A FACEBOOK group set up in honour of a former King’s School Chester teacher has become the subject of an employment tribunal.
The Bernie Routledge Appreciation Society was set up by former pupils of the school, inviting people to share their memories of the popular head of studies.
But it was comments made by Mr Routledge there that have formed a key part of accusations against him in a tribunal which began last week.
The tribunal relates to Mr Routledge’s nine months as principal at Howell’s School, Denbigh, before he was suspended in April 2011 for 10 allegations of misconduct – primarily social networking with children – before being sacked in October that year.
Mr Routledge is claiming unfair dismissal, breach of contract and that a matter of public interest disclosure was involved.
School trustee Robert Locke, who dismissed Mr Routledge, described his former employee’s posts on the Facebook page – which has since gone offline – as “dreadful” at the hearing in Wrexham Magistrates Court.
Mr Routledge, of Gwernaffield, near Mold, accepted certain comments on the page could be deemed “inappropriate”.
But he felt the “innocent” comments posted in December 2009 were being used as “part of a campaign” to get rid of him.
The tribunal heard a boy posted: “Mr Routledge will always be remembered for branding me a druggie,” while claiming Mr Routledge used to “kick the ****” out of drug re-offenders in his former role as a Metropolitan Police officer.
Mr Routledge’s response included: “Come on I’m a teacher, I’m not going to ask you which bit is wrong.”
Mr Routledge told the tribunal his reply related to the fact the claims made were “wrong”.
The tribunal, which has so far lasted five days, has been adjourned to March 11.