Newham College principal on ‘leave of absence’ as ‘homophobic’ rant academic suspended

Dr Mark Walcott

Dr Mark Walcott - Credit: Archant

The principal of Newham College is taking a “leave of absence” after a senior academic was suspended following a secret recording of him making homophobic comments was posted online.

Newham College

Newham College - Credit: Archant

Principal Denise Brown-Sackey will not be attending work at the college while an independent investigation is carried out following the suspension of Dr Mark Walcott.

The Recorder understands former principal Martin Tolhurst is returning in an interim role.

Newham College head of Performing Arts Dr Mark Walcott was suspended pending an external investigation into a recording posted on YouTube.

In the 50-minute recording, Dr Walcott is heard saying: “You can find people that are gay... and they’re using their sexuality to stream through the way they teach the students, to boy children especially in boy schools.

“And those boys are becoming gay not because they have a gay gene but because they have gay teachers who are indoctrinating them with their gay mentality.”

Dr Walcott is also heard claiming he had asked gay teachers to leave schools in the past and that he believes gay teachers’ sexuality can stop them doing their jobs properly.

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The Recorder understands the recording was made in January 2012.

Dr Walcott is described as head of Performing Arts in a news story published on the college website last month.

In a statement, a Newham College spokesman said: “The College is aware that a recording has been posted onsocial media websites expressing views that do not reflect the values of Newham College.

“The College has instigated a full investigation, to be externally chaired.

“The individual named has been suspended, pending that investigation.

“Newham College has a proud reputation as a fair employer, not least as the only FE college in the Stonewall Workplace Equality Index top 100, and does not supportany discrimination against, or unfair treatment of, staff or learners in any context.

“As the provenance of the recording has been referred to the police, wecannot comment further at this stage.”

In one section of the recording, A spokesman for the lesbian, gay and bisexual charity Stonewall said: “We are unable to comment on an investigation which is ongoing but Stonewall raised this matter with Newham College of Further Education in early 2012.”