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Troubled music school: another ex-teacher arrested

Manchester Police today arrested a former music teacher at Chetham’s School of Music on suspicion of raping three pupils in the 1980s and early 1990s.

The Guardian and the Manchester Evening News name the man as Malcolm Layfield, 61. Layfield resigned as head of strings at the Royal Northern College of Music in February after being named by police as a suspect, his position (the college said) ‘having become untenable’.



The Guardian quotes police sources as saying that 10 teachers connected with Chetham’s or the RNCM are being ‘proactively investigated’ after complaints by some 30 women. Layfield is the fourth to be arrested. Presumptions of innocence apply. The police statement reads:

The 61-year-old man was arrested today, Wednesday 7 August 2013, on suspicion of three counts of rape.

He has been bailed until 17 October 2013, pending further enquiries.

The offences relate to the rape of three teenagers, aged 16, 16 and 18, between 1980 and 1991 while the man was teaching at Chetham’s.

The investigation follows the arrest and conviction of ex-Chetham’s head of music Michael Brewer for the sexual abuse of pupil Frances Andrade. Ms Andrade took her own life during the course of the trial.

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  1. Random Person says:

    Events like this would close almost any other school. There’s a PhD in the sociology of why a musical school can seemingly be unaffected, either in terms of parents’ willingness to send their children or in terms of the school’s own safeguarding, by regular and credible claims of rape of its pupils.

    • Ian Pace says:

      It’s a sign of the all-too-great deference shown towards those involved with classical music, as if somehow they and their ilk stand above other values of human decency. Until society starts talking a more healthily sceptical attitude towards those in that field, accepting they might be as good or bad as anyone else (and perhaps sometimes the arrogance of their position might make them worse), then such things will continue.

      • David Wilde [pianist and composer] says:

        To speak of the UK, which the Germans [amongst whom I lived and worked for 20 years] used to call ‘The Land Without Music’ as showing ‘all-too-great-deference’ towards ‘classical music’ [in itself a vague and often misapplied term] merely rubs salt in the wound of our country’s uneven record in this regard. To imply that the deference allegedly shown to us in British society is in itself responsible for sexual misconduct is contrary to the facts of the UK’s frequent indifference to the achievements of it’s so-called ‘classical’ musicians, even when, as I know from my own experience, we have brought considerable credit to our country’s standing abroad.
        What is needed here is a serious sociological study, undertaken by people who truly understand the unusual situations that give rise to such disgraceful behaviour, rather than bigoted sneers by those for whom our work is in itself is of little value and so tend to seek excuses for putting it down.

  2. Concerned Parent says:

    Couldn’t agree more with the previous two posters. Malcolm Layfield has a huge number of connections and relationships in Manchester, at both Chets and RNCM, and while suspicions of rape might be news to some, they have been reported to those in authority by a number of credible victims and witnesses over decades.

    Why on earth didn’t these people – which include the current Head of Chetham’s and at least one member of the governing body – act at the time these allegations were first reported to them? Why didn’t they go to the police?

    There has been a collective refusal to believe, to investigate and to confront the fact of abuse at Chets – which has compounded the suffering of victims, caused huge distress to those who have tried to get the institutions concerned to do the right thing and in some cases (Martin Roscoe and others) damaged careers.

    It’s time the management at Chets stopped the ducking and diving which has allowed abuse to fester unchecked for so long.

  3. Continually incredulous ex pupil says:

    Not only have allegations been around for decades to the full knowledge of the head and more than one governor, but so have admissions of inappropriate if not illegal sexual exploitation of pupils by this man.

    The response of the governors was to promote him and his career with young people (with the justification that it was a long time ago and he was sorry) and to protect him from criticism to the detriment of decent members of staff.

    The current head’s response to the allegations was that they weren’t her problem.

    Sorry to go over this for those who have been following all this. It is not news. However, as others have rightly pointed out, those involved seem to arrogantly carry on regardless and be allowed to do so. Hence it is worth re-stating.

    Time for resignations of said head and members of governors is long, long overdue.

    • Mr Pastry says:

      Seems to me that you’re describing the situation at RNCM, not Chethams.
      Someone please correct me if I’m wrong, but isn’t it the case that none of the alleged incidents took place while the current head of Chetham’s was in post? Whilst I believe that she could have handled the present situation better, I don’t see why she should be expected to resign over events that occurred years before she came to the school.
      In my experience, as a parent of an ex-Chets pupil, the school has been extremely vigilant with regard to any possible hint of actual or potential sexual misconduct in recent years.

      • edward gregson (who appointed layfield to the rncm when he was principal) is I believe still a governor at chethams.

      • Grimersta says:

        Mr Pastry says:

        “In my experience, as a parent of an ex-Chets pupil, the school has been extremely vigilant with regard to any possible hint of actual or potential sexual misconduct in recent years.”

        This is likely to have been the opinion also held by the parents of the late Frances Andrade. And it is just what my parents and many others would have said of the school I attended because otherwise children are likely to have been withdrawn. But candidly, parents are simply not in a position to know how effective safeguarding is in any setting because they are remote from it. For example have you read the safeguarding policies of any of the schools ever attended by your child/ren? Has your partner? Were you ever gripped with the statutory framework which is required in order to understand how good, bad or indifferent any policy is for any setting? Did you have any comprehension of the so called ‘statutory guidance’ when your child/ren attended the setting. And what rights did you and your child have if the worst had happened, and abuse was discovered? What were the protocols, and were the statutory or merely guidance? What was the legal basis of the child protection policy?

        Or is your opinion grounded on the wrongful belief that had your child/ren been abused the first persons s/he would tell is you or your partner?

        The abuse of children, particularly serial abuse, is a unique crime because it is the only one, to my knowledge, in which the perpetrator and the victim are often equally motivated to keep the crime a secret. The reasons are surprising. Please do take time to read this article by Louise Tickle in the Guardian, extracts of which have been mentioned elsewhere on this site:

        It gives one a great deal to consider. The current framework actually provides all settings, in which children are cared for in loco parentis, with a conflict of interest when considering whether it will inform the LADO of an incident. This is because there is no statutory obligation on any individual working in a ‘Regulated Activity’ to report either allegations or know abuse of a child.

        The nuts and bolts of the law and dynamics of abuse are set out in this link :

        Perpetrators operate much more effectively and efficiently in numbers. Multiple eyes and ears protect the ‘shoal’ from being discovered. As a result there is usually a legacy to abuse discovered in settings because perpetrators do not wear any identification. Common sense and adult logic are of no use when facing a compromised setting even if the institution is motivated to get its house completely in order and perpetrator free.

        • Mr pastry says:

          .“In my experience, as a parent of an ex-Chets pupil, the school has been extremely vigilant with regard to any possible hint of actual or potential sexual misconduct in recent years.”

          This is likely to have been the opinion also held by the parents of the late Frances Andrade……….

          Please note that I said: “in my experience” and not “in my opinion”.

          • Grimersta says:

            The point is that your ‘experience’ and understanding of safeguarding, like that of most parents is as close to zero as it is possible to get. Claiming to have ‘experience’ is misguided, and I say this without wishing to cause offence. By default most parents of most children in most schools will share your opinion of the school their child attended – not least because they could not stomach the thought they might have made a multi-thousand pound error in the school they chose for their child. Parents by default want to believe the administration of the setting, and of course the ‘experienced’ schools inspectorates could never have made a mistake could they? Parents after all have no other independent information on which to rely when chosing a school. This responsibility until recently fell to Ofsted which inspected boarding safeguarding in all residential settings :

            Experience; it would be great if parent had come in this matter. I’ve never met one. Regulated Activities of all types, and parents of children who attend them, are steeped in child protection illiteracy and complacency, and failed by a safeguarding framework that is unfit for purpose.

  4. So horrible stories.

    Good thing, that he’s caught, but not so good that it should take so many years!

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