School sex abuse whistleblower is sacked

PUBLISHED: 10:50 13 March 2006 | UPDATED: 08:59 24 May 2010

A TEACHER who raised allegations about sex abuse with a private school has been sacked. Andrew Counsell, who was a part time PE teacher, was originally suspended from Sidcot School near

A TEACHER who raised allegations about sex abuse with a private school has been sacked.Andrew Counsell, who was a part time PE teacher, was originally suspended from Sidcot School near Winscombe but recently appeared before a three-member disciplinary panel. He has since been dismissed by the Quaker school for gross misconduct. As well as raising the sex abuse allegations, Mr Counsell sent letters to parents and others raising concerns about the school. The school says he broke confidentiality rules by sending the letters out.The nine page letters were mailed to parents' homes. Mr Counsell, aged 51, also sent copies to Quaker elders around the country.A police investigation was launched into sex abuse claims and another former Sidcot teacher, who left the school some time ago, was arrested. The former teacher has been released on bail while the investigation continues.Despite being sacked, Mr Counsell, who had been employed by the school for 12 years, said he does not regret sending the letters to parents.He said: "I am hugely disappointed by the school's decision. I felt I was doing the right thing by sending the letters out. If I had my time again, I would send them out again. I have no regrets whatsoever."I initially sent the letters to the headteacher, the bursar and the committee members and I only sent them to other people when they didn't take the action I hoped for."I will be appealing against the school's decision and I will be discussing this with my solicitor."Sidcot has 500 pupils aged between three and 18. Many of the students come from abroad.A statement issued by the police said there are no child protection issues at the school.A statement from Sidcot School said: "We can confirm that Mr Counsell was dismissed by the school. We are not in a position to comment further because of our responsibility for maintaining confidentiality towards members of the Sidcot School community.

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