A FORMER church volunteer is taking authorized motion towards a faculty after a prolonged dispute about his private views.
Peter Shields is making use of for a judicial assessment on the Excessive Courtroom, claiming Harwell Main Faculty close to Didcot wrongly judged him to be a safeguarding threat in 2017.
The Christian visited the college in his position as a youth and faculties employee on the Diocese of Oxford, earlier than an investigation was carried out over his social media posts.
Though his three-year contract got here to an finish at about the identical time, so there was no dismissal as such, his view is that the college ‘interfered’ together with his freedom of speech.
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The 49-year-old, who lives in Chilton, stated: “For anybody who works in faculties, they factor they dread most is being investigated over safeguarding. Your coronary heart sinks.
“It was a Sword of Damocles hanging over my head.
“I used to be exonerated however since then it’s been frustration – I’ve been attempting in any case to extract an apology.
“If I had stated left-wing issues, in favour of same-sex marriage or open borders, that wouldn’t have been flagged up as unacceptable.”
The college allegedly raised issues about a few of his social media posts in 2017, which have been handed to Oxfordshire County Council, Thames Valley Police and the Diocese of Oxford.
It got here after the top of a neighbouring college noticed them and – in accordance with Mr Shields’s solicitors – felt some have been ‘racist’, ‘homophobic’ and ‘opposite to a tolerant college neighborhood’.
Police concluded that no crime had been dedicated and the council and Diocese stated they’d not be taking additional motion.
He stated the college by no means instructed him which particular feedback they felt had posed a security threat to kids.
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Father-of-four Mr Shields appealed to highschool governors however they concluded in October that this shouldn’t be upheld.
He stated: “I might need extra sympathy if that they had stated it was skilled misconduct, however that’s not the road they took – they stated my views have been placing kids in danger.”
A doc ready by his solicitors stated: “Governors acknowledged in their very own adjudication that the personal views expressed by our shopper have been totally lawful, and there was no proof in any respect that his views have at any time had a direct impact on the welfare of youngsters.
“[His] declare is that your actions constituted a misuse of the safeguarding system to unlawfully intrude together with his rights to freedom of expression.”
Final week solicitors instructed the college Mr Shields wouldn’t search a judicial assessment in the event that they apologised, admitted they have been improper and paid him £4,200 for authorized prices.
He stated he didn’t need to resort to authorized motion however that he felt he had exhausted all different avenues.
Mr Shields has been working as a supply van driver for the previous two years, as he stated the method left him with a ‘nasty style in my mouth’ and he felt unable to renew his 20-year profession in faculties.
He stood as an impartial candidate within the 2010 Common Election.
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His Twitter biography states: “Apparently I’m a hateful, racist, homophobic, Islamaphobic, god-bothering bigot. Boy, ‘liberals’ positive don’t like shedding an argument do they!”
A few of his tweets final yr referenced ‘remainiacs’, ‘#CorbynOut’, #VoteUKIP, and #VoteTommy in reference to Tommy Robinson.
Tweeting about Boris Johnson’s ‘letter field’ remark about burqas in 2018, he stated: “At a faculty I labored in in Bradford I marvelled how at house time 100s of youngsters would all go to the proper pair of eyes peering out from similar black pillar containers!”
In a crowdfunding web page launched in 2018 to assist cowl his authorized prices, Mr Shields wrote: “Though a few of my views may be thought of fringe or radical or contentious, they’re additionally reasoned and affordable components of social, theological and political commentary.
“The concept that there’s a very slim set of social, philosophical and political beliefs which might be held, and something outdoors of those constitutes a ‘safeguarding threat’ to kids is a really horrifying, tyrannical prospect.
“What’s at stake are some basically vital rules: justice, free speech, non secular and political liberty.”
The college stated in an announcement: “The college has absolutely handled the criticism raised beforehand and is conscious of the person’s intention to hunt a judicial assessment. Resulting from potential authorized issues the college can not make any additional feedback.”