A mother who lost a county court case in which she claimed her son was racially abused at a school in Burnham-on-Sea has been refused leave to appeal.

The Appeal Court ruling is a blow to Aliya Smethurst’s hopes of compensation.

Mrs Smethurst had claimed her son Mikhail was called “mud face” as a six-year-old at St Christopher’s School, which has since closed.

Mrs Smethurst, who now lives in Bedfordshire, also claimed she herself suffered ill-treatment while working at the school as a boarding house matron.

However, in February this year Judge Charles Wade dismissed her claim at Swindon County Court and a top judge has this week refused her permission to appeal against that ruling.

Lord Justice Dyson told London’s Civil Appeal Court: “In my judgement the county court judge’s approach cannot be impugned on any ground.”

Mrs Smethurst was seeking damages from the school and its head teacher, Diane Symes, for alleged racial discrimination, negligence in relation to bullying, personal injury and assault on Mikhail, now 11. Both the school and Ms Symes vigorously denied her claims.

Pakistan-born Mrs Smethurst alleged that between 2000 and 2001 at the school her son had been punched, kicked and spat on by fellow pupils and was once made to dress as a black cloud in a play.

Rejecting her bid to appeal, Lord Justice Dyson said: “Mrs Smethurst clearly feels strongly about this issue and the case has been fully considered. In my judgement it is not arguable that this court would review the (county court) findings.”

St Christopher’s School has since closed because of falling pupil numbers.


Court rejects racial abuse claim against Burnham-On-Sea school

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