Panel Meeting – Anonymity Application
|Date||27 July 2023|
|Registration Category||Primary Education|
|Panel||Gillian Fagan, Pauline McClellan and Diane Molyneux|
|Legal Assessor||Jon Kiddie|
|Servicing Officer||Kirsty McIntosh|
|Teacher’s Representative||Martin Walker, Balfour + Manson|
Any reference in this decision to:
- ‘GTC Scotland’ means the General Teaching Council for Scotland;
- the ‘Panel’ means the Fitness to Teach Panel considering the case; and
- the ‘Rules’ (and any related expression) means the GTC Scotland Fitness to Teach Rules 2017 or refers to a provision (or provisions) within them.
The Panel Meeting was arranged to consider the following:
- An application by the Teacher’s Representative for the Teacher to be granted anonymity. The parameters of the anonymisation being sought are as follows:
- For the name of the Teacher and his GTC Scotland Registration Number, and for any other information that the Panel determines may lead to the identification of the Teacher, to be anonymised in any written decision or documentation of GTC Scotland determining that the Teacher is unfit to teach in accordance with the terms of Article 18(2)b of the Public Services Reform (General Teaching Council for Scotland) Order 2011 and in the Removal with Consent Order in accordance with Rule 2.7.
In accordance with Rule 1.7.17, the Panel admitted all of the documents and statements listed below as evidence for the purposes of the hearing:
- Teacher’s Anonymity Application, dated 24 May 2023, with appendices thereto:
- [redacted] Report, dated 18 May 2023
- Panel Consideration Outcome, dated 11 August 2022
- Panel Consideration Decision Annex, dated 24 June 2022
- Signed Removal with Consent Order, dated 7 September 2022
- Final Investigation Report, dated 10 May 2022, with appendices including:
- Local Authority documentation as follows:
- Investigation Report dated 28 March 2019 with appendices:
- Appendix 1 – Statement of Teacher
- Appendix 2 – Teacher amendments to minutes of interview
- Appendix 3 – Job profile
- Appendix 4 – Standards for Registration
- Appendix 5 – COPAC
- Appendix 6 – Letter from Police Scotland dated 19 June 2018
- Appendix 7 – Letter from Beltrami & Co dated 25 September 2018
- Appendix 8 – Email from Person A
- Appendix 9 – Email from DI Person B
- Record of Investigatory Interview
- Police Scotland CrimeFile (redacted)
- Excel spreadsheet Chat log (redacted)
- Emails between Investigating Officer and DC Person C, dated between 15 October 2019 and 15 February 2021 (redacted)
- GTC Scotland Statements:
- DC Person C, Police Scotland
- PC Person D, Police Scotland
- DS Person E, Police Scotland
- Person F, Forensic Analyst
- Email response to NOPC from teacher’s representative, dated 15 June 2022
- Teacher’s Statement, dated 6 June 2022
- Notice of Investigation, dated 30 October 2018
- Notice of Panel Consideration, dated 18 May 2022
The Panel carefully considered the terms of Rule 2.5.1:
‘At any stage of proceedings, a Panel of its own volition, on the Convener’s direction or
upon the application of a party (in such form as may be specified by the Servicing Officer),
(a) determine any interim or preliminary matter that has arisen in the case;
(b) resolve any issues of law; or
(c) consider an application for a case to be cancelled.
Unless a party has (in the relevant application) requested that a procedural hearing be held or a Panel considers that such a hearing is necessary in the particular circumstances, the above matters will be considered by a Panel at a meeting based on the written representations made by the parties in compliance with case management directions set for this purpose.’
The Panel noted that neither of the Parties requested the procedural hearing in the submissions made. Further to this, the Panel considered that a procedural hearing was not necessary. Therefore, the Panel proceeded to consider the matter on the papers.
The Panel had regard to the contents of the application and the appendices thereto, in particular the [redacted] Report, dated 18 May 2023. The Panel also had regard to the Privacy and Anonymity and the Health Matters and Medical Evidence Practice Statements.
The Panel was satisfied that the author of that report, Medical Professional A, is an appropriately qualified practitioner. The Panel was satisfied that the report addressed a specific diagnosis; the severity of the Teacher’s conditions; details of how the Teacher’s [redacted] health would be adversely affected were he to be publicly named; confirmation of the treatments the Teacher had been offered; and the prognosis were the Teacher to be granted anonymity. Of particular note to the Panel was Medical Professional A’s professional opinion that, were the application not granted, this would expose the Teacher to [redacted] and [redacted], as well as him being at a high to very high risk of [redacted].
While the Panel noted the default position is that the Teacher would be named publicly, it also had regard to the exceptions thereto, including for protection of the private life of parties. The Panel was aware that the Teacher had admitted the allegations in full, albeit with the explanation that the claims he made in the messages were not truthful, and that he had signed the Removal with Consent Order. The Teacher had stated his understanding that he will not teach again. With regard to the GTC Scotland Practice Statement on Privacy and Anonymity, the Panel noted that it is not enough that a Teacher will be distressed by the proceedings, but that there must be a compelling reason in granting an order to protect an individual’s private life.
In terms of the public interest, the Panel considered that as the case would still be reported, this would act as a deterrent effect on other professionals. Weighed against the fact that publishing the Teacher’s name is highly likely to be harmful to the Teacher’s [redacted] health and that there are concerns regarding [redacted] and [redacted], the Panel decided to grant the application for anonymity.
Ultimately, in balancing the factors present, the Panel decided to grant the application for anonymity and ordered that the Teacher’s name, registration number and signature be redacted from the information to be published.