Teacher struck off over child porn

Diane Haselden

Diane Haselden

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A WIGAN primary school teacher has been struck off after child porn was found on her laptop.

Diane Haselden has been indefinitely banned from the classroom, after a professional conduct panel of the Teaching Agency found her guilty of unacceptable professional conduct.

The former teacher at Ashton’s Nicol Mere Primary denied ever viewing the material and claims the laptop was accessed by a male friend who occasionally slept on her sofa. She had argued that her actions did not amount to unacceptable behaviour for a teacher.

Ms Haselden was also accused of failing to follow the school’s Agreement for Long Term Loan of a laptop and storing unencrypted sensitive information on it despite instruction not to do so, which she admitted to.

The panel heard how Ms Haselden, who has been at Nicol Mere since 1980, was provided with the portable computer to take home for work purposes.

In December 2010, the school’s security software identified that Ms Haselden’s computer had been used to access inappropriate material and the matter was reported to the police.

The laptop was forensically examined and a large number of extreme pornographic images were recovered from the hard drive.

They had been accessed between June 2009 and November 2010.

When interviewed by headteacher Paul Gubbins, Ms Haselden said that she had not accessed the pornographic websites nor had she given anyone permission to do so.

She denied that she had given the laptop password to anyone but admitted that she sometimes left the machine on after she had finished with it.

When interviewed by the police, Ms Haselden said that although she lives alone, lots of people visited her house and any one of them may have used her computer.

But one man would often visit her and stay overnight, sleeping on the sofa.

Alan Meyrick, decision maker of the panel, concluded; “The panel is satisfied that it was you who downloaded the offensive and inappropriate images.

“The panel notes that using a computer at school that has been used to download pornography of the vilest type is totally inappropriate.

“By acting as you did, you failed to follow the school’s policy on the use of your laptop computer and demonstrated a serious lack of professional judgement that had the very real potential not only to damage your own reputation but also the reputation of the school and the profession as a whole.

“In all of the circumstances, the panel is satisfied that your conduct fell well short of the standard expected of the profession and, hence, amounted to ‘unacceptable professional conduct’.”

Paul Gubbins, headteacher of Nicol Mere Primary School, said: “Diane Haselden was suspended from work in December 2010 as soon as the school identified that a potentially serious breach of misconduct had occurred.

“Following a detailed investigation by the school, the local authority and police, the governors held a disciplinary hearing in May 2011.

“At the hearing, she was dismissed from school.

“Because the school’s Safety and Child Protection Procedures are effective, the offences were identified as soon as possible and all the correct and appropriate actions were taken straight away.

“The offences concerned misuse of school equipment and at no point were children ever at risk.”

Ms Haselden had 28 days from the date of the hearing, which took place on June 20, to lodge an appeal.

When contacted, Ms Haselden, who is an assistant principal of Trinity Girls Brass Band, declined to comment.