The attorney general’s office has suggested changing the scope of unduly lenient sentence appeals after admitting it was powerless to change a teacher’s punishment for having sex with a pupil.

The department confirmed last night that it had received complaints about the sentence for former Kent teacher Stuart Kerner, 44, for two counts of sexual activity with a child being a person in a position of trust.

This afternoon the AGO tweeted that it had considered whether the sentence could be referred to the Court of Appeal. But it confirmed that Kerner’s crimes are not included in the unduly lenient sentence scheme and it is not able to interfere in this case.

The AGO went on to say it is looking at whether the scope of the current scheme is right.

‘It’s important the public can challenge what they believe to be exceptionally low sentences,’ a further tweet added.

Kerner was found guilty by a jury last month and was yesterday handed an 18-month suspended sentence. His victim was 16 when the affair took place.

His offence is not included in part four of the Criminal Justice Act 1988 which sets out the offences where the punishment can be amended.

The case has led to widespread condemnation of the sentence on social media, as well as comments on the judge’s suggestion that the victim had ‘groomed’ Kerner.