British teachers accused of abusing pupils should be given anonymity while claims are investigated, the Tories say.
One former Lancashire headmaster, who now works for the campaign group Falsely Accused Carers and Teachers, explains how such protection would have helped him when he was arrested in 1998.
I was interviewing some parents when my secretary came into my study and said the chairman of the board of governors wanted to see me.
He handed me a letter and in it, it said I had been accused of indecent assault against a pupil in 1972.
This was on the Friday, I was to meet the board of governors on the Monday – they suspended me and felt they had to inform the parents.
Then it got into the local press, then the national press and then it was on the radio.
I didn’t know the details of what I was accused of, or who the person was, for a further 10 days, by which time my name was bandied all over the place because of the allegations.
The police carried on investigating, in effect they went through pupils at the school for the previous 30 years and came up with very little. The whole thing turned into hysteria very quickly.
I didn’t go to court until January 2000, by which time there had been a major investigation and they had arrested and charged other [members of staff].
Most of them never reached court, but their names were bandied around.
I went to court, was convicted and spent six weeks in prison – my appeal was the fastest that anyone knows of.
The trial was poor, to put it mildly, and my conviction was quashed – and that’s how I got into FACT, because I was so outraged.
When children make allegations, once there are believed without any question at all, they find it very difficult to say: “Actually, it wasn’t like that”. Once the lie, or exaggeration, is told it’s very difficult to step back.
I do miss teaching very much. I would love to have finished my career properly, but that was denied and I went out under a cloud. That was very difficult to accept.