£700,000 awarded to headteacher sacked for having sex with 17-year-olds

A primary school headteacher who was sacked for having sex with two 17-year-old boys has won
nearly £700,000 in compensation.

Matthew Aplin successfully took his employer to an employment tribunal claiming unfair dismissal and sexual-orientation discrimination. The school appealed, though the employment appeals tribunal upheld the original decision, finding that Aplin had been constructively dismissed. However, they found that he would not have been treated differently if he was a woman or heterosexual.

Importantly, the original tribunal noted that there had a been “a number of procedural errors amounting to a breach of the implied term of trust and confidence in the investigation and disciplinary
hearing”. The Employment Appeal Tribunal found that the governors “effectively abdicated their roles” with the investigating officer taking decisions “by proxy”.

Legal opinion

This case highlights the importance of ensuring that a proper disciplinary process is followed and that any disciplinary decisions are just and reasonable. It also highlights the importance of taking legal advice in cases such as this, not least as discrimination claims are uncapped meaning compensation payments can be significant.