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Teacher wins £63,000 over 'wholly unfair' dismissal procedure

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A former science teacher in Lancashire has won £63,000 for unfair dismissal after the school he worked at sacked him following a series of altercations with students.

David Roy worked for Collegiate High School in Blackpool for ten years before he was dismissed in July 2009 for gross misconduct.

A Manchester employment tribunal ruled that the school disciplinary panel tasked with investigating the complaints against Mr Roy acted in a 'wholly unfair' manner by conflating three claims of impropriety into a unified gross misconduct charge, particularly since officials had previously exonerated the teacher over two of the allegations.

First alleged incident of misconduct

The first allegation of misconduct related to an incident that occurred in September 2008 when a disruptive 13-year-old 'simulated a lewd sex act in class'.

Mr Roy says he "moved the table" and "in a dramatic gesture" the girl fell off it.

A teaching assistant who witnessed the incident described it as "the worst classroom behaviour" she had ever seen, but the girl lodged a complaint.

The school, police and social services all investigated the case, but Mr Roy was completely exonerated of any wrongdoing.

Second incident

In December 2008, Mr Roy was involved in another altercation.

After escorting a disruptive pupil outside the school dining hall, one of his students tapped him on the shoulder. "I assumed it was a piece of provocation," he says.

He turned around to confront the boy and shouted at him.

The boy decided to report the incident to his year head and Mr Roy agreed to apologise.

The following March, however, the boy alleged Roy pushed him against a wall.

"That claim was never put to me [at the time] and there were no witnesses, even though it was in a crowded dinner hall," he says.

"But the boy's word was taken as fact."

Third incident

A week after the incident in the dining hall, Mr Roy restrained a boy by his lapels after he tried to run out of a door to escape a detention.

Investigation

Commenting on the investigation into the incidents, Mr Roy said: "My case was investigated with a view to making me appear guilty without ascertaining the facts.

"Children were asked for statements but I wasn't. It was designed with dismissal in mind."

Jenni Watson, a former deputy head who represented Mr Roy at the hearing, added: "Any mention of safeguarding, child abuse or child protection, and there's a knee-jerk reaction that seems to remove common sense. People are regularly dismissed without proper evidence of the risk that they might do something.

"This turns on its head the principles of natural justice, which allow a person who is innocent to remain innocent until proven guilty."

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