Paedophile chef: Nursery managers suspended

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The Independent Online

Two managers of a child nursery where a paedophile allegedly worked as a chef after slipping through the vetting net have been suspended.

Andrew Smith, 35, was apparently employed in the kitchen at Norwood Manor Day Nursery in West Norwood, south London, despite being a registered sex offender.

He was jailed for 12 months after being caught in a police sting as he attempted to lure a 13-year-old girl to meet him.

His criminal past came to light when a shocked staff member recognised him as the case featured on ITV1's To Catch A Paedophile last week.

Police were informed and Smith was re-arrested on suspicion of breaching a sexual offences prevention order.

The CfBT Education Trust, which runs the nursery, said the manager and deputy manager have been suspended pending an internal inquiry.

It is believed no checks were carried out when Smith was taken on through an employment agency for a temporary role in July and September.

The loophole may have appeared because Smith applied to the agency looking for work in catering and hospitality.

The television programme showed police trailing Smith after he sent internet messages and webcam footage to someone he thought was a 13-year-old girl.

All the messages were being received by an undercover officer from Scotland Yard's paedophile unit and he was arrested at a south London cafe.

Smith pleaded guilty last July at Southwark Crown Court to several child sex offences.

He was jailed for 12 months but freed on licence in December and put on the sex offender's register for 10 years.

Anyone working with children should undergo a Criminal Records Bureau (CRB) check for previous convictions.

Wendy Woodcock, director of schools and nurseries at the CfBT Education Trust, apologised to parents.

She said: "We have stringent processes and procedures in place to ensure safeguarding of children is rigorously managed and we work with a reputable third party to provide temporary staff.

"In this instance I am shocked and deeply sorry to say that our processes have failed us and for this I offer parents an unreserved apology.

"We are currently investigating how the procedures failed and have brought in the support of a senior and very experienced early years adviser to work with us to ensure this kind of incident never occurs again."

A Metropolitan Police spokesman said Smith was arrested and charged last Sunday with two counts of breaching a sexual offences prevention order.

He said: "He appeared in custody at Camberwell Green Magistrates' Court on September 28 and was remanded in custody to appear at the Inner London Crown Court on October 6."