Malcolm Layfield, former head of strings at the Royal Northern College of Music (RNCM), has been arrested on suspicion of three historic rapes. The 61-year-old, who quit his post at the RNCM in February, was detained over alleged offences of rape against three girls, two aged 16 and one aged 18, between 1980 and 1991 while he was a teacher at Chetham’s School of Music in Manchester.

Layfield has been bailed until 17 October pending further inquiries by Greater Manchester Police (GMP). He is the fourth man to be arrested in the ongoing investigation into historic sexual abuse at Chetham's and the RNCM. The others are violin teacher Wen Zhou Li, in February, and double bassist Duncan McTier in May, and an unnamed 65-year-old man.

In total, ten key suspects have so far been identified in the inquiry, initiated in response to allegations made in the trial of Michael Brewer, the former director of Chetham's. Layfield was named in court by the violinist Frances Andrade, who committed suicide in February after giving evidence against Brewer. In 2002 she had urged the RNCM's then principal, Edward Gregson, not to appoint Layfield as head of strings. In an email to Gregson she had written, 'Are you aware that when we were 16, Malcolm Layfield took various students to the pub where large quantities of alcohol were bought for the girls which made them less able to resist what then followed?’

In May, GMP said more than 30 women had made complaints that they suffered sexual abuse from classical music teachers.

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Photo: courtesy RNCM