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School abuse allegation a ‘shock to the system’, former teacher says

David Hanson, a long-standing teacher at Aberlour House, gave evidence to the Scottish Child Abuse Inquiry.

Lady Smith

An allegation of abuse by another teacher at Gordonstoun’s preparatory school came as a “shock to the system”, a long-standing member of the teaching staff has said.

David Hanson taught at Aberlour House in Moray between 1965 and 2001, acting as headmaster for a period in 1990 and 1991.

The 79-year-old gave evidence to the Scottish Child Abuse Inquiry by video-link on Wednesday.

Earlier, the inquiry heard evidence from former pupil John Findlay, who described how a teacher sexually assaulted him in his dormitory at Aberlour House.

The teacher responsible for the abuse, Derek Jones, has now died but the inquiry was told he was able to work elsewhere after being sacked from Aberlour.

The Prince Philip Gordonstoun Foundation
Gordonstoun is a prestigious boarding school in Moray (Gordonstoun/PA)

Mr Hanson said Aberlour was considered the junior school of Gordonstoun, a prestigious boarding school.

The teacher recalled meeting Gordonstoun’s founder, Kurt Hahn, when he first joined the school, saying: “He was treated with respect by absolutely everybody.”

Mr Hanson was asked about child protection issues at the school during most of his time there, and he said the school had a “family atmosphere”.

He said: “As far as I was aware everything was absolutely fine, in the small community there were no issues.”

Andrew Brown QC, counsel to the inquiry, asked what happened when the allegation of abuse suffered by Mr Findlay came to light.

Mr Findlay had earlier told the inquiry that Derek Jones abused him after giving him medication to treat an injury when he was 12.

Mr Hanson said: “I remember the police visiting and interviewing more or less everyone.

“I believed it was just a sleeping pill incident at the time.

“Because of that unwise, irresponsible incident on the part of Mr Jones, he was sacked.”

Mr Hanson said he later met with Mr Findlay’s parents.

He said: “John’s father told me it was more than just a sleeping pill, but I don’t remember him saying abuse.

“But it was clearly more serious than I had imagined.”

Mr Brown QC asked: “Was this not a hammer blow to the idyllic picture of Aberlour you had?”

Mr Hanson agreed, saying: “It was a shock to the system.”

Asked what had changed in the school as a result, he said: “There was a greater separation of boarding and teaching staff.”

Mr Hanson was also asked about List 99 – a document at Gordonstoun which effectively blacklisted certain teachers from employment.

He said: “I have heard of it but never seen it.

“My understanding was it was a list produced by someone of teachers who were not to be taken on for a variety of reasons.

“Not just abuse but incompetence and a variety of reasons.”

Lady Smith’s inquiry continues.

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