The founding director of the Ribchester music festival Malcolm Layfield has been cleared of raping an 18-year-old student in the 1980s.
Mr Layfield, 63, had denied the Crown’s allegation that he used his “power and influence” to commit the offence while he was working as a violin teacher in Manchester.
A huge relief to Malcolm Layfield who would like to thank friends, family and his legal team and all those who have supported him over the last two years
He admitted he pursued a number of consensual sexual relationships with students throughout the 1980s which his trial heard were said to be “common knowledge” in classical musical circles in Manchester and further afield.
But the former part-time tutor at Chetham’s School of Music and the Royal Northern College of Music (RNCM) denied he “crossed the line” on one occasion during a summer music school he staged in Cornwall.
A jury at Manchester Crown Court took less than 90 minutes to acquit Layfield, who showed no emotion as the not guilty verdict on one count of rape was returned.
Layfield’s son and daughter burst into tears as the verdict was returned.
It was said Layfield drove his victim – allegedly drunk on “strong alcoholic punch” – in the middle of the night to an isolated spot and was determined to have sex with her “come what may”.
The complainant claimed she “gave in” but then went on to have consensual sex with him over the following six weeks. She alleged she was under his “influence and power” as Layfield threatened to take work opportunities away from her if she changed tutors, Manchester Crown Court heard.
Father-of-two Layfield, of Castle Quay, Castleford, Manchester, told the jury he was not in a position to “destroy people’s careers” and neither did he encourage students to get drunk.
He said she willingly got into his car and that sex followed between the pair which was “a mutual thing that happened”.
The pair went on to have a sexual relationship, he said, before it later “fizzled out”.
Following the verdict, Layfield’s solicitor Matthew Claughton, from Olliers Solicitors, said the unanimous verdict was “a huge relief to Malcolm Layfield who would like to thank friends, family and his legal team and all those who have supported him over the last two years.”