Lawyers to probe Edinburgh school racism claims
Claims from students experiencing racism at St Augustine’s High School, which include accounts of being called “monkey” and “slave” by teachers, has led to a formal investigation being launched by Edinburgh City Council.
Now the Evening News can reveal that one of the biggest law firms in the Capital, Shepherd & Wedderburn, has been drafted in to help advise by the local authority.
Former pupil Miguel Chui, 19, collated and sent independent testimonies to the council’s Executive Director of Communities and Families Alistair Gaw on June 22, 2020.
Mr Gaw has now responded to these allegations in a letter, sent on July 13, 2020, which confirms that the school will be formally investigated next month.
He wrote: “I can now advise that the council will appoint an external law firm to investigate these matters. The appointed law firm will have expertise in conducting such investigations and in relation to equalities legislation and practice.
“This approach will ensure that the matters are investigated independently and forensically.”
Mr Gaw went on to say that the process of appointing a law firm has already started and they expect the investigation to begin “no later than early-August”.
While Mr Chui welcomed this development the campaigning teenager is also frustrated by the contradictory information he has been given about the planned inquiry at the school.
He said: “Over the past month, I’ve been told by council officials that they are urgently investigating the allegations when in fact they haven’t even started the investigation.”
The Edinburgh University law student added that he has “no faith” that the council would have responded to the allegations he brought forward if the issue had not been reported by the press.
Since the allegations were published in the Evening News on July 6, 2020, six further pupils from St Augustine’s have come forward with their experiences of racism, saying they felt empowered by other pupil’s bravery.
Mr Chui said: “I hope the investigation will lead to accountability for staff members who have gotten away with years of racial abuse against young people. The trauma caused by years of constant discrimination cannot be overstated.
“I hope this investigation will send out a very clear message to members of the teaching profession: ‘If you step out of line, you will be brought to book and racism has no place in Scotland, be it in education or elsewhere’.”
A council spokesperson said: “As a council we treat allegations of racism very seriously and the council is launching an investigation across the relevant schools. Shepherd & Wedderburn has been appointed to offer expert assistance to us and BAME experts on the investigation going forward.”