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Edinburgh Academy abuse victim waives anonymity to detail violence he suffered at hands of sadistic teacher

© Vagner Vidal/Hyde News & PictureGrahame Buck hopes to give evidence at the inquiry into child abuse in Scotland.
Grahame Buck hopes to give evidence at the inquiry into child abuse in Scotland.

A former pupil at a leading private school has waived his anonymity and spoken for the first time about ordeals he suffered there, months before a national inquiry puts the institute under the spotlight.

Grahame Buck, a former pupil at Edinburgh Academy, wants to join broadcaster Nicky Campbell to testify about the sexual and physical abuse he experienced and ­witnessed at Edinburgh Academy.

He said he was woken in the middle of the night, bent over a desk and beaten with a clacken, or wooden bat, by a teacher who “rained hell on me”.

He also said fellow pupils were so scared of some of the teachers on school trips that they would soil themselves rather than ask to go to the toilet.

Seventeen former teachers and staff members at Edinburgh Academy have been accused of molesting boys between 1953 and the early-1990s.

BBC broadcaster Campbell, 61, has supported other survivors after speaking out about his experiences at the school in the 1970s.

Buck, who boarded at the Academy in the 1970s, said: “I have tried to find a way to contact Nicky Campbell. I have recently started counselling for trauma stress. During these sessions I began to recall some of my early-years experiences at the Academy in the 1970s.

“From the age of eight-and-a-half, while at the junior boarding house, I was very severely beaten on several occasions by the same housemaster in his private study after being taken from the dormitory late at night.

“We had fallen asleep and he came to get me. I was very, very young and away from home, and I remember being taken to his study. He had a clacken – it was basically like a wooden spoon that would have been about a yard long. It was used in a game, a little bit like squash, that was played at the school.

“It was an explosive session of violence. He made me lie across the desk and then just went ballistic. He just rained hell on me for about two minutes.

“I don’t understand how you could take out that level of violence on a child. There is a picture of me in that year. When I look at that picture now, I can see something happened.

“I went in as this one child and I came out as someone else.”

The Sunday Post revealed that Fettes and Edinburgh Academy face paying up to £30 million in compensation for survivors of historical abuse, according to an expert commentator.

Campaigning author Alex Renton said Fettes College and Edinburgh Academy faced scores of claims after being repeatedly named in a wave of complaints since Nicky Campbell accused a former teacher at both schools of physical and sexual abuse.

The man was, until recently, referred to as “Edgar” after the Scottish Child Abuse Inquiry passed an order forbidding people who have been accused but not convicted of abuse from being named.

However, in January he was named as Iain Wares by MP Ian Blackford, using parliamentary privilege in the House of Commons.

Grahame Buck as a schoolboy.

Buck said: “I have come to realise I might not be the only one. On one occasion, after I was beaten for talking on the mini-bus on the way to the outward bound centre, a fellow student who was walking with me on one of the hill walks defecated himself while we were walking.

“He was too scared to ask for a comfort break. I suspect it was easier for those who were inclined to take advantage of the children in their care to do so knowing no parents would be a witness to events.

“I have found it difficult to come to terms with why anyone would behave this way with vulnerable children whose sole contact with their parents was through vetted letters out and maybe the summer and Christmas holiday periods.

“I would be interested in making contact with other pupils who went through the same thing.”

The Scottish Child Abuse Inquiry will focus on Edinburgh Academy from August, when it resumes public hearings on boarding schools.

Broadcaster Campbell said he witnessed Wares sexually assaulting a classmate in a changing room at the academy 51 years ago, when they were both 10 years old.

He also said he was sexually assaulted by Hamish Dawson, another teacher, who died in 2009.

Buck said: “I started at the Academy in 1974/75 in the junior Dundas House. I suffered at the hands of the housemaster.

“I also remember that I spent much of my time during the summer term playing outside on my own as far away from the house as possible.

“For the last year of prep school the year group moved to Mackenzie House, where I met the now infamous Hamish Dawson.

“I did not suffer at the hands of this housemaster outside of him ‘checking to see if we were wearing underwear’ when getting ready for sports.

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“We were soon being offered tasks with the reward of a jellybean or two if this was done successfully.

“For me, the collection of a ‘reward’, required me to enter the housemaster’s accommodation, which I can still vividly recall as being decorated in purple and lilac colours.

“Both of my friends at the time left the Academy by the year end and I was left with this irrational, obsessive dislike for the colour scheme he had painted his accommodation in.”

He added: “I have contacted the inquiry and I am waiting to hear back from them. There needs to be some sort of permanent marker at the school – in the form of a plaque or something like that – to mark what happened there.”

Inquiry chairwoman Lady Smith previously said: “Since the beginning of public hearings examining boarding schools in March 2021, there has been an increase in applicants coming forward, including those who boarded at Edinburgh Academy and other witnesses.

“Their evidence includes ­information about Edinburgh Academy and allegations of abuse by a number of its former staff. It is normal for applicants to come forward during and after evidential hearings. Those hearings and the publicity surrounding them encourage them to get in touch. In these particular circumstances, I have decided further evidence about the care of children who boarded at the Edinburgh Academy should be heard in public hearings, as part of the boarding schools case study.

“Evidence relating to Edinburgh Academy has been gathered for some time. Many people have already come forward.

“We would encourage anyone with relevant information to get in touch with the inquiry’s witness support team as soon as possible.”

© Andrew Cawley
The Edinburgh Academy school. (Pic: Andrew Cawley)

Edinburgh Academy said: “We would like to reiterate that we deeply regret what has happened in the past. Like all right-minded people, we are appalled by such behaviour and we would encourage anyone who has been the victim of abuse to contact Police Scotland.

“We also fully support the Scottish Child Abuse Inquiry’s (SCAI) decision to hold a hearing into the period of time when the school was a boarding school, as it allows former pupils, who have bravely come forward, to have their voices heard and provide evidence as part of that inquiry.

“From the outset of the SCAI being established in 2015, we have supported the inquiry and worked closely with the relevant authorities, and we will continue to do so.”