BNP teacher must face disciplinary charges

5th March 2010 at 00:00
GTC panel rules that anti-Muslim web postings are admissible evidence

A teacher who supports the BNP has lost a last-ditch attempt to avoid being brought in front of the General Teaching Council for England (GTC) on disciplinary charges.

Adam Walker could become the first teacher struck off for religious intolerance when his professional conduct case starts on May 24.

Mr Walker, who used to teach at Houghton Kepier Sports College at Houghton-le-Spring, near Sunderland, admits posting anti-Muslim comments on a website while using a school laptop. He quit the school in 2007, but claimed the comments - made under a pseudonym - had no link to his work as a design and technology teacher.

His legal team argued in front of the GTC this week that he should not face professional misconduct charges. They claimed that website administrators were wrong to reveal his identity and his posts should not be used in evidence. They also argued the school's leaders were wrong to report him to the GTC.

"I understand people are opposed to the BNP, but they must realise this has implications for all teachers who wish to express views - whether they are communists, anarchists or Muslims," Patrick Harrington, who is representing Mr Walker, told The TES.

"The GTC has still not given a good enough reason as to why they want to overrule rights to freedom of expression for teachers with political and religious views. There is no link between Mr Walker's views and his professional role."

The case has already been delayed for more than a year by Mr Walker's representatives. They have succeeded in removing former NUT president Judy Moorhouse from the panel, arguing her union's policies mean she would be biased against him. Fears of clashes between the BNP, protesters and police led to the case being postponed again.

Mr Walker, now working as campaigns co-ordinator for the BNP MEP Andrew Brons, has vowed to take the case to the "highest level" if found guilty. The teaching union NASUWT has accused the GTC of allowing the BNP to milk attention from the case.

The GTC panel said this week that teachers at the school were legally obliged to report Mr Walker's misuse of his computer to the Department for Children, Schools and Families and the GTC.

"The committee considers it fair to proceed and that all the evidence ... is admissible," it said.

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