In May of this year, Matthew Mowbray was jailed for sexual offences against pupils at Eton College, where he was employed for a total of 27 years. Mowbray was a geography teacher from September 1993, and a housemaster from September 2010. He was ultimately dismissed in March 2020.

Three years after his original arrest in May 2019, Mowbray was sentenced to an effective total of five years imprisonment. The Crown Court at Reading found him guilty in relation to:

  1. Eight offences of sexual activity with male children under the age of 16, contrary to the Sexual Offences Act 2003, S 9(a); and

  2. Six offences of making indecent photographs or pseudo photographs of children, contrary to the Protection of Children Act 1978, S 1(a); and

  3. One offence of voyeurism, recording a person doing a private act, contrary to the Sexual Offences Act 2003, S 67(3).

The sentencing hearing described the offences of ‘sexual activity with a child’ as involving four male pupils between 2012 and 2019, for Mowbray’s own sexual gratification. It was heard that he would pay ‘nocturnal’ visits to pupils under the guise of discussing school work. One pupil said he ‘felt really uncomfortable and just froze’ when sexually touched by Mowbray. When the teacher was arrested for these offences, the police found approximately 4,500 indecent images of children on his computer. The offence of voyeurism was described as Mowbray covertly recording a child dressing or undressing in the privacy of his own room.

Mowbray has been made the subject of a Sexual Harm Prevention Order for 10 years and a Sex Offenders notice for life. Simon Henderson, Headteacher at Eton, described a ‘palpable sense of betrayal, coupled with shock and deep regret that we did not identify his offending earlier’. The judge, Heather Norton QC, observed that Mowbray’s actions were at ‘the bottom of the scale for this type of offending’, thus making it much less likely that pupils would come forward about the abuse. This is what allowed the teacher to continue his actions, and abuse his position, for so long.

The Teaching Regulation Agency published a report in May 2022, on behalf of the Secretary of State for Education. Mowbray was found to be in breach of the following teaching standards:

  • Teachers uphold public trust in the profession and maintain high standards of ethics and behaviour, within and outside school, by:

    • Treating pupils with dignity, building relationships rooted in mutual respect, and at all times observing proper boundaries appropriate to a teacher’s professional position;

    • Having regard for the need to safeguard pupils’ well-being, in accordance with statutory provisions.

  • Teachers must have proper and professional regard for the ethos, policies and practices of the school in which they teach, and maintain high standards in their own attendance and punctuality.

  • Teachers must understand, and always act within, the statutory frameworks which set out their professional duties and responsibilities.

The Secretary of State (via decision maker Alan Meyrick) has responded by imposing a lifetime prohibition order to indefinitely prevent Mowbray from teaching in any school, sixth form college, relevant youth accommodation, or children’s home in England, with immediate effect.

The panel noted that Mowbray’s behaviour had significantly affected the pupils. The judge described these effects as ‘lasting’, and specifically acknowledged anxiety, depression, embarrassment, loss of confidence, nervousness, physical and psychological sadness, and stress. The judge reprimanded Mowbray: ‘You knew that what you were doing was wrong but you continued to take the opportunities afforded to you … In what was the grossest breach of trust, over a period of years and in respect of a number of children, you breached their trust, the trust of the families who placed their children in your care, and the trust of the school who had appointed you.’

We at Farleys Solicitors continue to bring claims against schools, educational institutions and local authorities for their failings, securing many millions of pounds in damages for victims every year. Where there has been a conviction, we can also look at the possibility of pursuing a claim through the Criminal Injuries Compensation Authority. If you would like to discuss the possibility of bringing a claim for abuse suffered at school, you can contact our dedicated abuse line in confidence on 0330 134 6430, or get in touch by email or through the online chat below.