A TEACHER and scout leader has admitted having more than 1,000 indecent images of children on his home computer.

The headteacher of Barnard Castle School, where Phil Oakley worked as a technology tutor, last night spoke of his shock – but reassured parents that his activities were in no way connected to the school or its pupils.

Oakley, who once took youngsters on a Saharan trek after beating cancer, has also been barred for life from volunteering with the Scout Movement.

The 54-year-old, from Station Drive, Ripon, appeared at York Crown Court on Friday, where he pleaded guilty to three charges of distributing indecent images of children, three of making indecent images and one of possessing prohibited images of children.

He will be sentenced for all of the offences, which were committed in April and May last year, on February 8.

The disgraced teacher had worked at Barnard Castle School until May last year when he was suspended as soon as bosses learnt of the investigation by North Yorkshire Police. The school began disciplinary proceedings immediately.

Headmaster Tony Jackson said: “The case involving Mr Oakley has been a shock to us all.

“Senior staff have co-operated fully with the police throughout their enquiries as well as the appropriate education authorities.

“The police enquiries have revealed no evidence that any of Mr Oakley’s activities were connected, in any way, with the school or related to any of its pupils."

He said that disciplinary proceedings concluded with the decision to dismiss the tutor, who "unilaterally tendered his resignation with immediate effect" on September 19.

Mr Jackson added: “The school immediately notified all the appropriate education authorities as to our actions, Mr Oakley’s resignation and the context of it.

“In the light of this case we initiated a thorough review of our recruitment and safeguarding procedures.

“This review has confirmed that our processes are thoroughly robust and fit for purpose in ensuring the welfare of our students.”

In a letter to parents, Mr Jackson said he was confident the incident would be handled with "calm, discretion and compassion" by the whole school community.

He added: “All tutors and staff will be especially vigilant to ensure we offer appropriate support to pupils, were there is need.”

Oakley was also a leader with the Explorer Scouts in North Yorkshire.

In 2010 he led a group of 15 to 19-year-olds on a 15-day foreign expedition, two years after he lost part of a leg to cancer. He was fitted was a prosthetic limb after surgeons had to remove part of his leg to treat a rare tumour in his foot.

The group, which included other leaders, spent ten days trekking and five days white-water kayaking from the edge of the Sahara Desert through the Atlas Mountains to Marrakech.

A spokesperson for the Scout Association said: "The Scout Association is aware this case and has co-operated fully with the statutory agencies during their investigations. As soon as we were made aware of the investigation Oakley was suspended from all involvement in the Scout Movement.

"Following his conviction Oakley will never be allowed to volunteer with us again. We have no information to suggest Oakley’s victims in this case were Scouts or that his offences have a connection to Scouting."

  • The Scout Association says it carries out stringent vetting of all adults who work with young people and requires them to work to a strict code of practice outlined in the Young People First Code of Practice, available to view at scouts.org.uk/safeguarding