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Porn viewer keeps his job

A teacher who visited pornographic websites on his school computer, is to be monitored for two years. Tara Fawcett reports

A teacher who viewed pornography on his school computer during working hours will have his internet use monitored for two years, the General Teaching Council for England ruled last week.

John Harrod, who had worked at Chesterton community college in Cambridge for 23 years, had a two-year registration order imposed by the GTC panel.

It means that his computer use will be monitored by future employers, who must report their findings to the GTC.

The committee, sitting in Birmingham last week, heard that Mr Harrod, who was present at the hearing, had logged on to a variety of illicit websites in March 2003, including lesbian pornography.

Mr Harrod was suspended after two teachers reported him to Beverley Jones, the principal. He resigned on April 2 last year, and wrote in his letter of resignation: "I am unable to defend the position in which I find myself."

Miss Jones said that an examination of Mr Harrod's computer revealed that he had logged on to pornographic sites on nine occasions, both during the school day and in the evening.

Miss Jones said: "I explained to Mr Harrod that I had evidence of pornographic material on his computer but at no time during our meeting did he appear shocked, angry or upset."

Mr Harrod denied the charges and said that he had only accessed illicit internet sites twice, with the knowledge of the school, to investigate allegations that a Year 11 pupil had been looking at pornography during an IT lesson.

He told the committee that someone else could have accessed the sites as his computer had to be permanently logged on under his user name and his office was never locked.

But he admitted logging on to other websites such as Yahoo just seconds after the computer was used to access pornographic material.

Presenting officer Graham Shaw said: "If Mr Harrod is to be believed, somebody walked into his office immediately prior to him using the internet and accessed an illegitimate website for about a minute and a half before Mr Harrod walked in, and then did the same again within 14 seconds or so of Mr Harrod finishing on the computer for the evening."

Richard Uglow, a computer forensic examiner, said: "None of the websites or pop-ups found on Mr Harrod's computer would have been able to get onto the computer without the owner's consent."

David Dewhirst, chairman of the GTC panel, said that they were satisfied that it was Mr Harrod who had logged on to the websites.

"It is clearly unacceptable for teachers to access sexually explicit sites using school equipment on the school premises," he said. "We have taken into account Mr Harrod's long and satisfactory teaching career and the good reports that we have heard."

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