Friday, January 20, 2006
The Question Ruth Kelly Must Answer
Yesterday in the House of Commons Education Secretary Ruth Kelly tried to reassure MPs that none of the ten people identified by her Department as having been allowed by Ministers to work in schools despite being on the sex offenders register were judged by the Police to be a danger. How then does she explain the case of Paul Reeve, the PE teacher from Norwich whose case provoked this entire debacle? The DfES was unable to explain yesterday why Ms Kelly had informed MPs that he was not “judged by the police to pose a current risk”. Norfolk Police, who originally alerted the Headmaster of the Hewett School to Mr Reeve's past, wrote to ministers about the case on December 15, and have now shied away from becoming further embroiled in the political controversy. A spokesman confined himself to the comment that “the law states that if someone is placed on the Sex-Offender Register, we have a duty to risk assess and monitor them”. Ms Kelly told the Commons that none of the 10 individuals in the cases involving ministerial discretion is judged by the police to present a current risk. But the statement invited the question of why all such people would automatically be barred in future. Mid Norfolk MP Keith Simpson complained Ms Kelly had produced “weasel words” and “a blatant contradiction” and warned that she might have to return to the Commons to correct her statement. We haven't heard the last of this.