Anonymity plea in abuse claims

5th May 2000 at 01:00
TEACHERS could be offered anonymity during abuse investigations to protect them from malicious allegations from pupils.

Education Secretary David Blunkett said he was sympathetic to not naming teachers being investigated, and added: "There is a balance to be found between the protection of children and protection of adults accused wrongly."

His offer of anonymity came after a Wrexham teacher last week broke down in tears in front of him, describing the nine months during which her husband was a victim of malicious and false allegations.

Jayne Jones told Mr Blunkett: "Teachers are entitled to the same rights as other citizens - - deemed innocent until proved guilty."

She received a standing ovation from delegates at the NASUWT conference nd asked the Education Secretary: "What is the Government going to do to protect teachers and their families from this nightmare?"

Last year, education minister Estelle Morris turned down demands from the union that the media should be barred from naming teachers who are the subject of allegations until they are proved. Mr Blunkett told Ms Jones that his heart went out to her and her husband and he said: "We live in a climate of fear where it is regrettable that people who are totally innocent find themselves victims."

There is already a government working group looking at new guidance on the issue and Mr Blunkett said he was now keen to talk to the teaching unions to ensure adequate, satisfaction and proper protection.

Clare Dean

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