High-flying school leader sues council for libel

5th November 2010 at 00:00

A headteacher who became one of the highest-paid heads in the country by running a private gym on his school site is to sue his local authority for libel and human rights violations, after a council official allegedly sent a series of emails criticising the management of his school.

Greg Martin, former head of Durand Primary School in Stockwell, south London, and now its director of educational development, claims he was seriously defamed in emails sent by Lambeth council's chief internal auditor, Mohammed Khan.

The case comes just months after Mr Martin successfully sued for damages over claims made about him by the parent of an NQT, who had alleged he received an excessive fee for his extra work, and that the school failed to support new teachers.

Mr Martin is joined in his latest bid for damages by Mark McLaughlin, the school's head, and the school's long-serving chair of governors, Jim Davies.

They claim they were libelled in three emails sent by Mr Khan in late 2007 and early 2008 to a civil servant within the school funding unit of the Department of Children, Schools and Families, to Kate Hoey MP and to five Lambeth Council employees.

They claim the emails made defamatory allegations that there were "serious and pressing concerns" over the running of the school which merited intervention by DCSF.

Mr McLaughlin, Mr Martin and Mr Davies are also mounting a compensation claim against Lambeth under Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights, which enshrines the right to privacy and protection of reputation.

At a preliminary hearing in the High Court this week, lawyers for Lambeth and Mr Khan argued the claims should be "struck out".

The cases are being funded by the school, although out of income generated by its property portfolio and facilities, and not from money received from local or central government.

The case will now go to a full hearing at the High Court, unless settlement terms can be agreed.

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