Accused wins sum for unfair dismissal

School awards teacher compensation over head's false allegations against him. Stephen Lucas reports

A teacher who resigned after being wrongly accused of inappropriate behaviour with a pupil has won an undisclosed sum for unfair constructive dismissal.

Paul Donoghue was suspended from St Edmund of Canterbury RC high school, Merseyside, in May 2002 after Dr Frank Doherty, the headteacher, claimed to have witnessed the 43-year-old teacher prising a Year 11 pupil's blouse open with a ruler.

Governors decided to sack Paul Donoghue following a disciplinary hearing in May 2003. An appeal date was set for October 2003 but by that time Dr Doherty had left the school and Mr Donoghue resigned when he heard Dr Doherty would not be called to the hearing.

Last week an employment tribunal heard that the Year 11 pupil, her mother and two students who had witnessed the alleged incident told governors nothing untoward had happened.

The tribunal also heard that Mr Donoghue had denied the headteacher's claim that he had twice been warned about his conduct with the girl.

Mr Donoghue's representative Jenni Watson told The TES: "The evidence showed that Mr Donoghue was right to vigorously deny the accusation."

Last week Mr Donoghue won his claim for unfair constructive dismissal after the school conceded his claim.

The design and technology teacher agreed to accept an undisclosed sum in compensation. It is the third such claim against the school in the past three years.

Ann Hines, a former head of special needs at St Edmund of Canterbury, won a claim for unfair constructive dismissal in September 2002. She had left the school with stress after being overloaded with work and subsequently resigned.

Hilary Lamb, 52, who was a witness at Miss Hines's tribunal, won her own claim in July 2004. Mrs Lamb resigned over her treatment during Miss Hines's tribunal. Compensation will be decided in February.

Mr Donoghue, who is now teaching at a secondary school in the North-west, told The TES: "I am hoping to move forward. I am now in a good job and the staff have been incredibly supportive."

Dr Doherty, who joined the school in 1998, declined to comment. He is now headteacher at St Paul's Catholic school, Leicester.

A spokesman for the Catholic education service said: "This is a diocesan matter. The diocese has confirmed that due process has been observed in this matter both by the school and the LEA."

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