A WIRRAL sports club has dissociated itself from the CEO of a school at the centre of an investigation over physical and verbal abuse suffered by its pupils.

In disturbing footage captured by the BBC's Panorama programme, staff at LIFE Wirral school in Wallasey were seen mocking children's disabilities, using homophobic language and physically manhandling pupils, including grabbing one child in a headlock. 

Reporter Sasha Hinde posed as a work experience student at the school where she filmed and recorded the shocking behaviour of a number of staff.

The footage included staff using homophobic and sexist language towards pupils with one male employee calling a boy a "ponce" to his face and describing him as a "batty boy".

In one excerpt of the programme, Ms Hinde was shown talking to the school's CEO, Alastair Saverimutto, who described to her how he had used a police-style restraint on a pupil.

Mr Saverimutto said he had been nicknamed 'The Savage' during his time as a special constable for Merseyside Police, because he was “the first in to all the trouble”.

He said the child had ignored a ten-second warning and, when the boy failed to calm down, he had “[expletive] nailed him”.

In a statement sent to the BBC, Mr Saverimutto said he “does not condone the behaviour revealed by the programme and five members of staff have been suspended”.

In 2022, Mr Saverimutto, a former professional rugby union player, announced his intention to revive New Brighton Rugby Football Club where he had previously worked as Director of Rugby.

Setting out a ten-year plan that would see New Brighton competing at the highest level of English rugby, Mr Saverimutto, said: "Bite-sized year-on-year goals will be key with the on-field focus leading the way.

"Winning rugby matches in the here and now will be my sole aim with a strategic handle on the development of the club’s flourishing junior section as they move into junior colts and senior rugby."

However, following the broadcast of the Panorama documentary the rugby club have said they were "disgusted by the contents of the programme’s findings".

A statement from the club said: "The documentary properly highlighted significant safeguarding failures within the school facility. We want to assure our members, players, and the wider community that our upmost priority remains the wellbeing, trust, and development of our players and the integrity of New Brighton Rugby Club.

"We are dedicated to maintaining a safe and supportive environment for all our members. Rugby is a fantastic sport that not only promotes physical fitness but also teaches valuable life skills of teamwork, respect, enjoyment, discipline, and sportsmanship. It has the unique ability to bring people together, fostering a sense of community and camaraderie that extends beyond the field. The friendships and connections made through rugby often last a lifetime, and the sport itself instils a spirit of perseverance and sportsmanship that benefits players in all aspects of their lives.

"In response to the revelations identified within the documentary, the General Committee of New Brighton FC (R.U) has severed all association with Alastair Saverimutto, the CEO of Life Wirral, with immediate effect.

"This decision is in the best interest of our club members to ensure the continued safety and well-being of everyone involved.

"Thank you for your understanding and continued support during this time and our thoughts are with the pupils and families involved and we offer them our full support."

Mr Saverimutto, who is also an ex-chief executive of Bournemouth Football Club, was sacked from the police in September last year, after failing to declare debts during police vetting.