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Crisis meeting at Royal Northern College of Music


Faculty and students were summoned this morning to a meeting with the recently installed principal, Linda Merrick. Little was said about the sex-pest allegations made against former head of strings Malcolm Layfield except that it was intimated that one of the teachers was ‘under review’ and that the police were making enquiries.

Few left the meeting reassured that the RNCM intended in any fundamental way to purge itself and its history of alleged sex abuse.




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  1. Well, to give them a small amount of the benefit of the large amount of doubt, their hands would presumably of necessity be somewhat tied for the foreseeable by the fact of ongoing police enquiries and will likely remain so on the basis of sub judice requirements – and perhaps in any case it’s early days yet for RNCM to make a specific commitment to anything until it’s had a chance (provided that it takes it fully) to investigate its own house and put it in order – but I have to admit that it doesn’t inspire a whole lot of confidence in positive outcomes…

  2. It would be interesting to know if they said something along the lines of: “Any student or teacher who has had concerns over possible inappropriate behaviour by a teacher, should contact X” – with X either being a police officer currently dealing with allegations or else someone independent to the teaching body, who is going to investigate what are obviously serious issues.

    • Well, yes, certainly – a good idea indeed – although it might have been even more potent and appropriate had they said something along the lines of “any student or teacher who has had concerns over possible inappropriate behaviour by a teacher should contact X and then, if necessary, Y” – with X being the head of the school and Y being either a police officer currently dealing with allegations or else some other independent investigator. Why? Because that way the students or teachers concerned would be seen to have been encouraged first to address the person in ultimate charge of the school and then be able to say to the police officer or other independent investigator “I reported this to the school head and I’m now reporting it to you because the head refused to believe me or take any notice”.

      This would surely leave an obdurately errant school head in a more appropriately vulnerable position than otherwise. It might also be a good idea to encourage such complaints to be submitted in writing in order that complainants can retain evidence of their complaints and of having submitted them appropriately.

  3. I am a student at the RNCM and was at the meeting. While not much was said about what specific course of action is going to be taken – after all, it has only been a matter of days since this all re-emerged, the Principal emphasised many times that her absolute priority while dealing with it is the students’ saftey and welfare. I absolutely trust her in this and everyone I spoke to after the meeting felt similarly. Given that it’s a complicated situation I don’t think it’s surprising that no action has been firmly announced yet, and I trust that it will be dealt imminently and effectively.

  4. Has Layfield resigned then?

  5. I also am a student at the RNCM. Linda Merrick is very much not part of the old guard. I also have every faith that she will deal with it responsibly and swiftly.

    • Miles Golding says:

      To deal with this responsibly means there must be no suggestion of further cover-up, and explicit evidence that they are confronting the corruption and collusion head-on.

      Take a look at “Latest News” on the RNCM website. Nothing about Layfield.

      Take a look at “Press Centre”. Nothing about Layfield.

      • Hmmm; doesn’t inspire confidence overmuch, does it? – but let’s at least give the relatively new broom a reasonable opportunity to make due efforts to sweep clean before drawing conclusions; RNCM’s unlikely to drop out of the spotlight, so it will behove her to get things done and be seen to do so, for this isn’t going away.

  6. Margaret Coltman says:

    ‘Sex-pest’? Really? This is not about a mosquito – the term is offensive to victims and survivors. Rape, molestation, and sexual assault are more appropriate terms.

    • Well, much as this is hardly the time to discuss mere semantics, the term “sex-pest” might not be so inappropriate and, after all, even certain mosquitoes (which you mention) can kill, which is hardly trivial. In any case, the terms “rape, molestation and sexual assault”, along with predation, abuse and the rest – which are indeed appropriate, as you rightly observe, in these most sorry circumstances – are hardly supplanted or even undermined by the use of the term “sex-pest”, notwithstanding its rather obvious tabloid journalistic whiff.

      So – let’s not get hung up on words when this matter is so grave.

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