A FORMER French teacher at one of Scotland’s most exclusive boarding schools failed to appear in court yesterday to answer claims that he sexually abused two of his former pupils.
Guy Antony Ray-Hills, 78, who is accused of indecently assaulting two boys when he was their French master at Loretto School, Musselburgh, East Lothian, cited health problems for his non-appearance.
Speaking at Haddington Sheriff Court, Mr Ray-Hill’s defence lawyer said his client’s health had worsened in the past year. He said: "My client’s health deteriorated rapidly in September 2002, rendering him too unwell to travel.
"There is a wealth of medical documentation on my client’s health which will confirm this."
Mr Ray-Hills, who now lives in Twickenham, north London, was charged last August with sexually abusing young pupils in his care more than 30 years ago.
According to the Crown Office the alleged assaults were committed on the pupils aged between 11 and 15 between 1958 and 1965.
Sheriff Ruth Anderson was forced to abandon the case in Mr Ray-Hills’ absence but she made it clear that he would be called back to face the court if his health improved.
She said: "I will desert this indictment for the time being. No time bar will be placed on this case."
Founded in 1827, Loretto is Scotland’s oldest independent boarding school and one of the private sector’s most distinguished institutions. Transport Minister Alistair Darling, former Tory chancellor Lord Lamont and BBC political editor Andrew Marr are among its former pupils.
Headmaster Michael Mavor stressed recently that the school had done everything possible to assist the police investigation. He said: "The school has been informed by the police that charges are being brought against a former member of staff who left the junior school in 1967. The school has known about this possibility for some time, and has done all it can to co-operate with the police."
Fiona Valpy, of the Scottish Council of Independent Schools, said that conditions had changed greatly at private schools over the past three decades. "The modern day boarding school is a very positive place to be for young people. Schools today are very rigorous about the child-protection procedures they have in place and the welfare and care of children is first and foremost in the minds of every head."