Footage shows child-abusing headteacher questioning validity of child complaints against teachers

  • ITV Cymru Wales' Joanne Gallacher reports.

A child-abusing headteacher who preyed on young girls had previously appeared on television questioning whether children who make complaints should be taken seriously.

Neil Foden, who was headteacher at Ysgol Friars in Bangor and strategic head at Ysgol Duffryn Nantlle in Penygroes, was speaking to ITV Cymru Wales back in 2000 when he made the comments.

Foden, 66, of Old Colwyn, was found guilty of 19 charges, including 12 of sexual activity with a child, following an almost month-long trial at Mold Crown Court.

The other offences include two counts of sexual activity with a child by a person in a position of trust, one count of causing or inciting a child to engage in sexual activity, attempting to arrange the commission of a child sex offence, sexual communication with a child, possessing indecent photographs of a child for show, and the sexual assault of a child under 13.

He was found not guilty of one charge of sexual activity with a child.

For many years, Foden had been a teaching union leader and a local spokesman on educational issues.

ITV Wales can reveal he previously raised concerns on television about teachers being suspended following complaints.

Speaking with ITV in 2000, Foden said: "It seems to me that people would much rather suspend teachers and conduct an investigation afterwards, even if there is no evidence a child is at significant risk, to watch their own backs and unfortunately it's the teacher that suffers."

Following Foden's trial, Judge Rhys Rowlands criticised Gwynedd Council for not investigating concerns about Foden meeting girls alone as far back as 2019.

The council has since commissioned an independent review into what happened.

A Gwynedd Council spokesperson said after the verdict: "Now that the criminal process has concluded, the task of reviewing work practices and establishing what lessons can be learnt will begin.

"Due to the serious nature of the case, arrangements are being made to carry out an independent review in accordance with national child practice review guidelines. The exact form of the review is currently being determined."

In a statement, a National Education Union spokesperson said: "The offences committed by this individual are abhorrent and the NEU is appalled by them. These were despicable and vile acts, with lasting effects on his victims.

"No one should be above suspicion and when accusations or concerns are raised about an individual, from whatever quarter or position of power, they need to be fully investigated.

"Children and young people need to be confident that they can speak out about abuse, and school staff also need to be confident that they will be given a serious hearing if they have concerns.

"The priority must always be the safety of children and young people. This man’s offences against children have sickened and shocked the pupils, school staff and the community in which he worked. Stringent and strictly adhered to safeguarding measures in schools and colleges and by school governors and local authorities must always be observed."

Foden is due to be sentenced at Mold Crown Court on Monday, 1 July.