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Teacher pleads guilty to abusing child under 13 - but we aren't allowed to know who the teacher is

(9 Posts)
edam Tue 02-Oct-12 20:32:08

why would a judge go to all this trouble to hide the identity of someone who pleaded guilty? Very troubling case. Means innocent teachers across the borough come under suspicion, because the papers can't name the criminal, nor the school.

It's bizarre because the order the judge used to hide this criminal's identity applies to children, not adults.

But even worse, a new law is about to come into force that will hide the identities of any teacher accused of abuse - until they are convicted. It would have stopped Megan Stammer being rescued - it was the media coverage that meant Jeremy Forrest and Megan were recognised by a member of the public.

Of course, we can all sympathise with any teacher facing the horror of a false accusation. But anonymity is not given routinely to any other professional facing charges - not doctors, not nurses, not social workers...

edam Tue 02-Oct-12 20:33:16

more about the new law here

ClaireDeTamble Tue 02-Oct-12 20:47:43

That telegraph article is sensationalist nonsense.

From the article:

The anonymity law is automatically imposed whenever criminal allegations are made against teachers and would only be lifted when charges are brought or an arrest warrant is issued.

Jeremy Forrest and Megan were not caught until after the arrest warrant was issued, at which point, the anonymity would have been lifted anyway, so the fact that they have built the rest of the article on what might have happened is speculation not fact.

I strongly suspect that the reason the teacher in the first article has not been named is because in doing so, it would identify his victim(s) - so the anonymity is for their protection not his - either that or the judge has information about threats to him or his family which would be a legitimate reason for not naming him.

kirrinIsland Tue 02-Oct-12 20:55:49

I can only assume that identifying the teacher could also potentially identify the child?
Presumably the teacher will be on the sex offenders register and will be unable to be alone with people under a certain age, so I'm not sure that innocent teachers will come under suspicion - it would be reasonable to assume that if someone is still teaching then they are not the guilty party? Of course, if the person is still allowed to teach then that would be a major failing in the system, but I find it hard to believe that that would be the case.

With regards to Megan Stammers - mixed feelings. Members of the public may still have recognised her even if he couldn't be identified, and he may have waived his right to anonymity by fleeing the country? I'd need to know more before deciding on that one.

Actually I think people should be given anonymity until charged - the have been numerous cases where innocent people have had their reputation torn apart by the media, and a lot of people think there is no smoke without fire.

edam Tue 02-Oct-12 21:56:00

The need to seek a special order to identify abusers such as Forrest creates delay. In the Jeremy Forrest case, the police took several days to apply for a European arrest warrant - four days IIRC - because they assumed he was planning to return with Megan. He wasn't. Without publicity - that the police asked for and encouraged in order to find Megan - the public wouldn't have spotted them.

The child in the case I referenced can be protected by a routine section 39 order. Just as rape victims are routinely protected without the identity of the rapist being cloacked in anonymity. Section 39 orders are intended to cover children, not adults. The media lawyers who have commented on this case are experienced in media law, they are not idiots. If they say it's bizarre to have a S39 order on an adult, it is - so presumably this case does not turn on identifying a child.

The hideous scandals in Rochdale and Rotherham and the allegations about Jimmy Saville show how easily victims are silenced and abusers protected - and how terribly the authorities fail them. We really don't need any more delays and failures on top of those that already, shamefully, exist.

kirrinIsland Tue 02-Oct-12 22:10:53

A victim not being identified in the media is not the same as not being identified at all. If you were a child/parent at the school in question it probably wouldn't be that hard to figure out who the victim was.

edam Tue 02-Oct-12 22:14:03

Not sure what your point is? Identifying criminals in the media is not the same thing as school gate gossip.

kirrinIsland Tue 02-Oct-12 22:42:43

Yes, I appreciate that the people at the school will probably also figure out who the teacher is, I just meant that the judge might be prioritising the victim's right to anonymity over the publics' "need" to know who the criminal is. Assuming the right safeguards are put in place then there shouldn't really be a need to identify the guy in order to keep other children safe.
Or it could be, as Claire said above, in response to known threat to the abuser's safety.

sausagesandwich34 Tue 02-Oct-12 22:45:18

forrest was arrested for child abduction, not abuse

the case wouldn't have been affected by this at all

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