Violinist Nigel Kennedy 'appalled' by allegations of child sex abuse at prestigious Yehudi Menuhin music school

 

The violinist Nigel Kennedy has said he is “appalled” by allegations of sexual abuse involving children as young as 10 at one of Britain's most prestigious music schools.

Surrey police are investigating claims that one of the late founding musical directors of the Yehudi Menuhin school had abused pupils over four decades.

The claims came in wake of a Channel 4 News investigation that alleged that the school's co-founder Marcel Gazelle sexually abused young girls in bedrooms at the school. It cited one former student, Irita Kutchmy, who studied with Gazelle from the age of nine until 12. She said that his behaviour had a “very detrimental” effect on her childhood. “I just remember feeling like I was sort of like his property, his pupil and therefore what he said went,” she said.

“It didn't appear to me to be weird that he came up to wake us up in the morning. It was just the way it was at the school… He would tickle me under the sheets... His hands were on my bare skin where they shouldn't be.”

Those claims were validated by Nigel Kennedy, who attended the school from 1964 to 1974. A decade ago Mr Kennedy spoke out on what he had witnessed during his time there, telling a BBC programme that “there were some strange things going on with some of the girls…that would have been illegal, definitely”.

Mr Kennedy, whose claims were not investigated further at the time, yesterday reiterated his experiences telling Channel 4 News: “I just know that Marcel Gazelle was a repeat offender and it wasn't a one off thing.

”It's a disgrace really that people's trust has been abused in such a way… The children themselves, their trust, the parents' trust, people's belief in music as being a pure form of art, [that] this whole ethos can be abused by one sick selfish person is very, very disturbing.“

Marcel Gazelle died in 1969. His family have said they are ”surprised“ by the allegations, which they dispute entirely.

The allegations come less than two months after the choirmaster Michael Brewer was jailed for six years for sexually abusing a pupil while a musical director at the Chetham's School of Music in Manchester, a £31,000 a year boarding school in the city centre. The judge claimed he had abused his ”powerful position“.

His victim, who gave evidence at his trial, committed suicide six days later.

Separately, it emerged that 39 teachers past and present are currently being investigated by Greater Manchester Police as part of Operation Kiso.

Officers are taking statements and preparing reports for the Crown Prosecution Service.

So far the only suspect named by police is violin teacher Wen Zhou Li, who was arrested on suspicion of rape in February. Li denies the allegations but has been suspended from Chetham's pending the police investigation.

A spokeswoman for Chetham's said child protection policies were reviewed annually and the last review was in October. She added that discussions had taken place with the governing body over abuse cases. ”The Independent Schools Inspectorate concludes that 'pupils report that they are happy and feel safe and secure in the school'.“

Surrey Police said: ”We can confirm we have been contacted by the Yehudi Menuhin School following allegations of historic sexual abuse against a member of staff who is now deceased. “The Force is liaising with the school and would encourage anyone with concerns to contact us. Surrey Police treats any allegation of this nature seriously and have officers who are specially trained to support victims of sexual assault.”

The Yehudin Menuhin School could not be reached for comment. However in response to the programme it said: “We have checked the records which survive from 50 years ago and can find nothing about any concerns expressed at the time. ”In accordance with our policies we have reported these serious allegations to Surrey police.“

News
Actor Burt Reynolds last year
newsBurt Reynolds, once among the most bankable actors in Hollywood, is set to auction his memorabilia
News
Gordon and Tana Ramsay arrive at the High Court, London
newsTV chef gives evidence against his father-in-law in court case
News
people

Arts and Entertainment
The starship in Star Wars: The Force Awakens
films
News
ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment
Johnny Depp no longer cares if people criticise his movie flops
films
Arts and Entertainment
All in a day's work: the players in the forthcoming 'Posh People: Inside Tatler'
TVGrace Dent thinks we should learn to 'hug a Hooray Henry', because poshness is an accident of birth
Arts and Entertainment
Wolf (Nathan McMullen), Ian (Dan Starky), The Doctor (Peter Capaldi), Clara (Jenna Coleman), Santa Claus (Nick Frost) in the Doctor Who Christmas Special (BBC/Photographer: David Venni)
art

Presents unwrapped, turkey gobbled... it's time to relax

Arts and Entertainment
Convicted art fraudster John Myatt
art

News
The two-year-old said she cut off her fringe because it was getting in her eyes
news
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Day In a Page

Homeless Veterans Christmas Appeal: ‘We give them hope. They come to us when no one else can help’

Christmas Appeal

Meet the charity giving homeless veterans hope – and who they turn to when no one else can help
Should doctors and patients learn to plan humane, happier endings rather than trying to prolong life?

Is it always right to try to prolong life?

Most of us would prefer to die in our own beds, with our families beside us. But, as a GP, Margaret McCartney sees too many end their days in a medicalised battle
Thomas Cook's outgoing boss Harriet Green got by on four hours sleep a night - is that what it takes for women to get to the top?

What does it take for women to get to the top?

Thomas Cook's outgoing boss Harriet Green got by on four hours sleep a night and told women they had to do more if they wanted to get on
Christmas jumper craze: Inside the UK factory behind this year's multicultural must-have

Knitting pretty: British Christmas Jumpers

Simmy Richman visits Jack Masters, the company behind this year's multicultural must-have
French chefs have launched a campaign to end violence in kitchens - should British restaurants follow suit?

French chefs campaign against bullying

A group of top chefs signed a manifesto against violence in kitchens following the sacking of a chef at a Paris restaurant for scalding his kitchen assistant with a white-hot spoon
Radio 4 to broadcast 10-hour War and Peace on New Year's Day as Controller warns of cuts

Just what you need on a New Year hangover...

Radio 4 to broadcast 10-hour adaptation of War and Peace on first day of 2015
Cuba set to stage its first US musical in 50 years

Cuba to stage first US musical in 50 years

Claire Allfree finds out if the new production of Rent will hit the right note in Havana
Christmas 2014: 10 best educational toys

Learn and play: 10 best educational toys

Of course you want them to have fun, but even better if they can learn at the same time
Paul Scholes column: I like Brendan Rodgers as a manager but Liverpool seem to be going backwards not forwards this season

Paul Scholes column

I like Brendan Rodgers as a manager but Liverpool seem to be going backwards not forwards this season
Lewis Moody column: Stuart Lancaster has made all the right calls – now England must deliver

Lewis Moody: Lancaster has made all the right calls – now England must deliver

So what must the red-rose do differently? They have to take the points on offer 
Cameron, Miliband and Clegg join forces for Homeless Veterans campaign

Cameron, Miliband and Clegg join forces for Homeless Veterans campaign

It's in all our interests to look after servicemen and women who fall on hard times, say party leaders
Millionaire Sol Campbell wades into wealthy backlash against Labour's mansion tax

Sol Campbell cries foul at Labour's mansion tax

The former England defender joins Myleene Klass, Griff Rhys Jones and Melvyn Bragg in criticising proposals
Nicolas Sarkozy returns: The ex-President is preparing to fight for the leadership of France's main opposition party – but will he win big enough?

Sarkozy returns

The ex-President is preparing to fight for the leadership of France's main opposition party – but will he win big enough?
Is the criticism of Ed Miliband a coded form of anti-Semitism?

Is the criticism of Miliband anti-Semitic?

Attacks on the Labour leader have coalesced around a sense that he is different, weird, a man apart. But is the criticism more sinister?
Ouija boards are the must-have gift this Christmas, fuelled by a schlock horror film

Ouija boards are the must-have festive gift

Simon Usborne explores the appeal - and mysteries - of a century-old parlour game