Sex abuse choirmaster Michael Brewer loses plea against six-year sentence

'It seems to us that he escaped justice for a very long time indeed and that justice has now caught up with him' says judge

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The Independent Online

Convicted choirmaster Michael Brewer lost his appeal today against a six-year prison sentence for abusing a teenager at Chetham's School of Music.

Lord Chief Justice Lord Judge, sitting with two other judges at the Court of Appeal in London, described it as a "woeful case". Announcing the court's decision to dismiss the appeal, he said: "There is nothing wrong with this sentence. It was an appropriate sentence for the offences committed by this applicant."

He added: "It seems to us that he escaped justice for a very long time indeed and that justice has now caught up with him."

Brewer, described at his trial earlier this year as a predatory sex offender, was not present for the ruling. The 68-year-old former director of music was jailed earlier this year for abusing Frances Andrade from the age of 14 between 1978 and 82. The professional violinist and mother-of-four killed herself after being branded a fantasist when giving evidence at the trial.

Brewer's ex-wife Kay, 68, was jailed for 21 months after she was convicted at the same trial of indecently assaulting Andrade when she was 18.

Brewer's rejection comes as Chetham's faces a third government inspection this autumn as the criminal investigation into historic sex abuse at Chetham's and the Royal Northern College of Music (RNCM), both in Manchester, continues.

Council inspectors, from Manchester city council's children's services department and the Independent Schools Inspectorate, have already produced reports on child welfare at Chetham's.

The council warned: "Arrangements are present to promote a culture and climate of effective safeguarding at Chetham's school of music but the arrangements are not routinely and reliably implemented, robustly applied, monitored or evaluated by the senior leadership team, governors and Feoffees [trustees of the charity which runs the school].

"In the context of recent convictions, allegations and ongoing police investigations, where extra assurances would be expected, this is a cause for concern."

The council report also found pupils "are happy and feel safe and secure in the school".

Chetham's headteacher Claire Moreland said the school's management had written an 'action plan' to improve "weaknesses in our safeguarding processes and procedures" following the two reports.

The Department for Education reviewed the plan and agreed to its implementation following modifications it insisted on.

A concerned parent who did not want to be named said: "One can only assume that the authorities are anxious to signal to the management at Chets that they must pull up their socks, and to the wider public (including parents) that the DfE will continue to be on their case.

"The two measures Mrs Moreland trumpets - the Parents' Forum and the Parent Governor - have come about after pushing by parents.

"Child abuse has never been under greater scrutiny. The spotlight will not move off Chets any time soon and the number of parents voicing criticism is growing."

Operation Kiso, the investigation into historic sex abuse at the Manchester institutions, was launched in February 2013. Officers have spoken to more than 30 women who have reported incidents of historic sexual abuse during their time at the school and have had a dozen more third party reports that are being investigated.

Police arrested renowned double bass tutor Duncan McTier last month (May) at his home in London over allegations of indecent assault on a woman in 1994, when she was a student at RNCM. The 58-year-old has been released on bail until August pending further investigations.

Violinist Wen Zhou Li, 57, a tutor at both Chetham's and RNCM, was arrested in February on suspicion of rape. He denies the allegations but has been suspended from work pending the police investigation. Mr Li is on bail until later this month pending further inquiries.

A Greater Manchester Police spokesman said inquiries were ongoing and no further arrests had been made.

In the spring edition of the school's newsletter, Mrs Moreland told parents: "As you will be only too well aware, this has not been an easy year so far for Chetham's as we have inevitably received significant adverse publicity following on from historic child abuse at the School.

"At the same time as feeling huge sorrow and sympathy for anyone impacted by these matters. We have tried to, and I hope succeeded, in keeping our present day school on track."