‘Now taking my employer to court. I have a right to lawful free speech in the interest of safeguarding children against harm.’
Mike Fairclough, recent former head of West Rise Junior School in Eastbourne, tells his story:
Clarification regarding my position at West Rise Junior School, resignation and future court case for discrimination, harassment and preventing me from making a protected disclosure:
I have formally resigned from my position as headteacher of West Rise Junior School. My resignation is in response to serious breaches of contract by East Sussex County Council. I therefore consider myself to be constructively dismissed.
I feel that I have been discriminated against, harassed and bullied for exercising my right to lawful free speech (in my own personal time – not during school hours) and for expressing my philosophical belief in the importance of critical thinking, free speech and safeguarding children.
East Sussex County Council has commissioned three investigations into my conduct following whistleblowing complaints against me. Each investigation has included a focus on my public views regarding the government’s response to Covid and its impact on children. Particularly regarding me questioning the necessity to vaccinate children against Covid-19. The investigations have concluded with me being cleared of any wrong-doing in relation to this aspect of the complaints. I have then been told by East Sussex County Council that I am free to continue to express my lawful opinions. Despite this, they have then commissioned further investigations into me for doing just that.
I have expressed a wish to return to the school but with the assurance that my right to free speech will be protected. I have asked East Sussex County Council to assure me that I have a right to lawful free speech in my own time and that I will not be subjected to further investigations for exercising my right to lawful free speech. This includes me expressing my opinions about the government’s response to Covid, including any future Covid vaccine rollout to children. East Sussex County Council has not been able to give me this assurance and not ruled out further investigations into me for expressing my right to lawful free speech. This is unacceptable and a serious breach of contract and of my human rights.
As a headteacher, I have had a legal duty to safeguard children against harm. My professional field of expertise is child development and education. I have publicly shared my opinion on the following matters concerning the health and welfare of children:
1) That lockdowns harm children and cause economic damage which harms the most vulnerable in society.
2) That I disagree with masking children.
3) That I feel that the risks from the Covid vaccines for children outweigh any possible benefits. Children are at extremely low risk of serious illness from Covid. The Covid vaccines pose known risks and have no long-term safety data. A child can still catch and spread Covid when vaccinated against the virus.
It has therefore been entirely reasonable and relevant for me to express my lawful opinions on these matters in the interest of safeguarding children against harm. To be stifled by East Sussex County Council from exercising my right to lawful free speech and to be repeatedly investigated for the same thing is unreasonable, untenable and intolerable.
I have issued claims against East Sussex County Council for discrimination, harassment and preventing me from making a protected disclosure. The Employment Tribunal has accepted my claim as a legitimate and valid case. A five day hearing has been scheduled to take place in November 2024.
I leave my position with many happy memories from the nineteen years during which I have been the headteacher of my school. The pupils are extraordinarily creative, resilient and talented. The staff are caring, skilled and enthusiastic. And the community of parents are the most supportive I have ever had the pleasure to work with. I wish everyone well for the future and feel optimistic that the school will continue to grow in a positive direction under a new headteacher.
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