Dear Governors

As the board of governors of Dulwich College meets to decide whether to reinstate its head, whom they have cleared of sexual harassment allegations, a group of parents offer some advice

Today is the day for a "final decision" to be made about Anthony Verity's future as Master of Dulwich College. We wish you well in your deliberations, for apparently, you say, things are at a "very sensitive stage".

"Sensitive" seems an odd word to use, though, when we learn for the first time that Mr Verity has been cleared of allegations of sexual harassment towards his secretary. Perhaps "optimistic" or "helpful" might have been more appropriate. In the light of such an announcement, might we not assume relief all round? After all, with your lengthy investigation, we can at least have faith in the fairness of your decision. Yet he has not yet been reinstated.

While you ponder the day ahead we ask you to consider several issues. On the face of it, they may seem relevant only to Dulwich College; but under the watchful eye of the Headmasters' Conference, they may have implications elsewhere.

On the first day of term, we learnt through a terse note to parents that the Master had been suspended. By now, you will be aware of the strength of feeling aroused by such a discourteous letter: it was a classic PR blunder of the kind designed to alienate the "client" You cannot have meant to do this, but it was a portent of what was to come.

While many parents felt a collective sigh of relief ("Is that all?") when we became aware of the allegation, we realised that you, our governors, would be charged with conducting a formal, procedural investigation into the same.

Then the "buts" begin. We learn that the matter was first raised formally in mid-June, and later we learn that it began informally before that. Governors, this will not do. A charge that is considered by yourselves to be so serious as to merit suspension after two months of summer holidays requires immediate action.

During that first week of term, we continued to read fascinating comments from your clerk and "senior management sources", who implied an outcome before any investigation had begun. Yet, in the meantime, when a parent contacted the governing body, through your clerk, stating that she had information relevant to the matter, she was told that such proceedings "may not even be necessary". Despite letters sent to confirm the above, she was not contacted by the board again.

The parent, Ms Deborah Roslund, finally gave evidence but only when she had independently contacted solicitors acting on behalf of the Master. In the event, she met with hostility from senior staff also present. Ms Roslund also says she was treated in a "hostile" manner by governors, who treated her statement with scepticism. She concluded that "they had made up their minds already".

Governors, we understand that in you have to act as judge and jury. But we expect you to abide by the principle of "natural justice": in other words, that not only should justice be done, but that justice should be seen to be done.

We have a suggestion: the Governing Bodies Association. You may be aware of its existence because you are members of it. One of its functions is to offer professional advice to lay governors facing contractual and procedural problems. The request for such advice has to be made by the individual board. We assume, of course, that you have made such a request. Haven't you ...?

Finally, we have the joint statement released last weekend by the board and Mr Verity, confirming that he has been cleared of all allegations. Why in that case did you issue a press statement, confirmed by journalists, on Friday 20 October, saying that the matter remained "undecided"? Why did you not release the true account that the allegation was unfounded at that time? Was this being "economical with the truth"?

Is anyone going to come out of this well? Apparently not, with one glaring exception: Anthony Verity. He has acted with extraordinary fortitude throughout. His honour and professional reputation are restored by being cleared of the allegation. His is the kind of moral and professional leadership that stands as a fine example to the boys at Dulwich College and to the rest of us. May his return to his post be quiet and uneventful.

If this is not so, governors beware. It may seem easier to hope he will just go away, the mess buried with him. But if Mr Verity is armlocked into resignation, you risk all. By far the harder decision for you is to reinstate him, but it is the only honourable course open to you.

Deborah Roslund, Sue Cox, M. and M. Davie, Madeline Johnston, Diane Bonnet

Life and Style
“What is it like being a girl?” was the question on the lips of one inquisitive Reddit user this week
peopleDave Legeno, the actor who played werewolf Fenrir Greyback in the Harry Potter films, has died
Arts and Entertainment
Armando Iannucci, the creator of 'The Thick of It' says he has
tvArmando Iannucci to concentrate on US show Veep
Life and Style
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
Luis Suarez looks towards the crowd during the 2-1 victory over England
Life and Style
Swimsuit, £245, by Agent Provocateur

Diving in at the deep end is no excuse for shirking the style stakes

German supporters (left) and Argentina fans
world cup 2014Final gives England fans a choice between to old enemies
Arts and Entertainment
A still from the worldwide Dawn of the Planet of the Apes trailer debut
peopleMario Balotelli poses with 'shotgun' in controversial Instagram pic
A mugshot of Ian Watkins released by South Wales Police following his guilty pleas
peopleBandmates open up about abuse
Basketball superstar LeBron James gets into his stride for the Cleveland Cavaliers
sportNBA superstar announces decision to return to Cleveland Cavaliers
Javier Mascherano of Argentina tackles Arjen Robben of the Netherlands as he attempts a shot
world cup 2014
Arts and Entertainment
The successful ITV drama Broadchurch starring David Tenant and Olivia Coleman came to an end tonight
Four ski officials in Slovenia have been suspended following allegations of results rigging
sportFour Slovenian officials suspended after allegations they helped violinist get slalom place
14 March 2011: George Clooney testifies before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee during a hearing titled 'Sudan and South Sudan: Independence and Insecurity.' Clooney is co-founder of the Satellite Sentinel Project which uses private satellites to collect evidence of crimes against civilian populations in Sudan
Arts and Entertainment
Balaban is indirectly responsible for the existence of Downton Abbey, having first discovered Julian Fellowes' talents as a screenwriter
tvCast members told to lose weight after snacking on set
Life and Style
More than half of young adults have engaged in 'unwanted but consensual sexting with a committed partner,' according to research
Life and Style
A binge is classed as four or more alcoholic drinks for women and five or more for men, consumed over a roughly two-hour period
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

JavaScript Developer (Angular, Web Forms, HTML5, Ext JS,CSS3)

£40000 - £45000 per annum + Benefits + Bonus: Harrington Starr: JavaScript Dev...


£50000 - £70000 per annum: Harrington Starr: Business Analyst Consultant (Fina...

SAP Data Migration Consultant

competitive: Progressive Recruitment: My client, a FTSE 100 organisation are u...

Programme Support, Coms, Bristol, £300-350p/d

£300 - £350 per day + competitive: Orgtel: My client, a leading bank, is curre...

Day In a Page

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments: Peace without magnanimity - the summit in a railway siding that ended the fighting

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments

Peace without magnanimity - the summit in a railway siding that ended the fighting
Scottish independence: How the Commonwealth Games could swing the vote

Scottish independence: How the Commonwealth Games could swing the vote

In the final part of our series, Chris Green arrives in Glasgow - a host city struggling to keep the politics out of its celebration of sport
Out in the cold: A writer spends a night on the streets and hears the stories of the homeless

A writer spends a night on the streets

Rough sleepers - the homeless, the destitute and the drunk - exist in every city. Will Nicoll meets those whose luck has run out
Striking new stations, high-speed links and (whisper it) better services - the UK's railways are entering a new golden age

UK's railways are entering a new golden age

New stations are opening across the country and our railways appear to be entering an era not seen in Britain since the early 1950s
Conchita Wurst becomes a 'bride' on the Paris catwalk - and proves there is life after Eurovision

Conchita becomes a 'bride' on Paris catwalk

Alexander Fury salutes the Eurovision Song Contest winner's latest triumph
Pétanque World Championship in Marseilles hit by

Pétanque 'world cup' hit by death threats

This year's most acrimonious sporting event took place in France, not Brazil. How did pétanque get so passionate?
Whelks are healthy, versatile and sustainable - so why did we stop eating them in the UK?

Why did we stop eating whelks?

Whelks were the Victorian equivalent of the donor kebab and our stocks are abundant. So why do we now export them all to the Far East?
10 best women's sunglasses

In the shade: 10 best women's sunglasses

From luxury bespoke eyewear to fun festival sunnies, we round up the shades to be seen in this summer
Germany vs Argentina World Cup 2014: Lionel Messi? Javier Mascherano is key for Argentina...

World Cup final: Messi? Mascherano is key for Argentina...

No 10 is always centre of attention but Barça team-mate is just as crucial to finalists’ hopes
Siobhan-Marie O’Connor: Swimmer knows she needs Glasgow joy on road to Rio

Siobhan-Marie O’Connor: Swimmer needs Glasgow joy on road to Rio

18-year-old says this month’s Commonwealth Games are a key staging post in her career before time slips away
The true Gaza back-story that the Israelis aren’t telling this week

The true Gaza back-story that the Israelis aren’t telling this week

A future Palestine state will have no borders and be an enclave within Israel, surrounded on all sides by Israeli-held territory, says Robert Fisk
A History of the First World War in 100 Moments: The German people demand an end to the fighting

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments

The German people demand an end to the fighting
New play by Oscar Wilde's grandson reveals what the Irish wit said at his trials

New play reveals what Oscar Wilde said at trials

For a century, what Wilde actually said at his trials was a mystery. But the recent discovery of shorthand notes changed that. Now his grandson Merlin Holland has turned them into a play
Can scientists save the world's sea life from

Can scientists save our sea life?

By the end of the century, the only living things left in our oceans could be plankton and jellyfish. Alex Renton meets the scientists who are trying to turn the tide
Richard III, Trafalgar Studios, review: Martin Freeman gives highly intelligent performance

Richard III review

Martin Freeman’s psychotic monarch is big on mockery but wanting in malice