HC Deb 20 January 1949 vol 460 cc55-7W
74. Mr. Dumpleton

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department if his attention has been drawn to the remarks of Mr. Justice Finnemore in the case of Clifford Andrew at Warwickshire Quarter Sessions on 4th January last; and whether he has any statement to make.

Mr. Ede

On 4th January, 1949, Clifford Andrew pleaded guilty at Warwickshire Quarter Sessions to charges of larceny, receiving and forgery committed while he was physical training and games master at Norton Approved School. The prosecution informed the court that Andrew had been formerly employed at Chute Forest Approved School; that it had been stated that his influence on the boys there had been bad; that he had been dismissed on 28th February, 1945; that, as a result of his dismissal, Andrew had made a complaint against the other masters at Chute Forest School, and that a Home Office inquiry had been held at which the other masters had been entirely vindicated. The court were also told that on 1st March, 1945, Andrew had joined the staff of Norton School; that his selection by the headmaster and managers of this school had been confirmed by the Home Office, and that the prosecution had been unable to find out why the Home Office, who must have known of all the circumstances at the Chute Forest School, never notified the headmaster of Norton School of Andrew's activities there. It was on the basis of this information that the learned Deputy-Chairman made the observations which have been reported in the Press.

The inquiries which I have made show that the information given to the court was misleading in material respects. Clifford Andrew was engaged by Chute Forest School as a clerk and physical training instructor on 16th October, 1943, shortly after completing 12 years' Army service. He applied for the post of physical training instructor at Norton School on 27th December, 1944, and was appointed to that school by a letter dated 11th January, 1945, his engagement to start on 1st March, 1945. At this time Andrew was a member of the staff of the Chute Forest School and had not given notice of resignation. Before the appointment was made the Norton School headmaster consulted the headmaster of Chute Forest School and was told that Andrew was not diligent as a clerk and was regarded as a mischief-maker among the staff.

On 20th January, 1945, Andrew sent to an hon. Member a number of charges against the administration of Chute Forest School. On 26th January the school managers gave notice to Andrew that his appointment would terminate at 28th February, the grounds for this being that he had shown lack of diligence as a clerk and was regarded as a mischief-maker among the staff. An inquiry into Andrew's charges against the administration of Chute Forest School held on 27th March, 1945, by a former Metropolitan Police Magistrate appointed by the then Secretary of State showed that all except one of the charges were unfounded. There was no suggestion that, while at the Chute Forest School, Andrew had been dishonest or had corrupted the boys, nor was it ever proposed that an inquiry should be held into the circumstances in which his services there had been terminated.

The appointment of approved school staffs, other than headmasters, is the responsibility of the school managers and such appointments do not require confirmation by the Home Office. In this case no objection on the grounds of the finally proved unsuitability of the man could have been made at the time of his appointment, but I am considering whether any improvement of the machinery can be devised to ensure that persons of proved unsuitability shall not be appointed to the staff of these schools.