Ballet teacher arrested and charged with sexual offences following ITV News investigation

  • ITV News Scotland Correspondent Peter Smith on the latest

A ballet teacher at Scotland’s biggest ballet school has been arrested following an exclusive ITV News investigation.

Jonathan Barton, who was Vice Principal at Ballet West boarding school, was on Thursday charged in connection with sexual offences.

The board at Ballet West responded to our investigation last August saying it would conduct an investigation, but the school subsequently closed down.

Police Scotland have now confirmed a 38-year-old man has been charged, and in a statement to us said:

"A 38-year old-man has been arrested and charged in connection with sexual offences following an investigation into activities at ballet west school in the Taynuilt area of Argyll. 

"He is expected to appear at Oban sheriff court at a later date. 

"If you have or anyone you know has been a victim of sexual abuse then please be assured that we will listen, we will investigate all reports, and that support us available. You can report by calling 111 or 999 in an emergency. Alternatively an anonymous report can be made through Crime Stoppers."

Ballet West was a prestigious ballet school, having toured the world and performed in world-renowned competitions.

The school was awarded ‘Best British Ballet School’ at the British Ballet Grand Prix awards for 2019/20 - although this award was rescinded after our investigation.

A number of other organisations, such as the Scottish Qualifications Authority and Royal Academy of Dance, cut ties with the school.

Located on top of a hill in Argyll, the isolation of Ballet West was part of the attraction. 

Young dancers started their education there from 16 years-old, moving to a remote part of Scotland where they could live and learn far away from distractions. 

The fees were just over £9,000 per year - not including accommodation.

The old Ballet West school building itself is now unused, a long way up a tree-lined drive at the end of a single-track country road. It is outside of the tiny village of Taynuilt.