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So, who’s to blame? Boss of photography firm that offered to delete disabled children from school class photo says ‘it’s not a company policy’ – with crisis meeting now planned to find what really happened

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Questions are urgently being asked over who is to blame for the proposed editing out of disabled children from school photos, with a boss of the photography firm at the centre of the scandal insisting ‘it is not company policy.’

Terence Tempest, 70, was unable to explain why parents had been given the option and suggested a freelance photographer may have done it ‘off their own back’.

He revealed ‘heartbroken’ bosses were locked in crisis meetings to discover ‘what the hell happened’, and described the suggestion to delete children with complex needs from the class pictures as ‘unacceptable’.

Families were left ‘devastated’ after three children at Aboyne Primary School in Scotland were removed from images sent via an internet link, giving parents the option to order a photo without them in it.

The revelations have sparked widespread outrage, including from Scotland’s first minister, Humza Yousaf, who described the incident at the Aberdeen school as ‘really dreadful’. 

Three children at Aboyne Primary School (pictured) in Scotland were removed from images sent via an internet link, giving parents the option to order a photo without them in it

Lisa Boyd's nine-year-old daughter Lily Nicolson (pictured), who has cerebral palsy and uses a wheelchair, was omitted from one of the class photos, along with another boy

Lisa Boyd’s nine-year-old daughter Lily Nicolson (pictured), who has cerebral palsy and uses a wheelchair, was omitted from one of the class photos, along with another boy

Nine-year-old Erin Pinnell was also omitted from the school photo. Her mother described the decision as 'inhumane' and said her child had been 'erased from history'

Nine-year-old Erin Pinnell was also omitted from the school photo. Her mother described the decision as ‘inhumane’ and said her child had been ‘erased from history’

Speaking from his £3m riverside home near Falmouth, Cornwall, Mr Tempest said: ‘We’re heartbroken. We have released a statement but at the moment I’m just trying to find out what stimulated this and what the hell happened.

‘It’s just unacceptable, I don’t know what’s happened. It’s certainly not a policy of ours.

‘We had a crisis meeting this morning, we are having another one this afternoon.’

Asked whether he would apologise to the families involved, Mr Tempest said: ‘Of course I understand how upset the families must be, I would be too.

‘If I was in that position I would want an apology. I don’t run the company and I’m in touch with the managing director at the moment and they will decide what to do.’

Mr Tempest was unable to explain why parents were given the option to choose photos without children with additional support needs and says the freelance photographer may have decided to do it. 

He said: ‘I’m not sure what the current policy is frankly, it depends what we are asked to do. We just respond to what we are asked for.

‘We have got another meeting coming up and will find out whether the photographer was asked to do it. Did they do it off their own back?’

Businesswoman mother-of-two Natalie Pinnell, 38, told MailOnline the decision to omit her nine-year-old daughter Erin from her class photo had ‘devastated’ their family.

She described the decision taken by Cornwall-based Tempest Photography as ‘inhumane’ and said her child had been ‘erased from history’.

Ms Pinnell said: ‘You can’t erase them because they’re inconvenient. It’s just not OK.

‘It’s devastating to have your child be erased from a photo or give parents a choice whether she should or should not be included. 

‘She is the most beautiful human being. Who could do this?

Mother-of-two Natalie Pinnell, 38, told MailOnline the decision to omit her nine-year-old daughter Erin (pictured together) from her class photo had 'devastated' their family

Mother-of-two Natalie Pinnell, 38, told MailOnline the decision to omit her nine-year-old daughter Erin (pictured together) from her class photo had ‘devastated’ their family

Erin's (pictured) mother Natalie told MailOnline: 'You can't erase them because they're inconvenient. It's just not OK'

Erin’s (pictured) mother Natalie told MailOnline: ‘You can’t erase them because they’re inconvenient. It’s just not OK’

Ms Pinnell (pictured) described the decision taken by Cornwall-based Tempest Photography as 'inhumane' and said her child had been 'erased from history'

Ms Pinnell (pictured) described the decision taken by Cornwall-based Tempest Photography as ‘inhumane’ and said her child had been ‘erased from history’

She said: 'You can't erase them because they're inconvenient. It's just not OK'

She said: ‘You can’t erase them because they’re inconvenient. It’s just not OK’

She added: 'It's devastating to have your child be erased from a photo or give parents a choice whether she should or should not be included'

She added: ‘It’s devastating to have your child be erased from a photo or give parents a choice whether she should or should not be included’

Natalie, who runs a business management and strategy company in Aboyne, said she was left fuming after she got an email from the school with two photo links - one that included her daughter and one that didn't

Natalie, who runs a business management and strategy company in Aboyne, said she was left fuming after she got an email from the school with two photo links – one that included her daughter and one that didn’t

‘I’m grateful that she’s not aware of it because the damage that would do to her self-esteem would be devastating.  

‘But I’m having to tell my other daughter about what’s happening to her sister. I’m not sure I’m going to sleep tonight.’

Natalie, who runs a business management and strategy company in Aboyne, said she was left fuming after she got an email from the school with two photo links – one that included her daughter and one that didn’t. 

Another class that had a disabled girl in a wheelchair also had two photos – one with the schoolgirl and one without.

Natalie added: ‘I queried it with the school and they queried it with the photographer. He said ”yes, that’s what we have done.”

‘It’s been the most traumatic experience as a family that we have felt.

‘I really wanted to believe there was a different reason. I was trying to look for a reason why someone would have made that decision.

‘We have mourned. We have hurt. I feel like I haven’t even hit the bottom of my shock. It’s been absolutely devastating.

‘The worst part was when I was talking to a friend about what happened and she found that there were two links for her daughter.’

Natalie said the school, which has a dedicated additional needs hub, had vowed never to use the company again.

Natalie Wild (pictured with her children) has revealed how a photographer from Tempest Photography asked her daughter Tilly (right) who has serious eyesight problems to take off her thick glasses for a picture

Natalie Wild (pictured with her children) has revealed how a photographer from Tempest Photography asked her daughter Tilly (right) who has serious eyesight problems to take off her thick glasses for a picture 

Tilly was reportedly asked to remove her glasses because 'her mummy would like a photo of her looking pretty'

Tilly was left feeling 'vulnerable and scared' as she relies on her 17 times magnification glasses, and considers them to be part of her

Tilly was reportedly asked to remove her glasses because ‘her mummy would like a photo of her looking pretty’

She added: ‘It has been a hard thing to process as a family. As a mum I want to champion her, and to have people thinking she is erasable is just devastating beyond belief.

‘To give parents a choice whether or not to include one individual child because she doesn’t fit in with it all is beyond comprehension.’

Natalie wasn’t the only mother outraged by the shocking decision.

Lisa Boyd’s nine-year-old daughter Lily Nicolson, who has cerebral palsy and uses a wheelchair, was also omitted from one of the class photos, along with another boy. 

She said: ‘This is clear discrimination and shouldn’t happen in a school or anywhere.

‘It is the worst that Lily has been treated in her entire life. The school is so inclusive, Lily is included in everything the school does.

‘Her twin sister, Iona, is in a different class and I only got one photo for that class but I got two for Lily’s – one without my kid in it. It’s horrendous.’

Another outraged mother Natalie Wild, 45, also revealed toay how a photographer from the same company asked her daughter Tilly who has serious eyesight problems to take off her thick glasses for a picture. 

Ms Wild, a commercial property developer, said the request made her daughter feel ‘vulnerable and scared’ as she relies on her 17 times magnification glasses, and considers them to be part of her.

She complained to the company after the incident in September 2022 when Tilly was in Year One at the Immaculate Conception Catholic Primary School in Spinkhill, Derbyshire.

But after she was told that it should not have happened, another photographer from the firm made the same request to her daughter on the company’s return to the school to take annual pictures last September.

The company says it is investigating.

The First Minister was asked about the reports as he visited a soft play centre in Cumbernauld. He said it was ‘shameful, really dreadful’.

He told the PA news agency: ‘It should never have happened at all.

‘I don’t want to see another single example of that anywhere in Scotland. It’s not acceptable, not right.

‘And I’m pleased the council responsible has apologised.’



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