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BNP teacher taking Gove to court
A teacher who is an activist with the British National Party has taken the Education Secretary and the regulatory body to court after he was struck off for life.
Adam Walker is challenging the ban authorised by Michael Gove which followed him receiving a suspended sentence for verbally abusing three schoolboys, chasing them in his car and slashing the tyres on their bikes with a Stanley knife.
At the Administrative Court sitting in Leeds, the 44-year-old claimed the decision to ban him for life was "prejudiced" because of his BNP support.
Mr Walker, a married father-of-two from Durham, argued that 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 by a senior official in Mr Gove's name the next day.
Mr Walker, an 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 to that effect has come into effect.
Representing himself, Mr Walker told the court: "When this failed to occur, in typical fashion, Mr Gove made a prejudiced decision on their (the NCTL's) behalf."
Judge Clive Heaton QC summarised Mr Walker's case as:
:: the punishment was out of kilter with what other organisations considered just, after Mr Walker said the Disclosure and Barring Service had not banned him from contact with children, and the karate authorities had not stopped him instructing.
:: he was more strictly dealt with than all other cases heard by the regulatory body or the Secretary of State.
:: there had been undue interference by Mr Gove.
Rory Dunlop, for the respondents, said Mr Walker's behaviour with the unruly children on Tudhoe village green on St George's Day 2011, which resulted in convictions for criminal damage, possessing a knife, threatening behaviour and dangerous driving, was serious.
It was striking that Mr Walker only admitted his guilt seven months after the offences, he said.
"Children look to teachers as their examples," Mr Dunlop told the court. "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."
The judge indicated he will reserve his judgment.
Mr Walker now works for two BNP MEPs.
After the respondents concluded their case, Mr Walker told the judge he regretted everything that had happened with the children in Tudhoe.
"If I could go back to that day I would certainly wind the clock back and it would never have happened," he said.
He said he had been dealt with more harshly than other teachers who were guilty of sexually inappropriate behaviour.
"I am alleging Mr Gove is acting out of political bias," he said.
The judge said judgment was reserved and the result will be available to the public at a later date.