COMMENT: Teacher law a danger

South Wales Argus: COMMENT: Teacher law a danger COMMENT: Teacher law a danger

A DANGEROUS new law came into force yesterday – and its introduction should concern anyone with a belief in freedom of speech.

From yesterday, Section 13 of the Education Act 2011 grants anonymity to teachers who have been accused of an offence against a pupil.

Newspapers like your Argus would not be able to name a teacher in such circumstances until he or she were charged.

Some readers may think this is a good move and protects teachers from being named publicly when false allegations are made against them.

But consider this – last week teacher Jeremy Forrest was arrested in France after fleeing there with 15-year-old pupil Megan Stammers.

Police say the pair were found as a direct result of media coverage.

If the case had happened this week, that media coverage might not have happened.

The media would certainly not have been able to name Forrest without first applying to a magistrate for an order lifting his anonymity.

That cannot be right.

This is not just a newspaper moaning. It does not just affect the media. If a child alleges assault by a teacher this newlaweffectively prevents the child’s parents discussing it with other parents, or teachers discussing it with other teachers.

We do not wish to see innocent teachers named and shamed as a result of false allegations.

But nor do we wish to see child protection obstructed by bad law.

Comments (11)

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1:24pm Tue 2 Oct 12

Gareth says...

Hi Kevin,

I’ve had a brief look at the new legislation and wondered if you could clarify a few of your points. Forgive me if I’ve got the wrong end of that metaphorical stick, but I am not a legal person:

1) “Newspapers like your Argus would not be able to name a teacher in such circumstances until he or she were charged.”

From my limited understanding of the legislation, you can report it the moment court signs off an arrest warrant, not when the person is actually charged. There is a big difference. Did I read this incorrectly?

2)
“If a child alleges assault by a teacher this new law effectively prevents the child’s parents discussing it with other parents, or teachers discussing it with other teachers.”

I can’t that in the legislation. It mentions that the law covers ‘publication’ of the teacher’s name, to include… “any speech, writing, relevant programme or other communication in whatever form, which is addressed to the public at large or any section of the public…” I don’t see how that includes your assertion.

I'm not having a pop - I just want to ensure I've read it correctly.
Hi Kevin, I’ve had a brief look at the new legislation and wondered if you could clarify a few of your points. Forgive me if I’ve got the wrong end of that metaphorical stick, but I am not a legal person: 1) “Newspapers like your Argus would not be able to name a teacher in such circumstances until he or she were charged.” From my limited understanding of the legislation, you can report it the moment court signs off an arrest warrant, not when the person is actually charged. There is a big difference. Did I read this incorrectly? 2) “If a child alleges assault by a teacher this new law effectively prevents the child’s parents discussing it with other parents, or teachers discussing it with other teachers.” I can’t that in the legislation. It mentions that the law covers ‘publication’ of the teacher’s name, to include… “any speech, writing, relevant programme or other communication in whatever form, which is addressed to the public at large or any section of the public…” I don’t see how that includes your assertion. I'm not having a pop - I just want to ensure I've read it correctly. Gareth
  • Score: 0

1:29pm Tue 2 Oct 12

Gareth says...

My apologies. Last but one para should start "I can't see that in the legislation."
My apologies. Last but one para should start "I can't see that in the legislation." Gareth
  • Score: 0

1:56pm Tue 2 Oct 12

PontyPeter says...

The legislation is perfectly OK.
If a case is serious enough to warrant the name being published, then you would simply apply to a magistrate for an order lifting the anonymity.
In other words, the anonymity is subject to careful, considered scrutiny and will be released if it is in the public interest. And not at the whim of a newspaper editor who is accountable to no one and whose only interest is selling copy.
I totally disagree with the editorial viewpoint.
There is an enormous difference between a false allegation that is unproven against a teacher (or any other person for that matter) and a clear case of abduction where the perpetrator has been seen and identified "in the act".
Dangerous law? Nonsense.
You are engaged in typical media hysterical bleating and full of hyperbole.
The legislation is perfectly OK. If a case is serious enough to warrant the name being published, then you would simply apply to a magistrate for an order lifting the anonymity. In other words, the anonymity is subject to careful, considered scrutiny and will be released if it is in the public interest. And not at the whim of a newspaper editor who is accountable to no one and whose only interest is selling copy. I totally disagree with the editorial viewpoint. There is an enormous difference between a false allegation that is unproven against a teacher (or any other person for that matter) and a clear case of abduction where the perpetrator has been seen and identified "in the act". Dangerous law? Nonsense. You are engaged in typical media hysterical bleating and full of hyperbole. PontyPeter
  • Score: 0

1:59pm Tue 2 Oct 12

PontyPeter says...

The editor says

"We do not wish to see innocent teachers named and shamed as a result of false allegations."

So come on Kevin, how would you deal with this? You present no solution to this problem.
The editor says "We do not wish to see innocent teachers named and shamed as a result of false allegations." So come on Kevin, how would you deal with this? You present no solution to this problem. PontyPeter
  • Score: 0

2:52pm Tue 2 Oct 12

Gareth says...

Kevin,

Further to my initial post, I've been doing a little more digging, and am rapidly coming to the conclusion that whilst many people in the media are up in arms about the legislation, few, it seems, have actually read it.

The head honcho at the Society of Editors seemed to have started the ball rolling with his assertion that the alleged offender can only be named once he/she has been charged. This has been repeated across many newspaper opinion columns.

However - and i have read the wording of the legislation a few times since I mentioned it in my initial post - the restrictions cease to apply once “…a justice of the peace issues a summons or warrant under section 1 of the Magistrates' Courts Act 1980 in respect of the offence."

There is a huge, and pretty fundamental, difference between a warrant or summons being signed and the person actually being charged.

Alas, I must have read the legislation incorrectly, as the media is speaking with one voice over this.

The alternative to me being wrong is that editors across the land are upset over a law that they haven’t actually read, preferring to repeat verbatim the opinion of one of their peers!
Kevin, Further to my initial post, I've been doing a little more digging, and am rapidly coming to the conclusion that whilst many people in the media are up in arms about the legislation, few, it seems, have actually read it. The head honcho at the Society of Editors seemed to have started the ball rolling with his assertion that the alleged offender can only be named once he/she has been charged. This has been repeated across many newspaper opinion columns. However - and i have read the wording of the legislation a few times since I mentioned it in my initial post - the restrictions cease to apply once “…a justice of the peace issues a summons or warrant under section 1 of the Magistrates' Courts Act 1980 in respect of the offence." There is a huge, and pretty fundamental, difference between a warrant or summons being signed and the person actually being charged. Alas, I must have read the legislation incorrectly, as the media is speaking with one voice over this. The alternative to me being wrong is that editors across the land are upset over a law that they haven’t actually read, preferring to repeat verbatim the opinion of one of their peers! Gareth
  • Score: 0

3:02pm Tue 2 Oct 12

Gareth says...

PS
The Society of Editors also made the same (incorrect) assertion that the legislation meant that parents couldn’t talk to other parents/teachers about alleged offences. It didn’t. They can.

Cmon Kevin, it's your opinion section: not Bob Satchwell's!
PS The Society of Editors also made the same (incorrect) assertion that the legislation meant that parents couldn’t talk to other parents/teachers about alleged offences. It didn’t. They can. Cmon Kevin, it's your opinion section: not Bob Satchwell's! Gareth
  • Score: 0

4:47pm Tue 2 Oct 12

bubbles011 says...

I think the resent case in the papers with megan and her teacher are an exceptional circumstance..... even when i was in school a pupil accused a teacher of hitting him, the teacher had actually done nothing, but his name was now tainted for future references from parents who had heard of the allegations. when the media get involved without the police asking, it sometimes causes more problems than its worth.
I think the resent case in the papers with megan and her teacher are an exceptional circumstance..... even when i was in school a pupil accused a teacher of hitting him, the teacher had actually done nothing, but his name was now tainted for future references from parents who had heard of the allegations. when the media get involved without the police asking, it sometimes causes more problems than its worth. bubbles011
  • Score: 0

6:30pm Tue 2 Oct 12

Katie Re-Registered says...

If there is anonymity for teachers who have been accused of an offence then why not anonymity for anyone who has been accused of an offence?
If there is anonymity for teachers who have been accused of an offence then why not anonymity for anyone who has been accused of an offence? Katie Re-Registered
  • Score: 0

8:14pm Tue 2 Oct 12

Limestonecowboy says...

I think the comparison with Jeremy Forrest case in a little wide of the mark.

In this case a complaint had been made some 12 months earlier, by someone seeing the two, which is currently under investigation concering the schools/authority inaction. Secondly an allegation or complaint had has not been made.

This new part of the Act can only be a good thing as it alleviates the potential of ruining someones career through malicious accusation.
I think the comparison with Jeremy Forrest case in a little wide of the mark. In this case a complaint had been made some 12 months earlier, by someone seeing the two, which is currently under investigation concering the schools/authority inaction. Secondly an allegation or complaint had has not been made. This new part of the Act can only be a good thing as it alleviates the potential of ruining someones career through malicious accusation. Limestonecowboy
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7:11am Wed 3 Oct 12

gillshutt says...

As soon as it was known that Jeremy Forrest had taken the girl away from her family it became an abduction case and not covered by this new legislation at all, so your argument doesn't hold up.
I am in agreement with the new legislation as a teacher's future can be blighted by an incorrect accusation.
As soon as it was known that Jeremy Forrest had taken the girl away from her family it became an abduction case and not covered by this new legislation at all, so your argument doesn't hold up. I am in agreement with the new legislation as a teacher's future can be blighted by an incorrect accusation. gillshutt
  • Score: 0

11:14am Wed 3 Oct 12

and2ys says...

Ask yourself this question then answer it. Would you as an individual be happy too be named in the paper on the tv news for something you did not do? If you have done it then yes you should be named but like some cases (not all), if it proves in court that the case is false the person being accused's life has been destroyed. This law makes it simple, and that is no one should be named until charged. I believe it should be no one named until you are found guilty. Women who make rape allegations are protected by law not too be named. This also happens in some cases when the person who has made the claim decides to confess and say it did not happen.
Ask yourself this question then answer it. Would you as an individual be happy too be named in the paper on the tv news for something you did not do? If you have done it then yes you should be named but like some cases (not all), if it proves in court that the case is false the person being accused's life has been destroyed. This law makes it simple, and that is no one should be named until charged. I believe it should be no one named until you are found guilty. Women who make rape allegations are protected by law not too be named. This also happens in some cases when the person who has made the claim decides to confess and say it did not happen. and2ys
  • Score: 0

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