A teacher who is a British National Party activist has taken education secretary Michael Gove to court after being banned from the classroom for life.
Adam Walker, an IT teacher from Durham (pictured), was given a lifetime ban following a suspended sentence for verbally abusing three schoolboys, chasing them in his car and slashing the tyres on their bikes with a Stanley knife.
The National College for Teaching and Leadership originally recommended a two-year suspension, but the punishment was increased to a life ban by a senior official in Mr Gove’s name the next day.
At an administrative court sitting in Leeds today, the 44-year-old father of two claimed the decision to ban him for life was “prejudiced” because of his support for the BNP.
Mr Walker was convicted of criminal damage, possessing a knife, threatening behaviour and dangerous driving after attacking three unruly youngsters who had been asked to leave a fun day at a pub on St George’s Day 2011.
Rory Dunlop, for the respondents, said that Mr Walker’s behavior was serious, adding that Mr Walker did not admit his guilt until seven months after the offences.
He added: “It cannot fairly be said that the secretary of state was wrong to decide that the ultimate sanction was necessary for someone who endangered lives then lied repeatedly about it.”
Mr Walker previously appeared before a conduct committee in 2010 after he had labelled some immigrants as “savage animals” and claimed that Britain was becoming a “dumping ground for the filth of the Third World” on an internet forum using a school laptop.
He admitted using the computer to make the posts but denied the comments were racist.
The conduct panel imposed a conditional registration order and he was allowed to remain on the teaching register after he was cleared of racial intolerance, but found him guilty of misusing the laptop, which constituted unacceptable professional conduct.
The decision proved controversial, with the now defunct General Teaching Council (GTC) facing accusations that it was failing to combat racism.
Mr Gove has used Mr Walker's case of an example of why members of the BNP should be banned from teaching, although no legislation has yet come into effect.
Representing himself, Mr Walker told the court: “When this failed to occur, in typical fashion, Mr Gove made a prejudiced decision on [the NCTL’s] behalf.”
Mr Walker claims that he was dealt with more strictly than other cases heard by the regulatory body or the secretary of state, and that there was undue interference by Mr Gove.
Mr Walker said that he regretted his actions, but that he had been treated more harshly by Mr Gove than other teachers had.
“I am alleging Mr Gove is acting out of political bias,” he said.
Judge Clive Heaton QC said that he would reserve judgement and the result would be available to the public at a later date.
A Department for Education spokesperson said: “The department does not comment on cases while an appeal outcome is pending. We await the High Court’s judgement.”