'Witch-hunt' head faces new charge

8th September 2000 at 01:00
Welsh headteacher's appeal court victory is overshadowed by fresh allegations of mistreatment. Julie Henry reports.

MARJORIE Evans's delight at being cleared by an appeal judge a week ago of slapping a 10-year-old pupil has proved short-lived.

It emerged this week that the headteacher has been suspended for a further month pending a police investigation into separate allegations of mistreatment of pupils at her school.

Mrs Evans, who has been a teacher for 35 years, described the new inquiry as a witch-hunt.

The claims, which have been made by staff at the Monmouthshire primary school, in south Wales, include allegations that a teacher used a skipping rope to tie a brother and sister together during a sponsored walk in the playground.

Another claim surrounds the treatment of a boy who kicked a teacher and had to be forcibly removed by three staff from the library.

Another teacher has already been suspended following the separate allegations.

Gwent police have refused to elaborate on the case but said that council officials fully supported the need for an investigation.

Doug McAvoy, general ecretary of Mrs Evans's union, the National Union of Teachers, said: "We are aware of the current investigation. Marjorie Evans has already endured a stressful and distressing year.

"This investigation should be conducted rapidly. She continues to have the full support of the NUT."

Mrs Evans was cleared on appeal of slapping the boy after being convicted of assault by magistrates in July.

At Cardiff Crown Court Mr Justice McKinnon overturned the headteacher's suspended jail sentence and effectively branded the pupil who accused her a liar.

He said: "We have come to the unanimous conclusion that we simply cannot see how it was that Mrs Evans came to be convicted. Mrs Evans leaves this court with her very good character entirely intact and without any blemish whatsoever upon it."

The Cardiff court was shown the video of a police interview in which the pupil admitted to a "plan" to get Mrs Evans removed from her job.

Legal restrictions meant the tape was never shown to the stipendiary magistrate who tried and convicted her.

The police investigation is due to be completed by September 30.

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