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Michael Brewer found guilty of sexual abuse

8 February 2013

Mike Brewer, co-founder and former artistic director of the National Youth Choirs of Great Britain, has been found guilty of sexual abuse at Manchester Crown Court
Mike Brewer, co-founder and former artistic director of the National Youth Choirs of Great Britain, has been found guilty of sexual abuse at Manchester Crown Court

Mike Brewer, former director of music at Chetham’s School of Music and a founder of the National Youth Choirs of Great Britain, has today been convicted of sexual abuse at Manchester Crown Court.

It has also emerged that the victim in question, Frances Andrade, is thought to have killed herself during the trial.

The jury found Brewer guilty of sexually abusing the victim in his office at Chetham’s while she was 14 and 15.

His ex-wife, Kay Brewer, 68, was also convicted of indecently assaulting the same victim when she was an adult at their then family home.

Mr Brewer carried out the offences at Chetham's and his Manchester home between 1978 and 1982.Brewer was cleared of one charge of indecently assaulting the victim at his home while she was a child. He was cleared on three further indecent assault charges and was found not guilty of raping Andrade when she was 18. His ex-wife, Hilary Kay Brewer, also 68, was found guilty of indecently assaulting Andrade when she was 18, but found not guilty of aiding and abetting rape.

During the trial it was revealed that Mr Brewer had been forced to resign from his post at Chetham's (leaving in 1994) after a separate incident in which the then headmaster, Peter Hullah, had disturbed Brewer and a pupil in Brewer's office 'when the choirmaster had the girl’s top off', reported the Daily Mail.

'Rev Hullah knocked on the office door when Brewer had the girl’s top off, but while she had time to dress and dash out before he walked in, he became suspicious and ordered an inquiry', said the paper on 30 January.

Pressed by the judge, Brewer admitted the incident had been 'swept under the carpet'. The reason for his resignation at the time was given as being on 'health grounds'.

A statement on the school's website from the current head teacher, Claire Moreland, said the revelations of the trial had 'shocked us to the core'.

'Mr Brewer has been found to have committed the most appalling acts which took place during his time at the school, and he breached the trust placed in him by the school, its staff and most importantly the students.  On behalf of the current school staff I wish to express my profound and sincere apology and regret. And most of all I wish to express the sorrow and sympathy we feel for the family of our former student who died under such tragic circumstances and had to endure so much.

'Having been the head of the school for the last 14 years I can say that during my time child welfare has been at the heart of the school. This has been endorsed by the Independent Schools Inspectorate. Furthermore, the child protection measures we have in place are robust and extensive and reflect the huge improvements in child protection across the education sector.'

In 1983 Mr Brewer became musical director of the National Youth Choir and in 1992 formed Laudibus, the National Youth Chamber Choir. He has also directed the World Youth Choir.
He was immediately suspended from the NYCGB when arrested in April 2012. A statement said: 'The NYCGB has, in the interests of our young members, been in close contact with the police and child protection officers since the allegations were first made. However, neither then nor during the trial have any questions been raised with the NYCGB by the police, or any other individual, which might have suggested that the issues raised at trial reflect Mike Brewer in his role as artistic director of NYCGB.

'All the events which were the subject of the trial occurred before 1994 while Mike was teaching at Chetham’s School. The National Youth Choirs of Great Britain, until the trial, were not aware of the reasons behind Mike Brewer’s resignation from Chetham’s School in 1994.

'Mike Brewer had been planning for retirement before his suspension following the allegations, and we confirm that Mike Brewer no longer has any involvement with NYCGB.' The organisation appointed Ben Parry as its director in August 2012.While we hope that Mike Brewer’s legacies for young singers – including vocal excellence, outstanding performance opportunities, and exploring a vast repertoire – will remain core to NYCGB’s work, we now move forward with our 30th anniversary year.'

Mr Brewer denied rape and eight counts of indecent assault. Kay Brewer denied one count of indecent assault and aiding and abetting rape.

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