A HEADMASTER at a top prep school has been found dead days after being arrested over a sex assault allegation.
William 'Willie' Murdock, 60, who was head at Danes Hill school in leafy Oxshott, Surrey, was discovered lifeless in woods close to his home last week.
Earlier this month cops launched an investigation after an allegation of sexual assault against him and governors at the £20,340-a-year school suspended him.
Shocked parents were told of his death and news of the police probe in a letter sent out earlier this week which has left them stunned.
One said: "How on earth do you explain this to the children?
"It's left the whole school community stunned and many parents are seriously considering taking their kids out and putting them in another school."
The letter, marked private and confidential, said: "I regret to inform you that in the days prior to his death, Mr Murdock had been the subject of an investigation by Surrey Police and had been suspended from his role as head.
"It is important to reassure you that the allegations did not concern children or any child safeguarding matter.
"You will understand that, given the police investigation, now superseded by the coroner’s inquest, and our wish to protect the privacy of those concerned, we have not been, nor are we now, in a position to provide further detail.”
The school – rated as excellent in the most recent Independent Schools Inspection Report – is close to the Chelsea training ground in nearby Cobham.
Several Premier League stars live nearby as do Russian billionaires, City stockbrokers and high flying lawyers.
Its motto is ''Strong and Sagacious'' and in 2016 hit the headlines after Russian film producers Elena and Dmitry Lesnevsky won a £13,000 pay out after they threatened legal action.
It's left the whole school community stunned and many parents are seriously considering taking their kids out and putting them in another school."
Their son Leon had the tip of his finger amputated after getting it trapped in a classroom door at Bevendean, the pre-prep school attached to Danes Hill.
Locals said father-of-three Mr Murdock was a keen shooter and horse rider and bred dogs with his wife Glynis, who is a special needs teacher at the school.
A profile on the Good Schools Guide website says Mr Murdock "Landed at Danes Hill as Latin teacher in the 1980s and simply never left.
"Previously deputy head, stepping into the breach following the sudden death of predecessor.
"Claims the DNA of the school hasn't changed since the day he joined – 'the ethos has always been about inspiring each other on every level'."
SEXUAL ASSAULT ALLEGATION
He was made acting head in 2006 and took on the job permanently a year later.
In a statement cops said: "Surrey Police received an allegation of sexual assault on 5 February 2021.
"The assault, involving an adult victim, is alleged to have taken place on 29 January 2021 at an address in Oxshott.
"A 60-year-old man was arrested in connection with the incident and subsequently released on conditional bail.
"Surrey Police will neither confirm nor deny any information that would lead to the identification of an individual involved in an investigation, prior to any charge."
They added:" We were called around 8.45pm on 10 February, to woodland in Oxshott following the discovery of a man’s body.
"The body of the man, who is in his 60s, was found at a location in Woodlands Lane.
"The investigation into his death remains ongoing but it is not believed that there are any suspicious circumstances or third party involvement at this stage."
In a statement the school said: ''We are sorry to confirm that Willie Murdock died last week.
''He had been a part of the Danes Hill community for over 36 years, both as a teacher and Headmaster, so the news of his death comes as a shock to us all.
''Deputy Head, Rob Andrews, has stepped into the role as Acting Head, with Director of Studies, Sonal Chatrath, as Acting Deputy Head.
''Our thoughts and prayers are with the Murdock family and we would ask that you respect their privacy at this time.''
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