BNP activist loses Gove challenge
Published 14/02/2014 | 13:02
A teacher who is a British National Party activist has lost his legal challenge against Michael Gove after he was struck off for life.
Adam Walker took the Education Secretary to court claiming the decision which followed him receiving a suspended jail sentence for verbally abusing three schoolboys, chasing them in his car and slashing the tyres on their bikes with a Stanley knife, was "prejudiced" because of his politics.
But following a hearing at the Administrative Court sitting in Leeds last month, Judge Clive Heaton QC has handed down a ruling which concluded: "I reject his argument as lacking any credible evidential base at all."
Mr Walker, 44, a married father of two from Durham, had argued the National College for Teaching and Leadership - which replaced the General Teaching Council - recommended that he should be banned from the classroom for a minimum of two years.
But the punishment was increased to a life ban without review by a senior official, in Mr Gove's name, the next day. Mr Walker felt other teachers guilty of serious crimes against children were less harshly treated.
The former IT teacher, who qualified in 2000, appeared before a conduct committee in 2010 after he labelled some immigrants "savage animals" on an internet forum using a school laptop.
Mr Gove has used his case of an example of why members of the BNP should be banned from teaching. But no legislation has come into effect.
On St George's Day 2011, Mr Walker got into his Land Rover and chased three unruly boys over the village green in Tudhoe, County Durham, slashed their bike tyres and used threatening behaviour. He later lied to police about his involvement.
He received an 18-month suspended jail sentence in September 2012 and was brought before a disciplinary panel at the NCTL last June.
The NCTL's suggested two year ban was then increased to life by Mr Gove's senior official Alan Meyrick.
Rory Dunlop, for the Secretary of State, told the court hearing last month: "Children look to teachers as their examples.
"When you have someone not just behaving extremely badly, endangering children, but also failing to take responsibility for that behaviour and lying about it, what kind of example does that set to children?"
He added: "It cannot fairly be said that the Secretary of State was wrong to decide that the ultimate sanction was necessary for someone who endangered lives then lied repeatedly about it."
Judge Heaton ruled there was "no evidence" that Mr Gove had intervened in the case, and in any case, he did not find that the life ban was unfair.
He concluded: "The appellant's case that Mr Gove intervened personally in his disciplinary process so to ensure that he was prohibited from teaching for life is ultimately constructed upon nothing more than suspicion and innuendo.
"I reject his argument as lacking any credible evidential base at all."
The judge also ruled Mr Walker has to pay the respondent's legal costs.
Mr Walker now works for two BNP MEPs.