Teacher fired for sex abuse claims wins £10k for unfair dismissal

A HEADTEACHER fired from a Capital school over child sex abuse allegations has been awarded £10,000 by a tribunal for unfair dismissal.

Wednesday, 23rd May 2018, 10:29 am
Updated Wednesday, 23rd May 2018, 2:31 pm
Derek Curran has won his unfair dismissal claim.

Former Castlebrae Community High head Derek Curran, 57, was accused years later of having an affair with an underage girl and fathering a child with her.

An employment judge ruled the city council failed to follow a fair procedure – but also found Mr Curran’s failure to report an historic claim amounted to gross misconduct.

“The [council] was entitled to find that the claimant, having been notified of a child protection issue which gave rise to the potential that the perpetrator was still working at the school, which in turn made it possible that there was an ongoing risk to children at that school, amounted to a gross failure of his responsibilities, and thus amounted to gross misconduct,” read Judge Murdo Macleod’s statement.

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The allegation dates back to 2014 when a woman claimed a teacher at the school had a sexual relationship with her when she was just 15, later naming Mr Curran.

It came to light after the same woman, believed to be 24 at the time, accused another teacher, Gavin Atkinson. She claimed she received a string of sexually inappropriate emails from Mr Atkinson and an investigation was launched - during which Mr Curran was named.

Mr Curran, a “super-head” parachuted in to help the failing school in 2013, was charged with having underage sex but the case was later dropped.

He raised a claim of unfair dismissal against city chiefs and has now won his case after employment judge Macleod found the authority “failed to follow a fair procedure”.

A written judgment on the case states that Mr Curran failed to report the claim of historic abuse straight away in line with the council’s child protection policy, though he did tell his bosses “within days of finding out about it”.
The headteacher, who had 33 years’ teaching experience, was later suspended in June 2014 when the woman named him as the other teacher she was accusing.

Mr Curran, who also had a domestic abuse case against him thrown out of court, was eventually dismissed in September 2015.

In finding in favour of Mr Curran, Judge Macleod found that other allegations fell short of gross misconduct and as the council had lumped them together when sacking him, the process was unfair.
Judge Macleod also found the council had acted unfairly when it carried out a disciplinary hearing in Mr Curran’s absence when he appealed for it to be postponed due to his ill health.

Mr Curran is understood to be subject of a Temporary Restriction Order by the General Teaching Council for Scotland pending an investigation.

A City of Edinburgh Council spokesman said: “We are aware of the judgement and it would be inappropriate to comment further on these issues.”