BNP teacher accused of sending 'inappropriate' emails to ex-pupil

24th June 2011 at 01:00
He faces charges of unprofessional conduct after corresponding with 17-year-old girl

A prominent member of the British National Party faces being banned from the classroom by the General Teaching Council for England (GTC) after it emerged he will face charges of unprofessional conduct.

Mark Walker - whose brother Adam, a fellow BNP member and teacher, also fought a high-profile battle with the disciplinary body - is accused of misusing his school computer.

Mr Walker, who now works for the far-right political party, is said to have used a school email account for "inappropriate email exchanges" with a 17-year-old female former pupil.

He is expected to be charged with unprofessional conduct when he appears before the GTC this autumn.

The former teacher has already lost an employment tribunal case. He has claimed he was unfairly sacked from Sunnydale Community College in Shildon, County Durham, for his political views and involvement with the BNP.

In September 2007, more than 100 people demonstrated outside the school with placards in support of Mr Walker, claiming he had been suspended because of his membership of the BNP.

Mr Walker's GTC hearing was due to take place last week, but instead the panel held a "case management" meeting about his case.

The GTC has not yet released details of the charges he faces.

His representative, Patrick Harrington, general secretary of the Solidarity union, told The TES that Mr Walker had referred himself to the disciplinary body because he wants to "challenge" allegations recorded on his Criminal Records Bureau enhanced disclosure form as a result of his dismissal.

"He is resigned to the fact he won't teach again. He feels there is a vendetta against him but he knows it's unlikely any employer would now give him a job," Mr Harrington said. "The school and local authority have flung huge numbers of charges at him, and he wants them to be tested."

A tribunal rejected Mr Walker's case for unfair dismissal, concluding that the school had been justified in letting him go because of his sickness record at the end of 2008.

Mr Walker, a technology teacher, was first suspended in March 2007 after concerns were raised that he and a teaching assistant had watched video footage of "sexual activity" on a school computer.

The allegations made in September 2007 of using a school email account for "inappropriate email exchanges" with the 17-year-old ex-pupil sparked an investigation by children's charity the NSPCC. It concluded that the correspondence suggested a sexual relationship between Mr Walker and the girl, and questioned whether he should be put in a position of trust.

During the same period, Mr Walker became ill and remained unfit for work.


In the family

Mark Walker's brother, Adam Walker, who stood as a BNP candidate at last year's general election, was cleared of religious intolerance by the GTC last year, despite posting comments about "filth from other countries" on a website while he should have been supervising pupils.

The drawn-out case cost the GTC #163;72,746. Mr Walker, who taught at Houghton Kepier Sports College, County Durham, used a school laptop to post his views.

The GTC said he had not broken any rules to bar him from the profession. Education secretary Michael Gove cited this decision as one of the reasons he decided to axe the disciplinary body.

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