A Fife teacher accused of arranging to meet a teenage girl for sex has told a panel that he was trying to protect a potential child victim.
Religious education teacher Iain Parkinson, 56, turned up at the Travelodge in Falkirk expecting to meet a couple he had been chatting to on the Fabswingers website only to be handcuffed by undercover police.
Officers who searched Mr Parkinson found condoms and tubes of lubricant in his vehicle.
It followed what Mr Parkinson described as a “horrific” online exchange with an undercover officer which referred to sexual activity with a 14-year-old girl.
Mr Parkinson told a General Teaching Council for Scotland panel, who will decide if he should be struck off, that he was trying to snare a potential child abuser.
Instead, he ended up being entrapped himself.
“I wanted to know if these were really people doing something, and not just people who would talk about horrible things,” he told the panel.
“My intention was to protect that child.”
Mr Parkinson resigned from his post at Kirkcaldy High School in June 2016, shortly after his arrest.
He said: “I was trying to do a good thing and it went stupidly and spectacularly wrong, potentially bringing a huge amount of embarrassment to the school, although ultimately not in the sense that they were harbouring some evil pervert stalking the corridors, because that’s not at all what I am.”
Mr Parkinson was asked why he did not report the matter to police when the online conversation started to refer to illegal acts.
“I didn’t want to go outside of the discreet system of reporting on Fabswingers, really because unless I had absolute proof of it, that this was really something horrible happening to somebody real, I wasn’t prepared easily to admit to being on Fabswingers, to cheating on my wife, to letting down my family,” he said.
“It’s not particularly admirable, I know, but I didn’t want to break cover without being certain.”
The panel heard that Mr Parkinson graduated with a theology degree from St Andrews University before qualifying as a teacher in the mid-1990s.
Taking classes in religious education and classics, Mr Parkinson was once voted “most approachable teacher” by pupils and was involved in helping students from poorer backgrounds gain access to university.
He told the hearing he used to supervise at school discos and had taken youngsters on trips to Italy.
Mr Parkinson faced criminal charges but the case was dropped after a sheriff determined he had been a victim of entrapment.
He said undercover police he was unknowingly chatting to on the Fabswingers site had mentioned a daughter on a number of occasions.
“I didn’t respond to that. I have no sexual interest in children at all,” he said.
“We moved on and they started talking about what if she came in the room, and I could I suppose have just said look, this is absolutely disgusting, get off with you and reported it. Perhaps that would have been the best way to have gone forward.”
Mr Parkinson told the hearing he started joining in with the “very unpleasant stuff”.
He added: “I literally shuddered reading it because it is horrific. I should probably apologise that you’ve had to see it.
“It’s pretty horrible and obviously I regret the whole business. I was trying trying to unearth what these people, who I thought I had been tracking for about a year or so were up to.
“My purpose was to establish whether these were really people who were prepared to do horrible things to a child.”
Mr Parkinson has accepted that he took part in an inappropriate online conversation between May 25 and 30, 2016, where he made references to having sex with a 14-year-old girl and committing bestiality with a dog,
He denies an allegation that he turned up at the Travelodge in Falkirk on May 31, 2016, with the intention of engaging in sexual activity with an under-age girl.
The hearing continues.