Teacher who tried to access porn 74 times in an hour allowed to stay in profession

0
42

A TEACHER who tried to access pornographic websites 74 times in less than an hour during the school day has been allowed to stay in the profession.

James Hampson, who worked as a principal teacher of guidance at Portlethen Academy in Aberdeenshire, was caught trying to surf adult websites using a work computer in 2013.

Mr Hampson, believed to be 65, admitted the allegations in full on the first day of a General Teaching Council for Scotland (GTCS) hearing last week.

He claimed that he had “no recollection” of his actions and was “mortified and embarrassed at the circumstances”.

The panel ruled his fitness to teach was not impaired
The panel ruled his fitness to teach was not impaired

 

And the GTCS panel have ruled that he be allowed to stay in the profession as his fitness to teach is “not impaired”.

Much of the hearing was held in private due to sensitive details regarding Mr Hampson’s health.

But the decision notice, posted online yesterday (Mon), outlines the key witness statements regarding the circumstances surrounding the incident.

The notice states that there had been “74 unsuccessful attempts to access inappropriate websites, all of which were blocked” during a school day between 16 December 2013 and 19 December 2013.

The decision notice states that during his evidence, Mr Hampson claimed that “at the time of the conduct, he was unwell”.

It continues: “He accepted the conduct that had been alleged and emphasised that, whilst he had no recollection of the actions which had given rise to the GTCS proceedings, he did not challenge the facts in the complaint.

Mortified

“However, he did not accept that he was unfit to teach… he believed that he was not acting rationally and that his actions reflected the fact that he was not coping.

“The Respondent explained that he was mortified and embarrassed at the circumstances. He had not accessed inappropriate material either on the internet or otherwise before or since.”

Crucial evidence was also heard from Dr Alison Harper, who assessed Mr Hampson following the incident.

Much of the detail is redacted due to sensitive details regarding Mr Hampson’s health. However, the decision notice reads that Dr Harper explained: “While total memory loss was unusual when someone was suffering from (redacted)… it can happen.”

The notice continues: “In her (Dr Harper’s) professional opinion, the Respondent’s lack of recall was genuine.

“Whilst he had physically initiated the actions, she felt that, due to his (redacted), he was not responsible for his actions.”

Neil Morrison, headteacher at the school, arranged a meeting with Mr Hampson after his attempts to access the websites were flagged up.

Sorry

During his evidence, Mr Morrison confirmed that “at the initial meeting, the Respondent said that he was very sorry” but “did not provide any explanation for his actions”.

Evidence was also heard from Louise Moir, who was appointed as the Investigating Officer at the time.

She interviewed Mr Hampson in May last year regarding the incident, and said that he “presented as someone who was mortified by his actions; he never tried to justify them or give any excuses”.

She added: “He accepted responsibility for his actions but was unable to provide any explanation.

“He was nervous during the interview and it was clear he had memory recall issues regarding the events.”

Quiet

Further evidence was also heard from Mr Hampson’s wife, Pauline, who said that the conduct was “completely at odds with her experience of her husband”, and depute head teacher Jennifer Skene who described him as a “reserved and quiet man” who would “often go the extra mile as a matter of course”.

The GTCS panel ruled that Mr Hampson’s fitness to teach was not impaired, therefore no sanction was imposed against him.

In explaining their decision, the notice reads: “The Panel accepted that the Respondent’s conduct was not demonstrative of a deliberate attempt to access the websites.

“In the very unusual and specific circumstances of this case, the Panel determined that the conduct did not represent a breach of the Code of Professionalism and Conduct.

“As a result, the Panel determined that the Respondent’s fitness to teach is not impaired.”

Mr Hampson, who at the hearing stated that he is now retired, declined to comment on the decision.

NO COMMENTS