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Jeremy Aldermartin
Jeremy Aldermartin, Solicitor
Category: European Law
Satisfied Customers: 8347
Experience:  Dual qualified Solicitor and Attorney
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Private school has expelled a 15 year old child because he

Customer Question

Hello,Private school has expelled a 15 year old child because he had published a racist picture in TikTok. Here's the key points - 1. Parents had not been provided with any information regarding the breach of the school's policy prior to the decision to expel. 2. The school did not obtain any independent expert's advice as to whether the picture was indeed racist. 3. Parents requested disclosure of all personal data on their son in the school which revealed that the school does not have any evidence that the picture was published by their son and not by someone else.Considering the above, please advise on the best legal grounds for a court claim against the school: 1. breach of expulsion procedure 2. lack of evidence to prove that the picture was indeed racist 3. libel and slander (defence of honour and dignity) --- which one of these three (or anything else) have better chance to succeed in the court given that this school is private?Thank you
Submitted: 17 days ago.
Category: European Law
Expert:  Virtual-mod replied 17 days ago.
Hello,

I've been working hard to find a Professional to assist you with your question, but sometimes finding the right Professional can take a little longer than expected.

I wonder whether you're ok with continuing to wait for an answer. If you are, please let me know and I will continue my search. If not, feel free to let me know and I will cancel this question for you.

Thank you!
Customer: replied 16 days ago.
I am happy to wait
Expert:  Jeremy Aldermartin replied 16 days ago.

Hi thank you for your message, please note that I will look to provide an accurate but nevertheless speedy reply to your inquiry. I am sorry to hear about your situation but I will endeavour to help you today.

Expert:  Jeremy Aldermartin replied 15 days ago.

Sorry to be clear do you accept the picture is racist? You are asking for expert evidence on whether or not it is racist, whereas, I am not clear what expert you envisage but it should be pretty clear if it is or is not racist.

Expert:  Jeremy Aldermartin replied 15 days ago.

You also mentioned the school expulsion procedure and that this was breached so what do you say they breached in the policy? You also say they have no evidence it was your son, so why do they think it was in fact your son who posted the picture?

Customer: replied 15 days ago.
Hi, thank you for coming back to me on this. Let me put in a different way - I see a dead person on the street and it may be pretty clear to me that he is dead however a death certificate cannot be issued without expert evidence in a form of a pathologist's report. Thus who can decide in the Uk that the picture is racist?As for breach of the expulsion procedure, the school had to organise a conference with the parents prior to making a final decision to expel, however the letter with their final decision came in first and the meeting was arranged after receipt of the letter.In reference to why they think it was our son who posted the picture - this remains unclear. I think it's for them to prove that it was our son and not for us to prove otherwise.
Expert:  Jeremy Aldermartin replied 15 days ago.

Thank you coming back to me to address your points:

1. The comparison to a dead body is not a pertinent one because there is a formal legal procedure that is needed to certify a death, there is not one for determining whether or not a picture is racist except in the instance of a criminal prosecution and presumably you would not want the matter referred to the police for a potential criminal prosecution of your son for a hate crime.

2. Any breach of the schools expulsion procedure is at best arguably a breach of contract but one which would not likely result in your son being able to return to the school in any event, you did have the conference and the result was the same.

3. Given this is a private school they do have a wide discretion and can determine that they just do not wish to continue to have your son at the school they could do so for all manner of reasons and do not need to prove anything, the only exception of course is they cannot discriminate based on a protected characteristic such as race or religion but if it was down to that it would be for you to show it was that not the other way around.

In terms of the legal action you suggested above, well 1 may work but as I say it is not likely to help except potentially you get some nominal damages for breach of contract. 2 will not work for the reason I set out at 3 above and 3, libel and slander is an interesting one. If you wanted to bring a defamation action, you would need to establish that a statement has been made about you which would lower people's opinion of you in the estimation of right thinking members of society generally. Broadly, the test is whether a statement would cause one to think less of you. The other side can defend a claim under the grounds of justification, privilege or fair comment. In relation to the defences, Justification is a complete defence to the action of defamation (as long as the defendant can prove that the statement is substantially true). The defendant does not need to show that there is public interest in the publication or whether they acted maliciously. Privilege, does not apply here because this applies to circumstances such as parliamentary proceedings or court hearings. Finally, fair comment, is a defence if the defendant can show that the statement is an expression of opinion on a matter of public interest (and not a statement of fact. A matter of public interest is viewed by the courts as matters which will affect people at large to the extent that they may be legitimately interested in what is going on (or indeed what might be happening to them).The comment does however have to be based on true facts which are stated in the publication or are referred to. The defendant must prove that the underlying facts are true. The defence will not stand if it can be shown that the comment was made maliciously. In terms of the chances of being successful, as an area of law defamation actions tend to be difficult to win because of the range of defences available and because courts are reluctant to impinge and curb freedom of expression especially where the comment that is subject to the action could be seen as in the public interest. In relation to costs, it is not possible to say how much this might be with any great specifics because it would depend on the lawyers you would hire, the area of the country and the complexity of the case but such actions tend to be expensive and cost many thousands of pounds. Furthermore, even if you are successful in your action you are not guaranteed to recover your costs.

I trust this assists you in understanding your position however, should you have any supplementary inquiries, do not hesitate to ask and I will look to clarify or expand on my previous response.

Expert:  Jeremy Aldermartin replied 15 days ago.

I thank you for visiting the website and for the opportunity to assist you with your inquiry. If you have further questions, inquiries or queries let me know post haste and I will attempt to answer them. Otherwise I bid you a good day

Customer: replied 15 days ago.
Jeremy,Thank you for your detailed answer!Just a quick one please - how would one get an expert opinion on whether a picture is racist or not?
Expert:  Jeremy Aldermartin replied 15 days ago.

I cannot see you could get one in the sense I do not see who would define whether a picture is "racist", as mentioned before in most cases it is somewhat obvious, therefore such expertise is not necessary. I trust this assists