A LAW firm is investigating claims at least 20 boys who attended a former independent school in Colchester were sexually abused.

Andrew Groves and Company is looking into allegations at the former Oxley Parker School, in Mill Road.

Solicitor Katherine Yates is taking statements and wants to hear from anyone who may have been abused, or witnessed abuse, at the school.

She said: “I have heard some horrific stories. A few months ago we were contacted by a mother because her son had turned into a recluse.

“He was eating himself to death since being sexually abused at the school.”

Since the investigation began more people have come forward.

It is alleged abuse took place in the Eighties and Nineties.

Mrs Yates said: “I have been told about someone the boys called the ghost who would come into the dormitories and night and touch them under the bed covers.”

Andrew Groves and Company is putting together a civil case for compensation with Ms Yates leading the investigation.

Prior to her work as a solicitor she worked for social services and as a youth justice officer.

She says previous allegations were not investigated properly or taken seriously.

She said: “There are a lot of people still suffering.

“I have been working on historic abuse cases for 20 years and I have seen what it does to people.”

Oxley Parker School, which catered for boys aged eight to 17, closed in 1998.

It was privately run and therefore not under Essex County Council control.

However a spokesman for the council, which is aware of the investigation, said: “We would encourage anyone with information relating to historic child sex abuse to get in touch with the police or other support agencies.

“The historic nature does not reduce the seriousness or the impact on the lives of victims. It is vital that abuse is reported and if appropriate can be investigated."

Ms Yates can be reached on 01223 367133.