BNP teachers pull out of elections

4th June 2004 at 01:00
The suspension of a teacher standing for the British National Party in next week's elections has led other teachers to pull out from representing the far-right party, The TES has learned.

The decision by St Peter's RC School in Solihull to send maths teacher Simon Smith home on full pay was taken at the end of April, after it emerged he was a BNP candidate in the European parliamentary election.

Now at least two other teachers or lecturers in the West Midlands alone have decided not to stand for the BNP in local council elections.

Simon Darby, BNP West Midlands organiser, said: "We have lost candidates because of this. People who are lecturers or teachers say they can't stand because they can't risk losing their jobs."

When pressed he said there were at least two such candidates in the region, but he refused to reveal their identities.

Mr Smith's identity as a teacher was openly displayed on the party's website but his suspension has prompted a rethink.

BNP spokesman Phil Edwards, said other teachers were standing but when asked how many, he would only say "some" and refused to say who they were.

The BNP has told The TES it will definitely challenge Mr Smith's suspension. Legal action is being considered against all parties involved, including the school, the education authority, the Catholic church, and the media that had waited outside the school for him.

At the time Solihull Council said the school had taken the decision because having a "media scrum" outside the school was a distraction at exam time.

But the BNP will argue this does not amount to lawful grounds for suspension.

"The media caused the disruption not Mr Smith," said Lee Barnes, the BNP's legal adviser. "This was done in such a reactionary knee-jerk way that no thought was given to his rights."

But Angharad Lynch, speaking on behalf of the school, the council and the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Birmingham, said Mr Smith was suspended because of disruption and not because he was a BNP member. It would have been the same if the media descended on a school for a teacher lottery winner, she said.

Elsewhere, Tony North a parent governor at Furzeham primary, in Brixham, Devon, is standing on the BNP list of candidates for south-west constituency in the European elections next week.

Last month, according to the party's website, 16-year-old Joshua Seymour told a pre-election BNP branch meeting in Leicester that British schools were becoming like those in North Korea, with the country's history being rewritten and left-wing teachers brainwashing pupils with an anti-British agenda.

The BNP has 313 council, 12 London GLAmayoral and 75 Euro candidates.

Friday magazine 8-10

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