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Child Porn Teacher Geoffrey Bettley Can Return To Work In Schools

06/06/2013 10:07 BST | Updated 06/06/2013 10:52 BST

A teacher sacked for possessing indecent images of children should be allowed to return to work in schools, a panel has ruled.

Geoffrey Bettley, 36, was suspended from St Mary's Catholic School in Menston, West Yorkshire, in December 2010 after police found nearly 200 child abuse images on his computer.

He accepted a police caution and was dismissed by the school following a disciplinary hearing in December 2011.

geoffrey bettley

Geoffrey Bettley will be able to teach in schools, a disciplinary panel ruled

But a professional conduct panel has ruled that the RE teacher should be allowed to return to teaching after concluding he "does not represent a risk to children and young people".

In its judgment, the National College of Teaching and Leadership professional conduct panel said the images viewed by Bettley were "not at the most serious end" of the Copine scale - the rating system used to categorise the severity of images of child sex abuse - and there were "relatively few" on his computer.

His behaviour did not show a "deep-seated attitude which leads to harmful behaviour", it ruled.

"Mr Bettley, does not, in the view of the panel, represent a risk to children and young people," the panel said.

"Although the findings in this case are serious ones, for the reasons set out, I support the recommendation of the Panel that a prohibition order should not be applied in this case."

Bettley was employed at St Mary's from September 2001 to December 2011.

He visited a website in March 2009 where he viewed six child abuse images, according to the panel's ruling.

When his computer was seized by the police in December 2010, 143 images were found at level one of the Copine scale, which covers nudity and/or erotic posing.

A further 46 images considered to be at level three on the scale were found but had not been opened, the panel said.

Bettley acknowledged that the images were of underage children and were child abuse images and admitted to police that he had accessed and viewed the images, the panel said.

He was cautioned for the offence of possessing an indecent photograph or pseudo-photograph of a child and placed on the sex offenders register for two years, according to the ruling.

In the judgment, the panel said Mr Bettley's conduct had brought his profession "into disrepute" but acknowledged the Independent Safeguarding Authority had since removed his name from the Children's Barred List and the Adult's Barred List.

A report from Leeds Children and Young Peoples Social Care in September 2011 had also concluded that Mr Bettley posed little risk, the panel added.

A Department for Education spokeswoman said: "We keep the process under review because of legal complexities and we are examining whether this case was handled correctly."