Mark Ford QC secures acquittal of teacher accused of having a sexual relationship with a 15 year old pupil.

On the 12th July 2022, Rebecca Whitehurst was found Not Guilty of two charges alleging that she had sexual activity with a child and entering into sexual communication with a child.

The case had attracted national media attention.

The jury returned unanimous verdicts after spending only 3 hours in retirement.

Mrs Whitehurst’s ordeal started in September 2019, when she raised concerns about a pupil who cannot be identified for legal reasons. The boy went on to allege that she had engaged in a sexual relationship with him.

Mrs Whitehurst came into contact with the pupil because of her role as a teacher involved with the pastoral care and mindfulness of students. She accepted that she had tried to help the boy out of concern for his well-being and mental health, but in doing so had transgressed the usual professional boundaries.

The prosecution relied on a substantial number of communications said to have passed between the parties, and in particular a series of highly sexualised conversations on social media platforms. Mrs Whitehurst strenuously denied engaging in the exchanges, and maintained that they had been concocted by the complainant in the course of his obsessional fantasises about her. The case necessitated detailed forensic analysis of the messages supported by expert evidence in order to demonstrate that the data relied upon by the prosecution was likely to have been manipulated by the complainant.

Mark was instructed by Christain Harbinson of Thompsons solicitors, Newcastle.