November 11, 2008 / 1:39 AM / 10 years ago

UK exam board drops song by disgraced singer Glitter

LONDON (Reuters Life!) - England’s biggest exam board has withdrawn a music paper after criticism that its coursework featured a song by disgraced British pop singer Gary Glitter.

British rocker Gary Glitter walks at Bangkok's Suvarnabhumi Airport August 20, 2008. REUTERS/Sukree Sukplang

The song “I’m the leader of the gang (I am)” by Glitter, who spent three years in a Vietnamese jail for child sex abuse, was included in the suggested listening list for the Assessment and Qualifications Alliance (AQA) GCSE music exam.

But after condemnation from teaching unions and media, the AQA said it had taken action to remove it.

“AQA regrets any offence that the inclusion of a song by Gary Glitter in the ‘suggested listening’ section of this paper may have caused,” the AQA said in a statement.

“We are writing to all our centers to recall the paper and issue replacements with reference to the song removed.”

Glitter, 64, who enjoyed a string of hits in the 1970s and 80s, returned to Britain in August following his release from prison.

He had left the country after being convicted in 1999 of downloading thousands of images of child pornography onto his personal computer and was then convicted in Vietnam in 2005 of sexually abusing two young girls.

“He’s a convicted pedophile jailed for sexually abusing kids. It’s completely inappropriate to recommend him as listening material,” an unnamed deputy head teacher told The Sun newspaper.

John Dunford, general secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders, said withdrawing the song was the right decision.

“Schools registered with this examination board depend on the board to choose appropriate texts, and will have been dismayed at the choice of a Gary Glitter song,” he told the


“No teacher should be in the position of having to discuss this man’s work with the young people in their class, and all teachers will have rejected the idea of using this material.”

Reporting by Michael Holden; Editing by Steve Addison

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