Essex

Bully-claim dinner lady sacked due to 'embarrassment'

Carol Hill
Image caption Carol Hill claims her rights to freedom of expression were infringed

A dinner lady who told parents their child was being bullied was sacked as governors were "embarrassed by the public outcry", a tribunal has heard.

Carol Hill, 61, had made her bosses at Great Tey Primary School in Essex "cross" and was unfairly dismissed, her lawyer Claire Darwin told the hearing.

She was sacked from the school in September last year.

The school's lawyer Oliver Hyams said Mrs Hill had brought the school into disrepute by causing a media "storm".

She was suspended in June 2009 after telling parents that their seven-year-old daughter had been tied to a fence by a number of boys and hit with a skipping rope, the tribunal has heard.

'Minor accident'

Head teacher Deborah Crabb told the tribunal the incident was not bullying but an "inappropriate game" that went too far.

She said she had written to the girl's parents saying: "You may wish to know [the girl] had a minor accident today.

"She was hurt on the right leg and right wrist with a skipping rope."

Mrs Hill's decision to then speak to the parents at a scout meeting had been a breach of confidentiality which would have earned her a "final warning", said Mrs Crabb.

She has told the panel that Mrs Hill was subsequently sacked for committing the "offence" of "going to the press".

Mrs Hill argues that she was not given a correct notice period and is complaining that her rights to freedom of expression under European law were infringed.

The school disputes her claim for unfair dismissal.

Miss Darwin, for Mrs Hill, said: "There has been an enormous public outcry.

"That is because the public felt that [Mrs Hill's] actions were right."

She added: "The reason Mrs Hill was dismissed was because the school and governors were embarrassed by the public outcry."

Mr Hyams said: "[Mrs Hill] clearly approached the press with a view to garnering support

"She must have known by approaching the media she was going to cause a storm and therefore public disquiet."

The panel is due to rule on the merits of Mrs Hill's claims on Thursday.

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