Camilla TurnerThu, 25 March 2021, 9:37 pm
Highgate School has appointed a former High Court judge to lead a review into allegations of sexual harassment and abuse.
The prestigious north London school announced on Thursday night that it had asked The Rt Hon Dame Anne Rafferty to investigate the issues raised by the pupil testimonies.
It came after female pupils planned to hold a protest walkout after the school was accused of upholding a rape culture.
Current and former students’ testimonies of abuse and harassment were sent to the school’s governors.
In a letter to alumni on Thursday night, the school’s headmaster Adam Pettitt said he is “deeply shocked and horrified” by the allegations.
“We are fortunate to draw upon Dame Anne’s experience as a Lady Justice of Appeal as well as her years as a High Court Judge and as Chancellor at the University of Sheffield,” he said.
“Dame Anne will lead a panel of professionals with relevant expertise; she is currently considering next steps and we will be able to make further announcements early next term.”
He explained that the school will also carry out an internal review of testimonies and draw up an “indicative anti-sexism plan”.
Highgate is one of a number of leading private schools to be identified in unverified accounts published online, purporting to tell the stories of students who had been sexually abused or assaulted by current and former pupils.
The testimonies were published by Everyone’s Invited, a website and social media account for pupils and former pupils to share their experiences of sexual assault and harassment.
In recent weeks the site has been inundated by people apparently inspired to come forward following the death of Sarah Everard.
As well as publishing their testimonies on social media, former pupils of prestigious schools have also started publishing open letters online which detail their experiences.
Mr Pettit said: “We are encouraging any individuals who wish to share their experiences, or to give feedback anonymously, to contribute to the review by filling in this form.
“The review team wants to hear, in strict confidence, from pupils past or present who faced sexual harassment or abuse, and who were or were not supported during their time at Highgate.”