Teacher’s false sex claim payout

January 18, 2005

A teacher has won £22,000 compensation for being unfairly dismissed following sexual allegations by two girls at a school in mid Wales. Iwan Rees, a teacher at John Beddoes school, Presteigne, was dismissed after complaints by the girls aged 12 and 16. A tribunal in Cardiff criticised the investigation by the school and Powys County Council. The local authority said it accepted the hearing’s findings that errors had crept into the investigations. It added that procedural issues raised by the tribunal were already being addressed. The hearing was told that a police investigation into Mr Rees, 48, had found that there was no case to prosecute. Tribunal chairman John Thomas concluded that the disciplinary hearing into the matter should have demanded more information before reaching its decision. He criticised the school’s head teacher saying he “should have provided the kind of leadership expected of him in ensuring fair play and should not have taken the back seat he took.” Mr Thomas added: “He left the investigation to the LEA officer, someone not familiar with either the pupils or teachers in the school. “We think the investigation, regrettably, was flawed.” Mr Rees told Radio Wales: “It hasn’t really been about money, it’s been about the truth.” Mr Rees said if the quality of the investigation by the council and the school been up to standard it would not have taken three years. He praised the police and social services inquiries, which he said within a matter of week concluded no more action was needed. Mr Rees told Good Morning Wales there was nothing any professional working with children could do to prevent such false claims, but there had to be a “proper system for the protection of the child and the professional”. He added: “Without the support of my wife and my family it would have been worse hell.” The tribunal heard there were differences in the statements made to police and the local education authority (LEA) investigator by one of the pupils, known only as girl A. Mr Thomas said: “These variations at least required further gentle probing to ensure the differences had been considered. “This was not done and we don’t think the kind of conclusions reached by that investigation could have been well-based.” Notes of interviews conducted by the LEA officer did not match the statements produced for the disciplinary hearing, added Mr Thomas. He criticised the lack of a lawyer or child specialist presence at the LEA strategy meeting. “A further concern is that there was no other investigation to seek other teachers’ views of the nature of the children who were providing information,” Mr Thomas said. “We find that the hearing was not fair – there was only limited disclosure of the statements to Mr Rees and to the disciplinary panel.” The second pupil, girl B, complained about inappropriate behaviour over a period of two years, including an unsubstantiated allegation that Mr Rees had tried to kiss her, the tribunal was told. Mr Thomas said this complaint should not have advanced to a disciplinary hearing and rejected “any suggestion that blameworthy conduct” was to be found. Jenni Watson, of teachers’ support group Redress, which represented Mr Rees, a teacher for more than 20 years, at the hearing said: “This is a teacher’s worst nightmare – there are regulations to protect teachers but they weren’t followed. “There has to be accountability – the processes the LEA had were inadequate and weren’t followed any way. “They have no real understanding of the devastation their inability to do what the law requires of them causes.” A spokesperson for Powys County Council said it was the duty of the local education authority and governing body to investigate serious complaints made by children of inappropriate behaviour. He added: “Those investigations should, of course, be thorough and measured. “We accept the findings of the tribunal that errors crept into the investigations being carried out and the subsequent disciplinary procedures in this particular case which consequently rendered the applicant’s dismissal unfair. “The investigation and the internal investigation were carried out sometime ago and the procedural issues raised by the tribunal are already being addressed.”

BBC Wales

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.

Powered by WordPress | Sitemap | Log in