Fans of Borussia Dortmund and Bayern Munich descend on London ahead of the Champions League final at Wembley stadium
While the vast majority of fans were behaving normally, the few outbreaks of violence were quickly dealt with by police – and equally quickly filmed and posted on YouTube.
At Wembley, hundreds of fans threw building supplies and projectiles at each other before smaller groups fought at close quarters. They were quickly separated by police.
There were other images of sporadic fighting, but few compared to the good-natured scenes taking place around all London landmarks.
I love Stephen King. Not simply because he is one of the greatest storytellers of our time, nor just because he is one of the bestselling authors of all time (I am a literary agent, after all); but because he shakes things up. Back in 2000, he surprised the publishing world by producing a novel online, inviting voluntary contributions of $1 to his website, and followed this up with a novella which he released via his publisher in ebook only.
In 2013, he has decided to release his new horror novel, Joyland, in print form only, denying his fans the chance to buy it in ebook. Granted this is not part of his major brand books and published by a small independent in US called Hard Case Crime, but is this a game-changer? A Canute-like directing of the waves or a valiant attempt to revitalise a struggling trade, revive bookshops and reignite our passion for reading paper books? Whatever your view, he is an author engaged in the process of getting his book to his readers and for that, we applaud him.
But I think his defiant gesture of support for booksellers is well-intentioned but missing the point. It is not what readers want. All the evidence in recent years points to the fact that readers want their books when they want them and in a form of their choosing. One publisher told me that sales in Volume II of Stieg Larsson’s trilogy spiked at 10.30 at night – readers wanted to download the new book at bedtime as soon as they had finished the first book.
Aside from reader power, which Amazon’s effortless service has done so much to encourage, Mr King is ignoring another crucial aspect of why people have turned to ebooks. And that is the slow and gradual erosion of the bookshop experience. Bookselling has always been the toughest part of the chain, but in the UK we have lost Borders, Ottakar’s, Books Etc, Dillons and many wonderful independent shops, all unable to fight against the tide of high discounts from supermarkets and e-tailers.
And when you do make the journey to your favourite local bookshop on the high street, you might struggle to find the book you seek. If stock is low, for obvious reasons, a customer will go online and buy the book they think they want. I write think, because the joy of bookselling used to be that someone would go to a store thinking they wanted one book, but leave with three.
Readers are promiscuous, unfaithful and insatiable. As it should be. Anyone who steps in their way – publisher or author – ought to be prepared for a fight. The age-old wisdom of publishing a hardback a year before paperback has been challenged with the advent of the ebook. A reader wants to buy the right book in the right format at the time of their convenience.
So, Stephen King and other authors, please continue to encourage readers into shops, but not at the expense of choice. And bookshop owners should be training a new generation of dynamic booksellers to engage, entice and hypnotise us into buying far too many books. Don’t hold us back, bring us in.
Hew, Strachan, professor of the history of war at Oxford
Let’s begin by getting one thing clear: the government is not proposing to spend £55m. The prime minister’s speech, which outlined the government’s proposals and was delivered in October 2012, created the impression that he was allocating £50m in new money. The press has picked up on this headline figure and so fed the hopes of many organisations making plans for the centenary. In fact, the bulk of the money had already been allocated from other sources to ongoing projects, and it included the sums already committed by the Imperial War Museum towards the redesign of its galleries for 2014. Only £10m in new money was announced in his speech, and he gave it to the museum, for visits by schoolchildren from England (only) to the western front and for the refurbishment of HMS Caroline. Last week the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) announced a £6m small-grants scheme to help communities as they prepare to mark the centenary.
I use the HLF’s word “mark” advisedly. Nobody in government is using the word “celebrate”. There is a natural and proper sensitivity with regard to any triumphalism, about the first world war as about any war. But there is of course an educational and historical challenge. Britain entered this war conscientiously and reluctantly, for good strategic reasons, but also for ones that reflected its understanding of international law, and its determination to uphold the rights of small and neutral nations. The cabinet’s members may not have realised the full cost of what they were undertaking, but they did not underestimate the momentousness of the decision or its potentially awful cost for Europe. By the time the cabinet was sufficiently united to commit itself to the conflict, it was lagging behind the weight of public opinion. Moreover, ultimately Britain and its allies won the war. That victory, however flawed we may now in hindsight think it was, is just as much part of the legacy of the war as its loss of life.
So, as so often with issues surrounding war, (and the current situation in Syria can only serve to re-emphasise the point) the choice to fight involves balancing which is the less bad of two evils. The real challenge of the centenary will be whether we take the opportunity provided by the controversies that the first world war still generates to debate that point. If we can use this war to understand war better, to think through when we may – albeit reluctantly – have to fight and when we should not, we shall have given the commemoration of the first world war a purpose that will honour those who served in it.
AL Kennedy, writer
I find myself unable to be so optimistic. It would be wonderful if the government did take this as an opportunity “to understand war better” – but successive governments have now spent 100 years failing to do so. One of the world’s major arms exporters would find it tricky, for example, to really discuss the implications of basing one’s economy on equipment that requires war. Meanwhile, the dead become Glorious, the Cenotaph a clean and noble monument. This happens with any war: initially those who can remember may not wish to, witnesses slowly die, politicians love to appropriate the bravery of others. I’ll believe you on the figures and hope the educational work is of high quality. I know the IWM is a fine institution. But I also know our political classes now take pride in being faith – and not reality-based. In the absence of those who served, they can appropriate a historical event during which (among many other things) under-educated public schoolboys led the suitably enthused masses into harm’s way and rebrand it, at public expense, into a degrading force multiplier for armed forces still used as political and economic pawns. The first world war was a dirty and complex bloodbath. The swagger and display that recruited young men to be destroyed at Ypres and the Somme, even the carefully choreographed moments of remembrance, will most likely be used to avoid discussion.
HS: I am sure that it is not the government’s intention to appropriate the first world war for the purposes that you suggest, and I say that because the Ministry of Defence has been clear throughout that it should not be the lead institution in the commemoration; that is not going to be the case in all the other countries marking the centenary. The ministry that has been given the co-ordinating role is the Department for Culture, Media and Sport, with the clear emphasis on the first of those three assorted missions. This reflects the centrality of the Imperial War Museum in the government’s thinking, since the museum is under the aegis of the culture department.
Indeed, I would be tempted to say that the government’s view was, certainly, initially, much closer to yours than you think. If, by referring to the Cenotaph, you are reflecting a fear that what will happen will be “Remembrance Sunday writ large” (if I can be forgiven for quoting myself), I share it. The Cenotaph does, however, make two points we need to bear in mind. First, in the immediate aftermath of the war it spoke so powerfully to the bereaved that what was intended to be a temporary structure became a permanent one. By belittling its emotional pull we remove one connection to those who suffered directly because of this war. The second arises precisely because of that connection. None of us alive today has any memory of this war, and so we should be wary of imposing a uniform interpretation on it. Then, even more than now, there were many competing narratives. It is these, in all their variety, that we need to unlock. The power of the Cenotaph’s “clean and noble” face was that it was one on to which so many of them could be projected.
ALK: Your faith in the powers that be is touching and to be expected. I do find it naive that you imagine all will be well when the government overseeing commemorations has repeatedly been upbraided for the manipulation of factual information for its own ends. George Osborne’s use of the six dead Philpott children to promote his own agenda was simply another example of an established political device – the manipulation of the voiceless. The government agenda is depressingly uniform when it comes to making history available and whether the MoD takes the lead or not, it will provide the visible underpinning for the spectacle and will, as it has for centuries, promote its available brands with efficiency and style. I’m sure the IWM will be a great resource, it always is, but if we only consider that education and museum budgets are being slashed and standards of curation are hard to maintain, those unable to visit will probably be poorly served elsewhere. The other, wider histories will only be provided by ad hoc, alternative events.
I am more alarmed than you by the involvement of the Department of Culture, Media and Sport, rather than Education. Your emphasis – measured, calm, untriumphal – sells the educational benefits of remembering. And those benefits are, of course, incalculably precious. But this is being packaged as a cultural event, something more about influence, spectacle and spin.
HS: I don’t underestimate the capacity of government to spin or manipulate, but it has taken those of us who work with bodies associated with the commemoration and understanding of the war more than two years to get to the point where it has fully woken to its responsibilities. It cannot be accused of malign intent, only of incipient neglect. The fact that so many other governments have been planning for much longer and on a more lavish scale gave that of Britain no choice, politically or diplomatically, other than to be involved.
ALK: War in its absence is always impossible to convey and our cultural love affair with it after the event continues. The pain fades and is redirected, often with, if not malign, then certainly with selfish intent. The Cenotaph is a highly emotive and yet increasingly undefined symbol. Its simplicity was wise – millions of experiences could be rested upon it with dignity. But it has always been appropriated. In the early 1920s a “spirit photographer”, Ada Deane, conned the nation for a while with faked pictures purportedly showing the returned dead around the Cenotaph on Armistice Day. She used the pain of the bereaved and the sacrifice of the fallen to promote a deeply flawed world view and her own popularity. I have no reason to believe that my current leaders will not do the same next year. It’s too late to give the veterans the £10m and they didn’t get their land fit for heroes – something approaching that was finally won by the generation who came through the second world war. The last of that inheritance is being sold at bargain rates and citizens are increasingly being offered simplistic spectacle in the place of good governance and public service. I’m happy that discussions around the commemoration will bring other options to light.
Did watching The Truman Show aged eight leave me a paranoid, arrogant, obsessive maniac? Of course it did. For about a week, until A Bug’s Life came out and I decided I wanted to be an ant instead of a reality TV star.
I was reminded of my younger flips last week when a report was published into the effect pornography has on teenagers’ understanding of sex. Do they now consider the relentless, submissive and aggressive nature of pornography normal practice? Pretty worrying if so and the study released by the Children’s Commissioner for England suggests this might be the case.
According to the research, access to pornography is directly influencing how young people treat each other sexually and exposure to it can be linked to a rise in sexual violence. It’s fantastically hard to quantify how much the nameless, manicured people groaning and grunting on the internet can change the way sexual behaviour develops, so we rely on studies such as these. And even the slightest probe into the effect of porn on young people is likely to leave you pummelled with information that generally translates as “the horror, the horror”.
If we’re looking for porn to get worried about, there’s certainly plenty of it about. The infamous video from musician and actress Sasha Grey, where she pretends to be unconscious for 20 minutes while she’s “interfered with”, is only one wretched example. These videos are definitely not the naughty magazines from our parents’ generation; they’re hardcore, unrestricted and free for anyone who knows how to use the internet (which is everybody from about seven upwards).
I find the idea of porn a bit unsettling. The fact that a huge number of people watch countless explicit videos before they have any sexual experiences of their own introduces a kind of sexual voyeurism, which may certainly encourage a dissociation between sex and relationships. But it’s a bit of a leap to then argue that teenagers are unable to tell the difference between porn and reality.
I’m actually quite bored by people referring to porn as this “fantasy” that leaves men dissatisfied with the reality of sex. Show me these horrible men and I’ll find 100 other things they’re dissatisfied with. As a teenager – and as a 23-year-old, teenage feels not that far away – real-life sex is not something you stop to analyse midway through. Sure, it’s an absolute minefield of potential disappointment and rejection, and anything else you can write pages and pages about in the back of your English exercise book, but for the majority of people I’d be amazed if it wasn’t just about the most immersive activity possible. The fact that some girls feel pressured into recreating pornographic behaviour is a sad truth, and one that needs urgent attention. But you’d be a fool to believe sexual insecurities were invented with the internet.
In an era when people watch upwards of 20 hours of TV a week (on conventional screen or otherwise), if we start assuming that everything we see drastically affects our development, then surely internet porn is just the start. Should we be worried that our personalities are being attacked every time we stream a television show? Are today’s teenagers simply a collection of fragments of YouTube videos and Judd Apatow films? I don’t think so.
We need to be careful about underestimating the intelligence of young Britons. On the one hand, there’s providing support and education for vulnerable people who need to understand pornography does not reflect the reality of sex, and on the other, there’s assuming anyone who’s been on YouPorn before the age of 18 is going to bear the psychological scars for a lifetime.
I’m loath to remind you that this is – cliche alert – the digital age: yes, we’re bombarded with content from every angle, but that doesn’t need to be as scary as we might lead ourselves to believe. Yes, pornography can be disturbingly graphic, but teenagers didn’t jump in an arena and start trying to kill each other after The Hunger Games came out last year. A lot of young people watched that film and a lot of them were able to draw the line between fantasy and reality.
Ultimately, what it boils down to, as these things often do, is finding a balance. We can appreciate that horror movies don’t incite widespread sadism, so why shouldn’t we treat pornography and sexual violence the same way? Of course it is of absolute importance that young people are taught about pornography; sex education will be failing thousands of children if it fails to recognise that. But before we start desperately trying to shrink the infinite territory of the internet, let’s cut ourselves a break.
Yes, the majority of teenagers will almost certainly watch porn; they may also have underage sex, take stupid drugs and drink until they can’t see. Then, at some point, they’ll fall in love and realise the world is a dark and unforgiving place in which the frenzied absurdity of pornography holds absolutely no relevance. And then they’re us. And suddenly, it’s a whole lot less frightening.
Eric idol? Apparently so
Moving appropriately on from teenagers to pensioners, I accompanied my mum (she’s not a pensioner – she’d kill me if I didn’t point that out) to the Eric Clapton show at the Royal Albert Hall last week. I thought I knew how to enjoy myself. I was wrong. Never before have I experienced such mass hysteria as that displayed by the audience at the RAH.
There was a moment, just after Clapton finished a (relatively) rousing version of Cocaine, when every single person in the auditorium got up and surged towards the stage. Who knew one of the mildest shows imaginable could spur so much reckless dancing and wanton snogging among my elders. I’m actually really ashamed I didn’t join the surge, although I think the snogging would have been a step too far.
For one day only, the Wembley Tavern was a sea of garish yellow and black on Saturday as it played host to chanting Borussia Dortmund fans, while Thirsty Eddie’s on the High Road was reserved for Bayern Munich supporters.
Amid a surge of support for Germany‘s premier league, the Bundesliga, an estimated 150,000 Germans – Dortmund fans in bright yellow sunhats and shades, and Bayern followers in red, some in lederhosen – took over the capital for the day before the Champions League final at Wembley.
Dortmund, famous for their vociferous support and charismatic young coach Jürgen Klopp, had arrived with a poster proclaiming: “You were hoping for a final between two English teams. Or at least for a stadium full of hot Spanish chicks. Instead you got the Krauts. Have fun.”
But domestic enthusiasm for the all-German clash, between an all-conquering Bayern side who beat Barcelona 7-0 on aggregate in the semi-finals and a swashbuckling Dortmund team that has captured the hearts of most neutrals, has slowly grown.
Many of the fans mingling outside The Globe in Marylebone Road, a traditional pre-match Wembley watering hole, said the fact it was an all-German final added spice to the occasion. “If you lose against Barcelona or Chelsea you can get rid of them fast. But if you lose to Dortmund, you have it for a whole year,” said Bayern fan Arne Gesemann, the owner of a record label, who tasted heartache in 1999, 2010 and 2012 when Bayern lost in the final. “It is a good time for football in Germany. We’ve got to enjoy it while it lasts.”
The debate about whether the Bundesliga, with its safe standing areas, affordable prices and vibrant atmosphere, has stolen a march on the Premier League’s array of overseas talent, has been a feature of the buildup.
“It’s great to see the English people are really behind us. As a young child I was a fan of Liverpool and I’m really sad that when I was here last year, I had to pay a fortune for a ticket,” said Ralf Baudzus.
“Football is the people’s game. Reduce the prices and you’ll have a great atmosphere again. English and German supporters are more or less the same.”
At the other end of the Jubilee line in Stratford, sport collided with commerce at the Uefa-sanctioned “Champions Festival” on a concrete expanse appropriately sandwiched between the Olympic Park and the Westfield shopping centre.
Several thousand German fans, plus some curious locals, had made their way to a heavily promoted event that acted as a cross between a showcase for Champions League sponsors and a celebration of the history of the European Cup.
It was part of a conscious attempt by Uefa to make what it claims is the biggest sporting event in the world into a week-long celebration for the host city. Other events include an installation in Trafalgar Square and the women’s Champions League final.
As families queued to have their pictures taken with the European Cup and visitors pondered paying £5 for a pint of beer or £100 for a replica match ball, a group of Munich fans insisted their reputation for arrogance was undeserved – before predicting an easy victory.
On police advice, Uefa had turned down applications for public viewing areas on big screens and some pubs in central London were not admitting supporters, leaving some unsure how to prepare for the big match.
“There is no atmosphere on the streets here because everything is forbidden. We hope we can enjoy the game but the day is not so nice. Nobody knows where to go,” said Sarah Thoms, who had travelled from Dortmund.
“In the city, the pubs are closed to fans. I don’t understand why London got the Champions League final if they don’t want people to live the atmosphere for the whole day.”
Hermann Roden, a member of Bayern Munich for 24 years, had arrived in London on Friday with his family. Like other Bayern supporters he proudly sported a scarf bearing his name, awarded to fans when they become a member of the club, over his traditional lederhosen.
He said that the papers in Germany had been full of the praise for the Bundesliga in the runup to the final. “It is affordable in Germany and the stadiums are very new since the World Cup in 2006. That makes the difference. Since 2002, the youth programme is also paying off and we have homegrown players coming through to the national team.”
But some football cliches are the same the world over. Andreas Spiekermann, an office worker from Dortmund, had got lucky in the club’s ballot after 500,000 fans had applied for 24,000 tickets. “I hope it will be a good match. But whichever side wins, German football is the winner,” he said.
The Scotsman has launched a subscription initiative linked to the right to publish editorial content.
It is inviting organisations – such as charities, universities, trade associations, professional bodies, societies and interest groups – to become “Friends of The Scotsman”, which would give them the right to contribute to a new editorial section.
If the initiative takes off, the paper’s editor, Ian Stewart, envisages publishing an extra four pages a day in a new section.
To take up the offer, the “friends” will be able to take advantage of a discounted subscription package, costing less than £300 a year.
Individuals, companies and political parties cannot become friends.
“Over a period of years we have seen an ever-narrowing news agenda. As a result, I believe there are innovations, debates, research and informative views across broad spectrums of Scotland and beyond that are not getting the airing they need and deserve because they fall outwith the narrow news agenda of the day.
I want to tackle that and put the debates and issues that face industry, academia, law, charities, the arts, sports, science, medicine – every area of Scotland – in front of the tens of thousands of people who read The Scotsman every day.”
He explains that ‘friends’ can decide the topics and set the agendas, using their own words. Their articles will appear every day “close to our perspective, letters and business sections” with a daily front page signpost.
They will also be published online as part of The Scotsman’s website.
Stewart concludes: “I think this is an exciting innovation for The Scotsman that will open up new channels of information and debate across Scotland and beyond, highlighting work and issues that currently struggle to get heard.”
The Scotsman, owned by Johnston Press, has seen its print sales fall away rapidly over the past 10 years, was selling 32,435 (only 21,806 at full cover price) in January when it was decided to pull it out of the ABC monthly audit. Its sales are to be reported on a six-monthly basis in future.
Source: The Scotsman
The rise of Ukip is having unexpected consequences for Britain’s countryside. Farmers fear that the political upstart’s success has the government running scared on immigration, with the result that foreign workers could soon be absent from Britain’s fields.
“We can see there’s a toxic mix brewing,” says Alastair Brooks, who employs 200 temporary foreign workers to pick strawberries and raspberries at Langdon Manor Farm in Faversham, Kent. “People have understandable concerns about immigration, but temporary migrant workers have got tied up in the debate,” he said.
Brooks has 130 acres of his farm devoted to fruit. Without foreign workers, he says, he will have to cut production. Many other farmers are in a similar position, says the National Farmers Union, because they fear that without foreign workers they will not have the staff to do the job.
It is not an idle concern. A shortage of foreign workers in 2007 and 2008 resulted in crops being left unharvested. Since then, the seasonal agricultural workers’ scheme (Saws), which supplies about a third of the sector’s temporary labour, has been open only to Romanians and Bulgarians. However, at the end of this year, both countries’ citizens will gain full access to the EU job market. There are concerns that many of the 21,500 on the Saws scheme – which was established after the iron curtain came down to help the families of Polish and Czech servicemen unable to return home – will look for permanent jobs rather than seasonal work.
However, Brooks questions whether many will even come to the UK once the restrictions are lifted, given that their countries are closer to a booming Germany mode. For this reason, the NFU warns that finding a successor to Saws is now critical if the UK’s £3.1bn horticulture industry is going to thrive. The union’s concerns are echoed by the government’s migration advisory committee (Mac), which has warned that a shortage of seasonal migrant labour would lead to a 10% to 15% rise in supermarket prices.
But food inflation is the least of the fruit growers’ concerns. Brooks believes that supermarkets would source from abroad rather than risk food inflation. Countries such as Poland or France – and even the US – would be the beneficiaries, he says. Under this scenario, East Anglia’s salad industry would move to Hungary, the asparagus industry would struggle to maintain production and many recent horticultural successes would be reversed.
“The Kent apple industry was on its knees and now it’s coming back because they’ve got the workforce,” Brooks says. His own industry – worth almost £1bn a year to the UK – would suffer dramatically. In 1988, when he started fruit farming, about 60% of strawberries consumed in the UK were imported. Today almost three quarters are homegrown. His concerns are shared by most farmers in his industry. An NFU survey found that more than 95% of growers who used Saws last year believed the end of the scheme would have a negative impact on business.
Finding employees locally is difficult because British workers are not interested in fruit-picking. Of the 25 non-Romanian and Bulgarian applicants who recently expressed an interest in picking fruit on Brooks’s farm, 20 were British and five were Polish. By the end of the week, only the Poles remained. The early start times, the weather and the hard work involved seems to put many Britons off. “It’s understandable; British workers are looking for more permanent jobs,” Brooks said.
The NFU has made tentative suggestions about hiring former prisoners and called on the government to follow Spain and allow benefit claimants to work on a daily call basis without losing entitlements. There are hopes that new EU accession countries such as Croatia will be able to fill the gap, but it has a population of only 4.4 million and is relatively prosperous.
The migration advisory committee suggests that, ultimately, the government may have to allow workers from other non-EU countries such as Russia or Ukraine and Ukraine. However, this would play badly with voters now that Ukip has made immigration a major political issue, and the Home Office appears to be cool on the suggestion. “We shall consider the Mac’s advice very carefully. However, in general we want to encourage employers to recruit from the resident labour market where possible,” a spokesman said.
The NFU says that ending Saws would be bad for British jobs. For every 3.5 jobs created by Saws another is created for a British worker. But all this hangs in the balance.
Fruit farmers such as Brooks have to make hiring decisions a year ahead. They will soon have to decide whether to curtail their operations, something that would deal a major blow to the government’s ambitions to make half of the fruit consumed in the UK grown domestically.
Last Thursday morning, Brooks drove his battered Land Rover around fields that have been farmed since the 14th century. Young Bulgarian and Romanian workers, seemingly oblivious to the unseasonal chill of the British spring, worked under the protection of polytunnels. The tunnels come down in November. Brooks has no idea how many will go up again next year.
Police are investigating allegations of abuse at a Catholic boarding school in the Scottish Highlands, following complaints of a brutal regime in which boys were physically beaten, psychologically tortured and sexually assaulted. The school closed in 1993.
Officers from Police Scotland will travel to Newcastle tomorrow to interview Andrew Lavery, 41, who for two years in the 1980s attended the fee-paying Fort Augustus Abbey, which was run by Benedictine monks. “It was systematic, brutal, awful torture,” says Lavery, who says he was beaten, sexually assaulted and isolated in a locked room for days on end under “special measures”. He added: “The psychological torture was the most damaging. In the end I wanted to kill myself.”
Lavery claims he was beaten unconscious by a monk and lay master while pupils watched, then left at the playing fields to crawl back to school. He also says he experienced “greying”, which involved other pupils pinning the victim’s legs apart while his testicles were hit with a hockey stick. A monk watched without intervening. “I have had pain in my left testicle all my life,” he said.
Lavery also accuses Monk A, now a cleric in England, of physically beating and sexually assaulting him. He will tell police that when he broke his leg Monk A took advantage of his vulnerability and tried to grab his testicles. “I told him to leave me when I went to the toilet, but he was standing over me. He said, ‘No, you need a hand.’ I heard all his heavy breathing behind me. It was the wrong sort of breathing to hear in your life. He was fumbling and I was screaming at him to get off.”
Monk A is also accused of selling alcohol to underage pupils. When contacted by the Observer, he admitted giving them beer, but said: “I never beat people up and there was certainly never any sexual stuff. I don’t know what he’s talking about.”
There has been heated debate on the school’s old boys website about abuse, with some denying it took place. Des Austin, a former pupil who privately investigated abuse at the school, posted extracts from 13 separate emails he received from old boys claiming physical and sexual assault from 1954-91. “The thing that got to me,” one wrote, “was the sexual abuse … and the fact that no one would believe me. My mother said, ‘priests never do such things’.”
Cardinal Keith O’Brien, who resigned as Archbishop of St Andrews and Edinburgh in February after allegations of sexual misconduct, was a visitor to the school and guest of honour at last year’s old boys’ dinner. Jimmy Savile, who owned a house in the Highlands, was also an occasional guest and Lavery remembers his Rolls-Royce being parked outside the monastery. Lavery was in a senior position as an addictions nurse until last year when he suffered a traumatic physical injury. While recovering, he suffered flashbacks, recovered memories and night terrors. He no longer works. He has been diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder and assessed as requiring psychotherapy and specialist abuse counselling.
Another former pupil, Douglas Hiddleston, from Fortrose, remembers Lavery being treated “viciously” by pupils and staff. One of the few Protestants in the school, Hiddleston says he was also targeted. “Monk A grabbed me by the throat, pinned me up against the wall and called me a Proddy bastard,” he said.
Another pupil, who asked to remain anonymous, said Monk A “was the epitome of nastiness”. The man, who says he was once nearly drowned by fellow pupils while staff watched, also alleges that another monk was guilty of sexually predatory behaviour and tried to “groom” him. “Seediness pervaded the school,” he said.
The culture was similar for an earlier generation, according to some at the school in the 1960s. “I came close to suicide,” said Sean O’Donovan, who says he was bruised for five weeks after a birching. “I just couldn’t see an end to it.I tried using a rope, but it was too thin. It was very painful and, since I was trying to stop the pain, that made me think.”
William Wattie, who attended from 1959 to 1964 and became a headteacher, said: “Institutionalised bullying … I could never work out where the gentle carpenter of Nazareth fitted in.” He questioned “cuddling” by monks at the school’s feeder primary at Carlekemp in North Berwick, which has also been linked to abuse allegations. The Catholic church in Australia accepted abuse had been perpetrated by Father Aidan Duggan, a former teacher at both Carlekemp and Fort Augustus. Duggan died in 2004.
Fort Augustus monastery, which belonged to the English Congregation of Benedictines, also closed in 1998. The current Abbot President, Father Richard Yeo of Downside Abbey, admits former pupils have contacted him regarding the school. “I have heard allegations of both physical and sexual abuse which have disturbed me. If anyone comes forward to speak to me about this, I will try to be there for them,” he said.
The plan, which will be in place for a year, will act as a powerful disincentive to anyone seeking to challenge Murdoch’s control of the two companies, a move due to be finalised on 28 June.
The provisions will allow existing shareholders to buy stock at a 50% discount if any new investor should acquire 15% of the company.
News Corp said in a statement: “The rights agreements are intended to protect the stockholders of the company and the new News Corporation from efforts to obtain control of such companies that their respective boards of directors determine are not in the best interests of the companies and their respective stockholders.”
News Corp will be split into two separate firms: a publishing firm, which will retain the News Corp brand, while the other entertainment business will be renamed 21st Century Fox. Both will be headed by Murdoch.
The company confirmed that Elisabeth Murdoch, the daughter of Rupert, who runs independent production firm Shine, will not sit on either board of the two companies. His sons, Lachlan and James, will be the only News Corp directors to retain seats on both boards. Murdoch will remain chairman and chief executive of 21st Century Fox, with Chase Carey as chief operating officer.
The move to split the News Corp empire follows last year’s promise to separate its entertainment and publishing businesses in the wake of the phone-hacking scandal and closure of the News of the World.
The publishing company will comprise the Times, Sunday Times and the Sun, the Wall Street Journal, the New York Post and the Australian plus daily titles in the cities of Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane and Adelaide. The book publisher HarperCollins will also be included. The TV and film business will include the US news channel Fox News and the 20th Century Fox film studio.
The split means that loss-making newspapers will no longer be cushioned by the company’s more profitable entertainment interests and could lead to more cuts in the publishing companies.
This month the editor of Murdoch’s New York Post, Col Allan, issued a memo offering staff the chance to volunteer for pay-off packages in order to reduce the paper’s headcount by 10%.