March 04, 2010

BNP race-row teacher fails to block hearing

A teacher accused of racial and religious intolerance has lost his bid to have a disciplinary hearing scrapped

Through his representative, former Houghton Kepier technology teacher and BNP member Adam Walker submitted legal arguments to the General Teaching Council (GTC) as to why a case should be thrown out. But the body's Professional Conduct Committee, sitting in Birmingham, disagreed and ruled that swathes of evidence which Mr Walker had criticised were admissible.

The ex-soldier – who acted as a bodyguard for Nick Griffin when the BNP leader appeared on BBC TV's Question Time – resigned from Houghton Kepier in 2008 after an investigation was launched into allegations of school computer misuse. He is alleged to have used a school laptop during lessons to post critical comments about asylum seekers, Islam, immigrants and homosexuality on an Internet chat forum.

Mr Walker, who is president of Solidarity, a trade union which is closely associated with the BNP, has already been called before the GTC on three previous dates to resolve the matter. He was first brought before the teaching watchdog in November 2008, but the case was delayed when his legal representative successfully argued that the presence of Judy Moorhouse, a former president of the National Union of Teachers and a "known opponent" of the BNP, could prejudice it.

Two further hearings were also postponed, one because of police fears of rioting when tensions rose between right-wing activists and Birmingham's Muslim community. Yesterday's hearing was adjourned to May 24, but it was accompanied by a long statement from the GTC conduct committee about the legal argument it had heard.

Patrick Harrington, representing Mr Walker, had wanted to make submissions on whether the principle of whether the former teacher could get a fair trial should go before the European courts. That was rejected, as were "a number of other arguments" to "support his application that the case should not proceed on the basis that it would be unfair to do so".

These included whether Mr Walker's former employer had a right to refer him to the GTC; that the school had breached the Data Protection Act and the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act; and whether Internet logs could be used as evidence against the teacher. The committee said it had also been suggested by Mr Harrington that a referral to the GTC was "not something Mr Walker could have foreseen when he made personal use of the school laptop". This too was rejected as a reason not to hear the case.

Sunderland Echo

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