Craig Edward Johnson, the Yehudi Menuhin School, Adrian Stark, and wider networks?

There are various stories concerning convictions of music teachers which I plan soon to add to my long post on reported cases of abuse in music education from 1990 to 2012. But in the meantime, I wanted to draw attention to one in particular.

In 1998, Craig Edward Johnson, a housemaster at the Yehudi Menuhin School (who had worked at the school for 11 years), was sentenced to 120 hours community service and ordered to pay towards court costs (just £60) after being convicted at Redhill Magistrates’ Court possession of indecent images of children. He immediately resigned his position at the Menuhin School and had to register with his local police in Brighton as a paedophile. Anonymous letters had been sent to both the headmaster of the Menuhin School and Leatherhead police, accusing Mr Johnson of being homosexual with a predilection for young males, and calling it a scandal that he was teaching at the school (see ‘Housemaster kept indecent photographs of young boys’, GetSurrey, January 23rd, 1998).

In August of the previous year, however, Adrian Stark, director of music at St John’s School, Leatherhead, Surrey had been found dead off Beachy Head, after three public schools had been raided by Scotland Yard detectives investigating a paedophile ring. Police, who had seized address books belonging to Stark, which led them in the direction of a wider paedophile network across a range of public schools, culminating in 15 raids involving eight police forces. At was at this time that a teacher at the Menuhin School (presumably Johnson) was charged with child pornography offences (‘Public school teacher facing child pornography charges’, The Guardian, August 2nd, 1997; Peter Hetherington, Duncan Campbell, Rebecca Smithers and David Brindle, ‘Suicide pointed police to new schools’, The Guardian, November 21st, 1997).

The pattern of anonymous letters sent to the Head of the Menuhin School was repeated at various other schools across the country. Someone was aware of a variety of teachers in this respect. In 1996, video tapes were seized from the premises belonging to director of music Philip Cartledge at Harrow School, though Cartledge was not arrested or charged (Gary Jones, ‘Sex Cops seize Videos at Top School’, News of the World, May 12th, 1996). In 1997, a nationwide investigation, Operation Fledgling, was launched after a former teacher at Abberley Hall in Worcestershire allegedly told a colleague that he was part of a paedophile network, saying he had had sex with ‘hundreds and hundreds of boys’ and naming teachers at sex other establishments. The operation, which lasted a year, targeted what were described as known ‘homosexual paedophiles’ at Eton and Wellington College, Berkshire, Harrow, Hurstpierpoint and elsewhere; by 2000, major investigations were still going on at Eton in particular (‘Eton targeted in paedophile inquiry at top public schools’, The Sunday Times, August 8th, 2000). Earlier this year, an article by Andrew Norfolk in the times drew attention to a whole 130 private schools at which teachers had been implicated in sexual crimes, with hundreds of children having been victims (Andrew Norfolk, ‘130 private schools in child abuse scandal’, The Times, January 20th, 2014).

Were there are links between wider paedophile networks operative at private schools, and specialist music schools including the Menuhin School? This subject needs further investigation.

With great thanks to Eileen Fairweather for pointing me in the direction of the material on Johnson.

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