CATHOLICS in Swanley, Kent, faced double trouble this week.
A former teacher at thetroubled St Bartholomew's Primary School had her claim for constructive dismissal against the school's governors thrown out by an industrial tribunal.
Sr Ethel Larkin, 58, claimed that she was ostracised by other teachers and then offered her resignation to the governors after she made clear her support for headmistress Sr Clotilde Stephens.
Sr Clothilde left the school after falling out with the former chairman of governors, Fr Seamus Hetherton, who withdrew Sr Clothilde's control of the school's finances. Support among parents and parishioners was split between Fr Hetherton and Sr Clothilde. In a separate develop
ment, Fr Hetherton, 66 formerly parish priest of The Twelve Apostles in Swanley, appeared on Tuesday before Dartford magistrates accused of stealing more than £200,000 from church funds and a social club. He was bailed to reappear at a later date.
The tribunal heard that an anonymous letter was circulated among parents that suggested that an "improper relationship" was being conducted by the two nuns.
Both now live near San Francisco, where they are receiving counselling for depression. The tribunal concluded that there was no "contractual right" for a teacher to be liked by her colleagues. Friends of Sr Ethel said that she was "very disappointed" with the outcome.