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‘I hated you all along’: the ex-Manchester Grammar School teacher killed by one of his students
Plus: What to expect from the second part of our Sacha Lord profile, and a Salford terrace perfect for first time buyers
Dear Millers — welcome to this (in our humble opinion) stupendously varied, informative Monday Briefing, which follows a vintage weekend of Mill growth. 30 new members joined up on Saturday and Sunday, largely thanks to Jack’s brilliant profile of clubbing impresario Sacha Lord (click below if you haven’t read it yet). A warm welcome to all our new members.
The first part of Jack’s piece looked at how Lord came to dominate Manchester’s clubbing industry, and the critiques that come from insiders about his apparent monopoly of the sector. The second part of the profile is coming out at 7am on Wednesday morning, and it will examine Lord’s public profile, his political ambitions and connections, and how he has responded to the deaths that have taken place at Warehouse Project. If you’re not a member yet and you would like to read that one, do join up now.
Last week paying members received two great stories. On Wednesday, we published an interview with the author of a report into regional inequality and poverty about how faster growing, prosperous parts of Greater Manchester are becoming “overheated”, trapping people in poverty because living costs are too high. On Thursday, we delved deeper into the story of parents pulling kids out of Birchfields Primary School in Fallowfield in protest of “age inappropriate” sex education and found that Luthfur Rahman, the highly influential deputy leader of Manchester City Council, has been accused of “stirring up divisions” as protests spread across schools in Greater Manchester. If you’d like to support our journalism and help us break more exclusives and take on bigger investigations, please do join us as a member if you haven’t already for a very reasonable £1.25 a week.
And another thing Manchester is best at
From today’s sponsor: The University of Manchester is known for numerous incredible breakthroughs, but it’s also leading the way when it comes to social responsibility. In fact, it was recently ranked number one in the UK and Europe and number two in the world for social and environmental impact. To pick a few examples of the university’s work, its #BeeWell programme is working with schools across Greater Manchester to support young people’s mental health; its GM Policy Hub is informing local policies, such as the 2038 zero carbon target; and local sixth formers whose parents have not been to university get life-changing opportunities through its Manchester Access Programme. You can find out more and get involved in upcoming events via the university’s social responsibility newsletter — sign up now.
🌦️ This week’s weather
“Summer is still awol,” says our weatherman Martin Miles. Lots of cloud and rain will continue on from last week, but things are set to get (slightly) better from Wednesday. Cricket fans following the fourth Ashes test at Old Trafford can expect a few rail delays but hopefully not a complete washout.
Tuesday 🌧️ Mostly cloudy and cool with outbreaks of moderate rain. Max 17C.
Wednesday 🌦️ Sunny spells and showers. Breezy. Max 19C.
Thursday 🌦️ Sunny spells and the odd shower. Most areas will enjoy a dry day. Max 20C.
Friday 🌦️ Hazy sunny spells and isolated showers. Max 19C.
Weekend 🌦️ Unsettled with average temperatures and often wet weather.
You can find the latest forecast at Manchester Weather on Facebook — daily forecasts are published at 6.15am.
The big story: A new drama tells the story of an ex-MGS teacher defrauded and murdered by a young student
Top line: The Sixth Commandment, a new BBC One drama starting tonight, tells the story of Peter Farquhar, an ex-Manchester Grammar School teacher who was defrauded and murdered by a younger man who pretended to be in love with him.
The student: Ben Field — who Farquhar taught at the University of Buckingham, where he occasionally lectured after retiring from MGS — was 24 when he “inveigled his way” into the life of the then 65-year-old, according to the journalist and MGS old boy Michael Crick in the Sunday Times, who knew the teacher well. “After just a few meetings Field declared his love for a man three times his age on top of Dunkery Beacon in Somerset,” writes Crick. “Peter believed him and reciprocated. Later a friendly gay priest conducted a betrothal ceremony at his church in London.”
Impact at MGS: In his Sunday Times piece, Crick writes:
When he turned up at the Manchester Grammar School (MGS) as a new English teacher, aged 24, fresh with a first from Cambridge, Peter Farquhar made an immediate impact. The entire school was talking about this strict, traditionalist master who walked the corridors in his flowing gown and admonished boys in his distinctive nasal voice. To us pupils he looked about 50. He had birdlike features and was slight in stature, which meant he had to work harder to assert himself over insolent boys, who could be merciless in tormenting masters we thought were weak.
Crick remained friends with Farquhar in later life, as did other former pupils. When Crick interviewed Farquhar for an item in the student paper, in 1976, he said his pet-hates were “over-cautious road users”. When Crick asked how he would like to be remembered, he said: “as someone true to his convictions.”
Farquhar was a devout Christian who had long struggled to come to terms with his sexuality. In 2010, he self-published Between Boy and Man, a novel about a gay school chaplain falsely accused of sexual assault. He was celibate all his life and feared dying alone. Field appears to have offered something Farquhar had never had. “I just can’t believe this has happened,” he wrote in his diary. “Ben can love me. A miracle if ever there was one.” He added: “Gone are the fears of dying alone.”
But Field would later spike Farquhar’s food and drink — giving him horrifying hallucinations. He then told Farquhar’s friends and family, Crick included, that his partner had developed a drinking problem. Farquhar was found dead aged 69 with a near-empty bottle of whiskey at his feet — prosecutors said he was smothered with a cushion by Field. In his own journalism, Field wrote: “I hated you all along.”
“Had Peter been born a generation later,” Crick writes, “when society and the church had relaxed their attitudes to being gay, then his life may have been much happier. There would have been no need for a Ben Field; Peter could have found a genuine partner and married him.”
The Sixth Commandment is showing on BBC One tonight and you can watch it on iPlayer here.
Your Mill briefing
We have heard back from Manchester City Council about the current rift that has formed between Labour councillors in Rusholme and the council’s deputy leader Luthfur Rahman. As we have reported in recent weeks, parents have been protesting the sex and relationships education curriculum at a primary school in Rusholme called Birchfields. Then we revealed that a formal complaint had been made by Rusholme Labour over allegations that Rahman had been advising the parents protesting outside the school, and threatening to protest outside the homes of local councillors. When we asked the council for an update, veteran councillor Pat Karney responded, saying, “Following Labour Group procedures we will meet and speak to all parties to establish what has taken place. Cllr. Rahman has denied these allegations. The Group Leadership will report to the full Labour Group Members.” Over the weekend, Rahman tweeted a photo of himself with the following caption: “There is only one way to avoid criticism: do nothing, say nothing, be nothing.” The tweet was later deleted.
As you have likely heard, Sir Jim Ratcliffe, the Failsworth-born petrochemicals magnate, is down to the final two candidates looking to buy Manchester United, along with Qatar’s Sheikh Jassim. Today’s MEN references a scoop from back in February — originally by the finance website Proactive — which revealed that Ratcliffe’s company, Ineos, owns fracking rights to look for gas under United’s Carrington training ground. Ineos originally paid £30m for a 50% stake in the licence to explore shale gas opportunities in the area. That licence expires next year, and it seems unlikely that the company will get a chance to frack in the area — the practice is currently banned in the UK.
Survivors of terror attacks in the UK have said that the government’s compensation scheme is “broken”. Over 130 survivors from 11 attacks, including the Manchester Arena bombing, were surveyed by Survivors Against Terror, a support network for terrorism survivors. More than half said The Criminal Injuries Compensation Authority was “unfair and unreasonable”, and that they didn’t treat survivors with respect and empathy.
Benjamin Mendy, the ex Manchester City footballer, has been cleared of two charges of rape and attempted rape. Mendy was cleared of four charges of rape in January, but that jury was unable to reach a verdict on a further two. Mendy has now been cleared of these remaining charges in a retrial at Chester Crown Court.
If you want to tell us about a story or give us some information, please email firstname.lastname@example.org. We are always happy to speak to people off the record in the first instance, and we will treat your information with confidence and sensitivity.
We’re publishing a big piece about Greater Manchester’s economic growth in recent decades and how it has impacted lower-income people in the city region. We’re particularly keen to see any data sets that indicate that displacement of communities has or has not taken place. Please email Daniel if you can help.
We’d like to speak to anyone with knowledge of VST Enterprises for a piece we’ve got in the works. Any insights would be greatly appreciated — email email@example.com.
Home of the week
This period terraced home in Salford is perfect for first time buyers, with three bedrooms, a fully fitted kitchen and an enclosed rear garden. It’s on the market for £270,000.
Our favourite reads
The Glazers: ‘slow decision makers’ controlling Man Utd’s future — The Financial Times
A great long read taking you inside the protracted process of the billionaire Glazer family’s attempts to find a buyer for Manchester United. Among fans, frustration has been mounting at the time it’s taking for the Glazers to decide on the club’s future. An insider explains that the family are well-known for being “slow decision makers” and that disagreements in the family unit have also contributed to the inertia. “There is clearly not cohesion in the Glazer camp,” one insider says. “But they don’t tell you what that is, so it is very difficult for anyone to help.”
Benji Reid: Find Your Eyes; Tino Sehgal: This Entry – review — The Observer
Over the past weekend, the Observer compiled a two-part review of highlights from Manchester International Festival, including Find Your Eyes by Benji Reid, a show that combines dance, theatre and hip hop, and This Entry by Tino Sehgal, a contemporary dance performance in the Whitworth which features the Spanish midfielder Juan Mata. Both shows share a “belief in the transformative power of art”, “asking us to look differently, to watch carefully”. Culture critic Sarah Crompton writes: “It’s not as exciting as seeing Mata ping a pass into the penalty area, but it’s just as beautiful.”
Has Britain become a country of shoplifters? — The Guardian
The Guardian’s northern editor Helen Pidd spends some time on Barlow Moor Road in Chorlton to understand if shoplifting is a problem in the well-heeled streets of south Manchester. “Every day we get 10 to 15 people coming into the shop and trying to steal stuff,” one Manchester shopkeeper told her, saying they’re seeing laundry tablets, lipstick and baby milk flying off the shelves and out the door on a regular basis. While overall theft was down 20% in the UK in 2022, shoplifting was up by a similar amount. There were more than eight million theft incidents last year, more than double in 2015 and 2016, an escalation thought to be fuelled by runaway inflation and debt.
Our to do list
⚽ The National Football Museum is showing a new exhibition that looks great for families. Batteries Not Included looks at the history of football games, with 17 interactive games, exhibits and arcades that you’re welcome to try. More here.
⛪ There’s a week of free classical concerts at St Ann’s Church to celebrate the music of Bach, with a performance of Trio Sonata by the Chamber Orchestra, beginning at 7pm. More here.
🎤 The Northern Poets’ Society are performing poems inspired by the phrase “the streets of Salford” at Salford Museum and Art Gallery, and in a fun twist, they’re inviting audience members to come along with their own poems and try out live performing. Book here.
🌺 It’s time for the Royal Horticultural Society’s annual flower show, which transforms Tatton Park into a gorgeous floral oasis for one week. Growers of giant vegetables will be competing for the coveted summer fruit and vegetable prize, and there are plenty of activities to keep the kids entertained. Full details here.
📚 It’s the launch of Anne Worthington’s debut novel, The Unheard, at Manchester Art Gallery this week. The Unheard tells the story of a man living with dementia, pushing away memories that are too much for him but that he’s unable to leave behind. It’s free to attend, reserve here.
📸 Curry Mile, A Changing Neighbourhood is a new photography exhibition based on a seven-year-long project documenting the lives of people who live on the Curry Mile, their stories and hopes for the future. The photographers behind the project will be giving a talk in the upstairs gallery at Manchester Central Library on Thursday evening, which is free to attend.