Ex-teacher makes £225,000 claim over harassment

Brune Park community school
Brune Park community school
  • Court hears woman was subject to ‘extreme psychological violence’ at work
  • Barrister says her claim is not ‘legitimate’
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A FORMER senior teacher has launched a £225,000 personal injury claim against her old employer alleging colleagues conspired against her, a court heard.

Sheri Stradling told the county court in Winchester ‘extreme psychological violence’ was used against her at Brune Park Community College in Gosport.

I think there was violence in respect of there being only one outcome which was the destruction of my career

Sheri Stradling

Mrs Stradling, now of Wade Court Road, Havant, was assistant principal at the college in 2007 and 2008.

Giving evidence in her civil case against Hampshire County Council she told the court: ‘I believe there was an act of extreme psychological violence against me.’

The court heard Mrs Stradling alleges then headteacher Dr Ian Johnson, first vice-principal Caroline Dearden and second vice-principal Liam Stapleton conspired against her amid alleged problems with her work.

She was suspended from her post after colleagues complained to Dr Johnson about her work leading a specialist status bid, the court heard. The allegations centred around work she had allegedly not done in the college’s bid to be re-designated as a specialist in performing arts before a visit by Ofsted inspectors.

Under under cross-examination from Angus Piper, barrister for the council, Mrs Stradling said she was not pushed, shoved, threatened and that nobody said they would get her.

Mr Piper said: ‘So there was no violence within the ordinary meaning of that word.’

But Mrs Stradling replied: ‘I think there was violence in respect of there being only one outcome which was the destruction of my career.

‘I consider that to be an act of violence.’

The court heard Mrs Stradling had an ‘absolutely fine’ working relationship with Dr Johnson between 2005 and 2007. She claimed that colleagues who complained about her had been told by Mr Stapleton she had been ‘negligent in management of the specialist status’.

The court heard Mrs Stradling accepted a £25,000 compromise agreement at the time in 2008 as she was unwell.

David Cunnington, for Mrs Stradling, said both parties had agreed the value of the claim was worth £225,000.

But Mr Piper said it was ‘not a legitimate harassment claim’. He suggested that Mrs Stradling had seven years to stew over what happened and he said ‘wrong thoughts had got entrenched’.

‘It’s a conspiracy that existed only in her mind and it’s not grounded in reality,’ he said.

The case is being brought under the civil section of the Protection form Harassment Act. A ruling by judge Iain Hughes QC is expected this month.