Panel Meeting – Virtual Hearing and Vulnerable Witness Application – Claire Sweeney
|Teacher||Claire Sweeney (not present)|
|Date||24 February 2021|
|Registration Category||Secondary – History and English|
|Panel||Pauline McClellan, Joanne Sharp and Jacqueline Blair|
|Legal Assessor||James Mulgrew|
|Servicing Officer||Isobel Allan|
|Presenting Officer||Laura Bowen, Anderson Strathern (not present)|
|Teacher’s Representative||Iain Glennie, SSTA (not present)|
Any reference in this decision to:
- ‘GTCS’ 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 GTCS Fitness to Teach Rules 2017 or refers to a provision (or provisions) within them.
The Panel Meeting was arranged to consider the following:
Applications by the Presenting Officer for:
- three witnesses to be treated as vulnerable witnesses; and
- for their evidence to be given by video link.
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:
- Vulnerable witness applications made by Presenting Officer, dated 16 November 2020 with appendices including:
- Statement of Pupil A, dated 30 November 2018
- Statement of Pupil B, dated 30 November 2019
- Statement of Pupil C, dated 30 November 2018
- Case Management Directions for procedural applications, dated 4 November 2020
- Cover email in respect of CMDs, dated 4 November 2020
- Reminder to Representative in respect of CMDs, dated 16 November 2020
- Email to Parties, dated 8 December 2020 and delivery receipts.
The Panel did not require to deal with any preliminary matters.
The Presenting Officer identified three witnesses, namely Pupils A, B and C, whom she intended to cite to give evidence at the Full Hearing. The three witnesses were all under the age of 18. On that basis the Presenting Officer applied for those witnesses to be treated as vulnerable in the proceedings.
In addition, the Presenting Officer applied for the use of the measure of a video link to enable evidence to be received from those witnesses.
The applications had been intimated to the Teacher’s Representative but no submissions were received from them in response to the applications.
Rule 1.7.29 states that a Panel may, of its own volition or on the application of any party, treat as vulnerable any witness under the age of 18.
Rule 1.7.30 states that, provided parties have been given the opportunity to make representations on the matter, a Panel may adopt such measures as it considers necessary to enable it to receive evidence from a vulnerable witness. One measure specified is the use of a video link.
The Panel considered the applications and submissions made in respect of them. The Panel also considered the Rules. The Panel noted that the Teacher is represented and the applications had been intimated to the Representative. On the basis that the witnesses identified are under the age of 18 and that the measure of video link may be adopted for vulnerable witnesses, the Panel decided to grant both applications in respect of each witness.