Council tells the teacher who raised safeguarding concerns about 8-year-old’s ‘gender transition’: pay £14,000 now or we will come after your house15 June 2023 Issued by: Christian Concern
In a latest twist of the ongoing legal battle, bosses at Nottinghamshire County Council have written to the teacher it had sacked from her job at a primary school for raised a safeguarding alarm about a child, demanding that she pays their £14,000 legal costs of defending the case against her.
The Council argues that it would be lawful to “enforce” the costs immediately and has proposed to re-mortgage her house where she lives with her husband.
Supported by the Christian Legal Centre, the teacher known as ‘Hannah’, not her real name, pursued a judicial review against Nottinghamshire County Council and the primary school where she had worked without issue for 7 years.
She said that the council and school had repeatedly failed in their safeguarding duty to 8-year-old ‘Child X’, who was initially in her class, and who cannot be identified for legal reasons.
Pursuant to an order made by the Court, the child, the school and all its staff must remain anonymous to ensure this does not lead to a jigsaw identification of the child.
The Council sacked Hannah after being served with the legal proceedings on the grounds that she breached confidentiality by bringing the claim. The Council also reported the alleged breach to the DBS, the Information Commissioner and the Teaching Regulatory Authority (TRA). Both the DBS and the Information Commissioner have already confirmed they will take no action, as the allegation is unsupported by evidence. However, while TRA investigation against Hannah is still ongoing, she cannot work as a teacher and had to find a job at a sandwich bar.
Hannah’s claim against the Council for unfair dismissal and under the whistleblowing legislation is to be heard by the Employment Tribunal next year.
Meanwhile, the High Court has refused the permission for judicial review to proceed on the grounds that Hannah lacked ‘standing’ to challenge safeguarding failures in relation to Child X, because in response to raising a safeguarding concern, the School had moved the child to a different class and she was no longer Child X’s teacher. The Court also ordered her to pay Council’s legal costs. The decision has been upheld by the Court of Appeal last month.
The ruling is despite the provision of the Department of Education safeguarding guidance, ‘Keeping Children Safe in Education’, which places responsibility for raising safeguarding issues on “all staff and volunteers”.
Ahead of the new school term in September 2021, based on the advice from trans rights organisations such as Stonewall and Mermaids, the council instructed all school staff always to refer to the child by male pronouns and name and that she should use boys’ toilets, dressing rooms and dormitories as requested.
Believing the child was vulnerable, Hannah, who is a Christian, said she could not support the ‘gender transition’ as she believed it would cause the child short and long-term harm.
Hannah invoked the school’s and the council’s whistleblowing procedure to argue that the trans-affirming approach was not based on medical evidence or compliance with the safeguarding procedures and was putting the child’s health and welfare at risk.
Hannah relied on several expert reports from scientists and doctors highlighting the dangers of encouraging ‘gender transition’ in young children.
We are coming after your house
Having exhausted the School’s and Council’s procedures, Hannah faced no alternative but to pursue her safeguarding concern in the courts – only to see it brushed aside again, and to be ordered to pay £14,000 to cover her opponents’ legal costs.
Her lawyers have argued that Hannah had been impoverished by being unlawfully sacked by the Council, and that enforcing the costs order would be unlawful under the whistleblowing legislation before the Employment Tribunal rules on her case.
However, Nottinghamshire County Council had demanded an immediate payment and threatened to enforce the order against Hannah’s house. Its letter sets out the details of the family home jointly held by Hannah and her husband who moved there with their children in 2006, followed by the details about the existing mortgage and an estimate and its current market value. The Council has offered Hannah to agree to re-mortgage her house to secure her costs debt.
Reported for ‘criminal offence’
On top of this, the school has reported Hannah to the Information Commissioner for a criminal offence under the Data Protection Act. The Information Commissioner has concluded there was no evidence of a criminal offence and decided to take no further action.
The school also reported Hannah to the professional regulator, Teaching Regulation Agency (TRA), for an alleged confidentiality breach. The TRA is currently investigating the case. If found guilty of professional misconduct, Hannah may face a lifelong ban from the profession.
Reporting Hannah to the Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS), the school also sought to bar her from teaching. The DBS, however, has declined to impose a ban following an investigation.
After a life-long career as a professional teacher, Hannah has now been forced to find a job in a sandwich bar.
Employment Tribunal claim
Last month, Hannah launched an Employment Tribunal claim against the school for victimising her for whistleblowing, unfair dismissal, and religious discrimination.
She has alleged that the school dismissed her, and reported her to a raft of regulators, for blowing the whistle on the school’s practice which endangered the child’s safety, health and welfare.
The Employment Tribunal is expected to hear the claim in August 2024.
Hannah has also written to Education Secretary, Gillian Keegan, requesting a meeting to discuss her case, but this has been refused.
Her case and the TRA investigation come despite a scathing report published by the Policy Exchange, ‘Asleep at the Wheel: An Examination of Gender and Safeguarding in Schools.’
The report reveals the disturbing extent of extreme transgender and gender identity ideology in UK schools and in the foreword to the report Rosie Duffield MP, who says that:
“A generation of children are being let down, because well-established safeguarding standards are being compromised.”’
‘I will not be intimidated’
Hannah said in response the threats from the local council and rulings from the courts: ““The council are seeking to intimidate us into dropping pursuit of any further legal claims by targeting my assets and my home.
“We will not be intimidated and will continue to pursue justice.
“The actions and approach from the local council from the beginning reveal the hostility toward anyone who dares challenge trans affirmation in schools. Transgender ideology is now so embedded in our schools and institutions that if you challenge the secular orthodoxy on these issues the weight of the whole system comes against you.
“The ruling from the judges in the judicial review claim was disappointing and disturbing. I was shocked that courts appear to have manoeuvred the case from the start to prevent any accountability or exposure of the true substance of the case. The ruling blocks anyone from taking forward the claim who is not on board with affirming Child X through gender transition, which should concern us all.
“Teachers are being bullied not to question trans affirming policies when evidence shows that the actual result of the approach is to put the welfare of children at serious risk.”
Andrea Williams, chief executive of the Christian Legal Centre who are backing Hannah’s case, said: “What we are seeing here is the full weight of ‘the system’ coming against a teacher who has dared to expose and challenge the dangerous trans affirming approach of a local authority and primary school.
“We are at a very serious crossroads on these issues as we anticipate the long-awaited guidelines from the government on trans ideology in UK schools.
“The Courts have sent a clear message that teachers concerned about the gender transition of a child and the impact it has on other pupils, cannot bring a legal challenge, or have the decisions of the school and local authority involved, properly scrutinised.
“Hannah’s is not an isolated case. Any teacher who dares to raise an issue around the promotion of LGBTQ ideologies in schools or more specifically the safety and well-being of children exhibiting distress over gender or sexual identity is likely to face sanction and dismissal.
“The more recent development of having such teachers reported as a terrorist and/or safeguarding risk is even worse. These teachers are then removed from the profession and deemed unfit to teach.
“Hannah’s case will test the sanity of the courts and our society. If justice cannot be secured I fear for the future and well-being of our children.
“A lot is riding on this case. What happens in the UK has an impact on what happens across legal jurisdictions in the western world who are dealing with this issue. We are hoping that sanity will prevail, and Hannah will be able to return to the job she loves. Securing justice in this way is vital not only for teachers who think and would act in the same way but for the safety and well-being of children in their care.”