Nicky Campbell sexual abuse

Nicky Campbell on ‘evil’ teacher who sexually abused him: ‘I’ve had a couple of breakdowns’

It was an open secret

Scottish TV and radio broadcaster Nicky Campbell talks about the horrific sexual abuse he endured as a child in BBC One’s latest episode of hard-hitting documentary Panorama.

The hour-long episode, which airs on Thursday, November 30, 2023, meets Nicky and other men who shared a dark secret about their time in school.

Ever since Nicky Campbell went public about the abuse that he both experienced and witnessed in the 1970s, he’s become the public face of a campaign by former pupils of two renowned private schools in Scotland.

Now, Panorama meets the men who were sexually and physically abused in Edinburgh Academy, and Fettes College. Inspired by each other’s bravery, the men are determined that one teacher – Iain Wares – should be returned to the UK to face justice.

Nicky Campbell becomes emotional during filming of Panorama
Nicky Campbell becomes emotional during filming of Panorama: My Teacher the Abuser (Credit: BBC Studios)

Presenter Nicky Campbell on sexual abuse at Edinburgh Academy

The host of Long Lost Family, Nicky Campbell is no stranger to stories of heartbreak, abuse and abandonment. And he’s been a victim of it himself.

Talking about his time at Edinburgh Academy, he admits he was sexually abused by a teacher, as well as witnessing abuse. He says: “Other teachers were bad, really bad men – awful, appalling men doing horrible things – but Iain Wares was evil.

“Ian Wares abused on an industrial scale. He was one of the most predatory paedophiles this country has ever known.”

Nicky was a pupil at Edinburgh Academy between 1966 and 1978. There he dealt with horrors no child should ever have to deal with. But he, and many others, kept it a secret.

However, in June 2020, the school hit the news when 20 people reported teacher Iain Wares to the police for abuse. Talking to Panorama, Nicky says: “Something massive triggered inside me that day. [The abuse] had a profound effect on my life. I will never, ever forget. Being in a changing room when I was 10 years old and seeing as teacher abuse my friend.”

Iain Wares was a sexual predator on a ‘Jimmy Savile’ scale

There were repeated offences at the well-regarded Scottish school. Breaking down, Nicky says of Iain Wares: “He was known to us as a predator and a sadist. But we never told anyone.”

Recalling one particular incident of abuse, Nicky says: “We were all getting changed. I was three or four feet away from a friend, and Iain Wares pulled down his pants and literally played with him. It’s forever imprinted on my mind.”

Nicky also alleges he was sexually and physically abused at the private boys school in Edinburgh in the 1970s. In fact, there have been allegations against nearly 30 staff between the 1960s and 1980s, including Hamish Dawson. Nicky recalls the teacher “playing with him” while he was forced to lie on his lap.

Nicky reveals that as more and more people came forward, there were “lots of tears”. As well as “being beaten for crying”, the boys all claimed they were abused by a man they called “weirdo Wares”.

Speaking now, Nicky says: “I’ve had some really difficult times. I’ve had a couple of breakdowns. I’ve a problem with being touched. That has been difficult. […] It was a long, slow-acting poison that is still in the veins and doesn’t get better. The antidote is justice, which comes in many different forms.”

Iain Wares walking to court
Panorama: My Teacher the Abuser shows accused Iain Wares walking to court (credit: BBC Studios)

Has Iain Wares been convicted?

Iain Wares originally left South Africa after being accused of abuse by eight children. He went on to teach at Edinburgh Academy where he allegedly abused dozens if not hundreds of children.

Mr Wares was asked to leave the school after a child with important parents filed a complaint. In 1973, Iain Wares and his wife Rosemary moved on to another area. Edinburgh Academy wrote the teacher an excellent report and he continued teaching at another prestigious school, Fettes College, known as the Eton of the North. The incident was not reported to the police.

After more claims of sexual abuse at the new school, Fettes agreed to give him leave for a course of psychiatric treatment. After two months, he returned to the classroom. even though his own wife said at the time he should not be teaching children. His abuse allegedly got more and more violent at Fettes College.

However, he moved on with another good reference. In 1979, Iain left Scotland and returned to South Africa. He continued teaching until he retired in 2006.

Nicky Campbell sexual abuse: Where is Iain Wares now?

The man described as a “monster” continues to live in South Africa. Although Iain has admitted “urges” towards children, he has never been punished for the crimes he’s accused of. He has never faced his accusers in the UK.

On 2019, for the first time, Iain Wares had to answer abuse allegations made to police by six former pupils of Edinburgh Academy and Fettes College. By letter via his lawyer, he admitted having committed some of the abuse, but refused to be extradited claiming the crimes weren’t serious enough in South African law.

However, he HAS been charged with indecent assault in South Africa, and appeared in court in April 2023. He is currently due to stand trial for the crime in February 2024. Wares currently lives in an upmarket, gated community where he is protected from the outside world. Attempts continue to extradite him back to the UK to face charges here.

Read more: Nicky Campbell details ‘distressing weekend’ after being falsely named as BBC presenter who paid for explicit pictures

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Panorama: My Teacher the Abuser airs on Thursday, November 30, 2023 at 9pm on BBC One.

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Helen Fear
TV Editor

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