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Private Eye 23 February 2001


WESTMINSTER Abbey's saintly dean Dr Wesley Carr is becoming daily more Maxwell-like in his use of threats to attempt to muzzle unflattering press stories.

The latest crisis to hit the abbey involves its unique 37 pupil choir school, where the headmaster has been accused of bullying and four children have been withdrawn, with more likely to follow. Following a serious complaint in September, Carr commissioned a seven-week internal inquiry. On receiving the report he refused to show it to anyone, including the school's board of "governors", before announcing his conclusion that the alleged incident was the fault of the child and his parents.

A second parent's complaint concerning alleged abuse of his elder son prompted a letter from Carr accusing the 12 year old of "intellectual obscurity" and demanding a signed undertaking from the father not to discuss school disciplinary matters with his child. The parents immediately removed both sons.

The School, meanwhile, is in chaos with almost no new recruits for next year and morale at rock bottom. Last week the choir school's doctor resigned after Carr dismissed his concerns that a worrying number of boys were showing symptoms of stress.

As with his previous exploits (sacking the organist, borrowing money on his own account et al), Carr has been obsessively secretive and was enraged when a number of parents spilled the beans. Following a succession of stories about the school in the press, he has been on the war path. The Standard, Guardian and the tiny circulation Church of England Newspaper received fierce letters from the abbey's expensive solicitors, Charles Russell, threatening fire and brimstone. All have replied in robust style that there are plenty of witnesses ready and willing to support their stories.

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