By Jaya Narain
A nurse sacked from a leading public school after smacking her son in her home has lost her appeal for unfair dismissal.
Susan Pope, 46, furiously condemned the political correctness which she blamed for the decision.
The mother of three said it was ‘nobody else’s business’ how decent parents choose to chastise their children at home.
Her ordeal began when her 15-year-old son reported her to the police for smacking his 11-year-old brother after he swore at her.
Mrs Pope was arrested, questioned and spent a night in the cells but no charges were brought.
Socials services were also called in and began an inquiry into the incident, while the boys were placed on the Child Protection Register.
The abuse accusations were later withdrawn, however, and both were taken off the social services list.
But Denis Smith, bursar of the prestigious Malvern St James School in Worcestershire, had suspended Mrs Pope nonetheless.
Then 61-year-old Mr Smith – a former major who has a conviction for drink-driving himself – began dismissal proceedings.
Eventually, Mrs Pope was sacked from the £20,000-a-year girls’ school because the bursar and his employers felt the rumours surrounding her could have a damaging effect on the school’s good name.
After losing her appeal for unfair dismissal from her £33,000-a-year job, Mrs Pope said: ‘I am horrified. I feel let down by the school and social services and now I have been let down by the employment tribunal. They wrecked my career. People in social services and others don’t understand that their wild accusations can ruin people’s lives.
‘My children are suffering from financial deprivation as a result of this madness. I am doing a shop job and not the professional career I had before.’
Mrs Pope, who is now a lingerie saleswoman for Marks & Spencer, told the tribunal: ‘We all know social services get it wrong every time.
‘They jump down the throats of normal middle-class people who chastise their children and they leave little babies to die.
‘Social workers don’t like parents smacking their children’s bottoms.
‘Social services didn’t like us because we weren’t frightened and challenged them.’
At the Birmingham employment tribunal, Mrs Pope also accused the school, which caters for girls aged four to 18, of ‘double standards’.
Mr Smith, the bursar who played a part in her dismissal, held on to his job after being convicted of drink-driving following a police pursuit in which a patrol car was rammed.
But the tribunal found it was inappropriate to compare his case with Mrs Pope’s because the circumstances were not similar.
‘I’ve had a unblemished record for 25 years,’ said Mrs Pope, whose husband Folke is a chartered surveyor.
‘As long as you don’t commit a criminal offence then what anyone does in their family home is no one else’s business.
‘My children weren’t taken away from me.
‘We live in a free and democratic society. If my husband and I had done anything wrong then the justice system in this country would have prosecuted us.
The tribunal rejected Mrs Pope’s claims that her conduct was not sufficient to lead to her dismissal, that there was not an adequate investigation into the truth of the matter, and that her right to a private family life had been infringed.
The abuse allegation dates back to early last year.
The tribunal made its decision in the last fortnight but only now has Mrs Pope decided to speak publicly about the case.
Adrian Davies, the present bursar of Malvern St James, said: ‘The unanimous judgment of the tribunal to dismiss Mrs Pope’s unfair dismissal claim against Malvern St James is welcome in that it brings to an end a difficult period for both Mrs Pope and the school.’
The Popes say they are trying to put the ordeal behind them.
Telegraph: ‘Evil destruction’ of a happy family*