A SCARBOROUGH teacher who was cleared of assaulting a pupil should never have been prosecuted, the town’s MP said yesterday.
William Stuart, 47, an assistant headteacher at the Graham Raincliffe Federation, was exonerated on Thursday at Scarborough Magistrates’ Court, after a two-day trial.
He had been accused of pushing the teenage girl, hitting her and grabbing her upper arm during a lunchtime at the school, but magistrates took just 90 minutes to dismiss the charge against him.
Robert Goodwill said yesterday that he had signed a petition in support of Mr Stuart in the run-up to the trial, and criticised the police and Crown Prosecution Service for putting the teacher and his family through six months of anguish.
It has emerged that Nick Turner, Mr Stuart’s lawyer, asked the CPS to drop the assault charge on three occasions prior to the trial, but the requests were rebuffed.
Mr Stuart went through five-and-a-half hours of police interrogation and found himself suspended from work with his career in the balance because of the student’s accusations, following the incident in a school corridor on March 21.
“He has been through hell,” Mr Goodwill said. “Everything was at risk if he had been found guilty.
“This has sent out all the wrong messages to teachers charged with restoring discipline and the wrong message to students who may feel they can get away with making these accusations.
“I really was disappointed that the CPS brought this case to court. It was a malicious allegation. Why didn’t the police and the CPS realise that there were not credible witnesses?
“I’m pleased that the magistrates saw through it very quickly, but I’m disappointed the police and CPS did not.”
Mr Goodwill added: “This was a teacher with an exemplary record and a student who had been involved in anti-social behaviour. For them to take her word over his is outrageous.”
A spokesperson for North Yorkshire County Council said the Graham Raincliffe Federation, formerly Graham School, would now decide on a course of action following the acquittal.
Garry Hancock, headteacher at the school, said yesterday: “I am sure Bill and his family are relieved by the outcome of the court case and now the governing body and the school will complete the internal process as soon as possible.”
Responding to Mr Goodwill’s comments, Temporary Detective Inspector Andy Kenyon, of North Yorkshire Police’s Protecting Vulnerable Persons Unit, said: “Any allegation of assault within an educational environment is taken very seriously by North Yorkshire Police and every case is investigated in line with education safeguarding procedures.
“On March 23 we received a report of assault from the mother of a pupil at Graham School against Mr William Stuart.
“It was deemed appropriate to commence an investigation into the allegation, which included obtaining accounts from witnesses to the alleged incident.
“Upon completion of this investigation a file was submitted to the Crown Prosecution Service who felt there was sufficient evidence to charge Mr Stuart with common assault.
“The case has now been heard and we accept the findings of the court.”