Giving teachers anonymity is just the thin end of the wedge


Nick Hart had some strong views on my post last week about the new law that prevents teachers being identified if they are suspected of a crime against a pupil.

No other group gets this type of protection … so why teachers? Why not people charged with rape … why not everybody? The existing law of libel is sufficient to deal with false claims.

Many people – including me – fear that giving teachers anonymity is just the thin end of the wedge. These types of restrictions usually are. I suspect that social workers will be asking for them next. And then police officers. And then council officials. And councillors and MPs? Would you bet against it? You never hear of people working in the private sector getting similar protection!

It’s important that justice is seen to be done – and that means knowing who has been accused, what of, and who by. And if the claims are found to be false, then offended parties have the right under the PCC code to put their right of reply, or to sue for libel.

I was recently asked to comment in the Ham and High on this story about a teacher-pupil offence

The judge wrongly used existing legislation to protect the ID of a teacher who had been convicted of a sexual offence against a pupil. Understandably, parents were outraged. They wanted know the name of the guilty man, and who can blame them. The same applies to teachers under investigation. Teachers’ new rights have to be weighed against those of parents and school pupils.

As for loopholes … yes, wherever there’s a law, there’s a loophole. If new legislation bans the sale of tins of salmon under 250gm, then you can expect manufacturers to produce tins weighing 251gms. That’s how it works. And in a climate that has seen the UK drop to 23rd in the world free press league, journalists should use legal loopholes and any other legal method to discover, and report information in the public interest.

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