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Daily’s FoI reveals council’s £23,000 bill

A regional daily’s Freedom of Information request has revealed a county council forked out more than £23,000 on a teacher banned from every classroom in the UK.

The request by the Cumbria-based North West Evening Mail showed that four years of legal wrangling had cost Cumbria County Council £18,169.90 and tied up their legal team for 242 hours and 48 minutes.

The case was brought against Stewart David Bates who was dismissed from Dowdales School, in Dalton, where he was head of religious studies, in 2009.

Bates was banned from teaching in 2012 after a Department for Education hearing ruled he was guilty of “unacceptable” professional behaviour for logging on to dating websites during lesson time, embarking on a sexual relationship with a former pupil and a string of criminal offences.

Reporter Will Metcalfe, who submitted the request to the council, said: “ I’ve been following the story since it was listed for a Department of Education hearing in July last year. The hearing was originally scheduled for that month but delayed.

“When the hearing finally took place in October I spoke to Bates – he was unrepentant and maintained he was 85pc  innocent, despite embarking on a full sexual relationship with a former pupil and using dating websites during lesson time.”

In addition Bates’ hearings cost the county council £5,320 in barrister fees – making the total cost to the taxpayer of £23,489.90 – more than the sum paid to trainee teachers who receive a minimum of £21,804.

Will said that the story has been well followed by readers as Bates was a popular teacher at two schools in the area.

“We have been following his tribunal process and when his unfair dismissal claim was overturned I immediately submitted an FOI request about the total cost of proceedings which came back in little more than two weeks,” he added.

Bates underwent a number of employment tribunals after he claimed unfair dismissal from the his post.

In September 2010, a tribunal found in his favour and he was awarded £70,925 in February 2011, a £4,275 basic sum and £69,285.58.

However, the total was reduced to a statutory cap of £66,200.

In August this year Bates was told he would not receive the amount after the verdict was quashed.