The 64-year-old chief flower arranger at Gloucester Cathedral has been ousted from her position for refusing to comply with criminal record checks.
The bizarre case is likely to reignite the debate about the effectiveness of the cumbersome, bureaucratic checks.
Earlier this year Annabel Hayter was told that everyone involved with flower arranging at the city’s cathedral would need to undergo a Criminal Records Bureau (CRB) check.
Officials claimed that the checks were necessary to ensure that the Cathedral’s Flower Guild, which shares a toilet with the Cathedral’s choirboys, was not infiltrated by paedophiles.
But Mrs Hayter, chair of Gloucester Cathedral Flower Guild, refused the demands for her and her 50-strong team to undergo the cumbersome checks and has now been ousted from her position.
CRB checks are designed to stop potential paedophiles from working with children or vulnerable adults, but the checks only identify people who have actually received convictions or cautions.
This means that people who are suspected of committing an offence, but who haven’t actually been found guilty, would have a clean record.
During a debate in the House of Lords last month Conservative Peer Lord Vinson said: “Unintentionally, and yet insidiously, we are developing an unhealthy culture of suspicion that is the antithesis of the big society which the coalition, and indeed the country at large, would like to be developed.”
He added: “The Criminal Records Bureau can record only those who have had a criminal record, not those who have tendency to criminality; such people still get the job.
“The fact remains that most cases of paedophilia are caused by near neighbours, close relations or online operators, none of whom comes under the vetting procedures.
“The whole vetting exercise gives an illusion of probity without actually achieving the serious ends that it purports to achieve.”
Tragically the CRB tests also fail to protect many children because a significant amount of child abuse is actually committed by other children.
According to the Home Office’s own research adolescents commit up to a third of all sex offences and many of the victims of these crimes are children.
In September it was revealed that the CRB checks were due to be reviewed by a Government task force.
Last December education inspectors said that parents who educate their children at home should undergo CRB checks.
Ofsted told the Labour Government that parents who home educate should be vetted by the CRB as part of the Government’s proposed registration process.
The proposal, which was not implemented, was attacked for taking ‘safety’ to an extreme.