Detectives arrest suspect in historic sexual abuse allegations at Manchester music schools

 

Detectives investigating historic sexual abuse at Manchester music schools have made an arrest.

A 58-year-old suspect was held at his home in London today on suspicion of the indecent assault of a 21-year-old woman in 1994. The alleged offence took place while she was a pupil at the Royal Northern College of Music.

The suspect remains in police custody for questioning, Greater Manchester Police (GMP) said.

Police have now spoken to more than 30 individuals who have reported historic sexual abuse with police focusing on "a pool of about 10 offenders".

The allegations come in the fall-out from the high-profile sex abuse trial earlier this year of Michael Brewer, the former music director Chetham's School of Music in Manchester.

Brewer was jailed for six years in March after he was found guilty of indecently assaulting ex-pupil Frances Andrade, 48, more than 30 years ago when she was 14 and 15.

Mrs Andrade killed herself at her home in Guildford, Surrey, a week after giving evidence against him.

The trial heard allegations that sexual activity between teachers and pupils at Chetham's was not uncommon.

It is understood the 10 key suspects either taught at Chetham's, the RNCM or privately, though 39 people have been investigated in all by police, of which five are believed to have died.

As part of the same inquiry former Chetham's violin teacher Wen Zhou Li, 57, now a professor at the Royal Northern College of Music (RNCM), was held in February on suspicion of rape and is on bail pending further inquiries.

Detective chief inspector Jamie Daniels, from GMP's Protective Services Division, earlier this week disclosed the scale of the current investigation.

"This is a significant inquiry in terms of potential number of offenders and number of victims," he said.

"This has been a high-profile investigation from the off and due to the complexities and sensitivities involved cannot and will not be rushed.

"I want to reassure the public that I am absolutely committed to getting justice for these women, many of whom have been spurred on by the bravery shown by Frances Andrade in the case against former teacher Michael Brewer.

"I also want to reassure everybody that where we have identified immediate safeguarding concerns the appropriate steps have been taken in partnership with other organisations.

"Chetham's and other establishments have and continue to provide help and support at what is clearly a very difficult time for their respective staff and pupils."

Yesterday, Channel 4 News reported that sexual abuse and inappropriate behaviour took place at five of the UK's specialist music schools over a 40-year period.

It named Chetham's and also the Yehudi Menuhin School in Surrey.

The Yehudi Menuhin School said it was "shocked and saddened to learn of the allegations".

Surrey Police confirmed they have been contacted by the Yehudi Menuhin School following "allegations of historic sexual abuse against a member of staff who is now deceased".

Chetham's School of Music said they were aware police were investigating 39 individuals thought not all of them taught at either Chetham's or the RNCM.

A spokeswoman for the school said: "We would like to reassure parents that while the recent media reports reflect a greater level of detail about the investigations, they do not contain any developments concerning Chetham's that we were not already aware of. We continue to offer the police our assistance with their inquiries."

PA

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