school teacher Enoch Burke was ordered to pay legal fees to the Wilson Hospital School in a successful Supreme Court case by the school. The teacher was fired from his post over allegations of gross misconduct earlier this year, reports Breaking News.
Awarding the school with costs on Monday, Judge Alexander Owens ordered Mr Burke to be restrained from entering the school premises in Multifarnham, Co. Westmeath, but said the teacher had not been prevented from appearing outside the school gates.
In its complaint, the school argued that it was the right thing to place Mr Burke on paid administrative leave pending the conclusion of disciplinary proceedings against him.
It claimed that Mr. Burke was dismissed from his post because he intimidated and harassed a colleague and abused the trust of a student at the school who wanted to transition.
School attorney Alex White SC said Wilson Hospital School had sought €15,000 in damages for Mr Burke’s misconduct, as well as costs related to the case, reports Breaking News.
Defending himself, Mr Burke said his case was about freedom of religious belief and conscience and accused Judge Owens of ““exalted religious belief to the most serious of crimes” in his original ruling.
“You said that my religious belief was capable of amounting to gross misconduct if the charge was proved. These proceedings have been initiated against me because I took a stand on my religious belief, I stand by my actions in speaking up, and for the court to now ask me to pay something is punishing me for that religious belief,” said Mr Burke, reports Breaking News.
Judge Owens told him that what was at stake in the current proceedings was whether the court would award costs to the school and said that there must be exceptional reasons why costs should not be claimed.
Mr Burke said the court had a constitutional duty to uphold his rights and said Judge Owens “reneged” the promises he made when he became a judge.
After hearing Mr. Burke’s statements, Judge Owens said he had kept his oath as he had decided in the original case.
“You’ve harangued me now for nearly an hour,” said Mr Justice Owens, ruling that he was awarding the school the costs, reports Breaking News.
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