Dulwich head's tenure ends amid morass of innuendo

School scandal: Parents remain deeply concerned at the handling of sex allegations by Dulwich College
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The Independent Online

Anthony Verity was saying nothing last night after agreeing to resign from his post of master at Dulwich College.

However, his silence and terse statements from solicitors for the college did little to satisfy a barrage of criticism or answer a stream of questions from parents, pupils and some of Mr Verity's former colleagues.

Mr Verity, 56, was suspended from the pounds 100,000-a-year post at the south London school in August following allegations of sexual harassment made by his secretary, Anne Ridley. Internal inquiries into the allegations against Mr Verity began last March. Throughout the summer holidays he was obliged to remain silent while the sword of Damocles hung over him.

It was not until he returned to work in August that the allegations against him were made public and was Mr Verity suspended. This infuriated pupils' parents who learned of the decision in a note saying he had been temporarily removed from his post pending investigations.

Governors at the pounds 12,270-a-year boarding school held three full meetings at secret locations without coming to a decision on Mr Verity's fate. In the meantime a stream of leaked stories about the headmaster appeared in the press. Sources at the school say these have been traced back to a senior member of staff who has connections with governors.

Last week the school was "bounced" by a Sunday newspaper into admitting that Mr Verity had been cleared of the allegations which he had always refuted.

At the weekend, Mr Verity, who is married with two adult children, spoke of his relief that the allegations against him had not been substantiated. He expressed his hope to return to the school and "get back to a normal life" as soon as possible.

But yesterday he took early retirement, with the governors saying they had found that the headmaster had allowed an "inappropriate relationship" to develop.

Sources at the school dismissed as gross exaggeration the widely reported pounds 1m financial settlement to Mr Verity. "You can knock several noughts off," said one.

Mrs Deborah Roslund, whose son attends the school, severely criticised the governors. "We are all very aware now what a weak bunch of governors we have got," she said. "They have destroyed a man's life."

She said that from March, the governors had tried to "sweep the matter under the carpet. Tried to pretend it hadn't happened. In any other business, this would have been taken straight to an industrial tribunal the moment there was a complaint.

"If that had happened, it would have been dealt with fairly, both sides would have been heard, Mr Verity would have been reinstated and the governors would not have ended up with egg on their face."

"Relations between parents and the governors are really going to be very difficult now. We would like to see some of them resign," Mrs Roslund said. And, paying tribute to Mr Verity, she said it was a "devastating shame that the school has lost him. It will be very difficult to find a man to replace him. He was an innovator, a visionary. It is a great shame for the school."

Last night sources were suggesting that Mr Verity would not be the last person to leave the school over the matter.