South Scotland

Teacher struck off for sex with pupil

Thomas Docherty
Image caption The General Teaching Council agreed that Docherty should be struck off

A former religious education teacher who admitted having a two-year affair with a teenage pupil has been struck off by his profession's governing body.

Thomas Docherty, 51, from Innerleithen, quit a high school in Midlothian when the relationship was exposed in 2007.

He was sentenced to 240 hours community service after admitting having sex with the pupil when she was 16 to 18 years old.

The General Teaching Council (Scotland) has now removed him from its register.

Edinburgh Sheriff Court had heard how Docherty had taken the girl to his marital home in May 2006 when she was on "exam leave", and they had sex for the first time.

In addition to his community service, the former teacher was also placed on the sex offenders register for a period of three years.

'Breach of trust'

Docherty did not attend the resulting disciplinary proceedings in Edinburgh.

Paul Marshall, solicitor to the GTCS, told the hearing: "This is a serious criminal offence aggravated by the fact it involved children while that teacher was in a position of trust."

He said there was no doubt the convictions were relevant to Docherty's fitness to practice.

He said Docherty was a teacher of religious, moral and philosophical studies and his behaviour amounted to a "gross breach of trust".

He said the offences happened over three years and the Crown had prosecuted at a very serious level.

As well as striking Docherty off the teaching register, members of the panel also said they would write to Scottish ministers to request that they consider excluding him from working with children.

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