Former Sawtry headteacher whose office ‘was like a sex dungeon’ struck off after being jailed

A former headteacher whose office was described as being ‘like a sex dungeon’ has been struck off.

Friday, 31st May 2019, 11:07 am
James Stewart entering court for sentencing. Photo: Terry Harris
James Stewart entering court for sentencing. Photo: Terry Harris

James Stewart, the former principal of Sawtry Community College, engaged in sexual activity at the school and swindled more than £100,000 from their accounts.

He was sentenced to four years in prison in October 2017 after he admitted four counts of fraud, two counts of aiding and abetting fraud and one count of misconduct in public office relating to his time at the school, which also include drinking on the premises and leaving during the day to attend horse racing.

Stewart, who at the time of his sentencing lived in Kimbolton Road, Bedford, had been principal of the college for almost 30 years.

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Alcohol found in Stewart's office

The offences took place before the school became an academy under the Cambridge Meridian Academies Trust, which launched a campaign to “put right the crimes of the past and invest in the future of the school”.

The former headteacher was not represented at a professional conduct panel which recommended that he be struck off.

The report confirming the prohibition order stated: “Whilst Mr Stewart previously had a good record, the panel found no evidence that the teacher’s actions were not deliberate, nor was he acting under duress. In fact, the panel found the teacher’s actions to be calculated, motivated and sustained for a number of years.”

A game found in Stewart's office

The panel also took into account the “significant detrimental impact on the financial position of the college and the more lasting damage to the education of its pupils during this period, together with the longer term reputational damage as a result of Mr Stewart’s actions”.

A representative for the Secretary of State for Education agreed with the panel’s recommendation, with Mr Stewart being struck off indefinitely, although he has the right of appeal.

The school’s former deputy, Alan Stevens, was given a suspended sentence after admitting two counts of fraud in 2017.

He avoided being struck off last month.

Alan Stevens. Photo: Terry Harris