Probe demanded into claims alleged school sex victim made to sign 'gagging order'

Allegations that a £40,000 payment was made to a young woman at the centre of a school abuse scandal, and that she was also asked to sign a non-disclosure agreement about the deal, should be investigated by an independent inquiry, a leading councillor has demanded.

Tuesday, 6th July 2021, 4:55 am
Updated Tuesday, 6th July 2021, 7:20 am
Castlebrae High School, where Derek Curran worked. Pic: Google
Castlebrae High School, where Derek Curran worked. Pic: Google

Tory group leader, Cllr Iain Whyte, said reports that an alleged victim of crime was asked to sign an NDA after a payment by the council needed to be part of the current QC-led independent inquiry being conducted into the council’s organisational culture.

Cllr Whyte said the accusations were a “serious issue”, that needed further investigation, as they impacted on a scandal at Castlebrae High school which had only been revealed by the actions of whistleblowers.

The council has refused to comment on the allegations, with a spokesperson saying that as it was “a legal matter it would be inappropriate” to do so.

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Chief Executive of Edinburgh Council, Andrew Kerr.

However Mr Whyte said: “This is not a political issue – it needs to be out of the hands of politicians on the council. It is a matter that should be part of the wide-ranging inquiry which is currently being conducted by Susanne Tanner QC. That would be the most appropriate action.

"The inquiry should look into this and find out exactly what has happened so the public can be confident that everything that happened in this case was done properly. The inquiry is about whistleblowing and organisational conduct, so this would fall within its remit.”

Derek Curran was suspended as head of Castlebrae in 2014 after being accused of failing to immediately report allegations about another teacher’s behaviour in line with child protection procedures. He was eventually dismissed in September 2015 for gross misconduct.

The Evening News understands that a payment was made to a young woman in January 2016, two years after it was alleged Derek Curran had been involved in an inappropriate sexual relationship with her. She is believed to have given birth to Curran’s child after her 18th birthday.

Head of Castlebrae High School Derek Curran.

The headteacher, who had been drafted in as a "super-head" to help the ailing Castlebrae school, is currently subject to a Temporary Restriction Order by the General Teaching Council for Scotland and an investigation into whether or not he should be allowed to teach again is ongoing, but was delayed by the Covid pandemic.

Mr Curran denies failing to adequately assess the seriousness of the original complaint against a fellow teacher, or to ensure an investigation was properly conducted. He also denies failing to take appropriate action in line with the council’s child protection guidelines.

In 2018, he won an unfair dismissal claim against the council after a judge found that the authority “failed to follow a fair procedure” and was awarded almost £10,000 in compensation.

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