#Human Rights
General Teaching Council

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 a near majority on the Council (12 of 25). 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."

We the undersigned believe that those serving on employment tribunals or professional committees must be unbiased and impartial towards those they are judging. The right to a fair, independent and impartial hearing is recognised in UK Law and International Treaty.

The Chair of the General Teaching Council (GTC) is Judy Moorhouse. She is one of the panel judging the case of teacher Adam Walker. Ms Moorhouse is an ex-President of the National Union of Teachers. That body campaigns for members of the British National Party to be barred from teaching.

Since Adam Walker is a member of that Party he is unlikely to receive a fair hearing. We therefore demand that Ms Moorhouse withdraw from the panel in the interests of fair-play and justice. Justice must not only be done. It must be seen to be done.

The Fair trial for Adam Walker petition to General Teaching Council was written by Patrick Harrington and is in the category Human Rights at GoPetition.