School claims professional privilege over abuse documents
Picture: Les O'Rourke/AAP

A prestigious independent school at the centre of the next public hearing of a royal commission in Perth has claimed legal professional privilege over some documents sought as part of the investigation.

But a directions hearing this morning before Justice Peter McClellan, chairman of the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse, has been told the documents will be produced on a confidential basis and may be the subject of an application for a suppression order.

The exclusive Perth school, which cannot be named because of a District Court suppression order, will be the focus of a public hearing starting on May 19.

The hearing will focus on recent allegations that a teacher was allowed to prey on students despite repeated warnings by other staff about his behaviour.

Abuse at top school until 2008

This morning, Justice McClelland said the school, which the hearing was told had handed over a big number of documents in response to a summons, should appreciate the significance of the commission being able to examine the institution's response to complaints.

Justice McClelland said in some other States the production of the documents would not be an issue because laws had waived legal professional privilege in such circumstances.

The 62-year-old former teacher from the independent school, whose identity is also suppressed, is serving a five-year jail term after being convicted of indecently dealing with five students between 1999 and 2008. He denied the offences but was found guilty in 2010.

After a successful appeal, he was again convicted after a retrial in 2012.

It is alleged that the school was given repeated warnings by fellow teachers as early as 2001 about the primary school teacher's behaviour with boys.

The teacher was given a formal warning in 2004 about appropriate behaviour but was allowed to continue working until 2009, when a former student reported him to police.

The commission will investigate the response of the school to the teachers' warnings, the response to his arrest, the management of victims' claims for compensation, policies relating to concerns about abuse and the registration of the school.

The West Australian

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