Page last updated at 15:44 GMT, Friday, 9 October 2009 16:44 UK

Assault conviction teacher appeal

Mike Barile
Mike Barile was sacked following his conviction for assault

A Dundee teacher who was convicted of assaulting two pupils has asked appeal judges to clear him.

Mike Barile, 52, was found guilty of grabbing a 15-year-old boy by his jumper and threatening him and pinning another boy against a wall.

However, he was admonished by the sheriff because the pupils had been verbally abusing him.

Barile, who formerly taught maths and history, was sacked by Dundee City Council following his conviction.

He still faces possible action by the General Teaching Council which could end his career.

At the Justiciary Appeal Court in Edinburgh, defence QC Graham Bell said Sheriff Charles Macnair QC had been wrong to find Barile guilty.

This case calls into question the real position that teachers find themselves in
Graham Bell QC

The lawyer suggested it was something of a test case to determine what teachers could or could not do to maintain classroom discipline.

The QC sited the Standards in Scotland's Schools Act 2000 which outlawed physical punishment in the classroom but allows "control" in some limited circumstances.

"This case calls into question the real position that teachers find themselves in," said Mr Bell.

The Educational Institute of Scotland, the largest teaching union North of the Border, are backing Barile.

Mr Bell told Lord Kingarth, sitting with Lords Mackay of Drumadoon and Marnoch, that the initial trial in the case had failed to prove that Barile acted with "evil intent", which he said the law regards as a necessary ingredient for assault.

'Discipline imposed'

Mr Bell also said that Barile had not been trying to punish the boy.

"It is clearly not unreasonable to try to impose a bit of discipline on the class by preventing the boy leaving," he said.

"Simply to grab hold of someone's clothing or hold an arm across their chest cannot in any circumstances be described as corporal punishment."

Mr Bell argued that other professions, such as prison officers or hospital nurses, had a legal right to use reasonable force in some circumstances and said teachers also had "a right of control."

Advocate depute Alan Mackay, prosecuting, told the judges: "There was sufficient evidence to entitle the sheriff to find Barile guilty of assault."

He continued: "The sheriff was correct in taking the view that this went way beyond what could be justifiable in terms of discipline imposed by the teacher."

The appeal judges will issue a written ruling on the case at a later date.

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