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Second assault case is dropped

Cleared head seeks a review of pupil allegation investigations after twice being accused of violence. Adi Bloom and Irena Parker report

The headteacher who spent 18 months clearing her name following false accusations of assault on a pupil has been the subject of similar allegations from another child.

Marjorie Evans returned to St Mary's primary in Gwent, in March 2001, after being cleared of slapping a 10-year-old pupil. This year, an 11-year-old girl claimed Mrs Evans had restrained her by pulling her ponytail. Last week, the Crown Prosecution Service ruled there was insufficient evidence to pursue the case.

"You think lightning isn't going to strike twice," Mrs Evans said. "We were amazed, dumbfounded. I consider myself to be the victim in this.

"I wasn't suspended this time but in some ways it was more traumatic. You think, 'Am I going to have to go through this all over again?' And you ask yourself if people will think there is no smoke without fire."

The second set of allegations was made despite precautions that the 59-year-old head has taken since her return to school. Members of staff now avoid being alone with pupils, particularly when reprimanding them.

Mrs Evans is now calling for a review of the investigation process used to tackle pupil accusations: "At the moment, the child is automatically believed and the accused person seen as guilty until proven innocent. We have to get away from that."

She would also like to see false accusations permanently marked on a pupil's record.

"I'm not looking for them to be taken to court or hauled over the coals.

But there should be some deterrent, so they know there will be consequences if they do this.

"There should also be action against the parents, or a reprimand on their police record."

But Mrs Evans said teachers would only be able to tackle the problem by working together with central government, local authorities, police and social services.

"It's an unacceptable occupational hazard. I'm still angry, but I don't let the bitterness get to me. If I did, I'd walk out the door now. I'm not going to let this job get to me. Not yet, anyway."

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