THE VICE-PRINCIPAL at one of Britain's leading ballet schools has resigned amidst allegations of "inappropriate sexual behaviour" towards students.

Jonathan Barton of Ballet West Scotland in Argyll has been identified as the man who quit after being accused of abusing his position to sleep with teenage pupils at the £9,000 a year boarding school his family runs.

It comes after an ITV News investigation heard from more than 60 women - former students, staff and parents - who have made allegations of the Ballet West dancer and teacher's inappropriate behaviour going back as far as 2004 and as recently as 2018. The allegations include sexual contact with his students.

As the investigation surfaced, the school, which has Sir Billy Connolly as its patron, said it had launched an external independent inquiry into allegations of ‘inappropriate sexual behaviour’ by a member of staff towards students.

The man was not identified by the school which teaches dancers from the age of two through to university level and attracts performers from around the world.

The prestigious Taynuilt academy said it had launched an external independent inquiry into allegations of ‘inappropriate sexual behaviour’ by what it described as a "member of staff" towards students.

The Board of Trustees of the school said that the member of staff had denied any wrong-doing.

“Earlier this week, the school was made aware of accusations being made against a member of staff by former students. These accusations were being made on social media and to a media organisation," it said.

HeraldScotland:

"The safety and wellbeing of students is of paramount importance and these allegations came as a shock to the school. We have no complaint from any student about such behaviour and, to our knowledge, no complaint has been made to the police or other authority.

"However, given the nature of the accusations, the board initiated an immediate internal inquiry to establish facts.

"A senior member of staff was identified as being the focus of the accusations. He has emphatically denied any wrongdoing and will co-operate fully with any investigation.

"In the meantime, he has offered his resignation so that an investigation can be undertaken freely, and students and their families can have confidence in the process. The member of staff involved has said that he will vigorously contest any allegations and his decision to resign has been made to ensure the school is not brought into disrepute. The board has accepted his resignation and have informed all relevant authorities of the accusations.

“We have also started the process of undertaking a full independent inquiry which will be led a senior legal figure with no connection to the school."

An award winning dancer Mr Barton, 38, is the son of the school’s principal Gillian Barton.

The school was founded in 1991, by Ms Barton who brought with her extensive experience working in film and television, on the Michael Caton-Jones film Rob Roy and on the movie Mrs Brown a film starring Dame Judi Dench and Ballet West patron, Billy Connolly.

Just this year, it won the Best British Ballet School award at the British Ballet Grand Prix awards.

It has since steadily developed vocational training programmes, most notably, the Ballet West High Performance Lower School and Ballet West Upper School, which offers a BA (Honours) in Ballet.

Two years ago Ballet West launched a professional touring company, performing full-length classical productions around the world and offering employment opportunities to graduates of the school.

ITV News said many of the former students who had made allegations about being groomed for an inappropriate sexual relationship did so on the understanding they will remain anonymous.

The school trustees added: "The school regards any issue involving students and staff with the utmost seriousness. We value the wellbeing of students above all else and support them.

We have a well-established complaints policy and procedure which is provided to students. We have a resident physiotherapist and an independent counsellor who reports to the board. Students also have direct access to a representative to the board if they have any cause for concern. The school has been in existence for nearly 30 years and takes pride in the quality of teaching of numerous highly qualified ballet teachers.

"The board has written to all students and their families today to advise them of the situation."

Mr Barton trained at Ballet West before working with English National Ballet and other companies.

Awarded the Solo Seal of the Royal Academy of Dance, he also won a medal when competing at the prestigious Genée International Ballet Competition.

As well as having danced the lead roles in numerous ballet productions, Mr Barton has danced in music videos and at pop concerts and was the lead teacher for Scotland’s largest get-together of male dancers, the Royal Academy of Dance’s Boys Only.

He was appointed vice principal of the Ballet West school in 2010.