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Last Updated: Thursday, 21 April, 2005, 19:03 GMT 20:03 UK
Blair 'sorry' for jailed teacher
Linda Walker
Linda Walker was jailed for confronting youths with an airgun
Prime Minister Tony Blair has expressed sympathy for a teacher jailed for six months for grabbing an airgun to confront "yobs" outside her home.

Linda Walker fired the pistol at the pavement during a stand-off with a gang of youths.

Mr Blair said he felt "very sorry" for the teacher, jailed last month.

He said he hoped Home Office minister Hazel Blears would intervene to make sure Ms Walker could attend her teaching disciplinary hearing.

I actually feel very sorry for Linda Walker
Tony Blair

At her trial Walker, from Urmston, Manchester, said her family and home had been plagued by anti-social behaviour.

She told police she had received nuisance phonecalls, her garden shed had been broken into, and a car and her garden had been vandalised.

She was jailed after being found guilty of affray and possessing a firearm with intent to cause fear and violence.

Speaking on Granada Reports, Mr Blair said: "I actually feel very sorry for Linda Walker and I hope Hazel Blears, the Home Office minister, has intervened in her disciplinary hearing to ensure it is at a time when she can be there because she has been a teacher for many years."

He added: "I can't start interfering in court decisions but I read about the case in the papers at the time and I do feel very sorry for her."

Walker, who teaches children with behavioural problems at New Park School in Salford, is set to appeal against her conviction.

Howard backing

Conservative leader Michael Howard has already questioned the jail sentence handed out to the teacher.

Mr Howard compared her punishment with the case of a driver who was drunk and driving without a licence or insurance when he knocked down and killed a 12-year-old boy, yet was sentenced to just two months in prison.

Salford City Council said the head teacher and governors at New Park High School would be making a decision on whether she could keep her job.

Last week Walker went on hunger strike after an appeal judge refused to release her on bail while she appeals against her conviction. She has since ended her protest.



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