MP for Batley and Spen, Kim Leadbeater has released a statement regarding the teacher that is “in hiding” following the Batley Grammar School row that erupted last year.
Almost exactly a year ago, a row broke out at Batley Grammar School after a teacher showed an offensive caricature of the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) to teenage pupils.
The teacher, who was described as being in his late twenties with four children, has not yet returned to his job “for fearing for his life” after he was cleared of causing deliberate offence following an external investigation in May of last year.
Demonstrators gathered outside the school gates on two occasions, with some calling for the teacher to be sacked.
Muslim parents were upset that not only were their children subject to seeing a picture of Prophet Muhammed (PBUH), which is strictly forbidden in Islam, but that it was reportedly an offensive drawing by Charlie Hebdo, allegedly depicturing the Prophet (PBUH) wearing a turban with a bomb in it.
At the time, The Muslim Council of Britain (MCB) said images like the one published in Charlie Hebdo were “extremely offensive” and “plays into the Islamophobic trope of Muslims and/or Islam being synonymous with terrorism, and Muslims having a unique penchant for violence.”
Ms Leadbeater has kept in regular contact with the teacher since she was elected last July. Her door is “always open” should he and his family need support, but had been told on numerous occasions not to talk speak on the issue by the teacher’s family.
In her statement, Ms Leadbeater said: “Further to my previous statements regarding events that took place at Batley Grammar School in March 2021, I wanted to provide an update to reassure constituents that I have kept in regular contact with the teacher involved and his family since being elected as the MP for Batley and Spen in July 2021.
“I initially wrote a personal letter to him on July 21st offering him and his family my personal and professional support and have since had numerous conversations and correspondence through his union representatives. These conversations happen on a regular basis as I am keen for the teacher and his family to know that there is no time limit on my offer of help and support.”
She added: “However, I believe that it is not for me or anyone else to decide what they want or need, and as such, I will always be guided by what they feel is the best course of action. I sent another personal letter to him last week so he knows that my door is always open should he and his family need any help or support.
“As I have clearly said on numerous occasions, it is completely unacceptable for him to have been forced into hiding and his family put at risk. But the reason I am not discussing this matter publicly is that I have specifically been asked not to – by the family involved.
“From the conversations and communication, I have had it is very clear that the teacher and his family do not want their personal circumstances to be a matter of public debate on social media.
“They just want to get on with their lives. Their well-being is of the utmost importance, as is their privacy, which I will continue to respect at their request.
“Whenever I have a constituent who may need my help it is my professional duty to correspond with them through the correct channels and to do everything I can to respect their situation, their wishes – and their privacy. This is what I have done, it is what I will continue to do. It is what I will always do.
“If he or his family feel that I can help them in any way they know that I am here for them. I hope that provides reassurance to people who have very kindly expressed their concerns on this matter.”