Child sex researcher had ban on his record

December 10, 2004

A researcher accused of "playing into the hands" of paedophiles with a PhD thesis describing positive experiences of sex between children and adults is a former teacher who was struck off the teachers' register for professional misconduct.

The Times Higher has learnt that Richard Yuill, who received his PhD from Glasgow University last week, was banned from practising as a teacher in June 1999 by the General Teaching Council for Scotland after being found "guilty of conduct infamous in a professional respect" by the council's disciplinary committee. There was no suggestion that the misconduct, although involving children, involved anything of a sexual nature.

In a separate development, a child protection charity said it was "totally unsatisfactory" that the thesis was not being made public to allow proper debate about the validity of its findings.

Dr Yuill was a teacher at Oban High School for 18 months in the late Nineties. A statement from the GTC Scotland in June 1999 confirmed that it had "decided that in view of the nature of the professional misconduct the name of Mr Yuill should be removed from the register".

The GTC this week declined to detail the specific allegations, but local press cuttings at the time reported that an internal hearing into the allegations heard that Dr Yuill had allowed pupils - "mainly two boys aged 13 and 14" - to use his flat on occasions, after they had consumed alcohol or drugs.

Dr Yuill said this week that any suggestion of inappropriate behaviour with children was "false and libellous".

He said: "I resigned on account of a charge that I failed to report drug use by two students. At the time, I did not think they were under the influence."

A spokeswoman for Glasgow said this week: "The university was unaware of this (history) when he commenced his studies.

"It is not part of our recruitment or admissions procedures to vet each student, except in cases where they will be in close contact with children or young people, or in other special circumstances.

"It was not part of Richard Yuill's role at the University of Glasgow to be in contact with any children. It should be stressed that Strathclyde Police investigated his research material and were satisfied that absolutely nothing of an illegal nature had taken place.

"The research was also subject to a rigorous internal investigation."

Donald Findlater, spokes-man for child protection agency the Lucy Faithfull Foundation, said it was "totally unsatisfactory" that access to the thesis was being restricted.

"I have no problem with an exploration of these kinds of views in an academic thesis, but the point of PhDs is that they are open to the scrutiny of academic peers, and contribute to the body of public knowledge," he said.

"If access is being restricted, how can we make a legitimate assessment of the methodology, the sources and the validity of the work?"

Glasgow's spokeswoman said: "It was Richard Yuill's decision to have his thesis withheld. This is certainly not an unusual request as dissertations are often withheld for various reasons such as patenting/intellectual property issues. This is an option open to all students at the University of Glasgow."

Dr Yuill said he would consider personally releasing the thesis to people he judged to have to have a "genuine, honorable interest" in the issue.

phil.baty@thes.co.uk

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