Teacher unfairly dismissed after pupil lied about being locked in a cupboard
A teacher was unfairly dismissed after a pupil with hundreds of behaviour complaints against him lied about being locked in a cupboard as punishment.
Abdul Mohammad Basit was fired despite the boy and two other pupils who accused him having bad behaviour records – with one having 605 behaviour complaints – and there not even being a lock on the door.
Days after accusing his teacher of forcing him into a cupboard, the 14-year-old pupil told another teacher he would make something up about them. He also threatened to hound a supply teacher “out”.
A hearing was told that Mr Basit was teaching a Year 9 class at Pleckgate High School in Blackburn, Lancashire, when he joked that an unruly pupil should go in the cupboard to stop disrupting the class.
After making the joke, Mr Basit said that to his surprise the pupil, who liked to play the class clown, did enter the cupboard.
But after the lesson, the pupil met with two other students from the class and they went to the headteacher to complain about the incident.
The student said he was in the cupboard for five minutes and had been locked in, but Mr Basit said he was only in there for about 10 to 15 seconds.
The tribunal also heard there was no lock on the cupboard.
The school still chose to believe what the pupils said over Mr Basit’s version of events and sacked him for the incident.
Now an employment tribunal has ruled that Mr Basit was wrongfully dismissed as he had simply been joking and his behaviour did not amount to gross misconduct.
Employment judge Liz Ord said: “The pupil understood Mr Basit’s comments to be a joke but liked to play the class clown and decided to take his words literally.
“This was not gross misconduct on the part of Mr Basit and his complaint of wrongful dismissal is well founded.”