Two charged over sex abuse at city school

Merchiston Castle School
Merchiston Castle School
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TWO men have been charged in connection with allegations of historical abuse at a top city boarding school.

Police Scotland confirmed they were investigating claims of abuse at Merchiston Castle School in Colinton – Scotland’s only all-boys independent residential school.

Officers said the men, aged 62 and 69 – understood to be ex-staff members – will appear in court at a later date in relation to allegations dating back to the 1960s.

Merchiston Castle follows the English curriculum and charges fees of up to £29,000 a year, making it one of the most expensive schools in the country. With prominent ex-pupils including former international rugby star John Jeffrey and ex-Bank of Scotland chief Sir Peter Burt, the school is considered to be one of the best in the UK for sport as well as boasting a “first-class” academic reputation.

A police spokeswoman said the force was unable to provide details as to what the men were being charged with.

Police Scotland’s Detective Inspector Morag Bruce said: “Police in Edinburgh are carrying out inquiries into claims of historic abuse at Merchiston Castle School, which date back to the 1960s.

“As a result of this ongoing investigation, two men, aged 62 and 69, have been charged and will appear at court at a later date.”

In 2013 long-time Merchiston teacher James Rainy Brown committed suicide after being told police were investigating claims of his “inappropriate conduct” towards pupils at the private school.

The 75-year-old, who had worked at Merchiston for 52 years, hanged himself at his Colinton home shortly after being informed of the probe. After his death, it emerged the teacher had left almost £1 million to the school in his will, with instruction that some of it be used to help pupils who were in financial difficulty.

It is understood claims against him involved lewd and inappropriate comments rather than physical abuse.

Andrew Hunter, headmaster of Merchiston Castle School, said the school was “committed to co-operating fully” with officers investigating claims of abuse.

He said: “We have been offering every possible assistance to Police Scotland as it investigates these historical allegations. The appropriate school records have been made available to the investigating officers and we are committed to co-operating fully in support of their inquiries.

“The welfare and safety of our pupils is the central, over-riding priority at Merchiston and our safeguarding and child protection policies are robust, comprehensive and fully compliant with current Scottish legislation.”

Councillor Jason Rust, who represents Colinton, said the news was “obviously very disturbing and concerning.”

He added: “But it’s positive that this is a situation where charges have been brought and it’s being investigated. We just need to let justice run its course.”