A disgraced teacher who inadvertently downloaded indecent images of children has been banned from teaching indefinitely.

Dennis Edwards – a teacher at the Christian Stanborough Secondary School in Watford for 15 years – was found to have displayed unacceptable professional conduct by a National College for Teaching and Leadership panel.

In July 2015, police conducted a search of Mr Edwards’ home after an image he downloaded was flagged by officers.

Computer equipment and electronic storage devices belonging to Mr Edwards were seized and, upon examination, were discovered to contain a number of indecent images of children.  

The 60-year-old divorcee was arrested and interviewed by the police under caution, during which he said “as soon as I realised it was something that I shouldn't have seen I deleted it straight away”.

Mr Edwards was subsequently charged with possessing an indecent photograph or pseudo-photograph of a child, but when the case came to trial at St Albans Crown Court last year the Crown Prosecution Service offered no evidence and the charges were dismissed.

When brought before the teaching panel earlier this month, Mr Edwards admitted making one or more indecent photographs and/or pseudo-photographs of a child, and accepted that he used file-sharing software called Shareaza over a period of three to four years to download sexually explicit images in bulk, saying he intended to download adult pornography.

A report of the hearing started that although Mr Edwards' possession of the offending material may have been inadvertent, there were a large number of indecent images in his possession, and his failure to take action after the indecent images came to his attention was unacceptable.

He was dismissed by the school in August 2015, and this month was banned from teaching indefinitely, although a review will be conducted in five years’ time where Mr Edwards will have the opportunity to “demonstrate that he had truly learnt from his mistakes”.

Stanborough Secondary School proprietor Ian Sweeney said: “Our school and the Christian values and ethos that underpins it places a high value on children, not only those who are our pupils, but all children.

“It is unacceptable for any child to be sexually exploited, and the viewing and downloading of child pornography serves to perpetuate that exploitation.

“As a school we will continue in our longstanding efforts to safeguard all children from sexual exploitation, and every member of staff understands both their legal and moral obligations to ensure this safeguarding happens.

“The school, on learning of these matters, took immediate and appropriate action to dismiss the staff member, as is fitting for the gravity of this matter.”