This article is taken from the New Straits Times 02/09/00, an English-language newspaper published in Malaysia.
Eton College has been targeted by detectives investigating an alleged ring of suspected paedophile teachers in Britain’s top public schools. A police document leaked to The Sunday Times reveals that officers set up Operation Fledgling, a full-scale intelligence-gathering investigation, into claims that some pupils at the country’s most prominent public school had been subjected to sexual abuse.
Disclosure of the inquiry will be especially sensitive because Prince Harry is a pupil at the prestigious school and Prince William, his older brother, has only recently left. The year-long inquiry, which ended in 1998, targeted known or suspected “homosexuals/paedophiles” at Eton and Wellington College, Berkshire, and at Harrow, Hurstpierpoint and five other prominent private schools.
Both Eton and Wellington declined to discuss the matter last week, but no teachers have been suspended or charged. The inquiry was closed because of insufficient evidence. Police sources confirmed that extensive files had been drawn up on suspects, including three teachers at Eton, one at Wellington and nine others at four other private schools.
The inquiry was launched after a former Eton teacher went to the police alleging that a serving master was abusing pupils. In a separate raid, letters were found linking the Eton master to David Hope, a convicted paedophile from Sheffield. Hope had been arrested by customs officers after trying to smuggle paedophile literature through Heathrow airport. He was jailed for 20 months in 1996 for indecently assaulting two boys at Malsis prep school near Skipton, North Yorkshire.
The police document names three Eton staff and gives their phone numbers, addresses and the names and addresses of some of their friends and colleagues at other schools. Detectives interviewed one Eton pupil said to be closely involved with the prime suspect, but the pupil declined to make any allegations.
Chief Inspector Jim Trotman of Thames Valley police said: ‘There was an investigation under the name Operation Fledgling in 1997. No evidence was found sufficient for any proceedings of any nature.’
The leaked documents show that some of the Eton teachers had links to Thailand and Sri Lanka, although it is not clear whether pupils accompanied them on trips to those countries.
In 1997, teachers at Sedburg and Durham public schools were raided by detectives from Scotland Yard’s paedophilia squad. Masters from six public schools were questioned and video tapes, computer equipment and letters were seized. At least two teachers were asked to leave their jobs.
A nationwide inquiry into suspected paedophiles at top public schools began after a former teacher at Abberley Hall in Worcestershire allegedly confessed to a colleague to being part of a network of paedophiles.