FORMER members of staff at a top boarding school have been arrested on suspicion of historic sexual abuse against pupils, it has emerged.

Three men, all aged in their 60s, have been questioned over the allegations, including raping a girl, at Christ's Hospital in Horsham.

As many as nine pupils are said to have been attacked at the prestigious co-educational school in the late 1980s and early 1990s.

A 66-year-old man was arrested in North Yorkshire on suspicion of raping a girl who was aged between 16 and 18 in 1992 to 1994. He has also been accused of indecently assaulting another girl, aged 17, in 1994.

A 65-year-old man was arrested in Shropshire on suspicion of indecently assaulting a 18-year-old girl in 1994, and a boy, aged 18, in 1990.

He has also been accused of indecently assaulting a boy, aged between 15 and 16, in 1988 or 1989.

Police also arrested a 62-year-old man in West London on suspicion of indecently assaulting four girls aged between 14 and 17 in 1985 to 1993.

The arrests were made in January and June this year but only emerged yesterday.

All men have been released on bail until December 15, a force spokesman said.

A spokesman for Christ's Hospital told a national newspaper: "Christ's Hospital takes its moral and legal obligation to safeguard pupils very seriously.

"The school is aware that arrests have been made in relation to some non-recent allegations and is co-operating fully with police investigations."

The arrests come amid a growing number of allegations of child sex abuse in boarding schools. Such claims will form part of the investigations by the independent inquiry into child sexual abuse.

The Christian school is in the diocese formerly overseen by bishop of Lewes Peter Ball who is serving a 32-month sentence for abusing 18 young men between 1977 and 1992. 

The school, in The Avenue, prides itself on providing a private education to students from poorer backgrounds but charges boarders up to £31,500 a year and counts Sir Barnes Wallis, inventor of the bouncing bomb, and poet Samuel Taylor Coleridge among its former pupils. Steeped in history, it was founded in the 16th century and its 820 pupils still wear a Tudor-style uniform consisting of a long blue coat with a belt, matching knee breeches, high yellow socks and a white neck band. It sends about one in ten of its upper sixth to Oxbridge.

Headmaster John Franklin, who has been in post since 2007, is retiring next autumn.