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School Spent £170k On Court Battle Over Bangle (Kara)


1947-2014 (Archived)
Jun 17, 2004
A SCHOOL that fought a legal battle to force a Sikh pupil to remove a religious bracelet spent at least £170,000 on the lost case, it emerged yesterday.

And an MP last night accused the school of using technicalities to avoid divulging how much money it actually spent, fearing it could be much more.

Sarika Watkins-Singh, then 14, was suspended from Aberdare Girls’ School in 2007 after insisting she should be allowed to wear a silver Kara bangle, one of the five symbols of Sikh identity.

The school argued she could not wear the bracelet because it contravened a ban on jewellery but the High Court ruled in the pupil’s favour.

Yesterday, Cynon Valley MP Ann Clwyd detailed her two-year battle to force the school to reveal the true costs – and the reason behind the decision to fight the case in the courts.

Speaking in Westminster Hall, Ms Clwyd said: “My patience has now run out

“The school has run rings around the law to avoid explaining how much money has been wasted on this stupid ill-considered action in defending the indefensible.”

Despite repeated interventions from the Information Commissioner, who has strong legal powers to enforce the Freedom of Information Act, the school has yet to release the relevant documentation.

Ms Clwyd added: “The public has a right to know how the governing body of Aberdare Girls’ School came to its decisions to pursue the legal case, and in particular it has a right to know how much public money was spent.

“The case has cost the school at least £170,000 but I do not yet know whether that is the full extent of it. The final figure is yet to be revealed. It may well be a lot more.

“I have asked questions of the school and its governing body as an elected representative and I ask those questions on behalf of the public.

All of it is information held by the school, none of it is difficult to provide, and I believe the reasons for its non-disclosure have been to shield those
responsible from the disapproval of the public for decisions they now regret.”

Justice Minister Jonathan Djangoly said he was unable to comment on an individual case, but added: “Non-compliance [with the Freedom of Information Act] is a criminal offence.”

A spokeswoman for Rhondda Cynon Taf council said the Freedom of Information requests were a matter for the school and the governors



Cleverness is not wisdom
May 2, 2010
How ignorant to refuse to acknowledge that a Kara is not jewellery. And here was me thinking that schools were staffed by intelligent and educated people...