A barrister deceived a court to stop the prosecution of a head teacher accused of sexual abuse, a Conservative MP has claimed under parliamentary privilege.
Cheryl Gillan, a former cabinet minister, accused Andrew Bright QC of failing to disclose crucial evidence to a judge in 2003. As a result Peter Wright, who was accused of sexually abusing pupils in the 1960s, escaped prosecution for a decade, Gillan claimed.
Wright was headmaster of Caldicott prep school in Buckinghamshire from 1968 to 1993.
Bright, who now sits as a judge at St Albans, applied for a stay indictment to prevent Wright, then 73, from facing trial. He argued his client would not get a fair trial as the allegations were three decades old.
However, Bright failed to disclose that the defence solicitors had engaged in private correspondence with Caldecott school regarding the availability of the school pupil records to the defence.
Gillan said: ‘Had that correspondence been disclosed to the court, it could have assisted the prosecution in opposing the application for the stay and, in all probability, would have undermined the grounds of the application to stay the proceedings on the indictment. The court had been gravely misled by the failure of the defence.’
Wright has since been convicted of abusing five other boys while working at Caldicott school. Three other members of staff have also been convicted.
The ‘hidden correspondence’ came to light five years later.
The conduct of those who represented Wright has been investigated by the Bar Standards Board and the Solicitors Regulation Authority. Both regulators rejected the complaint, brought by an alleged victim, Tiom Perry.
An SRA spokesperson said: ’We investigated complaints from Mr Perry in 2010 and 2011, however we did not find any evidence of misconduct.‘
A spokesperson for the judiciary added: 'The SRA conducted an independent investigation and rejected the complaint that the court had been misled. It maintained that conclusion after a review.'