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The Daily Telegraph, London, 2 September 2000
Head cleared of slapping boy
By Richard Savill
A HEAD teacher found guilty of slapping an unruly 10-year-old pupil was cleared yesterday to return to her post after an appeal judge quashed the magistrates court verdict. Jubilant friends and colleagues embraced Marjorie Evans, 56, after she was told that her reputation had been completely restored.
Mr Justice McKinnon said: "Mrs Evans leaves this court with her very good character entirely intact and without any blemish whatever on it."
Mrs Evans, of Usk, South Wales, a teacher for 35 years, was suspended last October from her post as head of a village primary school. She is expected to return to her job next week.
Last month, Mrs Evans received a three-month prison sentence suspended for a year after being convicted of common assault at Abergavenny magistrates court. The conviction threatened her career and attracted widespread condemnation from teachers who said it would make recruitment harder and would make it more difficult to impose discipline in schools.
Mrs Evans denied slapping the boy following a disagreement about a swimming trip and said that she was merely trying to restrain him. She told the court that she used the restraint because he was trying to punch, push and butt her in September 1999.
Restrained applause and cheers broke out in Cardiff Crown Court yesterday as the judge announced his decision. Afterwards, Mrs Evans thanked all those who had helped her to restore her good name. She said: "Teaching has meant everything to me. I could not believe that the very good record I held had been damned by one 10-year-old boy who was making malicious allegations."
She added: "The last year has been a terrible ordeal for me and my family. Throughout this whole episode I've continued to protest my innocence. I was very angry when the police decided to charge me and was distressed when I was wrongly convicted. I'm grateful that, in my appeal hearing, justice has finally been done.
"The National Union of Teachers has previously stated that the number of false and malicious allegations is continuing to rise, and it is sad to think that many other innocent teachers will be put through the same ordeal I have faced. I now look forward to returning to the school I have served for 13 years."
Mr Justice McKinnon overturned the verdict of the stipendiary magistrate Vivian Manning-Davies. The judge said the lower court did not have the benefit of video-link evidence. But he added: "It is our unanimous conclusion that we cannot see how it was that she could be convicted, at least looking at the case as it was presented to us."
Last night, Mr Manning-Davies, a stipendiary magistrate for more than five years, declined to respond to the judge's criticism.
Mrs Evans's appeal was funded by the NUT. After the case, Doug McAvoy, its general secretary, said it was a "landmark judgment" for teachers. "I am delighted at the decision; her unblemished professional record is restored. Teachers throughout England and Wales will celebrate for her. The case demonstrates how vulnerable teachers are. They need greater protection and that requires that their professional judgment to exclude a pupil must be upheld."
John Dunford, general secretary of the Secondary Heads Association, said: "I think this will raise public awareness of the difficulties teachers are faced with when dealing with disruptive pupils. It is a debate we need to have."
Nigel de Gruchy, general secretary of the National Association of Schoolmasters Union of Women Teachers said: "It is very welcome news and I hope that in future youngsters who assault teachers are treated with equal severity."
Estelle Morris, the School Standards Minister, said: "I am pleased for Mrs Evans. This is a sensible decision."
Governors at Mrs Evans's school, who met last night, said that she could be back at work next week. Graham Powell, their chairman, said: "It would be favourable to the school, the pupils' education, the parents and head teachers up and down the country to see Mrs Evans back at work."
He said it would be up to the director of education at Monmouthshire county council to discuss a date.
© Copyright of Telegraph Group Limited 2000.
London Evening Standard, 29 September 2000
Child abuse probe at boys' school
By Stewart Payne
Child abuse allegations at one of Britain's leading public schools, St Paul's in Barnes are being investigated by police after a former pupil claimed he was sexually assaulted by a former master.
The ex-pupil was a weekly boarder at the all-boys school and alleges the assaults took place on school property. He has been interviewed by Metropolitan police child protection officers.
The alleged assaults took place in the 1980s but the former pupil, Reuven Nedas, now 27, says he was too frightened to report the matter at the time and did not think he would be believed.
He says the assaults left him emotionally scarred and a disruptive pupil, leading to him becoming addicted to drugs and in need of psychiatric help.
Police have spoken to past and present teaching staff at the school, which charges up to £3,400 a term. The school has written to parents of former pupils to see if any others have similar allegations against the bachelor teacher who is no longer at the school. He has been traced by police, arrested and interviewed. He no longer works with children and has denied the allegation.
Mr Nedas made his allegations to the Evening Standard. In the course of its inquiries the newspaper has found another incident when St Paul's allowed a master to resign after he was discovered to be privately spanking boys, against school policy.
He agreed to leave after a cleaner found pornographic literature in his room together with a register of boys whom he had spanked. The literature was said to be of a homosexual nature and related to spankings and canings.
No official explanation of his sudden disappearance was given other than for "family reasons". Police were not called in and no attempt was made to see if his activities had extended beyond that suggested by the material found in his room.
Child welfare experts expressed surprise that the school did not call in the police. The NSPCC said: "That would have been the appropriate step."
The school informed the Department of Education where a spokeswoman said it had received no evidence of a criminal offence. "The school advised us that the teacher left after it came to light that he had broken school rules by administering corporal punishment to pupils - something the school did not allow," she said.
Corporal punishment in independent schools has since been outlawed. Because no further action was taken the teacher was not placed on the department's register of those unsuitable to work with children.
The school declined to comment on the spanking episode. And of the current police investigation, acting High Master Mr Benjamin Taylor would only say: "I am advised that I should make no comment on this matter."
Officers from Feltham Child Protection Unit have taken statements from Mr Nedas and the former teacher he alleges assaulted him.
Details of the case have been submitted to the Crown Prosecution Service which has ruled that there is insufficient evidence to support a prosecution. But the officers say that their inquiry remains open and they are still anxious to hear from former pupils. Anyone with information is asked to contact them on 020 8247 6331.
© Associated Newspapers Ltd., 29 September 2000
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