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Teacher wins £1.5 million after being bullied by headteacher

Karen Hall said that the headteacher, Janet Sarsfield, had twisted her arm and thrown a tennis ball at her in front of a class of pupils during netball practice at the primary school in Durham back in 2004. The case went to a tribunal, which she won, but after resuming her job the bullying continued. She later lost her job and began further legal action, which continued for seven more years.The council did not back Ms Hall when she made her first complaint about bullying and harassment, later saying that it was a “complex case” that it had tried to resolve without going to tribunal. Over the next three years she made another 18 complaints. “It was just constant and relentless, just bullying and I felt very, very frightened in school… it was emotionally intense,” she said. “I wouldn’t expect a pupil to do that, never mind a headteacher.” The tribunal increased her compensation to reflect lost earnings and pension, saying the council had “flagrantly ignored” its findings.Durham County Council took the case to appeal earlier this year over the size of the damages awarded. Ms Hall had spent around £230,000 on the case, but the council is seeking to reduce its budget by £100 million and is contesting the amount, which will likely have the effect of pushing legal costs up further. Mr Justice Langstaff, the head of the Employment Appeal Tribunal, commented, “The astonishing tale… reflected very little credit on the local authority or the management of the school.”
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