On Monday September 8th, Adam Walker attended a ‘professional conduct’ hearing of the General Teaching Council (GTC). Adam is accused of using his school laptop to check email and post to a local internet forum during class-time. He is further accused of displaying ‘racial and religious intolerance’ in his postings. The case raises a number of interesting ethical, political and legal questions. Adam was represented by the Solidarity Trade Union.
In standard checks made by Solidarity it was discovered that one of the panel appointed to judge Adam was a former President of the National Union of Teachers (NUT), Judy Moorhouse. The NUT has recently stated that no member of the British National Party (BNP) should be allowed to teach! Ms Moorhouse herself has strong political opinions which are a matter of record. Additionally the NUT political fund was set-up specifically with the aim of countering the BNP and the NUT is affiliated to both ‘Trade Union Friends of Searchlight’ and ‘Unite Against Fascism’. Both groups campaign for restrictions on the rights of BNP members. Adam Walker is a member of the BNP.
Solidarity cited a number of legal precedents including:-
1. Magill v. Porter Magill v. Weeks (2001) and;
2. Regina v. Bow Street Metropolitan Stipendiary Magistrate, ex parte Pinochet Ugarte (1999)
Put simply the first precedent establishes a test for bias and the second indicates that bias can be caused by strong attachment to campaigns as well as pecuniary interest.
After lengthy legal argument on the basis of the legal precedents Solidarity had produced and those produced by the Presenting Officer the Solidarity Representative was able to submit a list of twenty questions to Judy Moorhouse relating to her bias. The case has now been adjourned in order that Ms Moorhouse can research her answers. These will then be sent to Solidarity and they may have further questions. Whilst the delay in proceedings is deeply unfortunate it is absolutely vital that bias is challenged and tested and ensure that there is a fair hearing.
Solidarity will be attending in November once again to discuss further matters regarding legal issues and they expect that the case itself might be heard in December or early in the following year. Pat Harrington, the General Secretary of Solidarity commented:-
“I think that it is very important that public confidence in the impartiality and fairness of bodies like the GTC is maintained. It worries me that the NUT now have so much influence on the Council given their extremist policies and statements. I can only hope that the NUT members on it are capable of acting independently. I find it odd at first sight, however, that Judy Moorhouse did not exercise her right to recuse herself from this panel. I don’t think that a reasonable person, with full information, would conclude that Ms Moorhouse could judge this case fairly. Adam is entitled to a fair, impartial hearing and we will do our utmost to ensure that he gets one.”
Solidarity has called for lovers of liberty to contact the GTC and demand that Judy Moorhouse stand down in the interests of a fair and impartial hearing. “If this trial’s not for show, Judy must go” said Pat Harrington.
Solidarity urges you to email, fax or write to Ms Moorhouse at the GTC and ask her to step down in favour of someone of more independent mind. The Brotherhood has called for action, it wants you not only to contact the GTC but to viral this out as widely as possible to get the message over that the public demand a fair hearing of this case. Let’s make sure the GTC get the messsage.
The contact details are:-
General Teaching Council for England
Victoria Square House
You can also sign the online petition