Yorkshire Teacher Cleared Of Assaulting Pupil

15 September 2011, 17:32

A North Yorkshire teacher's been cleared of assaulting a pupil leading to calls for anonymity.

A teaching union called today for classroom staff accused by children to have anonymity until they are convicted after a North Yorkshire teacher with 23 years of unblemished experience was cleared of assaulting a pupil.

47 year old William Stuart was found not guilty of assaulting a 15-year-old girl by magistrates in Scarborough after a two-day trial.

There were cheers and celebrations in court when the verdict was read out.

Speaking after the hearing, Anne Swift, from the National Union of Teachers (NUT), said the strain of the case has had an 'enormous impact' on Mr Stuart's family.

She said teachers accused in this way should be granted anonymity until they are convicted by a court.

Mrs Swift said: 'He was made to feel a criminal before anything was found.'

The union official said: 'It's too easy for youngsters and their families to make false accusations.

'There should be consequences for those who make false allegations.'

Mrs Swift, who is the executive member of the NUT for the North East, said: 'It is every teacher's worst nightmare. You could go to work tomorrow and be arrested the next day.'

Mr Stuart, of Stepney Road, Scarborough, was charged after an incident on March 21.

The girl involved, who cannot be named, told the court the science teacher shoved her to the ground and against some coat pegs.

She alleged he was angry and 'out of control' after she ignored his requests to stop walking away from him.

But chairman of the bench Paul Osborne said the girl's evidence was inconsistent and did not tally with that of two other pupils who gave evidence for the prosecution.

Mr Osborne said her terrible school record did nothing for her credibility, especially as she tried to tell the court she was a good pupil.

He said: 'Mr Stuart's evidence was credible and convincing.

'He has a 23-year unblemished teaching record across several schools.'

Mr Stuart was joined in court by his wife, Sarah - who was in tears after the verdict - and dozens of supporters from his local community.

Mrs Swift said both his children went to the school where he teaches and, because of the accusation, he was not able to see his daughter's final concert before she left.

Asked how she would describe Mr Stuart, she said: 'An excellent teacher. A man of a good character. A pillar of the community.'

The union official said: 'It's good to see justice has been done and that a teacher, who was only doing their job trying to maintain order and discipline in a a school, has been exonerated.'

She added: 'Does it really serve the public interest when a teacher has to prove their innocence when it's all in the open?

'They are accused before the case is found.

'Myself, the NUT and other teaching unions are calling on the Government to act on protecting teachers.'

Mrs Swift said she also believed a matter like this should never have involved the police at all and should have been dealt with internally.

Asked whether Mr Stuart would return to his job, she said: 'It would be a great loss to his profession to have an experienced teacher decide they can't face it any more.'

Mr Stuart said he did not want to comment as he left court.

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