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Nicky Campbell speaks to daughter of his alleged abuser on podcast

Last year Campbell shared his experiences of both physical and emotional abuse at the Edinburgh Academy during the 1970s.

The daughter of an alleged serial child abuser has said she cannot bear the fact his “blood is inside me” after hearing claims brought by BBC presenter Nicky Campbell.

Hamish Dawson worked at the Edinburgh Academy in the 1970s and was accused of multiple instances of both emotional and physical abuse on young boys.

Last year Campbell, 61, who attended the Scottish private school during that time, alleged he had both witnessed and been the victim of abuse that had “profoundly changed my life”.

He also named Dawson, who died in 2009, as one of his alleged abusers.

Jenny Pearson, 64, met with the broadcaster in the latest episode of his podcast Different, where he first shared his experiences at the Edinburgh Academy.

Ms Pearson, a therapist, was one of many to contact the broadcaster after he first spoke about his experiences and the abuse he had suffered at the hands of her father, who she had been estranged from for years before his death.

“I wanted to reach out because I believe in the truth and I can’t bear secrets and collusion,” she told Campbell, adding that she was “in awe” of his decision to speak out.

Ms Pearson and her family moved into the Edinburgh Academy boarding houses when she was seven, though her father was “absent” due to always being “with the boys”, leaving her with her narcissistic mother, who she described as a “screaming banshee”.

She told Campbell: “I can say hand-on-heart, I didn’t miss him, but I resented him leaving us with a maniac.

“In photographs I can see both my parents in me, I don’t want to look like my mother, I don’t want to look like my father.

“I don’t want their blood in my system, but it is.”

I was his daughter, I will always be his daughter even though he is dead...I wish I wasn’t. I can’t bear that his blood is inside me. If I could have some kind of transfusion I would do it.

“It’s appalling, it’s repulsive, it’s shameful, it’s disgusting. I have spent my entire professional life fighting for the rights of children and young people, and he was doing that.

“So I feel we’re the antithesis and I’m glad about that.”

Ms Pearson said she was “angry” that no attempt to contact her had been made by the Edinburgh Academy, after it was approached by Campbell ahead of airing his original podcast episode.

She said the school had refused to give her a written apology because it did not know what Campbell “would do with it”.

She added: “I took exception to that, Nicky, because there was a presumption that something that I felt I was due, I was going to pass on to you. ‘Not impressed’ is putting it lightly.”

Since the graphic stories about Dawson were first made public, Ms Pearson has spent hours speaking to other alleged victims on the phone, if they requested to do so.

Dawson quit the Edinburgh Academy and took early retirement at the age of 56, which was rumoured to be due to pornography being found in his briefcase, Campbell said.

Ms Pearson said his decision had never made any sense to her, saying: “I thought he would die there. It felt like he was married to the academy.”

She also said she “loathed” boys at the school, who would snigger when she went to the bathroom.

“I always felt so exposed and vulnerable. I felt invaded, I felt violated, I felt belittled. I knew there was sexual stuff so it was scary and there was not a safe adult to go to.”

On her decision to speak to Campbell, she added: “I don’t think I’ve been brave, I don’t think I’ve done anything special, I’ve done what I felt I needed to do.

“I was his daughter, I will always be his daughter even though he is dead. As I said before, I wish I wasn’t. I can’t bear that his blood is inside me.

“If I could have some kind of transfusion I would do it.”

Campbell told BBC Radio Scotland on Wednesday that when he first started speaking about the abuse last year, there were three teachers “at the top of the grotesque list” – which Dawson was on.

Soon after Ms Pearson saw Campbell’s allegations, she got in touch with him.

Campbell said of her email: “I saw the sentence ‘I too hold him in contempt’, and then I read it, and then I phoned her, and it was one of the most incredible conversations I’ve ever had.

“She wanted to talk to very many of his victims, as many as she could, and she has done that, and it’s just been an amazing thing.

“I think she’s been empowered. It’s so empowering to talk about this stuff. It’s a massive step.”

A statement from Edinburgh Academy said: “Like any right-minded person, we are appalled by the reports of historic abuse.

“We continue to work closely with authorities such as Police Scotland and the Scottish Child Abuse Inquiry as they investigate what has happened. They are rightly leading on establishing the facts and what action may need to follow, and we will continue to respect that ongoing process.

“The wellbeing of children is at the heart of our school ethos today and we have robust measures in place to safeguard every student entrusted to our care. Schools should be safe places for children, and we encourage anyone who has been the victim of abuse to contact the police.”

The full interview with Ms Pearson on C podcast, can be found on BBC Sounds.

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