britain can abuse children in the way Slade did.

He said: “It would be immoral to walk away.”

Become a Supporter

This newspaper has been a central part of community life for many years. Our industry faces testing times, which is why we're asking for your support. Every contribution will help us continue to produce local journalism that makes a measurable difference to our community.

Become a Supporter
Comments powered by Disqus