Assistant scout leader expelled for ‘tapping’ boy

Assistant Scout Leader John Knox who has been expelled from the scouts
Assistant Scout Leader John Knox who has been expelled from the scouts

AN assistant scout leader has been thrown out of the organisation for what he described as a “tap” on the arm of a misbehaving boy.

Retired BBC radio journalist John Knox said he endured a six-month investigation which amounted to an “over-reaction” by a “kangaroo court”.

But scout bosses stood by their decision to expel the father-of-two and insisted proper protocol had been followed.

“I was absolutely gutted,” said Mr Knox, 67, from Liberton. “I’ve never been involved in any disciplinary before in my life.

“It was absolutely shocking and really hurt actually – the last six months have been psychological torment.”

Mr Knox said his ordeal began back in February when he gave the 13-year-old “a clip on the arm” during a camp discussion at their troop’s weekly meeting.

“I hardly realised I had done it, so light was the touch. But in the frustration of the moment, I rapped his left arm with the back of my hand and said ‘That’s enough’,” said Mr Knox.

“He had been warned to be quiet, twice, but still he continued to whistle annoyingly and put his feet up on the neighbouring seat and generally distract the attention of the rest of the boys.”

The boy immediately accused Mr Knox of assault and the District Commissioner was called in who suspended the scout assistant pending an 
investigation.

Mr Knox, who stood for the Lib Dems in city council elections, said he was left “devastated” after returning to scouting in retirement after his grown-up daughters had left home.

He said the investigation was flawed and it took over a month for the two investigators to visit and hear his side of the story.

“At no time was I given details of the charges against me, or any of the evidence, or even notice of the procedure to be followed,” he added.

Mr Knox was expelled after investigators said he had been “talked to” about a previous incident two years ago.

He categorically denies any such incident took place and has signed testimony from two former scout leaders to the same effect.

Chairman of the Campaign for Real Education, Chris McGovern, said the case risked sending a “terrible, sad and despairing” message to would-be volunteers.

He called for “common sense” in dealing with matters relating to adult contact with children. “What’s sad it that this is clearly sending a message to potential volunteers that working in the scouts movement is a no-go area for any adult because they’ll be accused of hitting a child when they haven’t hit a child,” said Mr McGovern.

A spokesman for the Scout Association said: “Mr Knox failed to comply with our code of practice when working with young people. For this reason Mr Knox was excluded from the organisation. The Scout Association carries out stringent vetting of all adults who work with young people.”