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Education News

Teacher 'described immigrants as filth'

A BNP member posted comments on the internet describing some immigrants as "savage animals" and "filth" while working as a technology teacher, a disciplinary panel heard today.

The General Teaching Council (GTC) was told that Adam Walker used a school laptop to access an online forum in which he claimed parts of Britain were a "dumping ground" for the Third World.

Mr Walker, who resigned from Houghton Kepier Sports College in Houghton-le-Spring, near Sunderland, in 2007, is the first teacher to appear before the GTC accused of racial intolerance.

Opening the case against the former soldier, GTC presenting officer Bradley Albuery alleged that postings made by the teacher demonstrated views suggestive of both racial and religious intolerance.

Mr Albuery said Mr Walker used the pseudonym Corporal Fox to make the postings to a forum on Teessideonline, which addressed the popularity of the BNP, during February and March 2007.

In one posting, Mr Walker claimed 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 some immigrants hated people who were white and had western values.

It is alleged that the views expressed in the postings constitute unacceptable professional conduct.

Concluding his opening statement, Mr Albuery said: "This case is not about the BNP or whether teachers should be members of that lawful party.

"This case is about the actions and behaviour of a registered teacher, using a school property on school premises in school time."

Mr Walker, from Spennymoor, County Durham, is alleged to have spent more than eight hours using the laptop for purposes not connected to his school duties.

The teacher, who worked at Houghton Kepier for more than six years, resigned after his headteacher asked IT staff to investigate his use of the internet.

The teacher's trade union representative, Patrick Harrington, told the three-member disciplinary panel that Mr Walker accepted he was wrong to use a computer to access Teessideonline during school time.

But Mr Harrington submitted that none of the terms used by Mr Walker had demonstrated racial or religious intolerance.

"To us, the subject matter of what he was doing is not relevant," Mr Harrington said.

"Immigrant is not a racial term. Immigrant is simply a description of people moving to one country from another country - immigrants comprise of all different races."

Many people objected to the fact that people were not deported after committing serious crimes, Mr Harrington said, claiming that assumptions had been made about Mr Walker's views because of his membership of the BNP.

"There is an underlying prejudice and assumption that he is thinking in a racial way," Mr Harrington told the panel.

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

His statement read: "I have always sought to bring out the best in my pupils.

"I have certainly never discriminated against an individual on grounds of race, faith or sexuality. Part of why I became a teacher is to help people overcome social disadvantage and reach their full potential."

Mr Walker, who lived in Germany, Cyprus, Egypt and Israel while serving in the armed forces, said many teachers used the internet for many different reasons.

"I do not deny that I used my computer to access the internet," he stated. "With the value of hindsight I now regret making any personal use of the internet during lesson time. I would like to apologise for it."

Mr Walker - who previously lived and worked as a teacher in Japan and married a Japanese woman - said his travels had led him to value the beauty and diversity of different cultures.

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 should have taken more time to think about the possible offence my words might have caused and I think I could have expressed myself more carefully and positively.

"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.

"In many cases, I cut and pasted views from a variety of sources in order to provoke debate and these were not attributed.

"Had I been posting under my own name, I would have taken more case to distinguish between my own views and the views of others I was reposting."

The hearing was adjourned until 9am tomorrow.