Portsmouth drink-drive headteacher: the full emotional statement given inside court

Iain Gilmour, the headteacher of Isambard Brunel School in Portsmouth, appeared in court today and admitted drink-driving and possession of cocaine.

Thursday, 8th February 2018, 3:05 pm
Updated Thursday, 8th February 2018, 4:48 pm
Iain Gilmour outside court

The court heard that he had driven through two red lights when police picked him up. In court he said he had been suffering depression and that the events had been a ‘wake-up call’, and that he had been seeking help for alcohol dependency.

Here is the full text of the statement he gave outside court.

The last couple of years have been incredibly difficult for me.

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As well as constant political and financial changes that all schools face, I have had to face further unique challenges as a headteacher.

In July last year, a long-serving colleague died of cancer. Breaking the news to the school community was hard enough without then having to argue about closing the school to allow staff to attend the funeral. July’s results were disappointing.

The second week of the new school year started with an Ofsted inspection and finished with a letter informing me that, as the trust (the academy trust that runs the school) no longer had faith in my ability to lead the school, I was about to be placed on pre-capability support programme. This programme, which involved daily visits and weekly reviews, ran for six weeks after which time I had met all my targets: my reward was to be told it as being extended until the end of term. If that were not enough, the school ran last term with a quarter of the teachers away on long term sick leave.

But that is what the life of a headteacher had become: it is what I signed up for.

What I didn’t sign up for, however, was doing all that whilst coping with long term mental health issues.

I have been on medication for at least the last five years to help my depression. I have had at least two sessions of counselling and am currently working with Talking Change.

I wrote about my experience for a national newspaper which received a record number of comments from others in education who too were struggling.

Nevertheless, I spent last term determined to succeed professionally and personally and by Christmas, I naively thought I had won both battles. It turns out that these were Pyrrhic victories brought about by the Trojan Horse of alcohol dependency entering my life.

I had begun to drink every night despite my best intentions to cut down. What I did not realise was that I had developed a craving for alcohol which meant that once I started, I could not stop.

One bottle of wine became two and then three. I became incapable of rational thought. I was in such a state on the night of my arrest when I compounded my stupidity by giving into a desire for something stronger.

My subsequent actions have destroyed my career and caused perhaps irreparable damage to my marriage.

But I have heeded the wake-up call and am determined to save myself.

Since my arrest, I have attended at least five meetings for people with an alcohol problem: the first within 48 hours of my release. Their shared experience has shown me that willpower on its own would never have been enough to solve my dependency. With their help, I have not had a drink for 14 days and thus have cut off the route that led to the stupid decisions I made. Again within 48 hours, I visited a GP who increased my medication, put me on the waiting list for further counselling and booked a further consultation a week later with my regular doctor. During that consultation, she said I was a very different person to the one she had seen in December when I last asked for help and to the person

that spoke to one of her colleagues a week before. Small steps, no doubt, but steps nevertheless.

The court will be aware that I admitted both offences as soon as I was charged and that up to now, I have had a clean record. I still plead guilty to them but in doing so ask the court to understand that they were committed by a man who had been overwhelmed by his personal demons, a man who is still deeply ashamed of himself, but a man whose determination to turn his life around has been demonstrated by his actions over the last fourteen days.

To end, I would like to publicly apologise to my family; the parents, children and staff at Brunel; this city in which I have taught for 22 years; and finally the court. Thank you.