Essex

Essex dinner lady 'bully claim' judgement reserved

An Essex dinner lady who was sacked after telling parents their child was bullied must wait for the result of her claim for unfair dismissal.

Carol Hill, 61, was suspended from her £125-a-month role at Great Tey Primary School after speaking to the couple in June 2009, a tribunal has heard.

It was told she was sacked from the school in September last year for the "offence" of going to the media.

The tribunal panel in Suffolk reserved judgement on the case until December.

It heard Miss Hill had told parents their seven-year-old daughter had been tied to a fence and hit with a skipping rope by other children.

Mrs Hill claimed that she was unfairly dismissed and said there had not been a "proper, fair and reasonable" investigation.

'Inappropriate game'

She argued that she was not given a correct notice period and complained that her rights to freedom of expression under European law were infringed.

The school disputed her claim for unfair dismissal.

Head teacher Deborah Crabb said four boys involved had explained that they were playing a game called "prisoners and guards".

She said the incident was not bullying but an "inappropriate game" that went too far.

A letter was sent to the girl's parents by Mrs Crabb, 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 had given more detail to the girl's mother at a scout meeting outside school, followed by a written statement to the girl's family - which was passed on to the police. She then called a local newspaper to tell of her suspension, the tribunal heard.

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

A three-strong tribunal panel reserved judgement following a three-day hearing.

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