Tettenhall College (Lower School), Wolverhampton, West Midlands

Tettenhall College (Lower School), Wolverhampton, West Midlands

Tettenhall College child abuse probe must go on despite suspect’s death

Allegations of child abuse at Tettenhall College should not be allowed to be ‘brushed under the carpet’ following the death of one of the accused, a city politician.

Former headmaster Colin Cope died aged 84 in March as police were investigating allegations his abused boys in the 1970s.

He denied any wrongdoing.

Paul Uppal, the Conservative defending his seat in Wolverhampton South West, said the case must be followed up despite Cope’s death and pressed for the Attorney General to review it after a trial never got off the ground in 2009.

He said: “Everyone involved in the case, from the Police to the Crown Prosecution Service, should realise that the death of Colin Cope should not be used as an excuse to push this case under the carpet. We must move on and we have a framework in place to do so.

“I am currently speaking to Chris Sims, Chief Constable of West Midlands Police, regarding the case and what action can be taken now Colin has passed away. It is regrettable that the General Election has punctuated this case but it will not stop my desire to bring justice to the victims.

“The next step must be for the Attorney General’s Office to agree to review the CPS’s involvement with this matter.”

Prosecutors were deliberating whether to bring charges against Cope, who was headmaster of the lower school at Tettenhall College in Wolverhampton in the 1970s, after covert video footage emerged showed him laughing, joking, driving his car, carrying a table and climbing steep stairs eight months after he was deemed too sick to stand trial.

He was previously charged with 11 offences against five boys.

Former pupils Andrew Wood, originally from Wombourne, and Mark Shelton, of Shifnal, waived their right to anonymity to speak out about the case.

Mr Wood and Mr Shelton hoped the secret footage captured in 2010 would allow the case to be resurrected after it was halted by Judge Robin Onions at Shrewsbury Crown Court in 2009.

The two men were among five ex-Tettenhall College pupils who were paid a total of £129,000 in a civil claim by the boarding school in an out-of-court settlement in 2012. When the trial collapsed, Cope was said to be taking 12 medications for numerous illnesses and had heart disease, prostate cancer and diabetes.

He died last month in Dorset where he moved after leaving Tettenhall College in 1974.

It emerged West Midlands Police was reviewing the footage in November last year. That review was concluded in January with the case files passed to the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS).

Express & Star 04/04/15