Safeguarding suspension is not a neutral act

In Agoreyo v London Borough of Lambeth, a High Court Judge found that suspending a teacher after a safeguarding allegation was made was not a neutral act and breached the term of trust and confidence. This is an important judgment which has significant implications for schools when considering whether or not to suspend a member of staff after an allegation is made.

In this case, five weeks after starting work, the teacher was suspended after allegations were made about inappropriate use of force. The teacher resigned and claimed breach of contract. In reaching the conclusion that the suspension was a breach of contract, the Judge noted that:

  • the decision to suspend had apparently been taken on the same day informing the teacher of the allegation
  • the suspension letter did not say who had made the decision
  • the suspension letter did not show any consideration of the teacher’s view being taken into account
  • there was no reference to alternatives to suspension being considered
  • the reason for the suspension was to allow the investigation being conducted fairly without explaining why.

The Judge also cited other case law making it clear that suspension should not be a 'knee jerk' reaction and required careful consideration.

This judgment does not mean that a school can never suspend, but it does set out some key factors which must be considered before suspending any teacher and schools must be aware that suspension decisions may be very carefully scrutinised.

If you would like more information on this topic, please contact Russell Holland at Russell.holland@michelmores.com.