SOLICITORS are claiming a boarding school near York needs to be “held to account” for sexual crimes committed by two men connected to it.

Simpson Millar of Leeds is urging former pupils of Queen Ethelburga’s Collegiate (QE), north of York, to contact them and says it is willing to help them launch compensation claims against the school.

A statement from the school said: "We would like to say firmly that the isolated actions of these two individuals were entirely at odds with our culture and values.”

It added that the solicitors’ firm could benefit financially from ex-students making compensation claims.

In 2021, the school’s former chair of governors Brian Martin, then 71, of Ferrensby, Knaresborough, was jailed for three years and three months for sexual abuse of two pupils many years ago.

Last September, Alexander Ralls, 47, of Hazel Meads, Dunstable, a child protection officer at the school, was jailed for 16 years for sexual offences against several pupils, many of them committed on trips abroad. All the offences happened several years ago.

Following Ralls' conviction, the school described how its safeguarding policies had changed since he was employed there. 

Nathalie Swanwicks, a member of Simpson Millar’s specialist abuse team, said: “These horrific acts of abuse should not be able to happen at the school that was supposed to be a safe place for its pupils and the school needs to be held to account.

"We strongly urge anybody who has been a victim of Alexander Ralls or Brian Martin to reach out for support.

“Anyone who has been affected may also be able to bring a civil claim for compensation. While no amount of money can ever make up for what they experienced, it can provide them with vital funds that can help them to access the help needed to rebuild their lives following the abuse that they endured.”

The firm said it had been successful in helping other abuse survivors in making compensation claims and to the criminal injuries compensation board and that former QE pupils had already contacted it.

The school's statement said: “We agree wholeheartedly with Simpson Millar’s statement that abuse victims deserve and require help to rebuild their lives. Where it is genuinely felt that this is best achieved through legal action, we of course respect that position.

“However, we note that Simpson Millar regularly seeks to generate business from abuse victims and it is clear that the firm stands to profit financially from anyone who responds positively to its press release.”

It said it was constantly reviewing and if necessary changing its safeguarding policies.  

Its latest Independent Schools Inspectorate inspection report said: “'Effective safeguarding arrangements are in place. Staff are appropriately trained, and concerns are reported promptly.”