Support group angry at teacher’s dismissal for trial over sex act

Margaret Beel, principal at Lyndhurst Junior School, said the school acted on guidance from Portsmouth City Council in sacking Matthew Hill
Margaret Beel, principal at Lyndhurst Junior School, said the school acted on guidance from Portsmouth City Council in sacking Matthew Hill

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A SUPPORTER of a former assistant headteacher cleared of performing a sex act in front of a child has questioned why he was sacked.

Matthew Hill was first suspended then dismissed from his job at Lyndhurst Junior School in North End, Portsmouth, over the allegations made in 2012.

Now Horatio Gooden, who supported Mr Hill through his first and second trials, has said the teacher should never have been dismissed.

Mr Gooden, from a group that supports ‘falsely accused’ teachers and carers, said: ‘It’s a great joy Mr Hill has been found not guilty.

‘He should be able to expect to return to work at Lyndhurst but that opportunity is not available to him.

‘He has a right to be considered innocent by the school.’

Mr Gooden said Mr Hill should never have been sacked and teachers accused of similar crimes should be supported by their schools.

‘Staff should be able to rely upon the support of the headteacher,’ he added.

‘It’s been an excruciating time for him.’

Mr Hill was cleared by a jury of one count of outraging public decency by committing an act of a lewd, obscene and disgusting nature.

The accusation dates back to when Mr Hill was volunteering at Buckland Play Centre in Malins Road, Buckland on December 23 2012.

Margaret Beel, principal, at Lyndhurst Junior School, said the school acted on guidance from Portsmouth City Council in sacking Mr Hill.

She said: ‘Matthew Hill was made aware of a counselling service that is provided and was supported throughout by his professional association representative.

‘Following a suspension, based on the information at the time a decision was taken to dismiss him.

‘We followed all the appropriate processes.’

The school is an academy but was supported by the city council when the allegations were made.

In a statement David Williams, the city council’s chief executive said: ‘In partnership with the police we take allegations involving children very seriously.

‘It was important to support the investigation.

‘The safeguarding of our young people is paramount and tough decisions had to be made in the best interests of the children.

‘We respect the outcome of the court’s decision.’

Mr Gooden said Mr Hill did not want to comment.