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Clegg praises sex-abuse classmate
Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg has hailed the courage of a former classmate who came forward to blow the whistle on child abuse by a teacher at his former school.
Roland Wright, 83, who taught at Caldicott Boys' Preparatory School in Farnham Royal, Buckinghamshire, was jailed for eight years last week for assaulting five pupils aged between eight and 13 between 1959 and 1970.
Another teacher, 82-year-old Hugh Henry, who pleaded guilty to indecency charges, was found dead on a railway line before he could be sentenced.
Mr Clegg, who was head boy at Caldicott in 1980, said he was unaware of the abuse during his time at school and found it "harrowing" to think that others were suffering during what he remembered as a happy childhood.
During his Call Clegg show on LBC radio, he listened to a recording of former classmate Ian McFadyen, describing how he was targeted for abuse.
In a message to the Deputy Prime Minister, Mr McFadyen said: "I'm passing the ball to you. I've done my bit, I stood up five years ago and I opened my life up to the world. I had my private life, my family life, my sexual life, my physical health and mental health discussed around a jury and a courtroom full of people.
"I've done my bit. I have somebody who abused me who is dead and another person in prison. I've done as much as I can do so I pass the baton to you, Nick. It's down to you to do what you can do to stop kids being hurt.
"I'm glad you weren't touched and I'm glad you weren't hurt and I'm glad you weren't aware of it, because - do you know what? - none of it has done any of the boys who are now men any good. There's a lot of damaged people out there. Please try and stop kids from getting hurt."
Mr Clegg said it was "distressing" to hear Mr McFadyen's testimony.
"It is very harrowing," said the Liberal Democrat leader. "I had basically happy recollections of school. Nothing happened to me or my brother and to feel now with hindsight, over three decades later, that people like Ian McFadyen were put through this nightmare and you were just completely oblivious is just..."
Mr Clegg said that legal changes since the 1980s and increased vigilance by local authorities, social services and the police made the situation "quite, quite different from what it was 30-40 years ago".
The Government is considering a mandatory legal requirement to report suspicions of abuse, but Mr Clegg said the evidence from countries which had tried this approach was "ambivalent".
"If the evidence shows that we would help, we must do it," he said.
Mr Clegg said his message to Mr McFadyen was that "his courage, which has clearly left him very distressed - and I hope he knows this - will have done a great, great deal to protect children in the future".
He added: "His courage, and that of people, victims, who speak out like that, not only brings perpetrators to justice... but it also brings it out into the open in a way where it has previously lurked in the shadows.
"In a strange kind of way, that is probably t he greatest inoculation we can have as a society against this kind of thing happening out of sight and out of mind."