'Why should the pupil who said I'd slept with him get away scot free'?

30th April 2010 at 01:00
Speaking to The TES after court ordeal, acquitted sex-charge trainee calls for teachers to get legal protection, too

A trainee classics teacher who was wrongly accused of sleeping with a pupil has called for a change in the law to help protect members of staff from similar allegations.

Hannah McIntyre, who taught at the #163;8,000-a-year independent Merchant Taylors boys school in Crosby, Merseyside, was cleared of sleeping with a 16-year-old boy after three of her pupils barged into her flat uninvited.

Miss McIntyre said teachers should be afforded anonymity unless convicted and called for pupils who make such accusations to face "consequences".

"Once the press are involved then you get the trial by media," the 25-year-old said. "I had to wait a year and a half before I could stand up in court and give my version of the story to anyone who was interested in it.

"They are basically undermining one of the basic principles of the British justice system that you are innocent until proven guilty."

Miss McIntyre said that it "cannot be fair" that while a teacher can be acquitted without a stain on their character but end up with no reputation and their career "ruined", the person who made the accusation is protected by the court.

She added that it was extremely frusrating that they didn't suffer any consequences of their actions.

"They didn't even stay for the verdict. They happily went back to their universities.

"Their anonymity protects them from any legal action. I can't even put forward a private prosecution."

The Scottish-born teacher was accused of sleeping with a pupil after the boy told his mother he had sex with her 11 months after the event was claimed to have taken place.

As soon as the allegation was made the "wheels were set in motion", said Miss McIntyre. She was eventually arrested and charged with unlawful sexual activity with a child.

"It was the shock of it," she said. "First with the initial allegation, then you get arrested: that's another shock. When you speak to your lawyers and they say this won't go to court, then six months later you get charged, that's another shock. It's just the length of the process and getting hit by things over and over again."

The day after being arrested, Miss McIntyre said newspapers ran headlines such as "Posh Miss in sex romp with pupils".

"I could laugh at it, but some people would be absolutely devastated," she said. "There comes a point where you are a sex offender until a year and half later you can be acquitted."

Teaching unions have also called for a change in the law for cases involving a child aged over 16. They also say that some accusations could be dealt with internally by the headteacher and the board of governors.

Miss McIntyre said children are aware of their rights but not of their responsibilities, and that they know they will not face any consequences if they make a false accusation.

She said the incident had stripped her of a job she loved.

"I was one of the very few fortunate people who looked forward to going into work every day," Miss McIntyre said.

"I was in love with teaching but now, realistically albeit not technically or legally, teaching is out for me.

"(And) in not very polite words, I'm fucking pissed off."



Ms McIntyre can never now become a teacher, and her dreams of a career teaching English have been shattered. She should sue the boy in a civil court. #163;35,000 x 40 years + #163;1,000,000 for hurt feelings and damage to her reputation should start the bidding.

Johan 14 - I guarantee had this been a male teacher we would have had a guilty verdict and nobody arguing over the veracity of the student who made the allegation. Bombalaya - She did make mistakes, but the boy should be made accountable for his lies. Letting him off will just mean any other kid can make similar accusations with impunity.

curly_bird - Someone stupid enough to allow things like that to happen should not be teaching anyway. She created her own downfall. The feckless boy will continue with his life and will not be made accountable for his actions.

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