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NewsScots RE teacher suspended after posting 'anti-Semitic messages on social media'

Scots RE teacher suspended after posting ‘anti-Semitic messages on social media’

A SCOTS RE teacher has been reprimanded after he posted ‘anti-Semitic messages on social media’.

Edward Sutherland said he created a fake Facebook profile under the pseudonym Stevie Harrison to keep an eye on those on the ‘fringe of society’.

The 52-year-old, who teaches at Belmont Academy in Ayr, South Ayrshire, posted messages under the pseudonym in 2018, writing: “F**k Israel”.

Edward Sutherland, RE teacher
Edward Sutherland created fake accounts to keep an eye on those on the ‘fringe of society’. Credit: Facebook

Another post read: “Looks like a certain Zio’s big nose is out of joint”.

After a four-day hearing the General Teaching Council for Scotland (GTCS) yesterday ruled that Mr Sutherland would be reprimanded for his actions.

He will now face a wait of up to a month to find out how long he will be suspended for.

Mr Sutherland was yesterday asked by his legal representative whether he would ever create another fake account.

He said: “Absolutely not, I have learned a lesson, posts were made when I was vulnerable.

“It doesn’t excuse it but it is part of the context, I am fully aware now of the utter stupidity of having done so and of failing to realise that even though I had set my page to private that is not a guarantee.

“For all those reasons I would not do so again.

“The page came into being due to my political advocacy, one of my charitable purposes is to educate about Israel and I see myself as an educator, the circumstances would not arise again.

“I shall be very well aware for the rest of my teaching career to be careful and circumspect about what I put online.

“I have caused harm to myself and I have caused harm to colleagues. I deeply regret it.”

Belmont Academy, Ayr
Belmont Academy (pictured) is where Edward Sutherland taught RE. Credit: Google Maps

The Presenting Officer, Gary Burton, then asked the GTCS panel to adopt a holistic approach when looking at the case of Mr Sutherland.

He told them to consider whether Mr Sutherland had harmed children’s thinking but also noted that no child was directly involved in the issue and that there was no abuse of power.

Mr Sutherland’s legal representative, Ken McGuire, argued that a shortened three month reprimand should be imposed rather than the standard six months.

Mr McGuire said: “I say six months would be too long, a period of three months would be appropriate. We are now in mid-April.

“A period of three months would take into the end of the school term which would mean he could come back next term with a clean slate.

“It would be a sufficient sanction. In my submission, the other sanctions would not be appropriate.”

The teacher, from Prestwick, South Ayrshire, had faced being struck off the register following a string of allegations relating to the inappropriate Facebook account.

Messages from the account read: “Back after a 30 day ban, my first thought? F**k Israel.”

While sharing a link to a JustGiving page raising money for a Jewish solicitor who is known to Mr Sutherland, another read: “I’ve seen it all now. Zio p***k’s asking for donations.

“Should be in the f**king jail for all the stuff he’s done.”

Sharing a post from a group member of the Glasgow Palestine Human Rights Campaign Facebook page, he allegedly wrote: “I knew I’d seen that f**king Zio before.

“Tried to stitch up a good mate of mine. P**k. Free Palestine ya b****d”.

Along with laughing emojis, another post read: “Zio p***k [redacted] been a bad boy.

“All these Muslims he claims to employ and two of his lawyers are done for drink driving.

Other messages read: “Looks like a certain Zio’s big nose is out of joint. Don’t worry [redacted]. You’re going to get what’s coming to you. I hear you’re in a lot of trouble. And that complaint’s going in.”

“A certain Jewish lawyer woke up this morning to find Free Palestine painted rather prominently”.

Mr Sutherland was a convener of the Confederation of Friends of Israel (COFIS) at the time but stepped down pending investigation.

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