SHOCKWAVES have been sent through bilingual schools across Spain following the arrest of a British man who began teaching at one of Madrid’s most exclusive private colleges within months of being convicted in the UK.
Questions have been raised over how Ben Lewis, 31, was able to work at the school despite being on the UK’s sex offenders register.
The Olive Press has discovered that Lewis, who is now awaiting trial for child sex offences at Centro Penitenciario Madrid V, managed to hoodwink TWO schools and a language academy after creating a new identity, and passing basic checks using forged documents.
Former colleagues of the sex offender revealed that he created a new name to dodge criminal record checks to also run summer camps and teach private classes to young children.
He had changed his name to Ben David the day after being convicted in June 2016 of taking and possessing indecent images of children by St Albans Crown Court in the UK.
As well as being placed on the sex offender list and being handed a two-year suspended sentence, he was barred from leaving the country or working with children.
Yet within weeks he had moved to Spain and found work in Zaragoza as a live-in au pair to a family with three young children.
The following year he relocated to Madrid and began teaching children at a well-known language academy, after getting a criminal record check from Zaragoza police to show he had no convictions in Spain over the previous 12 months.
Then in December 2017 he accepted a job as an English teacher at a leading semi-private (concertado) secondary school that receives subsidies from the state meaning the Ministry of Education must approval all hirings.
“He was going by the name Ben David by then and was offered the job after another teacher dropped out mid-term,” former colleague Natasha Fitzsimons told the Olive Press.
“I think they were desperate to fill the position and so maybe they weren’t as thorough as they should have been.
“We worked together at the school for 18 months, took on private classes together going to the homes of some of the children for extracurricular teaching and ran a summer camp at the school during 2018,” said the Irish colleague, who is filled with horror at the access he had to children.
The Olive Press has discovered that the day after sentencing in the UK he changed his name by deed poll from Ben David Lewis to Ben David, in an online process that takes just 15 minutes.
He then applied for and received a British passport in his new name, while he also presented schools with a doctored photocopy of his Israeli passport, stamped and verified by a non-existent law firm that showed his name as Ben David Rose.
The Olive Press has been provided with photocopies of these, plus a teaching degree and Qualified Teaching Status (QTS) certificates presented in the name of Ben David Rose as well as the original certificates in his original name.
What is amazing is that by April 2019 he had applied for a teaching job at a leading private school in the upmarket Arturo Soria district that teaches the British curriculum to the children of Madrid’s elite.
By now he also had a DBS certificate (a criminal record check in the UK) in the name of Ben David Rose on a request from a company called Grupo Estudiantes that he had formed himself. That DBS certificate allowed him to work with children and stated he was ‘clear of any previous convictions’.
It is unclear how he was able to secure this certificate as in a normal DBS check you need to provide all your addresses for the previous five years, your National Insurance number, your passport and your driving licence.
But his masquerade came to a shattering end when on June 24 last year police arrested him after cameras were found in the children’s changing rooms at his new school.
They then searched his home, a shared rented flat in the Las Tablas suburb, north of Madrid.
“I had absolutely no idea about his previous conviction when the police arrived at the door and searched the flat,” said a former flatmate, who spoke to the Olive Press anonymously this week.
“I subsequently discovered he had hidden laptops, mobile phones and memory cards in our shared basement lock up as well as lots of documents.
“I found both the originals and the ones he had forged. I handed them all over to police,” she said.
“He was an utterly convincing liar, and it is just terrifying that I lived with him for several years and had no idea who he really was, and the disgusting things he was up to,” she said.
Fellow teachers at his former school this week demanded action to tighten up rules and to investigate how easily he was able to dupe authorities and gain access to children.
“The whole criminal records check is obviously flawed here in Spain and clearly ripe for abuse by those very people that need to be kept away from kids,” said one.