A SCHOOL has defended its decision to employ a British National Party (BNP) activist as a supply teacher after the move was questioned by politicians in the region.

Adam Walker worked at Teesdale School in Barnard Castle last year and may continue in his role when the new term starts next month.

Mr Walker, who teaches technology at Teesdale School as well as taking karate classes, stood as a BNP candidate for Tudhoe in the Durham County Council elections in May, missing out on a seat by 129 votes.

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The school employed Mr Walker on a non-contract basis, a decision which has drawn criticism.

Bishop Auckland Labour MP Helen Goodman said: "Teesdale School has a good record in anti-racism and multicultural education.

"I am therefore surprised that the governing body has appointed someone who was a candidate for the BNP and I am sure that many parents will be concerned as to whether this is consistent with the pastoral approach the school has taken to its students."

Roberta Blackman Woods, Labour MP for Durham City, said: "Anybody who is doing appointments at schools would have to make sure that the person was able to implement its policies and all schools have to have an anti-racism policy."

But Jane Philbrick, chairwoman of the board of governors at Teesdale School said: "We were aware of (Mr Walker’s) political beliefs from day one. There’s no evidence that he used his time at Teesdale School as a political platform.

"We’ve been pleased with the teaching he has carried out for us," said Dr Philbrick. "He solved a very difficult position where we were struggling to staff particular courses and he has turned that around. We have much to be grateful to him for."

Mr Walker said: "I’ve really enjoyed my time at the school and I think I’ve done some good work.

"I believe this is a political witch hunt by the establishment. I’m a qualified teacher but I’m being castigated for my beliefs."

Last year Mr Walker resigned from his job at Houghton Kepier Foundation School, in Tyne and Wear after allegedly using school computers to access right-wing material.

It has not yet been decided whether Mr Walker will continue to work at Teesdale School, though Dr Philbrick said: "On the basis of his teaching and on the basis of their being another appointment, the school would be happy for him to continue teaching because he has done a very good job."