Britain's most prestigious military boarding school is facing damaging new claims that it covered up allegations of abuse against students.
On Saturday The Telegraph exposed how the Ministry of Defence appeared to collude The Duke of York's Royal Military School to stifle claims of bullying and abuse.
Kent Police launched a review into their alleged failure to investigate dozens of criminal allegations at the school, and at least one detective inspector has been disciplined.
The force has set up a dedicated team to review claims about the school, which is seen as a breeding ground for future army leaders and boasts His Royal Highness, The Duke of Kent, as a patron.
Now it has emerged that the police are probing allegations that the school - which has enjoyed visits from Prince Harry and the British Army’s Chief of the General Staff - even bribed a teacher's daughter to provide information that led to the arrest of whistleblowers who sought to expose the alleged goings-on at the school.
A letter from Kent Professional Standards Department, seen by The Telegraph, details how the force is reviewing a complaint that officers "failed to investigate the report of bribery by the school in paying Ceri Austin to provide a statement".
Ceri Austin's mother Tracy had resigned from her positions as the school's deputy child protection officer in protest at the way the school dealt with concerns about sexual abuse of a teenage girl.
They wanted to turn a blind eye to it. At the time there was a spate of sleeper holds - where boys strangle each other until they faint
After allegedly being offered a sum of money, Ceri Austin gave a witness statement which led to the arrest of her mother and Georgina Halford-Hall, a concerned parent who had also tried to complain about alleged bullying and abuse at the school. Both were cleared a year later when crown prosecutors offered no evidence, causing the cases to collapse.
Kent Police are probing why the allegation of bribery was not properly investigated when it was first reported. They are reviewing a complaint about why it was downgraded to a "suspicious incident" when it was in fact a "matter of extreme importance and one which raised serious questions about the credibility of the evidence provided by school's management and others in the investigation".
Detective Chief Inspector Swan, who is overseeing the complaint said that allegations are "suitable for a proportionate investigation" which means that "the conduct alleged may if proven justify criminal/disciplinary proceedings".
A spokesman for Duke of York's Royal Military School said that the suggestion that anyone was bribed is a “complete fabrication”.
Former teachers, parents and students at the school, which is seen as a breeding ground for future army leaders, have told The Telegraph that when they tried to raise the alarm about the alleged abuse, the school moved to silence them.
Rachel Ward, who sent her two sons to the school, voiced concerns about the allegations practise of "chair-gating", where boys were made to sit on a hard backed chair facing a wall for whole weekends at a time, only allowed to get up to use the toilet or go to a meal, as a punishment for misbehaviour.
Mrs Ward, a retail and marketing executive from Hampshire whosehusband was a Warrant Officers with the Royal Engineers, claims that that she was warned by an intermediary that her husband's military career would be over if she did not stop complaining.
"They are in charge of all those children, you would think they would have a nurturing instinct," she said. "But they didn’t want anyone questioning their methods.
Former teachers have also told this newspaper about the "barbaric" punishment systems at the school, and claimed that they were told to stop recording incidents in the medical log book because the school wanted to "turn a blind eye" to the goings-on in the boys' dormitories.
One former teacher told The Telegraph that he was shocked at the punishments doled out by teachers to younger boys, which he said he found “wholly inappropriate”.
He said: “There was a culture of really quite unpleasant behaviour from some members of staff."
The former teacher recalled a particularly “murky” incident when a young boy being rushed to hospital after being consensually strangled by one of his peers during a game, and falling unconscious.
At hospital nurses found that his body was covered in bruising including being whipped with a belt.
The school carried out an internal review of the incident and found that the principal “made a number of errors of judgement in the execution of the school’s responsibilities toward [the boy]."
An Ofsted report noted that there had been a “serious bullying incident” in May 2011 which “uncovered wider concernsregarding the safeguarding practises at the school”.
Another former teacher alleges she and her colleagues were told by senior management to stop recording medical incidents.
“They wanted to turn a blind eye to it,” she said. “At the time there was a spate of sleeper holds - where boys strangle each other until they faint.”
Ofsted carried out an emergency inspection in February 2013 “following concerns about the care of boarders at the school”.
A subsequent Ofsted report published in July 2013, rating its provision of care as “good”.
The school received a favourable report following another emergency inspection last month.
A spokesman for DOYRMS said the school would co-operate with any police investigation.
The spokesman said the punishments described “simply did not happen”, adding that such claims have been “fully investigated” by Ofsted whose inspectors exonerated the school.
It said Ofsted had also investigated claims about the handling of a sex abuse complaint and the school had been exonerated.
An MOD spokesman said the suggesting it had tried to stifle claims of abuse at the school is “completely untrue.”
“The MOD continues to take its responsibility for the Duke of York’s Royal Military School and the well-being of its pupils very seriously,” the spokesman said.
“The school has undergone a number of Ofsted inspections, as well as scrutiny by other the Education Funding Agency and Kent County Council, all of whom are satisfied the school is meeting or exceeding the standards required.”