Abuse headteacher left his money to ex-council leader and priest to clear his name after death
PUBLISHED: 08:16 17 December 2019 | UPDATED: 08:24 18 December 2019
A paedophile headmaster left his estate to a Catholic priest and an ex-council leader, we can reveal today, in the hope he could quash his conviction after his death.
Derek Slade died aged 66 in March 2016 while serving a 21-year sentence at Norwich Prison for abusing 12 boys at St George's School in Norfolk and Suffolk.
Slade was convicted of more than 50 charges including sexual assault, beatings and child pornography at the private school, between 1978 and 1983.
Boys suffered horrific beatings and sexual abuse at St George's in Wicklewood, which moved to Finborough in Suffolk in 1980 and has since changed its name.
As headmaster, Slade made boys as young as eight strip naked for beatings and then forced them to write essays about the whippings, his trial at Ipswich Crown Court heard in 2010.
He also organised "midnight feasts" at his home in the school grounds where he and friends abused boys.
Last year it emerged that Slade's victims would only getting a fraction of the promised compensation from the company which used to run the school.
Slade's will, meanwhile, shows he left all of his money to two old contacts - Islington politician Derek Sawyer and Catholic priest Reverend Robin Sanders, whom he taught with at another school.
Rev Sanders said he met Slade in 1968 and was "very shocked" when allegations of sexual abuse were made. He added he "deplored" what Slade's victims suffered.
But he admitted to regularly visiting Slade in prison after his conviction.
"In view of the long time he faced in prison I did not consider it right to break contact with him," Rev Sanders said.
He added that he and Mr Sawyer, an election agent of Jeremy Corbyn until 2010, did not get any money themselves from Slade's will and it was instead spent on legal costs, including working on an appeal, as instructed in the will.
Slade wrote the money should be used to "pursue my case".
Mr Sawyer, meanwhile, said: "I have always made it clear that I utterly condemn Derek Slade's behaviour and the crimes for which he was convicted, which I find abhorrent.
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"I had no involvement with the drawing up of the will. I had not seen it before Slade's death and did not know its contents. The will was immediately handed to a firm of solicitors to deal with."
Mr Sawyer, whose signature was on the will, had known Slade since the 1960s.
He stayed in touch with him after he was convicted for physically assaulting boys at a different school in 1986.
After Slade misled him into believing that he had assumed a new identity legitimately, Mr Sawyer later helped Slade find work in schools abroad.
Mr Sawyer said in 2011 that the pair had only had "intermittent" contact over the past 40 years and he had been "taken in".
In his hand-written will, Slade wrote: "Whereas my blood and familial relatives have renounced contact and ties with me… I hereby instruct my executors to ensure that none of my relatives benefit in any way whatsoever from my estate."
He asked them to sell his house in Burton-on-Trent, with leftover cash to be used to try to clear his name. The property sold for £95,000 in late 2017.
The paedophile also asked to be cremated and for his ashes to be scattered in international waters.
He also directed for £1,000 to be given to an organisation only named as "the 1996 Society" and be spent within 12 months "solely for good living".
Mr Sawyer, now 70, was the leader of Islington Council between 1992 and 1994, when inquiries into the child sex abuse scandal at Islington's care homes were first taking place.
He went on to become chairman of the London Courts Board and was a founding member of Islington's local policing board, a trustee of charity Crime Concern and director of youth offending charity Catch-22.
Dr Liz Davies, who heads the 200-strong Islington Survivors' Network, said she had contacted Islington Council's head of safeguarding and local authority designated officer with concerns about Sawyer and Slade's relationship in 2016.
She said: "ISN raised the issue when we became aware of the reference. They had sight of this but there was no interest whatsoever."
The council said the matter had been dealt with "in line with its safeguarding policy".