Teacher 'lied about court appearance'

A “RECKLESS” teacher lied about going to a hospital appointment when he was actually due to appear in court, a hearing was told yesterday.

James Hore

A “RECKLESS” teacher lied about going to a hospital appointment when he was actually due to appear in court, a hearing was told yesterday.

Ronan Friel , who worked at Colchester's Sir Charles Lucas Arts College, said he needed to be at hospital when he was due up before magistrates in the town.

A General Teaching Council (GTC) professional conduct committee heard yesterday the geography teacher “deliberately misled” his principal, Jude Hanner, and his colleagues.

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The hearing was told that Mr Friel, who no longer works at the Hawthorn Avenue school, was arrested and admitted a number of offences including theft of tax disks from a motor vehicles in May 2006.

The panel was also told Mr Friel put members of the public at risk by driving without a licence, using an uninsured vehicle and speeding in a 30mph area.

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Mr Friel has said “expressed regret” for his actions but the council judged he had brought the teaching profession into disrepute.

The hearing judged: “A teacher is expected to be open and the committee consider that Mr Friel was reckless in disregarding the standards expected of him.”

The teacher was handed a conditional registration order for two years.

The judgement means he must not be convicted or cautioned for any criminal offences, must inform his existing or prospective employers of the order and must immediately notify the registrar of the GTC about the criminal offences.

The hearing was told Mr Friel, who has remained in the profession, said he needed to be absent on July 13, 2006 for the appointment, when he was due before the court.

A judgement from the hearing said it was not in public interest or suitable punishment for the teacher just to be reprimanded.

It said: “The committee recognised that Mr Friel is remorseful and has expressed regret.

“He has remained within teaching and actively demonstrated his commitment to the profession.

“The committee take on board that Mr Friel has demonstrated insight and that he has supportive reference from his current headteacher.”

It added: “The committee acknowledge his mitigation but the committee consider that his behaviour could have affected students.

“As a consequence, the committee considers that a conditional registration order - which is designed to ensure that public are protected and to ensure that public confidence in the profession is maintained - is a proportionate and fair response in the public interest.”

Mr Friel has 28 days to appeal to the High Court. He was not available for comment last night.

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