WATCH | Shadow Home Secretary fails to defend free speech or suspended teacher

Shadow Home Secretary Nick Thomas-Symonds has insisted that Batley Grammar School was “right” to suspend a teacher who used satirical cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad in a Religious Studies lesson last week.

Speaking to Sophy Ridge on Sky News, Thomas-Symonds refused to defend free speech when asked about the protests from the Muslim community that had taken place outside the school gates, many of whom were calling for the teacher to be sacked.

“Should teachers be allowed to show cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad?” asked the Sky News presenter.

“Well, look. In this particular case I think we just need to lower tensions,” replied Thomas-Symonds without answering the question. “Firstly, the school has taken action in relation to this which I think was the right thing to do.

“But what we’ve now got to do moving forward is absolutely to be putting children first, lowering these tensions and moving forward. To continue to raise tensions in this situation certainly isn’t going to assist anybody,” he added.

Ridge returned to his apparent endorsement of the school’s decision to suspend the educator, asking the Labour MP: “You think suspending the teacher was the right thing to do?”

“Look, I think the school has acted. That has now obviously taken place, that action has happened,” replied a non-committal Thomas-Symonds. “I think what now needs to happen as I say is we need to lower tension and we need now to move on.

“We can’t have any situations where teachers or others are somehow intimidated going on about their work, that is something that is not acceptable.

“What we have to do is move on now and ensure that the children have that learning, especially when you consider all the disruption there’s been to young people’s education over the last twelve months. That absolutely has to come first.”

London mayoral candidate Laurence Fox lashed out at the comments on social media, tweeting: “No we don’t. We need to raise awareness of the debate. We are not accept sharia law in this country. Grow a spine.”