Blacklisted teacher 'victim of rumour'

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The Independent Online

A teacher who faced unproven allegations of sexually abusing his pupils will begin a High Court challenge today against his name being included on an official blacklist.

A teacher who faced unproven allegations of sexually abusing his pupils will begin a High Court challenge today against his name being included on an official blacklist.

His QC, Cherie Booth, recently won permission to seek a ruling that the Secretary of State for Health's "draconian" Health Consultancy Service Index of people deemed unsuitable to work with children operated unlawfully. She said the index was infringing fundamental human rights by destroying the professional lives of people who were the victims of rumour but had never been found guilty of any offence.

She described how the primary school teacher, SW, who cannot be named for legal reasons, was "devastated" after his name was included in the index when allegations were made against him concerning sexual abuse of his pupils. There had been no prosecution, let alone conviction, but the allegations had ended his career.

Mr Justice Newman, sitting in London, was being asked at a full hearing to rule on the legality of the issues raised by the case. When Ms Booth made her application for leave to seek judicial review, she said the index was, in broad terms, a list of persons about whom concern had arisen over their suitability for employment in child care and teaching.

The Department for Education and Employment ran an extensive investigation between 1993 and 1995, including a psychiatric examination, and SW was eventually told in a letter from the Secretary of State that the allegations "cannot be regarded as substantiated".

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