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EDITIONS
Sunday, 15 April, 2001, 17:02 GMT 18:02 UK
Head's 'nightmare journey'
Marjorie Evans
Marjorie Evans will seek substantial compensation
By Sean Coughlan at the NUT conference in Cardiff

Marjorie Evans, the head teacher wrongly accused of mistreating a pupil, received a standing ovation from teachers after an emotional account of her "nightmare".

Addressing the annual conference of the National Union of Teachers in Cardiff, Ms Evans recalled the "stress, uncertainty and humiliation" of being labelled a criminal and facing the threat of imprisonment.

From being an "ordinary head teacher in an ordinary school" she said she had been catapulted into a "548-day nightmare journey" which had taken her through a police investigation and court and disciplinary hearings before her name was cleared.

Standing ovation from delegates
Standing ovation for an "ordinary" head teacher
The incident that had sparked the allegations, her restraint of a pupil, could have involved "any teacher in any school", she told the conference.

And she recalled the moment when she was initially found guilty and given a suspended sentence, and realised that she could have been spending her first night in prison - and the impact that would have had on her family.

Even after an appeal had overturned the charges against her, the delays in allowing her to return to her school had led to "doubts creeping" into her mind.

But when Ms Evans finally returned to work - where she was greeted by her pupils - she said her doubts were lifted and she broke down in tears.

Compensation claim

The case will now be the subject of a substantial compensation claim on Ms Evans's behalf.

Calling on the conference to ensure that such a long drawn-out process should not affect other teachers in future, she welcomed the Welsh Assembly's inquiry into how the case was handled.

And she welcomed the Education Secretary David Blunkett's promise that allegations against teachers in England would be dealt with within three months.

A large majority of allegations against teachers are subsequently not proven - and speeding up investigations is intended to limit the damage to the reputations of those wrongly accused.

The union, which was thanked by Ms Evans for its support, passed a conference motion calling for greater protection for teachers from false allegations.

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
Marjorie Evans, headteacher
"Why had all those vicious stories been told, for what purpose?"
See also:

14 Apr 01 | UK Education
16 Mar 01 | UK Education
Links to more Education stories are at the foot of the page.


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