A judge has described a BNP general election candidate's behaviour as "scandalous". Mark Walker, BNP candidate for Sedgefield in County Durham, had previously been sacked as a teacher due to misconduct.
A tribunal report, leaked to a local newspaper, reveals that Walker would have been sacked from his job at a secondary school regardless of his sickness record. Walker was originally suspended in 2007 after claims he sent inappropriate emails to a 16-year-old former pupil and watched pornography on his laptop at work.
After later being dismissed from his job, Walker claimed he had been "victimised" because of his allegiance to the BNP. It has just emerged that his appeal was rejected in January, at a tribunal hearing in Newcastle.
Walker developed a poor attendance record following his initial suspension in 2007 - and claimed this was due to stress brought on by his alleged mistreatment. But the leaked report includes employment judge Andrew Buchanan saying: “If he had not acted in the way that he did towards that former pupil, he would not have had reason to be stressed and anxious and he would not have become ill.”
The judge said Walker’s “culpable and blameworthy conduct contributed to his dismissal to the extent of 100 per cent” and that “he was the author of his own unfortunate illness”.
Walker's dismissal had been triggered by him participating in a demonstration, staged outside the school to support him. This was held on an induction day for new pupils.
The judge said: “The claimant’s conduct during the time of his suspension was, frankly, scandalous. For a teacher to be associated with a rowdy demonstration at the school gates on a day when pupils new to the school were being inducted demonstrates a failure to observe professional standards which this tribunal finds breathtaking.”
The report also rejects claims that Walker's sacking was politically motivated: “The tribunal does not accept that the headteacher herself was motivated by antipathy to the BNP, but recognises that that party does provoke antipathy in many people.”
Walker’s brother, Adam, also a BNP candidate in the forthcoming elections, played a part too. He wrote a letter to 80 school staff saying attempts were under way to “destroy his brother’s life”.
The judge concluded: “The claimant clearly was also cognisant of and supportive of the attempts of his brother and others to write to the staff and to seek to undermine the authority of the headteacher.”
This latest episode is yet another reminder of the reality of BNP candidates who pose as respectable politicians.
Alex Snowdon is a Counterfire activist in Newcastle. He is active in the Palestine Solidarity Campaign, Stop the War Coalition and the National Education Union. He is the author of A Short Guide to Israeli Apartheid (2022).
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