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Civil Liberty and Mark Walker

The County Durham British National Party (BNP) teacher, Mark Walker, has been banned from teaching by the General Teaching Council (GTC) for unprofessional behaviour after sending a sexually explicit email to a former pupil.

When Mark Walker was suspended from his workplace at a County Durham school in March 2007, Civil Liberty backed his campaign for reinstatement as the suspension was obviously premeditated and related to his legitimate political activities in the area. Mark Walker had previously polled well in local elections in County Durham (beating Labour) and later was only a couple of votes away from becoming a town councillor in Shildon, where he was a respected local teacher. At the 2010 General Election, he would also poll well in Tony Blair’s former constituency of Sedgefield, one of the ten British National Party candidates in the North East of England (the local party contested all twenty nine constituencies in the region) to save their £500 election deposit.

The initial complaint against Mark Walker (and another teacher) relating to misuse (viewing pornography) of school computers was proved to be false and the other teacher quickly returned to work. However, this initial complaint gave the school authorities the excuse to trawl Mark Walker’s computer in order to find more incriminating material.

In the meantime, Civil Liberty organised a demonstration outside the school in support of Mark Walker which was backed by hundreds of local residents, ex-pupils and BNP supporters. The campaign was also supported by Mark Walker’s trade union, Solidarity, after teaching and other unions backed the call for him to be dismissed for his legitimate political acivities. Mark Walker was represented at subsequent disciplinary hearings by Solidarity’s General Secretary, Patrick Harrington, who was keen to expose the teaching establishment’s drive to ban teachers for holding certain political views.

Unfortunately, the discovery of sexually explicit emails to an ex-pupil swiftly derailed the campaign and leaks from Durham County Council to the local newspaper about a NSPCC investigation into his behaviour whilst a teacher added to the pressure on Mark Walker and his supporters. British National Party chairman, Nick Griffin, wanted to drop the case and throw Mark Walker to the vultures. However, Patrick Harrington and Civil Liberty director, Kevin Scott, agreed that Mark Walker should have his day in court in order to clear his name. As a result, Civil Liberty agreed to partially fund Mark Walker’s case after he was dismissed from his teaching job for his sickness record in December 2008.

At the subsequent Employment Tribunal in Newcastle, the sexually explicit emails were read to the court and despite Pat Harrington’s best efforts to expose the duplicity and connivance of the school authorities, trade unions and local council in Mark Walker’s persecution, the case was lost. At the end of one of the emails, Mark Walker, a married man with a young daughter who appears on BNP publicity material as a contented family man, had written: “I love to fuck!”

Later, Kevin Scott was asked by Patrick Harrington to give evidence on behalf of Mark Walker at a GTC hearing which would determine his future as a teacher. Kevin Scott declined.

Civil Liberty stands by its campaign to protect Mark Walker’s right to free association and free speech, but withdrew its support once the Employment Tribunal was lost earlier this year.

Read about Mark Walker’s recent GTC hearing.