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Child porn teacher 'not a risk'

A teacher sacked for possessing indecent images of children should be allowed to return to work in schools, a panel has ruled.

Geoffrey Bettley, 36, was suspended from St Mary's Catholic School in Menston, West Yorkshire, in December 2010 after police found nearly 200 child abuse images on his computer.

He accepted a police caution and was dismissed by the school following a disciplinary hearing in December 2011.

But a professional conduct panel has ruled the RE teacher should be allowed to return to teaching after concluding he "does not represent a risk to children and young people".

In its judgment, the National College for Teaching and Leadership professional conduct panel said the images viewed by Mr Bettley were "not at the most serious end" of the Copine scale - the rating system used to categorise the severity of images of child sex abuse - and there were "relatively few" on his computer.

His behaviour did not show a "deep-seated attitude which leads to harmful behaviour", it ruled. "Mr Bettley, does not, in the view of the panel, represent a risk to children and young people. Although the findings in this case are serious ones, for the reasons set out, I support the recommendation of the Panel that a prohibition order should not be applied in this case."

Mr Bettley was employed at St Mary's from September 2001 to December 2011.

He visited a website in March 2009 where he viewed six child abuse images, according to the panel's ruling. When his computer was seized by the police in December 2010, 143 images were found at level one of the Copine scale, which covers nudity and/or erotic posing. A further 46 images considered to be at level three on the scale were found but had not been opened, the panel said.

Mr Bettley acknowledged the images were of underage children and were child abuse images and admitted to police he had accessed and viewed the images, the panel said. He was cautioned for the offence of possessing an indecent photograph or pseudo-photograph of a child and placed on the sex offenders register for two years.

A Department for Education spokeswoman said: "We keep the process under review because of legal complexities and we are examining whether this case was handled correctly."

https://www.nationalcollege.org.uk/signin?indexidol=no&url=http%3A//www.nationalcollege.org.uk/index(National College for Teaching and Leadership)

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