Headteacher who used school funds to build ‘sex dungeon’ banned from profession

James Stewart struck off after defrauding school of tens of thousands of pounds, drinking and having sex on site

Chiara Giordano
Friday 31 May 2019 18:30
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Ex-headteacher James Stewart, 74, has been banned from teaching for life after using school funds to build a ‘sex dungeon’ inside his office at Sawtry Village Academy in Cambridgeshire
Ex-headteacher James Stewart, 74, has been banned from teaching for life after using school funds to build a ‘sex dungeon’ inside his office at Sawtry Village Academy in Cambridgeshire

A headteacher who used school funds to turn his office into a “sex dungeon” has been banned from the profession for life.

James Stewart, 74, was executive principal at Sawtry Village Academy in Cambridgeshire until 2014 when the Department for Education launched an investigation into his running of the school.

He was convicted of fraud and misconduct in public office for offences between 2011 and 2014, and was jailed for four years in October 2017.

The former teacher defrauded the school of some £100,000, the BBC reported at the time, which he used to pay off credit card debt and bills. He also turned an office into an “inner sanctum” where sex toys and condoms were found.

He also admitted drinking alcohol on site and having regular sex with another adult in one of his school offices, Cambridgeshire Live reported.

Shailesh Vara, MP for North West Cambridgeshire, raised the case during education questions in the House of Commons in 2017.

He said the school had been left in “serious financial difficulty”, and that this was “not least because of the activities of its former head which included building a sex dungeon alongside his office for his private use”.

General view of Sawtry Village Academy in Cambridgeshire.

A Teaching Regulation Agency panel concluded that it was “proportionate” to ban Stewart from teaching indefinitely.

The report said: “Whilst Mr Stewart previously had a good record, the panel found no evidence that the teacher’s actions were not deliberate, nor was he acting under duress.

“In fact, the panel found the teacher’s actions to be calculated, motivated and sustained for a number of years.”

It said the panel took into account the “significant detrimental impact on the financial position of the college and the more lasting damage to the education of its pupils during this period, together with the longer term reputational damage as a result of Mr Stewart’s actions”.

Stewart, who did not attend the hearing, has the right to appeal against the decision.

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