‘There is no justice’ - Prosecutors decide not to extradite Fettes College teacher facing sex abuse claims

Prosecutors have decided not to extradite a former teacher accused of sexually abusing pupils at Fettes College in the 1970s from South Africa to face criminal proceedings in the UK.

An ex pupil at the Edinburgh private school told the BBC Drivetime radio show he learned of the news in a call with police on Wednesday which has left him feeling “crushed” - and he called the decision a “disgrace.”

The BBC reports that a Crown Office letter to a victim said the case was likely to have been pursued had the accused lived in Scotland. However, they said they had to consider the delays and uncertainties caused by the process of attempting to return the man from South Africa, due to his age, the legal process there and delays caused by the coronavirus pandemic.

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Speaking to radio show host John Beattie, he said: “It would appear to me the unwritten principle here is that, if you are of a certain age and commit numerous sexual offences in the past, you won’t be answerable for your crimes in this country if you live in South Africa. I think it’s an absolute disgrace.

Fettes College in Edinburgh.

“There is absolutely no justice. In an age where - and I fully understand why - statues are being pulled down in relation to connections with certain individuals to slavery several hundred years ago, it seems outrageous that something that has happened to me in my lifetime that I have suffered from quite severely over the years, that a group of people in the Procurator Fiscal’s office can think there is really no case to answer here.”

‘Fury’ with legal system

The man says he spent the past year giving statements to police and the Scottish Child Abuse Inquiry regarding the alleged abuse he suffered during his two years at the junior school.

And he spoke of the lasting effects, which have included several bouts of depression and turning to alcohol in his earlier years and “inexplicable rages” against family and friends and his children.

He continued: “I am crushed because I have spent the last year talking to the Child Abuse Inquiry, preparing statements, having video Zoom calls with various people to confirm my statements.

“I was led to believe there was a hope here and that we would get some kind of justice, so I am devastated. I am absolutely gutted and really quite furious with the legal system.”

The man called for anyone who attended Fettes junior school in the mid 1970s who was abused to come forward and make a case to the police.

In June, the BBC reported allegations of physical and sexual abuse against a former teacher at the leading Edinburgh private school in the 1970s.

Fettes College said previously that it took such claims “extremely seriously.”

A Crown Office spokesperson said: “This has been a complex investigation and COPFS appreciates that it has been a difficult time for all those involved.

“Officials from COPFS have maintained contact with the complainers over the status of the case.

“In order to protect any potential proceedings and to preserve the rights of the complainers, the Crown will not comment further at this stage.”

The question of whether or not there will be a prosecution in this case remains open.

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