Prep school headmaster found dead days after being accused of sexual assault

Telegraph reportersThu, 18 February 2021, 8:09 pm

Chalk equations filling blackboard GettyImages-72724344.jpg - Getty
Chalk equations filling blackboard GettyImages-72724344.jpg – Getty

A prep school headmaster has been found dead days after being accused of sexual assault. William Murdock, 60, was the headteacher at Danes Hill school in Oxshott, Surrey.

He was found dead in woods close to his home last week.

Earlier this month, police launched an investigation after an allegation of sexual assault was made against him, prompting governors at the £20,000-a-year school to suspend him.

Parents were reportedly told of his death and news of the police probe in a letter sent out earlier this week.

A spokeswoman for Danes Hill School told Surrey Live: “We are sorry to confirm that Willie Murdock died last week. This has come as a shock to us all.

“The safety and wellbeing of everyone in the school community is of paramount importance to us. In the week prior to his death, the school received allegations concerning Mr Murdock. These did not concern children or any child safeguarding matter.

“In line with its policies and procedures, the school started an investigation and reported the matter to the relevant authorities. Mr Murdock was suspended from his role and the police launched a criminal investigation into the allegations.

“Mr Murdock died before the police had concluded their investigation. That investigation has now been superseded by a coroner’s inquest. We are not in a position to provide further detail.

“This has been a tragic matter for all concerned. The Governors are giving careful consideration to what further actions should be taken. Meanwhile our thoughts are with the Murdock family and those involved.”

In a statement, Surrey Police said: “Surrey Police received an allegation of sexual assault on 5 February 2021.

“The assault, involving an adult victim, is alleged to have taken place on 29 January 2021 at an address in Oxshott.

“A 60-year-old man was arrested in connection with the incident and subsequently released on conditional bail.

“Surrey Police will neither confirm nor deny any information that would lead to the identification of an individual involved in an investigation, prior to any charge.”

They added: “We were called around 8.45pm on 10 February, to woodland in Oxshott, following the discovery of a man’s body.

“The investigation into his death remains ongoing but it is not believed that there are any suspicious circumstances or third party involvement at this stage.