Nicky Campbell teacher admits schoolboy abuse in court documents

By James Cook in Scotland & Karen Schoonbee in South Africa
BBC News

  • Published
Media caption,

Nicky Campbell is one of a number of former pupils who have made allegations

A retired teacher fighting extradition from South Africa has admitted abusing schoolboys in Edinburgh, according to court documents seen by the BBC.

Broadcaster Nicky Campbell is one of a number of former pupils who have made allegations about the 83-year-old.

The man - who the BBC is not naming for legal reasons - is wanted by authorities in Edinburgh, where he taught in the 1970s.

South Africa approved the UK's extradition request in 2020.

The teacher lodged an appeal which is due to be heard in October.

The man taught at Fettes College and Edinburgh Academy, where Campbell says he witnessed the sexual abuse of a fellow pupil.

In documents related to extradition proceedings, the man said that while teaching at Edinburgh Academy he had "urges to touch the students inappropriately and on occasion I did so".

The man, who previously taught at two primary schools in Cape Town in the 1960s, also admitted he had urges to touch his pupils in South Africa.

The court documents, understood to have been signed by the man in September 2019, reveal that he decided to travel to the UK in 1967 for psychiatric treatment for his "problem".

He spent three months at the Royal Edinburgh Hospital before being discharged and obtaining a diploma in education at Moray House College the following year.

Image source, Nicky Campbell
Image caption,
Nicky Campbell has spoken about his experience of abuse at school in the 1970s

He then took up a post at the private Edinburgh Academy and was married in 1970.

In 1973 he was appointed as a primary school teacher at Fettes Junior College where he said his inappropriate behaviour continued.

He said that he returned to hospital for further treatment "for my drinking and inappropriate behaviour."

In 1979, when a pupil complained about him, he said he admitted the behaviour and agreed to leave the college.

The man goes on to describe how he returned to South Africa with his wife: "I knew then that I could not continue with my inappropriate behaviour and that it must stop."

'Absolute remorse'

He then taught at a primary school in South Africa for 27 years where he claims that there was no further inappropriate behaviour.

He said: "After leaving Scotland I have managed to contain myself and I never committed any further offences."

He admitted that the charges against him were serious but said: "I feel absolute remorse for what I have done to the boys."

The man said it would be "unjust, unreasonable and too severe a punishment" to be extradited to Scotland.

The South African court documents also reveal the original warrant for his extradition related to seven Scottish charges - six of lewd, indecent and libidinous practices and behaviour and one of indecent assault.

Image caption,
Nicky Campbell said he was sexually assaulted at Edinburgh Academy by another teacher, who is now dead

He is alleged to have sexually assaulted four boys at Edinburgh Academy between 1969 and 1973 and to have sexually assaulted three boys at Fettes College between 1974 and 1976.

Ages of the boys mentioned range from seven to 14.

The former teacher is now living in a gated retirement community in Cape Town. His extradition appeal is due to be heard by judges in the Western Cape High Court in October.

Last week Nicky Campbell told listeners to his podcast and BBC Radio 5 Live show that he witnessed the man sexually assault a pupil at Edinburgh Academy.

The broadcaster also said he was sexually assaulted at the school by a second teacher, who is now dead, and physically assaulted by a third.

Since he spoke out many more alleged victims of abuse in Scottish schools have contacted the BBC.

Edinburgh Academy has previously apologised to anyone who suffered abuse and insists it now has robust safeguarding measures in place.

Fettes said it would be inappropriate to comment on a live case. It has previously offered a "full and unreserved apology" to those who suffered abuse while at the school.

Information and support for those affected by abuse is available at BBC Action Line.

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