Disgraced head 'had no one to turn to'

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The Independent Online
THE disgraced headmaster of Charterhouse, Peter Hobson, who resigned last week amid allegations of an affair with an escort girl, was given open support yesterday by another leading public school head.

"If that is all that Peter has done, then his situation is most unfortunate," said David Jewell, the Master of Haileybury in Hertfordshire. "What he did was totally out of character and he must have been under an enormous strain."

Mr Hobson, married and aged 50, resigned last week after two years as headmaster of the pounds 12,000-a-year school at Godalming in Surrey, founded in 1611, when 19-year-old Sally Henderson told tabloid newspapers of her encounter with him while working for an escort agency. Earlier in the week, another leading public school head, Anthony Verity of Dulwich College, was suspended after allegations of sexual harassment, which he denies.

With Mr Jewell, Mr Hobson was part of a group of leading boarding-school headmasters who met once a term to discuss issues that were troubling them.

Mr Jewell, aged 61 and former head of two other leading public schools, said that although the headmasters' group discussedsexual relationships in school, and taking on problem pupils, it seemed that Mr Hobson felt he could not turn to any other headmaster for help.

"Peter was part of this group, but no, none of us was asked to help on matters of stress at the school. However I am not surprised that Peter is ill, and I could say I saw it coming for a while. I am afraid in poor Peter's case there probably wasn't anyone for him to turn to."

Mr Jewell said a headmaster could work up to 17 hours a day, seven days a week during school terms. Even the holidays were occupied with administration, meetings and parental demands.

"I am blessed in that my wife supports me immensely," he said. "I have also got a tremendous second master and a good governing body in the sense that they have a sympathetic, and not a judgmental manner. If I make a Horlicks of anything then they tell me, but otherwise they are extremely supportive."