Catherine Townsend: Ditch your dad, Rhys, get an agent

Rhys's dad was convinced his son was the victim of a conspiracy more convoluted than an Oliver Stone film plot
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Rhys's bad behaviour ranged from minor crimes such as chewing gum and failing to wear the right uniform to drinking, exposing himself, smoking, bullying, swearing and disrupting classes. Hardly standard behaviour at a school set up to educate the sons of the clergy.

Most parents' first reaction after recovering from the initial horror would have been to lock their child in his room for a week and offer the school a grovelling apology. But not Rhys's dad, who was convinced that his son was the innocent victim of a conspiracy more convoluted than the plotline of an Oliver Stone film. He even went as far as to suggest that if his son (pictured below) had complied with the school, it would have been akin to a Jew walking willingly into the gas chamber. The doting father believed Rhys was expelled, at least in part, because his predicted GCSE results would have dragged down the school's standing in the exam tables.

Predictably, Deputy Circuit Judge Anthony Thompson recognised Rhys for the nightmare pupil he had been and threw out the case, leaving his father with a hefty legal bill of at least £100,000.

While the father's frustration may have been understandable given the huge amount of cash he forked out in the hope of giving his son a glittering future, his rage was utterly misdirected. It's no wonder that the school, who accused him of downplaying his son's behaviour, probably wanted to get rid of him too.

It's about time that his family finally stopped treating Rhys like a rare and precious hothouse flower and woke him up to the harsh realities of life. Instead, his whingeing father set a terrible example to his already sulking son by throwing his own toys out of the pram, wasting time and money all round.

Sadly, the strange story of Gray senior and his errant offspring is almost certainly the start of a depressing new trend, just another grasping tentacle on the giant squid that is our litigious culture. But it could have been worse. The attempt to blame the school for the shortcomings of 16-year-old Rhys could have succeeded. That precedent would have shattered the status quo, opening the floodgates for thousands of similar claims from disgruntled parents up and down the country challenging head teachers' decisions to expel students. Teachers would have been petrified of dishing out the odd B-, let alone daring to discipline little Johnny for pulling Samanatha's pigtails in the playground.

At the end of the hearing, the judge described Rhys as "a likeable, intelligent lad who simply cannot cope with the system". Perhaps if he had been made to take responsibility for his mistakes at an earlier age, rather than blaming everyone else, he would have found life - and school - easier to manage.

But there appears to be at least one subject in which Rhys and his father clearly excel: media studies. The ensuing flurry of publicity, which most parents would have found deeply embarrassing and humiliating, has already succeeded in getting Rhys interest from at least one modelling agency. Perhaps he thinks that by becoming known as a bad boy, he can pull a Kate Moss and become a tabloid star. It's just a pity that it took such a farcical chain of events and labyrinthine legal case to discover something which he might actually be good at.

Instead of going to great lengths to ensure that Fleet Street's finest snapped photos of him as he posed moodily outside the courtroom in school uniform, couldn't he have saved everyone a lot of time and sent in a portfolio instead?

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