BNP activist cleared of intolerance by teaching council

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The Independent Online

A BNP activist who posted comments on the internet describing some immigrants as "savage animals" while working as a teacher was cleared of racial and religious intolerance today.

A General Teaching Council panel said it was "troubled" by some of the postings made by Adam Walker, who also claimed Britain was becoming a "dumping ground for the filth of the Third World".

But the three-member committee said it was not satisfied that the "intemperate" views expressed by Mr Walker during his time at a school near Sunderland were suggestive of intolerance.

The panel did find part of the allegation against Mr Walker - that he made personal use of a school laptop during lessons - to constitute unacceptable professional conduct and is now considering what sanction he should face.

Delivering the committee's verdict, its chairwoman, Angela Stones, said some of Mr Walker's postings contained offensive terms and demonstrated views or an attitude that might be considered racist.

However, Mrs Stones added: "The committee does not accept that references to 'immigrants' are of themselves suggestive of any particular views on race.

"The committee accepts that immigrants to this country come all over the world. A negative comment about immigration to the UK of itself need not be indicative of racist views or racial intolerance since the race of immigrants is extremely varied.

"For the GTC to prove its case in relation to (the allegation of racial and religious intolerance) the committee has to be satisfied that contributions made by Walker demonstrated views suggestive of racial intolerance.

"Although 'suggestive' may be a relatively low threshold, 'intolerance' is a significant word which the committee has considered very carefully.

"The committee's view is that, to be suggestive of intolerance, the postings would need to deny or refuse to others the right to dissent.

"We do not find that the postings themselves were suggestive of intolerance."

The panel heard yesterday that Mr Walker, a technology teacher at Houghton Kepier Sports College in Houghton-le-Spring, used a school laptop to make the postings on a forum addressing the popularity of the BNP on Teessideonline in February and March 2007.

Using the pseudonym Corporal Fox, the former soldier claimed that the BNP had risen in popularity because "they are the only party who are making a stand and are prepared to protect the rights of citizens against the savage animals New Labour and Bliar (sic) are filling our communities with".

In another posting on the same day, Mr Walker wrote: "By following recent media coverage of illegal animals and how they are allowed to stay here despite committing heinous crimes, I am, to say the very least, disgusted."

Another posting claimed that "filth from other countries" were being allowed to come to destroy Britain, threatening to turn Britain into a "Third World cess pit".

An inquiry launched at Houghton Kepier established that Mr Walker, from Spennymoor, County Durham, spent up to eight hours using the laptop for purposes not connected to his school duties.

The teacher's trade union representative, Patrick Harrington, told the disciplinary hearing that Mr Walker did not accept his postings were racist, claiming that assumptions had been made about the teacher's views because of his membership of the BNP.

In a statement read to the Birmingham hearing, Mr Walker stressed that he had not communicated his political thoughts and beliefs to staff or pupils at Houghton Kepier.

"I have certainly never discriminated against an individual on grounds of race, faith or sexuality," he said.

Commenting on the content of his postings, Mr Walker said he had been influenced by media coverage of a female Pc shot dead by two illegal immigrants and the murder of British hostage Ken Bigley in Iraq.

"Looking back now, I feel that I was unduly influenced by the hostile climate the media created," Mr Walker explained. "This led me to express intemperate views which lacked complexity and balance.

"I have never condemned all immigrants or asylum seekers. My comments relate to those I perceive as coming to our country and committing criminal offences or otherwise behaving badly."

Mr Griffin later listened as the committee imposed a conditional registration order on Mr Walker for his misuse of the school lap-top.

The decision means that Mr Walker will remain on the teaching register and could apply for teaching posts.

But the order requires Mr Walker to notify any prospective employer of its terms.

Imposing the sanction, Mrs Stones said: "The committee accepts that Mr Walker has expressed regret and an apology and has demonstrated some insight into his failings.

"There is evidence from the diverse range of testimonials that Mr Walker is a hard-working teacher who has helped his pupils improve their attainment and there is no evidence of any concerns about his ability as a teacher."