an blog | AJBlog Central | Contact me | Advertise | Follow me:

The odious detail of Michael Brewer’s school crimes – and those who covered for him

The judge’s speech in the trial of Mike Brewer and his former wife Hilary has been published in full. You may read the sentencing remarks here.

Brewer received six years prison for a chronicle of sexual assaults on Frances Andrade, starting when she was 14 years old (Mrs Andrade committed suicide during the course of the trial). The prosecution showed that Brewer had further relations with other girl pupils at Chetham’s School of Music, where he was director of music. Hilary Brewer was sentenced to 21 months for her assaults on Mrs Andrade.

 

mike brewer

 

In delivering sentence, His Honour Judge Martin Rudland singled out for criticism those musicians and colleagues who condoned and covered up these relationships, specifically some who gave character evidence on Brewer’s behalf at the trial  and the school itself which turned a blind eye as its director of music groomed girl pupils for his sexual gratification. The judge added a word of praise for the few media outlets which have sought to bring this embedded cover-up to light. I shall return to this subject tomorrow.

Here are the two key paragraphs in the sentencing speech:

14. It is surprising that all those who have spoken so well of you at your trial,
when called by you in your defence, did so, it seems, in the full knowledge of
your relationship with M. It may well be that they were not aware of the detail
of the way in which you exploited her but they were apparently nevertheless
more than happy to overlook one of the most shocking aspects of this case.

15. Indeed, perhaps one of the few positive features to have emerged from this
case is the resulting close scrutiny of the seemingly wider acceptance of this
type of behaviour amongst those who should know better.

 

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...

Comments

  1. Concerned parent says:

    And how many of those who spoke well of MB at his trial, or after his conviction wrote letters pleading for leniency because he was such a great musician etc, are teaching young people or in management positions in music schools or conservatoires or youth music bodies?

    • A good question, even though a most uncomfortable one. Who can say? What might ultimately turn out to be the only possible positive outcome of all of this is that knowledge of Frances Andrade’s terrible fate is now beginning to encourage others to come out of the closet and tell of their own experiences. Let us hope that the petition inaugurated by Ian Pace, which has already attracted more than 1,200 signatories including distinguished musicians and teachers, does indeed lead to its intention, namely a full public inquiry into abusive conduct of various kinds at specialist music education establishments, for the ultimate future benefit of those establishments and all those who teach and study at them.

      The judge in the case, incidentally, was Martin Rudland, not Martin Rutland; I was distressed when he seemed unconcerned to upbraid the Brewers’ barrister for unduly aggressive conduct at the trial itself, particularly as hindsight might suggest that this very behaviour could be said to have contributed in part to Frances Andrade’s tragic decision to take her own life before she was able to hear the verdict, but his pre-sentencing remarks do seem to restore some faith in the carriage of justice to the extent that he appears to have understood well a number of crucial aspects of this horrifying case.

      • Perhaps, Mr Hinton, you might note what Frances Andrade’s son had to say on the subject of the defence barrister…http://www.standard.co.uk/news/crime/son-of-sex-abuse-victim-who-killed-herself-backs-defence-lawyer-8551847.html?origin=internalSearch

        • @ Lauren:

          Thank you for posting this. I have now read it. I have two comments to make.

          The first is that, assuming Oliver Andrade to have been correctly reported here, what he says does not appear entirely to accord to his statements in the immediate aftermath of the trial and his mother’s death; here are four examples:

          BBC News 080213

          “Speaking after the verdict, Mrs Andrade’s son said his mother was “sorely missed” by her husband of 25 years Levine Andrade, a well-known viola player, and her four sons.

          He said that during the trial she was “exceptionally uncomfortable throughout” and she was only just beginning to see that Brewer’s actions were indeed abuse.

          “She was forced to relive the many times Michael Brewer had sexually abused her as a child – both to the police, on multiple occasions, and in court to a hostile party.”"

          The Guardian 090213

          “Her son Oliver criticised the police and the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS), claiming she had been left to “cope on her own” with the traumatic impact of the case despite previous attempts to kill herself.

          In a statement issued after the verdicts, he said: “Being repeatedly called a ‘liar’ and a ‘fantasist’ about a horrific part of her life in front of a court challenged her personal integrity and was more than even she could bear.

          “She was forced to relive the many times Michael Brewer had sexually abused her as a child, both to the police on multiple occasions and in court to a hostile party.

          “Having been heavily advised by the police not to receive any form of therapy until the end of the case (a process of almost two years) she was forced to cope on her own with only the support of her family and very close friends.

          “This meant that, even after several attempts at her own life, she did not get the help she needed. The court system let her down.”"

          Daily Mail 100213

          “The circumstances surrounding Frances’s death have sparked a furious debate as to how vulnerable witnesses are treated by the judicial system.

          That debate will be given added fuel as Oliver, in whom she confided and who was the only family member with her in court, describes in heartbreaking detail the months and days that led to her death.

          He lays bare what his family believe was a shocking lack of care shown to her by the police and the Crown Prosecution Service, and describes how Frances was pushed to the edge as she was branded a liar and a fantasist in court.

          ‘As soon as she came out of the court room she just burst into tears,’ said Oliver. ‘She had tried so hard not to do it in front of the jury. She described it as feeling like she had been assaulted all over again.”"

          Daily Mirror 080213

          See http://www.mirror.co.uk/news/uk-news/frances-andrade-sons-heartbroken-tribute-1594665 for a fuller statement from Oliver Andrade.

          Whatever the facts of this may be, Oliver Andrade is just 21 years of age and is clearly very deeply shocked at all that has happened.

          The second is that it seems unlikely, given the widespread reporting of the barrister’s conduct in the trial, in particular her apparently repeated accusations that Mrs Andrade was a “liar” and a “fantasist”, that the barrister did not behave in the manner that has been reported; the fact remains that this had an adverse effect on Mrs Andrade, coming on top of a 2-year period leading to the trial and is it perhaps unsurprising that she felt as though she was the defence and the Brewers’ barrister acting for the prosecution. However, the verdict and the judge’s pre-sentencing remarks make it clear that, whatever the barrister sought to claim, the Court did not accept that Mrs Andrade was a liar or a fantasist.

          Imagine if she had caved in under the pressure of such questioning (she was not, after all, experienced in dealing with such matters – or indeed any matters, in Court). The outcome of the trial might then have been that justice would not have been done and that Mrs Andrade would not only have perjured herself but lain herself open to possible subsequent charges of defamation.

          • Whatever Frances’ family thinks about the behaviour in question, we are all allowed to have our own opinions as well. My impression was that Oliver very magnanimously didn’t want to single out that individual but also wanted to point to the system that encourages or requires this as needing reform. I personally think there is a big difference between calling someone ‘a liar’ and suggesting to them that what they have said is untrue or lies even. Surely some guidelines could be drawn up around that?

    • …and it has to be said, how many who have been involved in other such behaviour or protect those who have are involved in said institutions as we write? Not something that will be unearthed through internal inquiries or even just police investigations of individual allegations alone.

      • @ Gwen:

        You write that “whatever Frances’ family thinks about the behaviour in question, we are all allowed to have our own opinions as well”, which is, of course true. Your “impression…that Oliver very magnanimously didn’t want to single out that individual but also wanted to point to the system that encourages or requires this as needing reform” is also correct, I’m sure – and let’s not forget the sheer pressure that Oliver must have been under to come forward and say anything at all.

        When you write, however, of your belief that “there is a big difference between calling someone ‘a liar’ and suggesting to them that what they have said is untrue or lies even”, I’m afraid that I do not understand the point that you are making; accusing someone of being a liar and a fantasist sounds pretty unequivocal to me and, when such accusations are made in Court, they become a matter of public record. It so happens that, ultimately, those accusations did not impress the Court, whose conviction of the Brewers on most of the charges concerned was a clear vindication of Frances Andrade and an acceptance that she had been telling the truth.

        You ask “how many who have been involved in other such behaviour or protect those who have [been and/or] are involved in said institutions as we write?” and you answer “not something that will be unearthed through internal inquiries or even just police investigations of individual allegations alone”; that may well be the case, which is why Ian Pace’s petition calls for a full independent inquiry into such conduct in specialist music education establishments in general, not just at Chethams, but it is surely not a valid reason in the meantime to discourage such internal enquiries or police investigations of individual allegations that are submitted to them?

        • Correction to my post above; I did not, of course, mean to imply that Oliver Andrade was pressurised to speak out! What I did mean to draw attention to was the sheer pressure under which Oliver was under when he came forward to speak! Sorry for any confusion caused!

        • I agree with everything you say Alistair. I must try to make it more clear who and what I am responding to in future.

          First point you mention was in response to Lauren referring to Oliver’s statement. I wondered if this inferred that you or indeed we shouldn’t criticise the cross examination / lawyer if Oliver doesn’t, with which I disagree, much as I admire Oliver’s even-handedness. Also I think he did object to the behaviour anyway but did not see it as a poperty of the individual lawyer but a fault of the system.

          In my second point that you mention I was saying that I think it particularly wrong and damaging for lawyers to blacken a victim’s whole character in that way: ‘you are liar’ rather than at least restricting it to ‘ I suggest that what you have said is not true’. and i’m sure that would still be pretty hurtful, to a victim but I am saying surely we can at least keep character assination out of it for a start.

          Regarding my third point, I agree that those things are also good and needed (internal investigation and police investigations). I don’t agree with those who argue it should stop there though and I do want an inquiry as well, into all institutions as you say.

          • Your issue re all institutions is one I agree with Gwen, however whilst the names of some of these are so clearly censured that is not going to happen in the foreseeable future.

            In my original post, I’ve called for now to be the time for these details to be revealed in the cases of all of the Manchester Teachers.

            However, like Alistair, I do not want to see a “witch hunt”. My rationale is for this appalling issue to be cleared up and for all the victims to be put in a situation where they can find closure. Those who scandalise at the expense of the trauma of others should be ashamed of themselves.

          • “However, like Alistair, I do not want to see a “witch hunt”. My rationale is for this appalling issue to be cleared up and for all the victims to be put in a situation where they can find closure. Those who scandalise at the expense of the trauma of others should be ashamed of themselves.”

            We are in agreement on all these points, Joanna.

            My point is that nobody is scandalising at the expense of trauma and nobody is witch hunting. We therefore do not need to be distracted, by worrying about that, from the business of doing what is right by victims. We all need to be concentrating on ensuring that abuse in music education (which is sadly a real and extremely damaging phenomenon unlike witchcraft as far as I know) is accounted for and eradicated as much as humanly possible. I am less interested in who should or should not be ashamed of themselves, though clearly that would be abusers, their supporters and their apologists. If they were capable of normal, healthy levels of shame, then they would probably not have done what they have done, or would be trying to make amends for it now, not continuing to deny it at the expense of trauma as, for example, the Brewers and some of their supporters did. As for the rest of us, we have to try to do what we can so that we are not complicit by omission or obstruction and so that we play whatever part we can to support the positive changes that campaigners are trying to make.

    • Mike Smith says:

      I think it wrong for the judge and others to be so critical of those who supported MB at his trial.

      Let’s not forget that at that point they were supporting someone who in law was still “innocent until proven guilty” and who had a previously clean criminal record.

      Unless we are now saying that someone accused of this sort of terrible behaviour is not able to bring character references on the assumption that accusation = guilt.

      • But is that true, though? If the judge only did this in his summing-up and later in his pre-sentencing remarks, then the Brewers’ guilt had already been decided, surely?

      • The judge referred to the fact that these people were well-aware of Brewer’s having had a relationship with a 17-year old girl whilst at the school, and seemed to see nothing particularly wrong with this.

        • Do you mean that the judge himself or those who supported Brewer “seemed to see nothing wrong with this”?! It’s not quite clear from the way you write it here.

          The fact remains, however, that if the judge did not criticise Brewer’s supporters until the close of the trial (by which time he would presumably have made up his own mind as to Brewer’s guilt), he can hardly be accused of assuming that accusation = guilt and so his remarks cannot reasonably be considered to be out of order by reason of being premature.

          • Mike Smith says:

            Yes the judge made those comments in his summing up and sentencing at the end of the trial.

            What I was trying to say was that those who supported MB during the trial were doing so BEFORE he’d been found guilty and without having heard any of the prosecution evidence as witnesses in a trial cannot be in court until they have given evidence.

            They would therefore be giving support to MB having only heard one side of the case. It seems very harsh to criticise them so strongly in this situation.

            Those who supported MB after the guilty verdict but before sentencing are in a different position and left themselves open to this criticism.

          • @ Mike Smith:

            By now clarify matters in pointing out that “the judge made those comments in his summing up and sentencing at the end of the trial”, you are thus not impugning the judge for jumping to conclusions prematurely, which seems to be a fair assessment of that aspect of the matter.

            However, you then write that “those who supported MB during the trial were doing so BEFORE he’d been found guilty and without having heard any of the prosecution evidence as witnesses in a trial” and that they “would therefore be giving support to MB having only heard one side of the case” but you conclude from this that it “seems very harsh to criticise them so strongly in this situation”; is that really so? One expects a judge not to pronounce until all sides of a case have been heard and, likewise, one expects a jury not to reach a verdict until that point; is it not therefore the case that giving vociferous and unquestioning public support to someone charged with grave criminal offences without having heard more than one side of the case is both unwise and unbalanced? The support given by these people prior to Brewer’s conviction was, as far as I can tell, based largely if not entirely upon his perceived reputation as a musician, despite that fact that this reputation, whether or not well-deserved, has nothing whatsoever to do with the matter. Such people would, I think, have been wiser to keep their own counsel and neither offer public support nor public criticism of Brewer until the case had reached its conclusion in Court.

            Those who supported MB after the guilty verdict but before sentencing are in a different position and left themselves open to this criticism.

          • Correction to my message above sent today at 09.58; this should have read

            @ Mike Smith:

            By now clarifying matters in pointing out that “the judge made those comments in his summing up and sentencing at the end of the trial”, you are thus not impugning the judge for jumping to conclusions prematurely, which seems to be a fair assessment of that aspect of the matter.

            However, you then write that “those who supported MB during the trial were doing so BEFORE he’d been found guilty and without having heard any of the prosecution evidence as witnesses in a trial” and that they “would therefore be giving support to MB having only heard one side of the case” but you conclude from this that it “seems very harsh to criticise them so strongly in this situation”; is that really so? One expects a judge not to pronounce until all sides of a case have been heard and, likewise, one expects a jury not to reach a verdict until that point; is it not therefore the case that giving vociferous and unquestioning public support to someone charged with grave criminal offences without having heard more than one side of the case is both unwise and unbalanced? The support given by these people prior to Brewer’s conviction was, as far as I can tell, based largely if not entirely upon his perceived reputation as a musician, despite that fact that this reputation, whether or not well-deserved, has nothing whatsoever to do with the matter. Such people would, I think, have been wiser to keep their own counsel and neither offer public support nor public criticism of Brewer until the case had reached its conclusion in Court.

            You conclude that “those who supported MB after the guilty verdict but before sentencing are in a different position and left themselves open to this criticism” and I agree with you here.

            Apologies for any confusion caused!

  2. Martin Roscoe says:

    Very well said “Concerned parent”….and the answer, unfortunately, is several. They should publicly apologise

    • hear hear

    • Clarissa Smid says:

      I wonder how many people in other schools are now quaking a little more at the real possibility that they too are likely to be scrutinised. .. without wishing to take the heat off sexual abuse, mental abuse is also rife at a great majority of specialist secondary and further / higher institutions, and is just as damaging to students and staff. These behaviours (referred to as “politics” by most of us) provide a background that conceals and blurs the sexual exploitment we are hearing more about now… get rid of the bullies and career professors who use and abuse students and staff like pawns and I think we’ll find that there will be very little cover for predators like the Brewers et al. To think like hundreds of other people. .. he auditioned me for Chets years ago… chilling.

      • I think you’re right. abusive culture breeds abuses of all kinds and welcomes and harbours abusers. As more comes to light it shows up more how metaphorically ‘incestuous’ many of these places are too: ex pupils, husbands, children, wives all remaining or getting thrown back into the gene pool to teach and manage. Plenty of people around now from when all these ‘historic’ things happened. Not good if the values are distorted and morally wanting as there is little fresh blood to challenge this. In that way it is similar to other small communities, like religious ones. Can be wonderful if all is well, but hell on earth if the culture is rotten. Policies don’t magically change anyone’s mindset and covert and non-compliant behaviour can still exist as ever.

  3. An extremely important point, Concerned parent. The distorted and corrupted values to which the judge rightly drew attention are clearly more than a merely localised phenomenon, and the music world needs to ask itself about what sort of moral sense is being communicated by those musicians who are also educators and responsible for young people.

  4. Concerned Teacher says:

    So true, concerned parent. Is not one of the school’s trustees and governors Professor Edward Gregson, former principal at the Royal Northern College of Music (RNCM) who was willing to appoint Malcolm Layfield to a top job as head of strings at the RNCM despite being extensively warned that Layfield had a reputation for sleeping with his teenage pupils while teaching freelance at Chetham’s. I would not one him to be on the governing body of a school I was connected to or had children at!

  5. I’ve said much about this subject in many places, and well it is over.

    It is very sad that the long term effect on Frances Andrade led to her taking her own life. It was extremely courageous of Jenevora Williams to blow the whistle whilst the Brewers still worked for the National Youth Choir. Jenevora now has to live with the fact this decision led to the death of a dear friend. However it was the right thing to do.

    It was the right thing to do as in the file of letters published in the Guardian connected with Malcolm Layfield, there was a letter from one Frances Andrade(as she became). Along with Martin Roscoe, she had attempted to blow the whistle herself, and the whole lot was swept under the carpet. In one of the letters published two more educational establishments were censured. For the sake of their students, I would like to see that information come into the open. All of this took place a long time ago. There need not be a witch hunt. I’d rather there wasn’t. However, I would like it if all the details would come to light in order that everyone associated with these crimes can now open up and heal.

    As for parents of children attending the National Youth Choir and Chethams School of Music. I believe that lessons have been learnt. There will be other scandals; unfortunately there are some very perverse people in the world, but I think these parents can be assured that the NYC and Chets are probably the best places to send their kids at present. These institutions are hyper-vigilant. It is the complacent ones where parents need raise their own vigilance.

  6. I am very please that Martin Roscoe has commented. The way he was treated at the time by Professor Gregson and the Royal Northern was abysmal.

  7. Concerned parent says:

    Right now Chets is in crisis. Officially there has been no acknowledgement of wider responsibility for the Brewer affair and the management continues to hide behind the assertion that everything is different now. Doubtless it is the safest school in the UK right now in terms of the risk of sexual abuse from its teachers, but that isn’t the point. Management failings remain, personnel remain in place who have been implicated in the Brewer, Layard, Bakst, Ling, Li etc allegations and victims, past and present, are continuing to come forward. The word from the police is that the school has been as unco-operative as possible in supplying information for its growing investigations, and the inspection reports (from ISI and Manchester City Council) which were due to be published yesterday and which the school was looking forward to brandishing as proof that all the problems revealed by the Brewer etc cases were safely “historic” have been delayed. Leaks from the school suggest that the delay in publishing the reports is the result of the school disputing certain critical findings.

    • CP – how, given stringent employment law (not to mention any sense of reasonable fairness) can you expect that Chets could manage to rid itself of any staff vaguely ‘implicated’ in ‘allegations’ as you write? Without hard evidence, would that be fair?

      • Anon – why do you assume there is no ‘hard evidence’?

      • In principle, no, it would not – but then the very “absence” of evidence as a direct consequence of its deliberate concealment has been one major factor in this widespread problem. It has already been extensively reported that incidents have been drawn to the attention of authorities and evidence provided in support of their veracity, only to be ignored and brushed under a rather filthy carpet over years. Whilst no right-minded person wishes to see a witch-hunt culture developing as a knee-jerk reaction to the events that have taken place, there is a middle way and a proper way that involves honesty and conscientiousness in reporting, thorough investigation of any allegations reported and the reference of cases to the police whenever appropriate.

        What’s important here is having the will and the expertise to get at the truth. This is why I wrote as I did above about the conduct of the barrister in the Brewer trial. My experience of Court conduct is admittedly limited, but it is sufficient to have taught me the primary importance of the barrister’s duty to get at the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth and that this need not involve aggressive behaviour; in fact, in my experience, the barrister concerned handled the other side with impeccable courtesy at all times and did not even tie him up in knots, preferring instead to engineer matters so that he tied himself up in knots of his own making. After the trial, the judge called her into his chambers to compliment her on the exemplary manner in which she conducted herself. I should perhaps add, for the record, that she won the case hands down.

        It is not, of course, possible to determine whether, had Ms Blackwell conducted herself as did the barrister I’ve just mentioned, Frances Andrade might still be with us today, but it seems to me that the possibility that her aggressive behaviour might indeed have been a contributory factor to Frances being tipped over the edge cannot sensibly be discounted.

        • I am glad you have brought up the witch hunt thing, Alistair, as have many others and I agree with your analysis. This concept is a complete red herring and no right minded person is going to allow it to deflect from what has to be done. After what is being suggested doesn’t actually involve rounding up innocent people (those deemed to be witches or labelled as such for ulterior motives) for a non existent crime (i.e. harming others through being a witch / practising witchcraft). It involves looking at real crimes wrongdoing and failure to protect innocent children (harming children and young people through sexual abuse and exploitation or the condoning and enabling of such). If we must liken this to a hunt, can we at least liken it to a Nazi hunt instead? I think that would be a more accurate comparison.

          • Gwen, the term, “witch hunt”, as you well know has historical and cultural context. It particularly gained significance when Arthur Miller wrote the Crucible. Although it may offend your feminist sensitivities, when talking about Red Herrings, please don’t create one yourself.

            Alistair’s point was well made, and enough harm has been done without bringing the Nazis into it.

          • Joanna, Alistair’s point was well made I agree and I do not want a witch hunt either. My point is not about feminism but about this situation not being comparable to a witch hunt. To me anyway, the term ‘witch hunt’ with all its cultural baggage summons up an image of trumped up charges regarding imaginary crimes against innocent people in a context of hysteria. As far as I know it meant this when applied to examination of witch hunts in Salem for example and it also meant this when re-applied to McCarthyism. This situation is not that as i think you would agree. It is about real perpetrators having done real harm and the need to ensure that this is investigated and prevented for the future – the need for the kind of sensible investigation that Alistair describes and that you seem to want also. I don’t think that anyone who has commented so far wants a witch hunt, but the fact that we feel the need to say this and that this term surfaces so much in such discussions reflects the fact that this damning accusation is in the air somewhere. I want to refute it as a red herring because I wouldn’t want it to inhibit people from investigating or supporting an inquiry. I perhaps inadvisably say it is more comparable to a Nazi hunt because at least that involves seeking out justice for real wrongs commited by genuinely guilty parties rather than indiscriminately persecuting the innocent as suggested by the term ‘witch hunt’. The comparison is limited to that. Apologies though if that has offended anyone or made it seem that I wish to minimising that topic, which I do not, and I certainly don’t want to divert the discussion that way.

      • It needs to be investigated, Anon. if there is no evidence after that, then no action needs to be taken.

  8. You mention, Norman, that the judge has singled out the school for criticism – where in the document is this? I share the horror and betrayal of trust of the behaviour of those that allowed this to continue in various institutions, but there is enough distressing news in the stark facts of the case, without needing to draw inferences from them. (I am not saying the school does not have to be criticised or held to account for its actions, that surely will come, rather it is important for all involved to accurately and sensitively report what has actually occured).

  9. Chets Parent says:

    Concerned Parent’s comments worry me. If the reports due yesterday are delayed by Chet’s management I am flabbergasted. The ISI and City Council are independent of Chets. If their reports are to offer any comfort to current parents then their independence cannot be under question and nor can the issue of whether the report has had any form of editorial control exercised by the school AT ALL. Yes there may be legal reasons for clarifying certain issues with the school but that shouldn’t hold it up – that should merely be a matter of checking any factual matters of record. If Chets mess with the very reports they invited in order to comfort parents then, regrettably, I will be considering withdrawing my offspring. The phrase that springs to mind when considering the City Council’s position and that of the ISI is “publish and be damned” – in the end you will not only preserve your own credibility but also that of Chets by getting anything that needs to be said into the open without further ado.

an ArtsJournal blog