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("(3A) Where an allegation has been made that a person has committed an offence under this section and the person is a teacher at an educational institution, it shall be unlawful to publish or broadcast that person's name or address or a still or moving picture of him before he is charged with the offence.").

The noble Baroness said: In moving Amendment No. 18 I shall speak also to Amendments Nos. 23, 29, 40, 42 and 43.

Morale among teachers is not very high at the moment; they have a number of concerns. One particular black cloud hanging over the profession is the increasing number of vexatious complaints made against them. The NASUWT has carried out a great deal of work talking with teachers, holding conferences with teachers, collating statistics and speaking with government about the plight of teachers, whose careers and lives very often are completely shattered by a vexatious complaint, in particular one of a sexual nature.

I shall not bore the Committee with too many statistics, but in the past decade 1,199 allegations have been made. A massive 887 of those allegations have not been proceeded with and no further action has been taken. Only 136 of the 1,199 cases appeared in court; in 73 cases there was no further action and some 52 cases of the 1,199 ended in a conviction.

A number of points need to be made at the outset. Given the debate we have just had, it is important that anyone who abuses children is brought to justice and that the courts deal with them. But we know that there are particular problems in the teaching profession. "Streetwise" is a term that I have often heard used. Many young people are very streetwise. They are learning fast that to compromise a teacher by making such an allegation can blight the life of that teacher. I have spoken with members of the NASUWT and the National Association of Head Teachers. They concur that once an allegation has been made and publicity has been given to the suspension of the teacher concerned, which is automatic following an allegation, the life of that teacher is made impossible.

The situation is made even more difficult when the allegation is dropped simply because someone has had his or her fun and does not want to take the matter further, especially when the police or social services become involved. That places the teacher in the most awful position. The situation gives rise to the response that "there is no smoke without fire" and to a feeling of unease among parents. But worst of all, the teacher has not been a position to prove his or her innocence, so there remains a very real cloud over his or her life.

There is a further, practical problem. There is a time gap of many weeks, even months, between an allegation being made, automatic immediate suspension and the case being followed up by means of informal and later formal inquiries. Cases have been known to take even longer. There is a period when the teacher concerned, his or her family, the parents of the children concerned and everyone who is touched by

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such an allegation live in a state of anxiety. Many of those involved are made ill; some even turn to suicide. So there is a real problem. I am referring only to statistics from one teachers' union. I have not included statistics from the Secondary Heads Association, the National Association of Head Teachers or the National Union of Teachers. The figures that I am using are only a part of the picture.

Some Members of the Committee may have read of a case reported in Saturday's edition of the Daily Mail. It highlighted the vulnerability of teachers who are falsely accused of wrongdoing. It involved seven boys who were suspended from school following the discovery of drugs. Two of the boys sought revenge on the teacher and head teacher involved. One accused the teacher of supplying the drugs in the first place; the other boy accused the head teacher of sexually abusing him four years previously. The case has been a long time coming to fruition in court. The teacher and the head teacher were cleared, but not before experiencing a great deal of anxiety. Another point made by the NASUWT is that the career of teachers involved in such cases is so blighted by the effects of malicious or vexatious allegations that almost none of those involved return to teaching.

I have no doubt that the noble and learned Lord will refer to the legal context, and I shall be interested to hear his response. One argument may be that the amendment will not be workable. I see no reason why it should not be. Under Section 39 of the Children and Young Persons Act 1933, the identity of the young person is suppressed. This currently happens in cases where teachers are accused of physical or sexual abuse of pupils. The courts have a procedure to publicise that an order has been made under the 1933 Act to ensure that journalists are aware that they cannot publish the child's name. A similar mechanism is used in rape cases. If the amendment were to be accepted, such a procedure could also be applied to protect the identity of an accused.

It is possible to make an application under the Human Rights Act to the effect that the publication of a person's name is a breach of privacy under Article 8 dealing with the right to privacy and family life. It could be argued that the article applies because a person's career and the health and safety of his or her partner and children would be jeopardised by publicity. However, in the absence of an amendment such as this, the courts are required to balance the provisions of Article 8 with those of Article 10, dealing with the right to freedom of expression--in this case, for the press. It could, therefore, be argued that the Human Rights Act has strengthened the case for the amendment.

There is some concern that my amendment applies only to teachers. I hope that that will not be regarded as a criticism. If, in the mind of the Government and/or the noble and learned Lord, that is considered to be a flaw, other categories can be added. I am making out the particular case for teachers.

I cannot overstate the trauma for a teacher or head teacher who is subject to a malicious or vexatious allegation. We know that those types of allegations far

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outweigh the genuine ones which end in a conviction. I am grateful to the noble and learned Lord for discussing the amendment with me when it was first tabled. He will know that I took heed of some of the things that he said: the amendment would apply up to the point when a teacher was charged with an offence. That would catch most of the teachers in this situation--given that the rule in this country is that no one is charged unless there is a more than 50 per cent chance that the case would stand up in court. I beg to move.

Lord Stoddart of Swindon: I have added my name to this amendment and am pleased to do so. If my noble and learned friend is unable to accept it, he and the Government really must do something about the unfairness to teachers--and in particular, but not exclusively, to male teachers. This problem continues to affect our education system.

The noble Baroness mentioned an article in Saturday's edition of the Daily Mail referring to Mr Sudbury and Mr Easterbrook. Both were accused of sexually abusing children under their care. One was acquitted; the other case did not proceed because of lack of evidence. The point is that Mr Sudbury is so traumatised that he is not returning to teaching. Mr Easterbrook is returning to teaching. Both have been through absolute hell. We all know what hell it would be if we ourselves were accused of such an offence. It would affect us mentally, it would affect our family, it would affect our career and our relationships with our neighbours and friends. The matter is extremely serious. It is abominable and unacceptable that a person who is merely alleged to have committed what is a heinous crime should be put in this position and named.

There are very serious consequences for the education system. Already we find that only 18 per cent of teachers in our primary schools are male. That is not good enough. Primary schools need at least a fair balance to ensure that children are taught in a satisfactory environment in which they can appreciate both "femaleness" and "maleness". We need male teachers.

What is even worse is that this is now happening in secondary schools. The balance between male and female teachers is being upset. One reason--but not the only one--is that men are concerned, perhaps even frightened, that they may become involved in situations such as that in which Mr Sudbury and Mr Easterbrook became involved because of the viciousness of some pupils. The idea that young people are always innocent is quite absurd. Young people can be just as difficult as adults when it comes to getting out of trouble, or, indeed, taking revenge.

If we are to retain male teachers in all our schools it is essential for the Government to do something about the situation. They can do so either by accepting this amendment or by bringing forward their own amendments. Alternatively, they could give us an assurance that government are concerned about this matter; that they believe that something needs to be

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done about it for the protection of teachers and for the future of teaching; and that they will bring forward proposals, which will be acceptable to Parliament, to the teaching profession and to the public generally.

7.30 p.m.

Lord Northbourne: The noble Lord, Lord Stoddart of Swindon, has dealt at some length with most of what I intended to say. I shall not, therefore, repeat it, although I very much support everything that he said on the subject. However, I should like to make the point that this problem extends way beyond the teaching profession and includes not only the youth service but also all the mentoring initiatives that the Government are so laudably instituting. The chief social worker in the Stepney Children's Fund, of which I have the privilege to be chairman, said to me just the other day, "I'm really worried about this situation. This is the only crime for which you are assumed to be guilty unless you can prove yourself innocent". That is the kind of mood that exists in the youth service today in many places.

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