A FORMER houseparent at an East Lancashire private school has proved she was unfairly dismissed after it was alleged that she allowed youngsters to get drunk during a supervised trip out.

A judge ruled in Deana Hall’s favour after she claimed she had been unfairly treated by Moorland School in Clitheroe.

The hearing at Manchester Tribunal Court heard 27 pupils drank wine, lager and spirits during a visit to the Balti Stan Indian restaurant in Clayton-le-Moors on May 16, 2014.

Mrs Hall, a 53-year-old mum of two, was one of three boarding-house staff who took the group of 15- to 18-year-olds to the restaurant. But she told the hearing it was the responsibility of her superior, boarding-house manager Deborah Richards, to secure the correct permissions.

Mrs Hall said that Mrs Richards had said a glass of wine, paid for by the school, would be permitted.

Ruling on the case, Judge Rebecca Howard said Mrs Hall’s claims were well-founded but that she had contributed to her dismissal through her conduct.

The judge, who released the court’s decision this week after reserving judgement on the day, said that the Croasdale Drive resident would not be awarded any compensation as a result.

The school, where Mrs Hall had worked for almost ten years, was criticised in the judgement as having failed to reasonably comply with the requirements of the Acas Code of Practice when it did not supply all of the evidence to Mrs Hall prior to her disciplinary hearing.

However, headteacher Jonathan Harrison, who represented the school at the tribunal, said that Mrs Hall had failed in her safeguarding duties and was guilty of gross misconduct by allowing pupils to get drunk.

He said that her actions placed the children in danger and the school could have been closed down as a result.

Following the incident, Mrs Richards resigned from her position and told the headteacher that she accepted full responsibility.

Mrs Hall and her colleague Carol Cradock were suspended and attended an internal disciplinary hearing after which they were both dismissed.

Mrs Hall appealed the school’s decision but was unsuccessful.

Her claim of breach of contract was found by Judge Howard to be not well founded and was dismissed.

However, her claim of unlawful deduction from pay being unpaid wages and unpaid accrued holiday pay was judged to be well founded and Moorland School has been ordered to pay Mrs Hall £1,004.

In a statement following the decision, Mr Harrison said: “Moorland School has received widespread support from parents and the local community.

“Judge Howard did find that Mrs Hall was unfairly dismissed due to a lack of evidence being presented to Mrs Hall during the investigatory hearing. This was due to a slight Acas infringement. As employer it is becoming impossible to fully comply with every procedural aspect of Acas.

“Safeguarding children is a duty of care that all decent fit-and-proper adults should diligently uphold. It is a victory for common sense, decency and standards put in place by our society and judiciary to safeguard the well-being of children that she has not been compensated.”

Mrs Hall could not be reached by the Lancashire Telegraph for comment.