A "ROGUE marker" who leaked a spelling and grammar test as part of a "political campaign" against government reforms could face a criminal inquiry, it has emerged.
The Sats paper and answers were published 24 hours before the test was due to be taken yesterday by 600,000 children aged 10 and 11 in England.
The answers appeared by mistake on the website of the test supplier, Pearson. It was on a password-protected area of the site for several hours before it was removed.
Nick Gibb, the schools minister, said 93 official markers had access to the tests and that he was confident the paper had not been "compromised". An individual with access to the site then leaked the test to the media but the journalist in question decided not to publish it. Last night officials hinted at a criminal inquiry and warned that the marker risks being struck off if successfully prosecuted.
A potential criminal inquiry could fall under the Computer Misuse Act.
Pearson apologised for the leak and said it was conducting an investigation "to make sure it cannot happen again".
Referring to the prospects of a criminal inquiry, a government source said: "We want parents, teachers and pupils to have confidence in the system and to rely on a system that's able to administer exams fairly. Anyone who is actively trying to undermine this will face the consequences."
But experts have warned that a potential criminal inquiry may struggle to yield a conviction. Adam Rose, a partner at Mishcon de Reya LLP, said: "There have been very few convictions under the Computer Misuse Act. In reality I think it is unlikely that this will lead to criminal proceedings."
The "rogue marker" is believed to be a teacher and part of a campaign to discredit government reforms which have introduced tougher tests for primary and secondary school pupils.
For weeks, parents and teachers have campaigned against the tests, which they argue are increasing the levels of stress among children.
Last month a spelling test due to be taken by thousands of seven-year-olds was scrapped after it was accidentally released online.
Allison Pearson: Page 21 Editorial Comment: Page 15
This article featured in the print version of the Telegraph.