A teacher falsely accused of groping school girls is to launch a final bid to clear his name after a seven-year battle in which the allegations on his police record have prevented him from getting another job.
Robert King, 45, was acquitted of sexually assaulting four girls following a criminal trial but was subsequently fired from his job and lost an appeal in which he claimed unfair dismissal.
Due to his lack of financial resources, Mr King will represent himself when he appears before the Employment Appeal Tribunal in London on Monday in a bid to win the right to lodge an appeal against Sheffield City Council’s decision to uphold his dismissal.
He said: “When I was acquitted of the charges, I left the court with my head held high.
“But these malicious allegations have stopped me from doing a job I love.
“I can’t afford to give up on it now. I’ve lost everything already and I’ve nothing more to lose.
“These matters are critically important for teaching as a whole, not just myself.”
The science teacher was suspended from Handsworth Grange Community Sports College in Sheffield, where he had worked for two years, in May 2004 after four girls alleged that he had touched them inappropriately.
Mr King, who gave up a 15-year career with the Postal Service to retrain as a teacher, claimed he was the victim of a “witch hunt” by friends of a boy whom he had been instrumental in excluding.
He appeared at Sheffield Crown Court in October 2005 and was acquitted of four counts of sexual assault and two charges of sexual activity with a child.
Despite the jury’s verdict, school governors formally dismissed him in May 2006.
Among the reasons given for his dismissal were that he played snooker and bowls in the school’s catchment area while suspended and used “industrial language” in the classroom, including the phrase “shut the book up”, when trying to attract pupils’ attention.
One student reported him for using the word “rubber” instead of eraser in class, which she claimed had a sexual connotation.
A year later, Mr King lost his unfair dismissal case at an employment tribunal when Sheffield City Council successfully argued that there had been a “breakdown in trust and confidence” as well as citing other matters.
The false sexual allegations remain on the council’s “dismissal register” as well as on Mr King’s CRB certificate, ensuring that he has since failed to get work with local teaching agencies.
He has also been forced to give up the 2,000 hours a year voluntary work he did with the Red Cross and local Army and Air Cadets.
Diagnosed with clinical depression and anxiety, he has not worked since and has only recently felt capable of pursuing the matter.
If his appeal is allowed, Mr King will argue that a conflict of law prevented the employment tribunal from allowing him to return to work as it was awaiting the result of a government safeguarding inquiry, which could have barred him from working with children.
The Children’s Safeguarding Operations Unit confirmed in 2008 that the Secretary of State, then Ed Balls, had decided not to take any action preventing him from working with children under Section 142 of the Education Act, widely known as List 99.
Mr King said: “The tribunal decision was both perverse and statutorily unfair as they did not have the ability to return me to work.”
He will also challenge Sheffield City Council’s decision to put him on the “dismissal register” and South Yorkshire Police’s disclosure of the allegations on his CRB certificate.
Source and Acknowledgement: Daily Telegraph