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An unfair dismissal case of a teacher has been allowed to be heard in an Appeals court (18 October 2012)

Date: 18/10/2012
Duncan Lewis, Legal News Solicitors, An unfair dismissal case of a teacher has been allowed to be heard in an Appeals court

A science teacher who was dismissed allegedly for miming a lewd act with a broomstick during class went to employment tribunal claiming unfair dismissal which was dismissed by the tribunal.
But a judge of an Appeal Court Lord Justice Elias ruled that there was a considerable amount of evidence which showed that she had been an innocent victim of conspiracy among her pupils.
He granted her permission to argue her case at the Court of Appeal after the former assistant head of science at the school had battled to clear her name ever since she was dismissed in 2006.
Patricia Isabella Davies was dismissed in 2006 after several pupils claimed that she simulated a lewd act, using a broom as a prop, while teaching them about the production of static electricity by friction at Willingsworth High School in Tipton, West Midlands in 2004.
The teacher from Wolverhampton, in her 50s, was given a final warning over the incident in 2005 after number of complaints was received by the school from pupils who said they had witnessed her demonstration.
She was dismissed by local education authority, Sandwell Metropolitan Borough Council, in 2006 for alleged misconduct with the broomstick allegation counting crucially against her.
Although Miss Davies' unfair dismissal claim was rejected last year by an Employment Tribunal, which said the warning had been issued in good faith, her representative, employment lawyer, told the judge there was powerful material contradicting the children's story.
That included records showing that she had in fact been teaching Hooke's Law of Elasticity on the critical day and attendance registers indicated that two of the pupils who made statements condemning her were actually absent from school at the time.
The lawyer said that on the day of incident she provided something appropriate a broom to demonstrate Hooke’s Law.
She had taught the class static electricity on another day and the two lessons were fused to make something salacious.
Justice Elias said that there was some possibility that there may have been some sort of conspiracy by the pupils to fabricate the incident.
He said that the school proceeded on the basis that the evidence from the children was so overwhelming that the new evidence could not be considered relevant.
The tribunal was satisfied that the final warning was given in good faith and had not been unfairly or improperly issued. It may well be that is a wholly sustainable conclusion.
But the judge said that the argument that the employer had deliberately chosen to ignore evidence which if accepted would have changed the whole course of the case hence the final warning was not of relevancy.
Her case will now go ahead to a full Appeal Court hearing.

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