Archbishop welcomes change to law on sex abuse.

The Tablet
Page 28
1st July 2000

Archbishop welcomes change to law on sex abuse. The Archbishop of Cardiff has welcomed proposed legal changes aimed at protecting the innocent from false accusations of sexual abuse. Archbishop John Ward was last year arrested and later released by police after being wrongly named as an abuser by the News of the World.

An amendment to the Sexual Offences Act which is expected to be tabled in the future by the shadow education minister, Baroness Blatch, aims to protect teachers from false allegations. Nigel de Gruchy, general secretary of the National Association of Schoolmasters/Union of Women Teachers (NASUWT), was one of six union leaders who recently met the Conservative leader, William Hague, to discuss the issue.

Under the Children Act of 1989, as soon as teachers are accused of abuse they are suspended immediately and their names made public. Many are unable to work for years while police trawl through the evidence. The proposed changes would give accused teachers anonymity until they are actually charged with an offence.

Even when cases are dropped, says the archbishop, who would like reforms to the law to go further, "the teacher's name has been damaged and some of them can't go back to teaching". Mr de Gruchy said that false allegations had driven many of his members to suicide.

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