Authority sued over abuse teacher

Parents of children abused by their paedophile teacher are to sue the local education authority for damages.

Primary school teacher Nigel Leat was described by a judge as a "paedophile of the most sickening order" when he was jailed indefinitely last year after abusing five girls - some as young as six years old.

He filmed the abuse over the course of five years at Hillside First School in Weston-super-Mare, Somerset, where he taught.

Civil claims are proceeding against North Somerset Council over the abuse Leat committed while he worked for the authority.

Leat, of Bloomfield Road, Bristol, admitted 36 offences, including attempted rape of a child and sexual assault on children. Police also found more than 30,000 indecent photographs on memory sticks.

Solicitors Slee Blackwell said they were acting for a "number" of the families involved.

Partner at the firm Sam Robson told the Bristol Post: "I can confirm we are acting for a number of families affected by the Leat case. Given the period of time over which the abuse was perpetrated it is likely that there are many unidentified victims who have yet to come forward."

Leat, a father-of-two, initially denied all the claims against him, but confessed after police found the films on his home computer. After police arrested him on December 13 2010, they discovered about 30,500 indecent photographs and 720 indecent movies in his possession.

A serious case review was carried out by North Somerset Safeguarding Children Board following the arrest and conviction of Leat. The report, published in January, criticised school management for not acting on earlier warnings.

Senior managers at the school had repeatedly been told of Leat's inappropriate behaviour by fellow teachers but failed to act. The school's own management report noted at least 30 incidents of Leat's "inappropriate or unprofessional conduct" - but only 11 were recorded formally within the school.