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Stalker teacher banned by GTC

RE expert who pestered women colleagues may reapply to council in two years. Oliver Luft reports

A religious studies teacher has been banned from teaching for two years by the General Teaching Council for England for sexually harassing female colleagues and using sexual innuendo.

The professional conduct committee of the GTC said that Barry Derriscott was a risk to female members of staff, and that it was "gravely concerned" about his "extremely serious conduct".

The committee found that Mr Derriscott's harassment of one colleague, Susan Hepworth, had been "severe and sustained". And despite being confronted by his headteacher, Mr Derriscott, formerly of Pensby boys' school on the Wirral, continued to harass three other women.

The committee was not satisfied that he would not reoffend. They said that his statements denying the allegations "lacked cogency". It also rejected his suggestion that there had been collusion between the women who said he had harassed them.

Mr Derriscott will be entitled to apply for restoration of his teacher's registration in two years time, and his application will be assessed by a GTC committee.

The allegations had been made against Mr Derriscott during a previous GTC hearing in January. The committee, in Birmingham, was told that Mr Derriscott stalked Ms Hepworth after becoming infatuated with her.

It also heard that a male teacher had to intervene at a school party to prevent Mr Derriscott putting his hand up the skirt of another colleague, Becky Baylis. Ms Hepworth, Connexions careers adviser at the Wirral school, had to undergo counselling as a result of Mr Derriscott's behaviour.

He also harassed and used sexually inappropriate language to two other female colleagues.

Michelle Ellis, a classroom assistant, complained he was constantly embarrassing and offending her, making her ill with worry.

The committee was told that a fourth colleague, Kathy Bolt, complained that she felt uncomfortable in Mr Derriscott's company after he sent text messages asking her if she was bored and needed her evening spicing up.

It is alleged that he said to her: "These hands are magical, these hands are healing, let me try them on you," and asked "When are you going to try out my waterbed?"

Mr Derriscott was appointed to a permanent position at the 800-pupil school in September 2001.

In January 2002, he was promoted to a temporary management role. However, Martin Jones, headteacher, said the appointment was made because of the need for continuity before the arrival of a new head of department, not because Mr Derriscott merited the position.

Ms Hepworth made an unofficial complaint to Mr Jones in late 2002 about Mr Derriscott's conduct. After further complaints, the school suspended him in January 2003. He resigned in February.

Mr Derriscott, who is now unemployed and lives on state benefits, did not attend the initial disciplinary hearing, nor the announcement of the committee's decision.

Mr Jones told the earlier hearing that Mr Derriscott had no appreciation of the hurt he had caused, nor of the inappropriateness of his behaviour.

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