Hampshire & Isle of Wight

Stanbridge Earls School sex abuse allegations: No charges to be brought

Stanbridge Earls School
Image caption Stanbridge Earls School called in administrators in September 2013

Nobody is to be charged after a police investigation into allegations of sexual abuse by pupils against fellow students at a special needs school.

The Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) had reviewed a decision not to prosecute 12 individuals at Stanbridge Earls School, near Romsey, Hampshire.

Grace Ononiwu of the CPS admitted the decision "may come as a disappointment" to some.

Last August the school announced it was to close due to a lack of pupils.

Ms Ononiwu, chief Crown prosecutor for the East of England, has written to and offered to meet the families of those involved.

She said: "In my opinion, it was vital to conduct a fresh review of the evidence, untainted by the previous decision that was made and placing it within the context of other allegations made by other pupils."

She added it was necessary to determine whether there was "evidence of a wider conspiracy" involving a number of pupils against a number of girls.

Action plan rejected

In 2012 schools watchdog Ofsted reviewed the school and rated it "outstanding".

However, a tribunal in January 2013 raised "grave concerns" about safeguarding amid sexual abuse claims.

Two Ofsted inspections of the school following the tribunal's findings found it was failing to meet national minimum standards and it was warned it could face closure.

The second of these visits, a three-day emergency inspection, took place after an action plan for improvement was rejected by the Department for Education.

Then in July 2013, the watchdog admitted failings in its inspections at the school and the chief inspector of schools, Sir Michael Wilshaw, apologised.

The independent school - which once commanded fees of £40,000-a-year - taught 191 boarding and day pupils with special needs, aged from 10 to 19.

It called in administrators in September.

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