Mum loses racial abuse claims against school

PUBLISHED: 06:13 30 March 2006 | UPDATED: 09:04 24 May 2010

A MUSLIM mother who accused a fee-paying school of racial abuse has lost her claim for damages. Pakistan-born Aliya Smethurst, aged 37, alleged her son Mikhail suffered racial abuse as a six-year-old pupil at St Christopher's School in Burnham. She also c

A MUSLIM mother who accused a fee-paying school of racial abuse has lost her claim for damages.Pakistan-born Aliya Smethurst, aged 37, alleged her son Mikhail suffered racial abuse as a six-year-old pupil at St Christopher's School in Burnham.She also claimed she suffered ill-treatment on the grounds of her race while she worked at the school as a boarding house matron.Mrs Smethurst was seeking damages from the school, which has been closed for some time, and its head teacher, Diane Symes, for racial discrimination, negligence regarding bullying, personal injury and assault on Mikhail, now aged 11.She claimed her son was called 'mud face' because of his colour and was regularly kicked, punched and spat at by fellow pupils, leaving him bruised and lacking in confidence.In a judgement handed down on Monday, Judge Charles Wade ruled against Mrs Smethurst in her claims against the school and Mrs Symes.Mrs Smethurst was not at this week's hearing in Swindon County Court.At an earlier hearing, Paul Gilroy, for the school, said Mrs Smethurst had been 'principally motivated by bad faith' and cited expert psychiatric evidence which said Mrs Smethurst was 'exceptionally paranoid'.Mrs Smethurst, her husband Patrick, aged 41, and family left Somerset in 2001. They now live in Arlesey, Bedfordshire.Mrs Smethurst's lawyers said they would be seeking permission to appeal against the ruling from the Court of Appeal.In his 98-page judgment on the case, Judge Wade said Mrs Smethurst's claim was 'entirely devoid of merit'.He ruled that there was '`simply no evidence Mikhail was treated less favourably than other children, or was discriminated against'.The judge concluded: "In my judgment every one of these allegations is a false allegation and, sadly, I have concluded this whole claim has been brought in bad faith."In a statement released through her solicitor, Mrs Symes said: "We are obviously delighted that the court has completely vindicated us."It has been very difficult not to be able to make any public comment during the four-year period this case has been before the court."We now wish to put this whole matter behind us, content in the knowledge that everyone alleged to have been guilty of wrongdoing in this case has been completely cleared."Mrs Smethurst declined to comment on the judgment. The judge ordered that Mrs Smethurst should pay the school's costs on an indemnity basis, meaning she will pay a higher amount than normal. He added: "It does seem to me this is a case where I can properly say these claims are deserving of moral condemnation."The final decision on the amount of costs she will have to pay will be made at a future hearing.

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