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
The Banksy image in Folkestone before it was vandalised
people
Life and Style
tech

Sales of the tablet are set to fall again, say analysts

News
i100
News
Brian Harvey turned up at Downing Street today demanding to speak to the Prime Minister
news

Met Police confirm there was a 'minor disturbance' and no-one was arrested

News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Arts and Entertainment
George Lucas poses with a group of Star Wars-inspired Disney characters at Disney's Hollywood Studios in 2010
films

George Lucas criticises the major Hollywood film studios

Voices
Chris Grayling, Justice Secretary: 'There are pressures which we are facing but there is not a crisis'
voices

Does Chris Grayling realise what a vague concept he is dealing with?

Life and Style
A street vendor in Mexico City sells Dorilocos, which are topped with carrot, jimaca, cucumber, peanuts, pork rinds, spices and hot sauce
food + drink

Trend which requires crisps, a fork and a strong stomach is sweeping Mexico's streets

News
Blackpool is expected to become one of the first places to introduce the Government’s controversial new Public Space Protection Orders (PSPOs)
news

Concerns raised phenomenon is threatening resort's image as a family destination

Life and Style
gaming

I Am Bread could actually be a challenging and nuanced title

News
Nigel Farage has backed DJ Mike Read's new Ukip song
i100
Voices
The number of children in relative income poverty is currently 2.3 million in the UK
voices

Environment
A Brazilian wandering spider
natureIt's worth knowing for next time one appears in your bananas
Life and Style
Time and Oak have developed a product that allows drinkers to customise the flavour and improve the quality of cheaper whiskey
food + drink

Sport
football

Peter Biaksangzuala died from his injuries in hospital on Sunday

Life and Style
The final 12 acts will be facing Simon Cowell, Cheryl Fernandez-Versini, Mel B and Louis Walsh tonight
fashion

The X Factor's judges colourful outfit was mocked by Simon Cowell

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Day In a Page

Oscar Pistorius sentencing: The athlete's wealth and notoriety have provoked a long overdue debate on South African prisons

'They poured water on, then electrified me...'

If Oscar Pistorius is sent to jail, his experience will not be that of other inmates
James Wharton: The former Guard now fighting discrimination against gay soldiers

The former Guard now fighting discrimination against gay soldiers

Life after the Army has brought new battles for the LGBT activist James Wharton
Ebola in the US: Panic over the virus threatens to infect President Obama's midterms

Panic over Ebola threatens to infect the midterms

Just one person has died, yet November's elections may be affected by what Republicans call 'Obama's Katrina', says Rupert Cornwell
Premier League coaches join the RSC to swap the tricks of their trades

Darling, you were fabulous! But offside...

Premier League coaches are joining the RSC to learn acting skills, and in turn they will teach its actors to play football. Nick Clark finds out why
How to dress with authority: Kirsty Wark and Camila Batmanghelidjh discuss the changing role of fashion in women's workwear

How to dress with authority

Kirsty Wark and Camila Batmanghelidjh discuss the changing role of fashion in women's workwear
New book on Joy Division's Ian Curtis sheds new light on the life of the late singer

New book on Ian Curtis sheds fresh light on the life of the late singer

'Joy Division were making art... Ian was for real' says author Jon Savage
Sean Harris: A rare interview with British acting's secret weapon

Sean Harris: A rare interview with British acting's secret weapon

The Bafta-winner talks Hollywood, being branded a psycho, and how Barbra Streisand is his true inspiration
Tim Minchin, interview: The musician, comedian and world's favourite ginger is on scorching form

Tim Minchin interview

For a no-holds-barred comedian who is scathing about woolly thinking and oppressive religiosity, he is surprisingly gentle in person
Boris Johnson's boozing won't win the puritan vote

Boris's boozing won't win the puritan vote

Many of us Brits still disapprove of conspicuous consumption – it's the way we were raised, says DJ Taylor
Ash frontman Tim Wheeler reveals how he came to terms with his father's dementia

Tim Wheeler: Alzheimer's, memories and my dad

Wheeler's dad suffered from Alzheimer's for three years. When he died, there was only one way the Ash frontman knew how to respond: with a heartfelt solo album
Hugh Bonneville & Peter James: 'Peter loves his classic cars; I've always pootled along fine with a Mini Metro. I think I lack his panache'

How We Met: Hugh Bonneville & Peter James

'Peter loves his classic cars; I've always pootled along fine with a Mini Metro. I think I lack his panache'
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef's heavenly crab dishes don't need hours of preparation

Bill Granger's heavenly crab recipes

Scared off by the strain of shelling a crab? Let a fishmonger do the hard work so you can focus on getting the flavours right
Radamel Falcao: How faith and love drive the Colombian to glory

Radamel Falcao: How faith and love drive the Colombian to glory

After a remarkable conversion from reckless defender to prolific striker, Monaco's ace says he wants to make his loan deal at Old Trafford permanent
Terry Venables: Premier League managers must not be allowed to dictate who plays and who does not play for England

Terry Venables column

Premier League managers must not be allowed to dictate who plays and who does not play for England
The Inside Word: Brendan Rodgers looks to the future while Roy Hodgson is ghost of seasons past

Michael Calvin's Inside Word

Brendan Rodgers looks to the future while Roy Hodgson is ghost of seasons past