Daniel Bates, Daily Mail (London), October 21, 2009
A white pupil was battered with a hammer at a school where politically correct teachers were afraid to deal with racial tensions, the High Court heard yesterday.
Henry Webster, 15, suffered a fractured skull and brain damage after being set upon by a gang of Asian youths.
Twelve people were jailed over the 2007 attack, but Mr Webster’s parents have now brought a civil action against Ridgeway Foundation School near Swindon.
They claim there was a negligent failure to maintain proper discipline and deal with racial tension and are seeking compensation of up to £1million.
The family’s lawyers told the court a ‘culture of racist bullying and harassment’ built up around a 30-strong gang called the ‘Asian Invasion’.
Teachers were too anxious about being seen as bigoted to intervene, but white pupils were branded ‘racist’ by the acting headmaster and given harsher punishments.
Robert Glancey, QC, representing the family, said tensions escalated after the July 7 London bombings in 2005 and when more Asian pupils joined the school, some of whom were ‘radicalised and hostile’.
Racial intimidation and violence became a ‘feature of the life of the school’ with eruptions of ‘extreme acts of violence’, it was alleged.
Asians were ‘encouraged’ to separate from white pupils and formed a gang that would laugh at and abuse them.
Serious incidents included a riot on the playing field in May 2006, which led to armed police attending the school.
At the same time, white pupils received unfair treatment, the court was told. One boy was disciplined for wearing an England shirt.
Mr Glancey said: ‘There were a large number of incidents, events, complaints and warnings which would or should have made any school which was being reasonably competent realise there was a serious problem with racism, violence security, discipline and misbehaviour.’
Mr Webster was attacked after being told an Asian youth wanted a one-to-one fight. But reinforcements from outside the school were called in by mobile phone.
Among the 12 jailed for between eight months and eight years for GBH and ABH over the incident were Wasif Khan, 18, and Amjad Qazi, 19.
They were the eldest members of the group which attacked Mr Webster and were not pupils at the school. Instead they journeyed to there after a series of text messages and phone calls from Asian pupils.
Ridgeway School disputes the allegations against it and says blaming it for the attack, carried out by a non-pupil outside school hours, is ‘ unprecedented and far-fetched’.
The case is being brought by Mr Webster, now 18, his mother Elizabeth Walker, 46, who has her own nanny recruitment business, his younger brother Joseph, 14, and his step-father Roger Durnford, 44, who runs a building company.
They are also seeking damages, saying they were traumatised by witnessing his injuries and his suffering.
The case continues.