Former Guildhall School tutor arrested on suspicion of rape in the 1970s

The case of prominent classical musician, Philip Pickett, 63, is just the latest in a series of alleged sexual assaults that has fuelled calls for a public inquiry into historic abuse in British music schools

A prominent English classical musician has been arrested on suspicion of rape and sexual assault while he was employed as a teacher at the Guildhall School of Music & Drama, The Independent on Sunday can reveal.

Philip Pickett, 63, was arrested on 4 December on suspicion of two counts of rape and two counts of assault. The arrest relates to alleged offences against two women when they were in their twenties.

It is understood that Mr Pickett denies the allegations.

The offences are suspected to have included illegal behaviour at the Guildhall in London, one of the world's leading conservatoires and drama schools, between 1971 and 1978.

After leaving the Guildhall, where he taught between 1972 and 1997, Mr Pickett became musical director and founder of the world-renowned early music ensembles New London Consort and Musicians of the Globe.

He is considered an authority on early music interpretation and specialises in playing wind instruments. He has also collaborated with members of the folk rock band Fairport Convention.

Mr Pickett's biography on his website says: "For the past 10 years or so he has also embarked on a flourishing new career as guest conductor, leading modern symphony and chamber orchestras as well as opera companies in Classical, Romantic and Baroque repertoires.

"As well as touring worldwide, Philip Pickett and the Musicians of the Globe have recorded a series of CDs of English theatre music for Philips Classics, including Purcell's Timon of Athens, excerpts from Dido & Aeneas and The Fairy Queen, and Henry Rowley Bishop's music for the Covent Garden Shakespeare revivals around 1820."

Previous roles include director of early music at Shakespeare's Globe and artistic director of the Southbank Centre Early Music Festival.

Later this month he is due to begin a UK tour with folk legend Carlos Nuñez and the New London Consort. He then goes on various international tours throughout Europe and the Middle East.

The latest revelations, though unconnected, follow The Independent's report last week that former Royal College of Music professor of piano Ian Lake abused his students over at least 30 years, until his arrest in 1995.

The pressure has been growing for a full general public inquiry into suspected historic sexual abuse across all of the UK's elite music schools.

Concern about abuses carried out by a number of individuals has led to more than 1,000 former alumni of specialist music institutions signing a petition calling for an inquiry. It was organised by Ian Pace, Paul Lewis and Tim Horton, piano graduates of Chetham's – the Manchester conservatoire that is itself subject to an ongoing inquiry into historic sexual abuse, along with the Royal Northern College of Music.

Four former or current teachers at the two schools remain on police bail as part of Operation Kiso. Mr Pickett has no link with these cases.

The Guildhall's music alumni include Jacqueline du Pré and George Martin, while Orlando Bloom, Daniel Craig and Ewan McGregor are theatre graduates. More than 800 students from around 60 countries attend, with British pupils paying fees of more than £10,000 a year and foreign students paying up to £23,000.

Shadow Children's minister Lucy Powell, whose constituency covers Chetham's and the Royal Northern College, said: "Given the cross-over nature of the offences, an inquiry under Operation Yewtree, looking at historical allegations of child abuse by Jimmy Savile and others, that could be specific to music schools would be welcome. Failing that I support... a separate public inquiry. "

Mr Pace said only a public inquiry would reveal the truth. "This will ensure both that those who have suffered are heard in safety and proper recommendations are made to ensure this could never happen again."

A spokesperson for City of London Police said: "Detectives investigating allegations of historic sexual assault arrested a 63-year-old man on Wednesday 4 December 2013.

"The man was interviewed by police and bailed to return in January 2014. This arrest forms part of an ongoing investigation into historic sexual offences between 1971 and 1988, some of which took place at the Guildhall School....

"City of London Police... encourage anyone with information about sexual abuse, or anyone who has been a victim of sexual abuse, to contact the force [on 020 7601 2222]."

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Day In a Page

Fifa corruption: The 161-page dossier that exposes the organisation's dark heart

The 161-page dossier that exposes Fifa's dark heart

How did a group of corrupt officials turn football’s governing body into what was, in essence, a criminal enterprise? Chris Green and David Connett reveal all
Mediterranean migrant crisis: 'If Europe thinks bombing boats will stop smuggling, it will not. We will defend ourselves,' says Tripoli PM

Exclusive interview with Tripoli PM Khalifa al-Ghweil

'If Europe thinks bombing boats will stop smuggling, it will not. We will defend ourselves'
Raymond Chandler's Los Angeles: How the author foretold the Californian water crisis

Raymond Chandler's Los Angeles

How the author foretold the Californian water crisis
Chinese artist who posted funny image of President Xi Jinping facing five years in prison as authorities crackdown on dissent in the arts

Art attack

Chinese artist who posted funny image of President Xi Jinping facing five years in prison
Marc Jacobs is putting Cher in the limelight as the face of his latest campaign

Cher is the new face of Marc Jacobs

Alexander Fury explains why designers are turning to august stars to front their lines
Parents of six-year-old who beat leukaemia plan to climb Ben Nevis for cancer charity

'I'm climbing Ben Nevis for my daughter'

Karen Attwood's young daughter Yasmin beat cancer. Now her family is about to take on a new challenge - scaling Ben Nevis to help other children
10 best wedding gift ideas

It's that time of year again... 10 best wedding gift ideas

Forget that fancy toaster, we've gone off-list to find memorable gifts that will last a lifetime
Paul Scholes column: With the Premier League over for another year, here are my end of season awards

Paul Scholes column

With the Premier League over for another year, here are my end of season awards
Heysel disaster 30th anniversary: Liverpool have seen too much tragedy to forget fateful day in Belgium

Liverpool have seen too much tragedy to forget Heysel

Thirty years ago, 39 fans waiting to watch a European Cup final died as a result of a fatal cocktail of circumstances. Ian Herbert looks at how a club dealt with this tragedy
Amir Khan vs Chris Algieri: Khan’s audition for Floyd Mayweather may turn into a no-win situation, says Frank Warren

Khan’s audition for Mayweather may turn into a no-win situation

The Bolton fighter could be damned if he dazzles and damned if he doesn’t against Algieri, the man last seen being decked six times by Pacquiao, says Frank Warren
Blundering Tony Blair quits as Middle East peace envoy – only Israel will miss him

Blundering Blair quits as Middle East peace envoy – only Israel will miss him

For Arabs – and for Britons who lost their loved ones in his shambolic war in Iraq – his appointment was an insult, says Robert Fisk
Fifa corruption arrests: All hail the Feds for riding to football's rescue

Fifa corruption arrests

All hail the Feds for riding to football's rescue, says Ian Herbert
Isis in Syria: The Kurdish enclave still resisting the tyranny of President Assad and militant fighters

The Kurdish enclave still resisting the tyranny of Assad and Isis

In Syrian Kurdish cantons along the Turkish border, the progressive aims of the 2011 uprising are being enacted despite the war. Patrick Cockburn returns to Amuda
How I survived Cambodia's Killing Fields: Acclaimed surgeon SreyRam Kuy celebrates her mother's determination to escape the US

How I survived Cambodia's Killing Fields

Acclaimed surgeon SreyRam Kuy celebrates her mother's determination to escape to the US
Stephen Mangan interview: From posh buffoon to pregnant dad, the actor has quite a range

How Stephen Mangan got his range

Posh buffoon, hapless writer, pregnant dad - Mangan is certainly a versatile actor