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Last Updated: Monday, 4 July, 2005, 13:38 GMT 14:38 UK
Harry teacher wins Eton tribunal
Sarah Forsyth
Sarah Forsyth says she was told to write text for Harry's art coursework
A sacked Eton College art teacher who secretly taped Prince Harry in a bid to save her job has won her case for unfair dismissal against the school.

A tribunal ruled Sarah Forsyth, 30, was sacked unfairly after being bullied by Eton's head of art.

But it rejected her claims that she was told to do some of the prince's written work for him to help him pass AS art.

And it criticised her decision to record a conversation with Harry in which she claimed he admitted this.

The school had denied Ms Forsyth's claims, saying the reason it did not renew her contract was that she was a poor teacher.

To tape-record a pupil without that pupil's consent is clearly an abuse of the position of trust in the pupil-teacher relationship
Tribunal panel

But, following a hearing in Reading, Berks, earlier this year, the panel said its "inevitable conclusion" was that her dismissal had been unreasonable.

It was highly critical of art department head Ian Burke, who had a meeting with Ms Forsyth five months before her dismissal, which she also secretly recorded.

'Inconsistent' witness

The panel said: "He did undermine and bully her and that is evident by his use of the phrase 'The kid gloves are off'."

It added Mr Burke had repeatedly changed his story, saying: "He was inconsistent, both in his evidence and in the way that he dealt with the issue of the complainant's continued employment at Eton."

The school was criticised for failing to produce any written "capability procedure" at the tribunal, with the panel concluding that "clearly none was followed".

Eton pupils, including Prince Harry (centre)

Head teacher Anthony Little also came in for criticism for not looking independently at whether to extend Ms Forsyth's contract.

While upholding her unfair dismissal claim, the panel dismissed a claim for sex discrimination.

And it criticised Ms Forsyth's decision to tape-record Prince Harry, saying it showed her in an "unprofessional light".

"To tape-record a pupil without that pupil's consent is clearly an abuse of the position of trust in the pupil-teacher relationship."

It said it was "difficult to avoid the conclusion that it was done with a view to attempting to improve her negotiating position".

Ms Forsyth's solicitor said her evidence made it clear that "she regretted having been forced to these lengths".

"She did this because she did not think she would otherwise be believed in relation to her complaints about Mr Burke or treated properly by the school."

The panel also cast doubt on Ms Forsyth's claims that staff had cheated to help the prince pass his AS-level exam, saying it was not convinced events had occurred exactly as she described them.

We are delighted that Harry has been totally cleared of cheating
Clarence House

She had claimed that five pages of text written by her on Mr Burke's instructions had been submitted as part of the prince's coursework journal as his own work.

She also said she had seen Mr Burke working on one of Harry's paintings.

A spokesman for Clarence House said: "We are delighted that Harry has been totally cleared of cheating."

Ms Forsyth, through her solicitor, said she welcomed the findings, but was "saddened by the fact that she was forced into a position of conflict with the school."

And in a statement, Eton College said the tribunal had seen through Ms Forsyth's "unfounded and irrelevant" allegations about Prince Harry.


BBC NEWS: VIDEO AND AUDIO
Watch Sarah Forsyth leaving the tribunal




SEE ALSO:
Harry teacher taped 'confession'
14 Oct 04 |  Education


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