Highgate Wood School sex abuse: Haringey’s insurers to pay victim of disgraced deputy head more than £1m

Andrew Adams, pictured at the school sometime in the 70s.

Andrew Adams, pictured at the school sometime in the 70s. - Credit: Archant

Insurers for Haringey Council were told to pay more than £1m to a man sexually abused over many years by Highgate Wood School’s former deputy head, Andrew Adams.

The man, known only as James, was abused by Adams after in 1980, the then-13-year-old confided that he had been raped by an older man. He was groomed and repeatedly assaulted over a number of years until he was 21.

After James confided in a therapist about the abuse after a breakdown in 2011, the assaults were reported to police, and Adams pleaded guilty to charges of assault and buggery in 2014.

But when James brought a civil case against Adams and his employer, Haringey Council, over the impact the abuse had upon his life, his abuser argued that in fact the teenager had groomed him.

Insurers for Haringey Council argued that the case should be thrown out as it was time-barred, and that the council should not be held responsible for anything done by Adams while the victim was not a pupil at Highgate Wood – he left briefly when he was around 15 – or during his A-Levels, when he was no longer directly taught by Adams.

The insurers also disputed the lifelong trauma the victim said had been a consequence of the abuse.

In December 2018, High Court judge Mrs Justice Cutts rejected these arguments, found in favour of James and required the council’s insurers to pay more than £1m to him.

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This is the judgement that was upheld by three judges at the Court of Appeal in February.

Lord Justice McCombe, writing the main judgment, found the coercion James experienced made it impossible for him to possibly consent to sexual activity.

A Haringey Council spokesperson said: “Our sincere sympathies remain with the victim following these incidents at Highgate Wood School back in the 1980s. We have previously strongly condemned the actions of Andrew Adams, and that position has not changed.

“To be clear, Andrew Adams was jailed in 2014 for admitted criminal acts. This civil case was an appeal brought by our insurers’ legal team – not the council – in order to decide the level of damages to be awarded.”

The town hall emphasised that the arguments advanced in court were those of the insurance company, not of the council.