Teacher banned from UK classrooms for life over 'links to terrorist organisations'

Teacher banned from UK classrooms for life over 'links to terrorist organisations'
A primary school teacher has been prohibited from teaching for life by the UK Education Secretary after a panel heard she funded individuals linked to terrorist groups.
3 min read
11 January, 2022
Miriam Sebbagh made 'numerous' payments to individuals linked to terrorist groups [Getty]

A primary school teacher in the UK has been banned from the classroom for life after a regulator heard she funded individuals linked to terrorist organisations. 

Miriam Sebbagh, 52, previously taught at Hunwick Primary School in County Durham. She was arrested in 2017 on suspicion of terror offences. Concerns over her state of mind, opinions and actions as a teacher were later raised with the UK Teaching Regulation Agency (TRA). 

A TRA conduct panel found that Sebbagh was "guilty of unacceptable professional conduct" following reports that she sent several payments to an individual linked to a banned terrorist group, as well as sharing extremist videos to a friend. 

Stuart Joyce, the headteacher at Hunwick Primary School, sent a statement to The New Arab which said: "We were first made aware of allegations against a member of staff at our school in July 2017.

"None of the allegations relating to the employee concerned her employment at Hunwick Primary School."

In October 2018, three months after Hunwick became aware of allegations, their board of governors met and made the decision to dismiss Sebbagh following an interim prohibition order, Joyce said. 

The former teacher was investigated by police but the Crown Prosecution Service concluded there was "insufficient evidence" to bring criminal charges, the TRA panel heard. 

However, the Counter-Terrorism Policing North East (CTPNE) maintained "a high level of concern" over Sebbagh’s actions. 

The panel was told she sent five payments totalling £2,500 to an individual linked to Al-Muhajiroun, an outlawed group accused by the UK government of spreading extremist ideology. 

British media reported that the person receiving money was connected to Anjem Choudary, a controversial hate preacher and leader of Al-Muhajiroun. 

The panel also heard about other payments totalling £1,310 made between January to July 2016 to an individual who is suspected of leaving the UK to join the Islamic State group. 

Additionally, Sebbagh sent four "extreme and concerning" videos to an individual, "one of which would be classified as a criminal offence to disseminate contrary to the Terrorism Act 2006" the panel heard.  

Sebbagh said during a police interview in 2018 that she regularly donated to good causes, including Muslim charities, as part of her faith. 

She denied making payments to those linked to terrorism. 

However, a witness statement to the panel said: "The only 'charitable' aspects of those payments were to support fellow extremists whilst under criminal investigation for terror-related offences." 

Alan Meyrick, on behalf of the Education Secretary, made the decision to ban Sebbagh due to the "seriousness of the allegations found proved against her".

Sebbagh did not attend the December hearing, The Northern Echo reported.