Compensation carrot leaves staff vulnerable
Mike Lawson remembers the moment police came knocking at his door. It was at 6.30am on a June morning in 1997. The history teacher was about to leave for work when he was arrested on suspicion of abusing one of his pupils 17 years earlier. The allegation and subsequent arrest sparked a massive police investigation into the Merseyside school, a unit for children with behavioural problems, where he worked. Over the coming years, detectives interviewed dozens of ex-pupils, including many in prison, and investigations were launched into 91 current and former members of staff. Court proceedings were taken against 26 people, including Dave Jones, former care home worker and current Wolverhampton Wanderers manager. After a rigorous investigation, Mr Jones, along with the school head, the head’s wife and others were cleared of any wrong-doing. But Mr Lawson was not so lucky. The former police sergeant was sentenced to seven years after being convicted of 17 counts of indecent assault. His colleague Basil Williams-Rigby was jailed for 12 years. The nightmare only ended last March, when Mr Lawson, now 63, and Mr Williams-Rigby, 58, walked free after their convictions were quashed by the Court of Appeal in London. The court was told some of the people who made allegations against them fabricated evidence to secure compensation.