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College lecturer wins wrongful dismissal claim after management believed ‘outlandish’ claims from a ‘disgruntled’ teen student out for revenge

In the case of Mr K W v Halesowen College Mr KW was accused by a 19-year-old student of asking her out for a drink and quizzing her about her sex life at Halesowen College.

In the case of Mr K W v Halesowen College Mr KW was accused by a 19-year-old student of asking her out for a drink and quizzing her about her sex life at Halesowen College.

Rather than conducting a full investigation into the ‘potentially career-ending’ claims, the college did not bother interviewing four members of staff whose accounts would have put paid to her dishonest allegations – and fired him.

An employment tribunal heard that Mr Wood, a lecturer in esports and digital technologies, had raised safeguarding concerns after the student told him she had been sexually assaulted – leading to her family being informed.

The judge concluded it was ‘more likely than not’ that the teenager was unhappy at Mr KW flagging the concerns – and concocted the plot against him in ‘revenge’.

Prior to the allegations being made, an incident had seen the student storm out of class after Mr KW refused to quieten down the class as she had requested.

In February last year, the student and her boyfriend raised allegations against the lecturer, claiming he had asked if they were sexually active.

They also claimed he asked the teen out for a drink, and alleged that he favoured paying attention to female students over male ones. Two other male friends of the teen also made allegations to support his accuser’s assertions.

But employment judge Robert Childe slammed the ‘illogical, outlandish, contradictory and inconsistent’ allegations made by what he referred to as the ‘four friends’ – pointing out the flaws and contradictions in their claims.

The judge ruled that the college ignored Mr KW’s request for vital evidence that would prove his innocence to be taken into account.

He criticised it for ‘relying’ too much on ‘fanciful’ allegations made at Mr KW’s previous school which he ruled were ‘on the balance of probabilities…fabricated’.

The judge said Mr KW acted ‘entirely appropriately’ and at times had to shut down the teen and her boyfriend’s attempts to ‘blur professional boundaries’, such as the pair asking him out for a drink.

The judge added: ‘I don’t accept that (her) evidence was tested. Rather, I find it was simply taken at face value.

‘I find that the college had not complied with its contractual obligation to fully investigate the circumstances of the allegations by not obtaining witness evidence.’

The judge awarded Mr Wood £3,431.31 in lost pay and compensation, with a further amount of lost holiday pay and pension contributions to be decided.

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