North Tyneside teacher banned after upskirting vulnerable girl

Image source, Geograph/Graham Robson
Image caption,
Alan Finlay was employed as a teacher by North Tyneside Council between 2009 and 2016

A tutor who took photos up a vulnerable teenage girl's skirt during one-to-one lessons has been banned from teaching.

Alan Finlay was employed by North Tyneside Council in 2016 and worked at its virtual school, an initiative that caters for children in care.

The girl had become "increasingly uncomfortable" with what was happening, reported it and police were called.

Mr Finlay, now 74, admitted unacceptable professional conduct, which had been "sexually motivated".

He also accepted he was guilty of conduct that may bring the profession into disrepute.

An investigation was carried out by police and no further action was taken as there was insufficient evidence to pursue a criminal prosecution.

The council said "it acted immediately" when the allegations were made, and Mr Finlay no longer worked for it.

Upskirting became a criminal offence in England in April 2019, and offenders can face up to two years in prison.

Camera button displayed

In findings published on Thursday, the Teaching Regulation Agency noted that the teenager - referred to as Pupil A - "gave a credible and detailed recollection" of Mr Finlay's actions.

She had been receiving the lessons for additional support in the lead up to her GCSEs.

But she had suspicions her tutor was using his phone or an iPod to take photos of her from underneath the desk, and told friends when she became concerned.

Mr Finlay, who told the girl she had "beautiful" eyes, had also photographed her face and legs, and police found a total of 30 images on his device, the panel said.

The girl told police she remembered his finger movements on his iPod - which he said he had been using as a calculator to check her answers - and "recalled clearly" seeing the camera button displayed.

"She stated that Mr Finlay had said something along the lines of "Aw yes that's nice, aw that's lovely that"," the panel reported.

"Pupil A said she was thinking that was not something you do when making calculations."

The panel noted that Pupil A initially thought Mr Finlay was "being friendly" but started to feel uncomfortable "to the point of tears" and did not want to see him again.

It said it considered that his conduct impacted her work, which may have affected her exam results.

Suspended then sacked

Mr Finlay, who had been employed by the council between 2009 and 2016, initially denied the allegations.

He accepted during an initial investigation that "looking back, some of the language [I] used may have been ineffective and saying she was a beautiful girl was probably inappropriate".

He was suspended in April 2016 when the girl reported what had happened and sacked in October 2016, following a disciplinary hearing.

The concerns were reported to the police, but no action was taken, the report said.

The panel noted that Mr Finlay has stated that he is not currently teaching and had no intention of returning to the profession.

It prohibited him from teaching indefinitely.

Jacqui Old, North Tyneside Council's director of children's and adult services, added: "We are committed to the highest standards of safeguarding to protect the health, wellbeing and safety of our children and young people, which is recognised in our children's services' outstanding Ofsted rating.

"As soon as these allegations were made, we acted immediately in line with our robust procedures and Mr Finlay no longer works for the authority."

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