Exam whistle­blower wins £70,000 claim

The Jewish Chronicle - - NEWS - BY RACHEL FLETCHER

A SACKED teacher who crit­i­cised an Is­lamic school for us­ing books that de­scribed Jews and Chris­tians as “mon­keys” and “pigs” has spo­ken of his or­deal.

Colin Cook, who taught English at the King Fa­had Academy in Ac­ton, West Lon­don, was last week awarded nearly £70,000 for un­fair dis­missal by a Wat­ford Em­ploy­ment Tri­bunal.

The tri­bunal up­held his claim that he was wrongly fired from his £36,000a-year po­si­tion in De­cem­ber 2006 for whistle­blow­ing about al­leged cover-up of cheat­ing in a GCSE exam. He failed in a claim of race dis­crim­i­na­tion.

He re­ceived over £58,000 for un­fair dis­missal and com­pen­sa­tion, and £10,500 for in­jury to feel­ings.

Mr Cook told the tri­bunal that, af­ter his­dis­missal,hehad­dis­cov­ered­booksin Ara­bi­cused­bytheschool­whichre­ferred to “the re­pug­nant char­ac­ter­is­tics of the Jews” with the phrase “those whom God has cursed and with whom he is an­gry, he has turned into mon­keys and pigs. They wor­ship Satan.”

The private school, funded and run by the Saudi gov­ern­ment, was opened in 1985 for its diplo­mats’ chil­dren. It has de­nied teach­ing any racial ha­tred.

It has said the pas­sages in the books were “mis­in­ter­preted” and that they were not taught.

Mr Cook, a Bri­tish Mus­lim whose chil­dren had at­tended the school, said: “I am a teacher and it [the books’ con­tent] goes against that. I did what I had to do. It was the right thing to do.”

He de­scribed the texts as “pure evil”, and “ap­palling. It’s like some­thing from the Third Re­ich, ex­cept it’s not Ber­lin in 1940, it’s East Ac­ton in 2008.

“There was no al­ter­na­tive for me. What could I have done, kept quiet? It doesn’t mat­ter if you’re Bud­dhist, Hindu, any­thing, you have to speak out.

“None of the Bri­tish teach­ers knew th­ese books were there. You just wouldn’t think a school would have books like this. If this were a Bri­tish school it would have been closed down.”

Asked whether it had been painful to find the books in use in an Is­lamic school, Mr Cook said, “Yes. This is noth­ing to do with Is­lam. This is about Saudi ed­u­ca­tion and ob­jec­tives, what­ever they are.”

In his wit­ness state­ment to the tri­bunal, Mr Cook said books had in­cluded test ques­tions ask­ing pupils to list Jews’ rep­re­hen­si­ble qual­i­ties.

Af­ter his reve­la­tion in Fe­bru­ary last year, Academy di­rec­tor Su­maya Alyusuf told the BBC’s Jeremy Pax­man: “Th­ese books have good chap­ters that can be used by the teacher. It de­pends on the ob­jec­tives the teacher wants to achieve”, adding: “We don’t teach ha­tred to­wards Ju­daism or Chris­tian­ity — on the con­trary.”

This week Dr Alyusuf said she was “pleased that the em­ploy­ment tri­bunal has agreed that it is not a racist and dis­crim­i­na­tory in­sti­tu­tion and that Mr Cook’s sub­stan­tial and wide-rang­ing claims to the con­trary have been dis­cred­ited”.

She said Mr Cook had “been awarded com­pen­sa­tion on the ba­sis of le­gal and tech­ni­cal de­fi­cien­cies which arose from the Academy’s dis­ci­plinary pro­ce­dures” and said the school was con­sid­er­ing an ap­peal.

Colin Cook out­side the Saudi school in West Lon­don. He won his claim for un­fair dis­missal

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