How mud sticks

24th July 2009 at 01:00

Voice welcomed the report on allegations against school staff ("Heads too quick to believe false allegations", TES, July 17), although with a number of reservations.

Children must be protected, but the teachers and support staff who work with them are entitled to protection too. We know lives and careers of innocent people have been ruined by false allegations of abuse, even after they have been acquitted of any offence.

Publishing someone's name in a newspaper when they have been accused of something but not charged, is trial by media. A small paragraph on an inside page weeks later reporting that the charges have been dropped is not acceptable. Mud sticks.

Being falsely accused and suspended can cause severe personal distress and long-term damage to the accused's career.

Many of our members have left the profession and suffered damage to their health as a result.

The report's call to re-examine the "arguments for and against a statutory right of anonymity for those accused" does not go far enough. The time for "examining arguments again" has passed.

It is time for teachers and support staff to be given some basic rights and safeguards. Among these should be the right to anonymity unless and until charged with a criminal offence.

Philip Parkin, General secretary, Voice.

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