Matthew Smith, 34, has admitted to using the encrypted Telegram app to receive and share child sex images and films for the past four years.
In a message to parents on Wednesday, principal Ben Thomas said Smith was arrested by the National Crime Agency (NCA) on Sunday.
“We understand from the NCA that there is no suggestion that any of these offenses relate to Mr. Smith’s employment with Thomas or to current or former students of the school.”
He said Smith was fired as vice-principal when charges came to light and students will be notified of his departure. Smith pleaded guilty in Westminster Magistrates’ Court on Wednesday. “I don’t underestimate for a minute the shocking and deeply concerning nature of this news,” Thomas added. “We are currently focusing on our students, our parents and our colleagues.”
The Prince and Princess of Wales’ children attended the school, where fees can reach £25,000 a year, until last July before moving to Lambrook School near Ascot.
According to the court, Smith pleaded guilty to six counts, including the sexual exploitation of a child between the ages of eight and ten. The abuse took place “in various places”, according to the prosecution, when a child was coerced into being involved in pornography.
Smith admitted two counts of sexually exploiting a child between 2018 and November this year. He also pleaded guilty to three counts of making a total of 45 indecent images and films of children which were found on an SD card and his Telegram account. This included 22 images in Category A – the most serious type of abuse. Smith also confessed to distributing two Category A images using the chat feature on Telegram.
The teacher, from East Dulwich, was detained after his arrest by the NCA and returned to jail by the court yesterday. He will face a sentencing hearing at Southwark Crown Court on a date yet to be set. The NCA said it would likely be next month.
The school has pledged to handle the news of Smith’s departure in an ‘age-appropriate manner’ and is holding drop-in sessions for concerned parents.
In a statement, the school said: “We were shocked and upset to learn of these charges.
“The safety and well-being of our students is and always will be our top priority. As criminal proceedings are pending, it would be inappropriate to comment further at this stage other than to say that there is no suggestion that the offenses are related to Mr. Smith’s employment with Thomas or to current or former students of the school.
“Mr Smith’s employment with the school, which began in September this year, has been terminated with immediate effect.”
The NCA said the investigation remains ongoing with “early indications of significant online breaches and international investigative leads”.
“These guilty pleas are an important step in what is a complex and ongoing investigation,” said Tony Cook, NCA child sexual abuse investigation manager.
“Child sexual abuse occurring online and across borders poses a significant threat to the UK, and the NCA is dedicated to investigating these difficult spaces to protect children and prosecute the most risky offenders. .”