Serial fraudster banned from classroom

8th January 2010 at 00:00
Teacher with 16 convictions for deception who taught in schools across south Wales loses fight to be re-registered

A convicted fraudster who has taught at schools across south Wales for the past year has been banned from returning to the classroom.

A General Teaching Council for Wales (GTCW) panel ruled that Neil Brown, 48, should not be allowed to register as a teacher because of his 16 convictions for deception.

Mr Brown told the hearing he had committed the crimes - between 1996 and 2002 - under "extreme emotional stress" in an attempt to save his marriage.

But his evidence - and that of the supply agency that employed him - was rejected by the GTCW as "unconvincing, superficial and contradictory".

Mr Brown was awarded qualified teacher status in 2001. After moving to Wales the following year he successfully registered with the GTCW. The teaching council did not carry out Criminal Records Bureau checks at that time.

Mr Brown taught as a supply teacher in schools in Risca and Cardiff before moving to Guernsey in 2004, where he taught English at Guernsey Grammar School.

After returning to Wales, Mr Brown joined Meridian Business Support supply agency in 2009 and worked in a number of schools in Cardiff, Newport and Bridgend.

He applied to re-register with the GTCW, which made the council aware of his criminal convictions.

In 1996, Mr Brown used false details to claim almost #163;6,500 in income support and housing benefits and more than #163;5,600 in student loans. He was convicted on 13 counts, sentenced to 100 hours' community service and ordered to pay #163;1,000 compensation.

In 2002, he committed a series of offences when he stayed in hotels and used false bank card details to pay the bills, which totalled almost #163;800. This led to Mr Brown being convicted of three counts of obtaining services by deception.

Mr Brown told the GTCW that his registration as a teacher was justified because of his efforts and performance at the various schools in which he had taught.

He said: "I'm now a fit and proper person to continue working in the state education sector. I have come into it with a mission statement of passing on my knowledge to students in any way I can.

"I'm totally dedicated to the performance of students, which is not just exam based, but also their appreciation of the subject I teach."

Asked whether he felt remorse, he said that would be an understatement and that he felt "total devastation" at what he had done.

But Louise Price, who presented the case for the GTCW, said Mr Brown had a "propensity for dishonesty and abuse of trust". She said his 2002 conviction showed a lack of ability to learn from his mistakes and that he had failed to accept responsibility and showed a lack of awareness regarding his actions.

Although he had provided four character references, three were unsigned and none referred to the issues surrounding his convictions.

Claire James, area manager for Meridian Business Support, said each school was notified of Mr Brown's convictions and that she had received positive feedback from several headteachers.

Gareth Jones, committee chair, dismissed the oral evidence from Ms James and Mr Brown. He said the committee was not satisfied that Mr Brown was suitable to become a registered teacher because his offences were serious and involved dishonesty.

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