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.