Cranbrook settles with former headmaster Nicholas Sampson after sex scandal involving teacher

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Sarah Blake
The Nightly
Former Cranbrook principal Nicholas Sampson has reached a settlement with the elite Sydney private school.
Former Cranbrook principal Nicholas Sampson has reached a settlement with the elite Sydney private school. Credit: Cranbrook School

Former Cranbrook principal Nicholas Sampson has reached a settlement with the elite Sydney private school three months after his sudden departure during a teacher sex scandal.

Mr Sampson quit his role at the $48,000 a year school in the fallout of a Four Corners report that alleged he had not dealt appropriately with teacher misconduct and that female staff had been badly treated by management at the school.

He is separately pursuing the ABC over the report and has engaged heavy-hitting defamation lawyers Rebekah Giles, Arthur Moses and Sue Chrysanthou, SC.

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Cranbrook school council had initially backed Mr Sampson after the ABC report aired in early March but he resigned three days later when it was revealed that a teacher at the school had groomed a former female student at a previous role.

In that instance, a male teacher at Cranbrook had sent sexually explicit messages to a student at Sydney’s Mount Benedict College when he was previously employed there.

The council said on March 7 that Mr Sampson had not disclosed to them the details of that incident. However, on Tuesday the school said in a statement that Mr Sampson had told the school council in 2015 about the historical incident.

“I am extremely pleased that I am no longer in dispute with the Cranbrook School Council,” Mr Sampson said in a statement.

“The harm done to my reputation arising out of the misinformation that followed the earlier statement has now been ameliorated and I have been vindicated. I appreciate the Council’s goodwill in publicly clarifying its previous statement and acknowledging the confusion caused by those words.

“There now cannot be any doubt that I reported the matter to the Council in 2015 and that the allegations were externally investigated by an independent body, NSW Police and notified to the Office of Children’s Guardian.”

Cranbrook said on Tuesday that its initial statement “may have caused confusion”.

“The Council thanks Mr Sampson for his contribution and long service and, in good faith, wishes him the very best for the future,” the school said in a statement.

Mr Sampson thanked his lawyers and said he would continue his action against the ABC.

“I have lodged a detailed complaint with the ABC Ombudsman concerning reporting by the Four Corners program that was wildly inaccurate, lacking in impartiality and in contravention of a number of the ABC’s own Editorial Standards,” his statement said.

“It is gravely concerning that our own national broadcaster is prepared to broadcast dishonest and biased reporting callously and unfairly impacting so many. I am determined to pursue that complaint to its conclusion.”

Mr Sampson’s departure from the top job came at a tumultuous time for Cranbrook, which had wrestled over recent years with its transition to co-education.

He said on Tuesday that he wished his former colleagues well.

“My experience has shown that the pathway to reform is not always easy but I firmly believe that we have an excellent team that will deliver a first rate co educational offering, environment and community,” he said.

“One of the distinctive characteristics of the current school is the number and proportion of outstanding female educators within a single sex institution. I know that the excellent staff will lead Cranbrook to success.”

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