Pupils to sue Sefton Council after allegations of abuse by a former Formby High teacher

A group of former Formby High School pupils are bringing a civil case against Sefton Council after claims they suffered years of child abuse at the hands of a teacher.

'David' (not his real name), is one of more than 20 men who has made allegations against former Formby High teacher Ian Farquharson, who served as head of lower school.

According to inquest records, Farquharson took his own life in 1992 after being "summoned to the head teacher's office" over a "complaint" from the mother of a child.

'David', who is now in his 40s, has spoken about his horrific ordeal.

He said: "It actually started when I was in junior school. Me and another girl were on a visit to Formby High School.

"We were in the staff room and got split up, and he started stroking my leg, so he started straight away."When I started at the high school he started taking me out of lessons, but he would ply me with water and drinks so I would need the toilet.

"Then he would follow me to the toilet and start touching me all the time, this was around two or three times a week over the space of two years."

Formby High School Credit: ITV News

David said the abuse included the most serious forms of sexual assault, including an allegation of what would now be treated as attempted rape.

While David says he was not overtly threatened by Farquharson to keep quiet, he said the dad-of-two kept a novelty Filofax on his desk with fake human hands reaching out from within to make it look as if someone had been trapped inside.

David said Farquharson would tell him: "That is what happens to people who tell tales about me."

For the first two years of his high school life David kept the abuse to himself, and may have been considered more vulnerable due to difficulties at home related to his parents separating.The abuse finally ended when David told his mum what was happening, in May 1992.

That same day, Farquharson got into his car, drove to an isolated spot near Mold in North Wales, and killed himself using the carbon monoxide from his car exhaust.

David said: "They even held an assembly in his memory, saying how good he was and I was made to attend.

"They made a plaque in his name and put it by the school bike sheds."

David says he was left to get on with his life by his school and local authority without any counselling.

And with Farquharson dead, no formal police enquiry took place.

David said he initially felt a complex form of guilt when Farquharson died, but says he now believes it was simply an attempt to evade justice and accountability.David's mental state deteriorated in the years that followed, as the scars of the experiences ran deep.

He said: "It destroying my life, my younger life. 

"When I was 16, I left home on my 16th birthday never to return. I tried to take my own life a few times... life was just a mess."

Thankfully David said he managed to begin addressing his traumatic youth in around 2008, and slowly built himself a life. He is now married with children of his own.He began the search for closure in 2016, prompted by reports about the predatory paedophile and former football coach Barry Bennell, who is serving a 34 year sentence for sexually abusing young boys.

However the damage caused by Farquharson remains.

David said: "Sefton Council should be held accountable for everything and everybody that's been affected by this.

"We want his name putting out there, what he was and what he had done to these children. I think everybody involved should be compensated because I bet he's ruined many lives."

David is now one of 22 complainants in the process of launching a case against Sefton Council relating to alleged abuse by Farquharson that allegedly took place between around 1975 and his death in 1992.Solicitor Katherine Yates, of Andrew Grove and Co Solicitors, is acting for the men but is urging anyone else who may have been affected to come forward.

She said those who were allegedly "targeted by Mr Farquharson feel their lives have been ruined by the abuse they suffered at his hands".

She said: “I cannot help but think that the severe psychological and psychiatric damage suffered by my clients could have been lessened if appropriate support had been provided when the abuse was first discovered.

"It appears that rather than offering counselling and support to the child victims a memorial plaque was placed in the school grounds which was unveiled with much ceremony and caused considerable further upset to the children concerned."

David is now married with children of his own. Credit: ITV News

Sefton Council say it cannot not comment on the case.

In a statement Formby High said: “These allegations of historic sexual abuse are appalling and our thoughts are very much with the victims.

"It is difficult to offer further comment on these events from the late 1980s and early 1990s, simply because no-one who was at the school then is here now, more than 30 years later. 

"In today's Formby High School I can categorically state that safeguarding our students is of paramount importance. 

"We have extremely robust policies and procedures in place designed to keep all of our students safe from harm."