Disgraced former teacher was allowed to serve as a councillor
A disgraced former teacher was allowed to serve as a Black Country councillor despite being sacked over accusations of inappropriate sexual conversations with his pupils.
Dudley Council was aware of the allegations made against Will Duckworth as it was the authority who sacked him as a teacher in 2006.
But the council was then powerless to stop Mr Duckworth standing as a Green Party candidate in 2010 and getting elected as a councillor two years later.
He served the Netherton, Woodside & St. Andrew's Ward from 2012 until 2016, and stood as a parliamentary candidate in Stourbridge in 2010 and Dudley North in 2015.
Mr Duckworth, who, according to reports, has left the country and embarked on a five-year tour of Europe in a motorhome, was a teacher for 20 years at the then Hillcrest secondary school in Netherton.
The maths teacher was sacked in 2006 and never worked in teaching again.
According to the Sunday Times, Mr Duckworth said he had been given his notice because of his activity as a trade union representative. But this has been rubbished by former colleagues, not least because it is illegal to dismiss somebody for trade union activity.
One former colleague told the paper that Mr Duckworth had been sacked in a formal process involving Dudley Council after a number of complaints had been made by pupils and parents that he had been engaging children in inappropriate conversations of a sexual nature. His dismissal allegedly followed earlier incidents in which he had been warned about similar conduct.
Dudley Council confirmed to the Express & Star it was made aware of a situation in 2006 and followed appropriate HR procedures.
Sarah Norman, the authority's chief executive, said: "Concerns were brought to the attention of the council in 2006, following which the appropriate HR procedures were followed."
Asked what safeguarding measures were put in place and why Mr Duckworth was allow to stand for public office, Ms Norman added: "Legislation did not prevent Mr Duckworth from standing or serving as a councillor and we are not in a position to disclose any further information.”
The allegations against Mr Duckworth have come to light after the Sunday Times discovered the Green Party had ignored warnings about Mr Duckworth's conduct.
Senior staff at the party’s headquarters were told of the allegations against Mr Duckworth as early as December 2014, but no action was taken until last month when a full investigation was started and the accused suspended.
Mr Duckworth, who served as the party's deputy leader between 2012 and 2014, has resigned his party membership.
According to the Sunday Times, the email sent in 2014 to the party said it was “downright criminal” that Duckworth was able to occupy a position of trust in the community as a councillor and “was allowed to visit constituents in their homes where he has access to young girls”.
A spokesman for the Green Party admitted the allegations had not been investigated and said: “We would hold up our hands and say this was a serious omission and failure. We apologise unreservedly.
"When we were informed of the 2014 allegations again in November 2018, we carried out an immediate risk assessment. Earlier this year, in line with our new safeguarding policy, he was suspended pending an investigation.
"He subsequently resigned. However, the investigation will continue.”
Asked by The Sunday Times about the allegations against him, Duckworth said: “I have no comment.” He is understood to have previously denied the allegations.
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