Chris Keates

20th April 2007 at 01:00
ONCE IT was the most frequently bombed hotel in Europe. Thankfully, the Europa in Belfast now tends to be a much more sedate place to stay.

Except, that is, if you are Chris Keates (right), the general secretary of the NASUWT.

She arrived last week for the union's annual conference to be greeted by apologetic hotel staff. They explained that a rock star who had been staying in her suite had lived up to stereotype and trashed the place.

Ms Keates decided to move in anyway, even though the damage was still visible and a wardrobe door had been ripped off its hinges. "I told them that if they found any white powder in there, it wasn't mine," she said.

Less glamorous accommodation was available for Hank Roberts, the one-man campaigner for teacher union unity. He brought a tent to the NUT conference in Harrogate to highlight the continuing under-canvas anti-academy protest in Wembley, north London.

"We have been busy buying up tents on eBay in case they come and nick the ones we've got," he said of the tent city that has mushroomed.

Unfortunately, baggage allowance charges dissuaded him from taking the tent with him when he flew to the NASUWT conference in Belfast, although he said it proved handy when arriving early at NUT debates.

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