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back to article Dismissed deputy head launches legal fight

In the week that a Civitas report slammed new government legislation on vetting, the case of John Pinnington provides a scary reminder of where we could soon be heading. Mr Pinnington used to be deputy principal of Thomley Hall, a college for autistic children in Oxfordshire. He was fired when his employers requested an enhanced …

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Dan
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Knee-jerk

As with much of the legislation introduced by this government, this sounds like the result of a series of knee-jerk reactions that were individually probably well-intentioned, but collectively amount to painting yourself into a corner...

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Anonymous Coward

Porn is wrong!

And innocence is no defence!

You have no right to question the word of the Holy Mother Land!

You shall teach as long as you have passed Motherland vetting and as long as you teach pescribed doctrine. You shall be monitored to ensure compliance.

All Hail the Holy Mother Land!

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Land of the Guilty...

Basically if you work with or near children, have children or know anyone with children then you are now automatically asumed to be a pedo unless YOU prove that you're not one.

The true evolution of a system moving inevitably towards guilty until proven innocent.

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Ah, good

More children dying because nobody is legally allowed to act to stop them dying.

Can we rename the PM Childkiller Brown please?

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Flame

Classic example of a weak government

Yep, a weak one.

Let's look at some examples from the track record:

1. Handguns banned following an outcry in the gutter press over Dunblane. Thomas Hamilton had a firearms licence. No demands from Fleet Street for the head of the idiot who issued the licence despite medical advice to the contrary. And how easy is it to get hold of guns now?

2. Sexual offences bill raising the limit for nude pictures from 16 to 18. So you can legally marry and shag at 16 but you take a picture of your 16-year-old wife and it's the Sex Offenders Register for you, you disgusting pervert.

3. Iraq. Our spineless government happily followed the ignorant president of a foreign country into starting an illegal war. 57 years previously, 11 members of the last Western government to try that were sent to the gallows at Nuremberg. (And before some smart-arse mentions Suez, the stated intent there was to secure the canal, not to topple Nasser. Dubya wanted Saddam out from the start and made no bones about it).

4. Extreme porn now a criminal offence. I've every sympathy for Jane Longhurst's family, but someone who gets turned on by violent sex and rape isn't going to be put off in the slightest by a ban; it just makes more work for the police and risks criminalising a lot of otherwise law-abiding people. It's the intent that's important, as any fule kno, but it's easier (and lazier) just to ban it outright.

5. Loads of laws, particularly anti-terror legislation that were "targeted" (sp?) at this or that group of people but which ended up being applied indiscriminately. Too many chinless fuckwits in the House of Commons who seemed incapable of understanding that we are all supposed to be equal under the law.

6. Databases for this, that and the other. I've lost count. I'm starting to think that IT should become a closed guild, with knowledge of its inner secrets withheld from useless politicians, just to stop the advance of this horrific police state. We can see the same process every time:

loop

event_occurs(shock_horror);

press_campaign(do_something_Gordon,shock_horror);

draft_legislation;

tell_protesters_to_shut_up(gagging_order);

tell_Lords_to_shut_up;

invoke_parliament_act;

exit when freedom = 0;

end loop;

commit (to prison for life, comrade);

Every time, the Government trots out the "lessons will be learned" cliche. I'm thinking of putting a petition on the Downing Street website to make use of that phrase outside project management circles punishable by a Glasgow kiss. They follow that by some half-arsed legislation that takes us a little further down the road of presumption of guilt until proven innocent. And all because of tabloid hysteria directed against a bunch of wimps with too much power elected by default because half the British electorate couldn't be arsed to get themselves down the polling station.

Back in the early 80s, the Thatcher government threatened the press with regulation if they didn't show some responsibility. I'd defy anyone in the House of Commons to have the guts to do that today. Or stand up to the White House for that matter. And I'd have a lot of respect for them, too.

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I discussed this with a Law lecturer

The very example of Ian Huntley and the previous arrests was brought up during an Open Day at a local university. The lecturer asked if previous arrests should be included in a trial, even if there was no charge made, in a case with similar modus operandi. All but myself said "Yes", as did the lecturer.

I left the room.

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Dangerous

Oh deary me.

New Labour seem to think they can solve any problem with new legislation or a press release. Alas this is not the case. This new legislation has a serious risk of increasing the prevalence of abuse, rather than reducing it.

Children now have a very powerful weapon to wield against teachers, carers etc. They can make a false accusation knowing 1) the devastating impact on the accuseds life, and 2) even if they are proven to be liars there will be no come back. It's a brave man or woman that chooses to teach in this day and age.

Once the kids really start going to town with this legislation (got detention? Don't like being told to put your uniform on/take your make up off?) we'll all start to be blase about it all. "Oh, another false claim? Waht's that - 5 this week?" What happens when one of the claims *is* true? It gets the same treatement as the false claims. Then we're in a worse situation than before the legislation.

Bravo....

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Eek

Sued if their right, sued if their wrong

As a school Governor this is going to make recruitment entertaining to say the least.

If we receive soft information and ignore it we will be (rightly?) attacked for employing someone unsuitable if something eventually occurred.

If we receive soft information and using it decide not to employ the most suitably qualified person we can be sued under various discrimination acts. Worse, because the information is confidential we don't yet know whether we could use the soft information in court to justify our decision and it will only be when someone takes this to the House of Lords in x years time that we will know definitely.

So we are damned if we do and damned if we don't. Possibly appearance in the Sun or immediate legal case with expensive costs. Not a decision many Governors or headteachers will wish to take.

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@Ross

WOLF! WOLF!

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Its all going crazy

My father worked in education for 20+ years with special needs kids (at the worst end of the spectrum mentally and behaviouraly disturbed kids) and during that time has been accused malitiously about 10-15 times all of which resulted in a police investigation all of which were dismissed. Most of these kids even if they cant count to 3 still know that if they shout that they were touched funny that the teacher or whoever it is will get into trouble. They tell the police to f@#k off because they know the police will not risk being put in a position where they can be accused. This is a growing problem and although you cannot ignore an accusation and I would never say you should but once it has been proven to be spurious that should be the end of it.

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Anonymous Coward

@Mike Smith

Very well said

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Unhappy

And we wonder why

We can't get anyone with half a brain to teach?

A friend's wife has recently permanently left the teaching profession because she no longer felt she had the power to control an increasingly unruly classroom. Having been the victim of an attempted rape by a pupil, I can only sympathise with her position.

This government has no clue about the consequences of it's legislation and the sooner it falls on it's sword the better.

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Paris Hilton

Want to work with children

Irresponsible pedophiles like to work with children. The ones who know that would be too much temptation would stay away. That still leaves a large proportion of pedophiles preferring school jobs to tax inspection.

Paris looks like Gaol Bate to me.

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Just because you're not convicted doesn't mean you're not guilty

I am aware of a teacher who had the LEA 'move him on' every time he was accused of indencent assault. The basic premise was 'if you don't work in our LEA we won't put the accusations on your record'....

After about 16 years teaching he finally ran out of luck and was convicted of child sex offences. However, 8 other girls were willing to testify against him but he pleaded guilty as part of a deal so they wouldn't testify.

If the originally LEA had some balls he would have been convicted on day 1 and thrown out of the teaching profession. As a result he has destroyed countless lives because the Education system would rather sweep it under the carpet than deal with reality...

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Unsbstantiated .....

I posted before! Any accusation, whether unsubstantiated or not, arising from this legislation will not remain a private matter, it will become a very public matter and therefore you are branded, innocent or not for ever, not to mention the potential destruction of your life. Meanwhile the privacy of, inter alia, paedophiles is respected and protected.

My daughter has been assaulted twice (between the ages of sixteen and eighteen) just going about her business (in London - ugh!). Neither the police, the victim support unit, nor indeed a lawyer when consulted, could do anything to assist me in the care and safekeeping of my daughter. Quite the contrary, all the rights and privileges rested with those connected with the assaults. Their privacy and etc. had to be protected, at all costs it seems, not my daughter's safety.

It is time that the law and law enforcement was was made to work properly and rationally.

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Anonymous Coward

Government needs a father figure

Personally, I note a very anti-male slant on these stupid laws. Hariet Harmen being the latest to add her "it's legal to descriminate against men" law. So it's illegal to descriminate against women, but it's OK to descriminate against men.

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk_politics/7474801.stm

A weak leader, a bunch of hysterical out of control women panicking at every headline. An endless stream of ill conceived extreme laws. The House of Lords crippled by Blair, so their normal calming steadying hand is not there. The basic innocent until proven guilty, gone, replaced by 'no smoke without fire'. ACPO destroying the judicial system.... what a nightmare the UK is.

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@Alex

The fact you didn't admit to being a paedophile, doesn't stop you being one... unless you believe the very possibility you might be guilty is enough in your mind to preclude you from work then you I can't see your point.

An LEA's gross negligence is a seperate issue, and one I find hard to swallow as I would of expected some very sizeable law suits against the LEA by later victims if it's true.

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Anonymous Coward

@Alex French

Well that's the fault of the LEA and Police, not the countless innocent people who have baseless acussations levied against them each year.

Every report should be properly investigated, however it should be done with due respect and discretion. You're talking about peoples lively hoods and reputations.

If charges don't stand up they should not be held against a person.

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Nobody in their right mind

Would teach now.

Even an unfounded accusation can ruin your life, so why risk it.

Wait till the Kids catch on.

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@Just because you're not convicted doesn't mean you're not guilt

True, but then just because you're not convicted doesn't mean you ARE guilt either...

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@Nobody in their right mind...

The only possible reason left to go into teaching these days is if you're either stupid or a peadophile. Anybody with a brain and no burning urge to surround themselves with children will stay well away.

This is what Labour have given us.

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@ By Eek

Damned if you're right and damned if you're wrong. What a wonderful world we are creating!

But in one respect I do not agree with you, the inevitable consequences of acting on soft (or any) information will not tend to remain confidential. Innocent lives may be ruined. Innocence is a precious thing and it should not lightly threatened. A teacher of many years standing, for example, suddenly looses his job, or a volunteer is equally suddenly no longer wanted, what conclusions will be drawn?

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Flame

once again, liberals got what they wanted

and conservatives warned you this would happen. Now for all those who screamed "but think of the children!" as you passed thought control feel-good bills, step up and take a bow.

We reminded you that the most heinous societal crimes were committed by Leftist ideals, reminded you that the road to Hell is paved with good intentions...but you "felt" you were right, you let emotions rule, called us names and demanded that we "do something!"

This is your something. Cameras everywhere, the innocent burned down for "thought" crimes and simply for being a 'potential" criminal. You decided decades ago that "the Man" was doing things wrong and without proof or research simply went with your hippy-dippy theories. Now, you're "the Man" and society is falling into the sh&t faster and faster. Man up and accept the blame finally, willya?

You started us on the slippery slope. Having fun sliding down yet?

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Have you learned nothing from Windows?

It seems to me there is a parallel between the evolution of Windows and the evolution of social law. Both seem to take the easiest path, patch the past.

Patches on patches until like Ford Motor company announced years ago about their production control software system, its now stable, we now can predict how may problems we will create with each upgrade.

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@StopthePropaganda

> once again, liberals got what they wanted

That's odd, because as far as I recall, it's only the Liberal Democrat Party which has had the balls to stand up in Parliament and the Lords and *OPPOSE* this sort of ludicrous legislation and I would describe myself as a liberal (with a small l) person who believes that our liberties are more precious than getting some good headlines.

The Big Brother, Nanny State Labour Party think the only solution to any problem is to pass new laws, the Tories daren't do anything that might upset the Daily Mail readers of Middle England so only put up a token resistance but mainly refuse to support the Lib Dems, so yet another ridiculous law gets passed.

Blaming liberals (be it with a small l or a big L) instead of this authoritarian Government sounds very much like propaganda to me!

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Anonymous Coward

Mandatory CRB check for all adults in contact with children?

There are many instances of photographs published in the press & shown on TV of adults touching children they don't know & who are not related to them.

These adults are known as Politicians, and the events occur around Election Time.

Ministers frequently go into school classrooms for Photo Opportunities.

Presumably they've all had their CRB check? If not, why not?

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Anonymous Coward

@Just because you're not convicted doesn't mean you're not guilty

Yes it does. He was innocent right until he was found guilty. The fact that nobody even brought charges against him in those 16 years speaks volumes about the trustworthniness of the case against him.

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The shape of things to come

Just to be accused of a crime against a child, no matter how frivolous, no matter unjustified is enough to ruin a man.

Just as in the middle-ages to be accused of being a witch was enough to convict.

As with the old crimen exceptum those willing to defend someone caught up in the injustice are brave but rare. Fortunately one of this rare breed, the same Chris Saltrese who has taken up the cause of the “Operation ore” group action has taken up John Pinnington’s case.

I wish him every success.

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@Graham Marsden

I think the problem is that StopthePropaganda is a Yank, or watches to much TV. In the US liberal is a euphamisum for comunist and a genral insult. Non of the laws he talks of are in any way liberal, or even Liberal

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Anonymous Coward

@Graham Marsden

Ignore StopthePropaganda . If G.W. bush were to say hilter was a good man doing the work of god, he would belie it with out question. Fourth years ago he would of been against interracial marriages saying that the godless liberals are destroying the country.

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@By Paul

"I think the problem is that StopthePropaganda is a Yank, or watches to much TV. In the US liberal is a euphamisum for comunist and a genral insult.

Only if you are a Republican. Liberal= evil. Fox news a s decided that. According to them , the democrats are godless liberals that want to destroy they country. So Paul bot every one in the US thinks like stopthecrap. The ones that do scare me and are the reason why I have a gun. I'm sure his relatives have burnt a few crosses in their day

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Anonymous Coward

@Eek

"Sued if their right, sued if their wrong" as a title, and "As a school Governor..." as an opening statement suggests - to me - that you claim to be a school governer.

In which case, might I suggest a quick trip back to one of your classrooms?

Please write out 1000 times:-

"Sued if THEY'RE right, sued if THEY'RE wrong"...

Annie Normous-Pedant

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@Anon Coward @Eek

No, no, no!

In today's educational world, a school Governor is allowed spelling and grammatical 'errors of judgement' because ...

a) he/she is dyslexic

b) she/he is attempting to form meaningful relationships (non-touching) with students by imitating their spelling and grammatical styles

and/or

c) s/he has been dumbed-down.

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Eek

ho hum

If the best people can come up with is to complain about grammar its no wonder crap laws like this are appearing. If people are concerned about a little piece of incorrect grammar on a website comment they really should find something better to do with their time.

To answer the only point worth replying to on here, it is in recruitment where issues will occur. If we are already employing someone you ask for the case to be examined (by the local authority, the police or a.n.other) and based on the outcome decide (in reality get told by local government personnel) what to do. You have a paper trail you can follow and someone else to blame or offload your guilt on.

Recruitment of new staff is a different matter. Here you don't have the paper trail but a piece of paper containing rumours, previously investigate and dismissed allegations, innuendo and possible even comments generated from people who dislike you for minor irrelevent reasons. Then based on this waste of paper, fear and gut instinct we need to decide whether to employ that person.

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@ Graham Marsden

In just the way Cleggie's kiddies let the Euro Constitution through?

In just the way the LibDems backed 42 days, the right of the gov't to replace coroners & their juries at whim etc?

Thus showing all the balls (and spine) of a jellyfish - sophistry doesn't come into it.

Methinks you're a graduate of Dr Goebells' school of propaganda.

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@AC

"He was innocent right until he was found guilty."

No, that's not the phrase. It's "PRESUMED innocent until proven guilty." It doesn't mean you ARE innocent until proved, just PRESUMED innocent.

Technically, you stop being innocent the moment you commit the crime. The legal process then sets out to try to prove the lack of innocence.

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Anonymous Coward

@ Mike Holden

In which case, presumably, the case ought to have gone to court in order to 'prove' his innocence, and the fact that it did not, means that he is in a limbo?

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Paris Hilton

Problem Solved With IT

What we need is more cameras in every class room. We need cameras in scout huts, every church vestry, every playground. All children should be implanted with GPS chips as should all teachers youth leaders etc. Everyone should wear personal body cams and we should develop cassock cams for vicars.

We can fit intrusion detection switches to computer cases, why not tamper detection devices to children? We could couple them to sirens and flashing lights. Just imagine measuring little Johny for his new school shorts when all of a sudden he "goes off"! That will keep the salesmen at arms length. I,m not sure if these should be called Bot Alarms or Alarmed Bots.

I have just had a vision of Santa in a groto full of kids with activated Bot Alarms, more lights than Oxford Street.

Paris because who would not want to set her Bot Alarm off?

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@ Alex French

As someone who works in IT and has completed major projects in Education departments, I'd just like to support Alex by saying it's my experience that if a teacher, particularly a promoted teacher, is found to be "a problem" whether of incompetence or whatever, it's very hard to get rid of them, and local authorities do tend to sweep it under the carpet and re-employ the teacher in an education related job in HQ.

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