TRINITY School appointed a teacher who was dismissed from his previous job for texting a 13-year-old girl for more than a year – despite repeatedly being informed of his misconduct.
Ben Laundon, 41, was appointed to take the Combined Cadet Forces and Duke of Edinburgh Scheme at the £13,000-a-year Trinity School in Shirley in 2008 after he was dismissed from Caterham School for "gross misconduct".
Last year it emerged Mr Laundon had been accused of forcing himself on a schoolgirl in 2006 – something for which he was later acquitted.
But in a written reference from Caterham School, seen by the Advertiser, from 2008, Trinity were told Mr Laundon had been dismissed on May 18, 2007, for "conducting himself inappropriately and unprofessionally with a thirteen-year-old girl in his tutor group over a 15-month period".
In a statement released at the time defending his appointment, Trinity head teacher Mark Bishop referred to Mr Laundon as only having sent a singular 'message' to a girl last year.
Mr Bishop told the Advertiser this week he accepted he should have said 'communication' rather than 'message'.
But he maintained his stance from last year that the key issue for him when he appointed Mr Laundon was this communication was not of a sexual nature and he would not have been appointed to Trinity otherwise.
Mr Bishop added: "There is no question that Mr Laundon made a very serious error of judgement while at Caterham but, in my view, he had learnt from it and indeed throughout his employment at Trinity his conduct was impeccable."
Mr Laundon, who now runs personal training company Corpus Fitness from his home in South Croydon, left Trinity in the wake of the allegations for which he was acquitted in 2011.
Mr Bishop knew Mr Laundon from his own time at Caterham School but, according to another letter seen by the Advertiser, Trinity had not initially requested a written reference from his previous employer.
Sue Herbert, from Surrey County Council Safeguarding Service, wrote to Mr Bishop on January 29, 2008, and said this was in breach of the guidance under the Education Act 2002 in respect of safe recruitment.
Mr Bishop said: "In response to the letter from Surrey Safeguarding, as I immediately explained to the head of safeguarding, I had, in fact, taken a verbal reference from Caterham.
"She was then completely satisfied that it was appropriate for me to appoint Mr Laundon given the full risk assessment that had been carried out."
Mr Bishop also said the Ministry of Defence, the Department for Education and Surrey Safeguarding all had a "clear and consistent view" after examining the reasons for Mr Laundon's departure that he "was suitable to work with children".
Gavin Barwell, Croydon Central MP and Trinity chair of governors at the time of the appointment, said he had "nothing to add" to Mr Bishop's comments.
Mr Laundon did not respond to a request for comment.