Scottish children who accuse teachers of abuse will be given immunity from prosecution even when the teacher is later cleared

December 28, 2003

CHILDREN who blow the whistle on abusive teachers will be given immunity from legal action for damages under a plan being considered by the Scottish parliament. One former pupil is effectively facing exile in Canada after he was ordered to pay £25,000 to a teacher he accused of assault, but who was later cleared by education chiefs. Child protection groups fear such cases could deter youngsters from reporting genuine cases of sexual and physical abuse by teachers. As a result, a leading expert in Scots law has been asked by the parliament to examine how children who make claims against teachers might be protected from defamation actions. The move follows a petition to the parliament by Donald MacKinnon, whose son, Michael, alleged he had been punched by a Dumfries teacher, Aiden McKellar…The teacher was recommended for dismissal but then cleared of the assault claim. McKellar successfully sued his accuser for defamation and was awarded £5,000 damages plus an estimated £20,000 in costs. Michael MacKinnon, who recently graduated from college in Vancouver, is appealing against the award at the Court of Session next month. But he will not appear personally because he fears returning to Scotland could result in him being made bankrupt.

The Scotsman on Sunday

 

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