Manchester

Malcolm Layfield rape trial: Chetham's music teacher cleared

Malcolm Layfield Image copyright PA
Image caption Malcolm Layfield denied he had used his "power and influence" to assault a teenage student

A former teacher at a prestigious music school has been cleared of raping an 18-year-old student in the early 1980s.

Malcolm Layfield, 63, denied claims he had used his "power and influence" to assault her in the back of his car.

He admitted he had pursued a number of consensual sexual relationships with students throughout the 1980s.

But the former violin teacher at Manchester's Chetham's School of Music denied he "crossed the line" during a summer school in Cornwall.

A jury at Manchester Crown Court took less than 90 minutes to acquit Mr Layfield.

'Gave in'

Mr Layfield had been accused of driving the woman in the middle of the night to an isolated spot and raping her while she was drunk on an alcoholic punch made by him.

The complainant, who had been taught by Mr Layfield at Chetham's and Royal Northern College of Music (RNCM), said she "gave in" and went on to have consensual sex with him over the following six weeks.

She said she had been under Mr Layfield's "influence and power" as he threatened to take work opportunities away from her if she changed tutors.

Mr Layfield, of Castle Quay, Castlefield, told the jury he was not in a position to "destroy people's careers". He said she had willingly got into his car and that sex was "mutual".

His solicitor, Matthew Claughton, said the verdict had come as a "huge relief" to his client.

Before the trial, the judge dismissed an application to ban reporting Mr Layfield's identity unless he was convicted of the offence.

Image copyright David Dixon/Geograph
Image caption Chetham's is one of the country's best-known music schools

Mr Layfield, who performed with the Manchester Camerata orchestra and led his own Goldberg Ensemble, told the trial that he was "regretful" about the "shameful" consensual relationships he had with female students, with the youngest aged 17.

His history of relationships with students was well known in some musical circles. When the RNCM chose to appoint Mr Layfield as head of strings 2002, some members of staff were unhappy.

Speaking to the BBC, pianist Martin Roscoe, who was RNCM's head of keyboards, said he was "absolutely shocked" at the college's decision.

He said: "On ethical grounds, on moral grounds, that is the behaviour of someone who should not be put in a position of pastoral care, dealing with students of any age, in my view."

A RNCM spokeswoman said: "We hope that all concerned are able to move beyond the allegations and court proceedings, which must have been distressing for all involved."

Claims that Mr Layfield had relationships with students when he worked at Chetham's School of Music were made during the 2013 trial of former colleague Michael Brewer.

Brewer was jailed for six years after he was found guilty of indecently assaulting ex-pupil Frances Andrade, 48, more than 30 years ago when she was 14 and 15.

Mrs Andrade killed herself at her home in Guildford, Surrey, a week after giving evidence.

Two men were also sentenced last year as part of an investigation launched by Greater Manchester Police following Brewer's conviction.

Conductor Nicholas Smith, 66, was jailed for eight months after he admitted sexually assaulting a 15-year-old Chetham's pupil in the 1970s.

Double bass teacher Duncan McTier also pleaded guilty to sexual assaults against three former pupils he taught at the RNCM and Purcell School of Music in Harrow, north-west London.

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