Film director compares school abuser to Harvey Weinstein

By David Cowan
Home affairs correspondent, BBC Scotland

Published
Image caption,
Don Boyd worked with stars such as Laurence Olivier, Dame Helen Mirren and Richard Harris

A film director has told the Scottish Child Abuse Inquiry he was raped by a teacher whose predatory actions reminded him of Harvey Weinstein.

Don Boyd said the late Guy Ray-Hills had Weinstein's ability to charm and manipulate people.

Mr Boyd was 10 in 1958 when he became a pupil at Scotland's oldest boarding school, Loretto in Musselburgh.

Earlier in the inquiry, Loretto acknowledged that pupils were abused by a teacher in the 1950s and 1960s.

It said it was now a very different place with measures to ensure pupils were protected and issued an unreserved apology to anyone who was abused in its care.

Mr Boyd said his Scottish father had wanted him to have a Scottish education, and admired Loretto's prowess at rugby.

He added Loretto had a "frightening and brutal" system where prefects would discipline younger pupils but was "very distinguished academically" and he thrived.

Guy Ray-Hills was an enormously popular French teacher whose lessons "were like street theatre."

Mr Boyd told BBC Scotland: "He was a completely brilliant and charismatic teacher. He made his classes huge fun. He was charming and clever and clearly very manipulative in the way that he groomed his victims.

"He used his charm and charisma to great effect. As a child you were prey to that and it was easy to be sucked into the need to be secret."

Image caption,
Loretto is Scotland's oldest boarding school

Mr Boyd said Ray-Hills called him one of his "special friends." The abuse began in the teacher's bedroom at the school when Mr Boyd was 12, and lasted until he left at the age of 16.

He added: "Not only was I groomed for sexual abuse, but I was raped, as a child. It wasn't until much later in life that I could identify it as rape, but that's what it was."

Mr Boyd went on to become a film and TV director, producer and writer, working with stars like Laurence Olivier, Dame Helen Mirren and Richard Harris.

Two of his high profile projects were "Scum", a violent portrayal of life in a borstal starring Ray Winstone, and the Sex Pistols film "The Great Rock'n'Roll Swindle."

It took him more than three decades to disclose the abuse.

He decided to go public and contacted Ray-Hills, who tried to re-exert his control over his former pupil. By then he had been sacked by Loretto and was in his seventies.

'Horrified'

Mr Boyd said: "He was horrified when he knew I was going to go public and he desperately tried to get me to change my course of action."

The inquiry was shown letters written to Mr Boyd by Ray-Hills in which the former teacher admitted that what he did had been wrong and said he was "very worried about the possible repercussions".

Ray-Hills wrote that their friendship had "gradually got out of hand".

At one point he told Mr Boyd it had been "good clean fun".

In 2001 Mr Boyd wrote an article for The Observer newspaper revealing what had happened at Loretto years before.

The school told him that 35 other pupils subsequently came forward to say that they too had been abused. Three made criminal complaints but the case did not go to court because of Ray-Hills' age. He has since died.

Giving evidence to the inquiry in March as it began its current phase focusing on alleged abuse in Scottish boarding schools, the current headmaster at Loretto, Dr Graham Hawley, expressed "huge regret" over what has happened at the school in the past.

Image source, Getty Images
Image caption,
Mr Boyd said the late Guy Ray-Hills had the same ability to charm and manipulate people as US film producer Harvey Weinstein (pictured), who was convicted last year of rape and sexual assault

Mr Boyd said that at one stage in his career he worked with the disgraced Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein, now serving a 23 year sentence for rape and sexual assault.

He said Weinstein was "a brilliant metaphor for Ray-Hills' behaviour."

"I always thought at the time that I worked with Harvey that there were some strange similarities.

"I noticed comparisons in the way that he handled people using both huge charm and intelligence and horrifying manipulative talents.

"Having been through what I've been through in coming forward to this inquiry, I've realised that those woman who had the guts to say what they did about Harvey are immensely brave and brilliant women.

"It's such a relief to me that they were able to bring him to book and he's been properly punished."

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