A Jamaican teacher who was sacked and prosecuted for breaking up a playground fight has won his tribunal claim for racial discrimination.
Dance teacher Ripton Lindsay, 38, grabbed the two boys – aged eight and nine – by the collars to prevent them ”tearing each other apart”.
But he was reprimanded by headteacher Susan Eriksson, who told him: ”This is not how we do it in British schools.”
Mr Lindsay was banned from working in council-run schools, prosecuted for assault and sacked from his position on the board of a nursery.
He was cleared by a court and has now won an Employment Tribunal claim for racial discrimination.
But the shame of the accusations has forced him to quit teaching.
Mr Lindsay, from Westbury-on-Trym, Bristol, said: ”My life has been ruined. I have walked down the street and had people saying I beat up children.
”This has destroyed my reputation and almost wrecked my marriage – I would not wish it on anyone.
”All I did was use my index finger and thumb on their collars to keep them apart.
”The system has told me I need to be an animal and that I should have stood back and let those children tear each other apart.
”I am a human being and I did what was right and acted in their best interests.
”This was an incident that happens in schools all the time and there had just been a massive overreaction.”
The saga began after Mr Lindsay grabbed the two agitated pupils in the playground of Millpond Primary School in Baptist Mills, Bristol, on February 24, 2009.
He found himself accused of assault and was banned from working in council-run schools, lost his slot on local radio and his place in the city’s famous St Paul’s Carnival.
He was also dismissed from his position on the board of a nursery school.
But the dancer, who has worked in more than 50 schools run by Bristol City Council, was cleared of all assault charges at Bristol Magistrates Court in December last year.
The rastafarian then launched his own legal action against the council, claiming racial discrimination.
“I was stereotyped and I felt degraded”
Today the tribunal judgment found Mr Lindsay had been left with the impression that as a non-British person he did not ”properly understand” how things should be done.
It also found then head teacher Ms Eriksson had ”failed to perform any sort of proper investigation into what happened” by not giving Mr Lindsay chance to state his case.
Bristol City Council now faces a damages bill running into tens of thousands of pounds when a settlement is reached early next year.
Ms Eriksson is now head teacher at another school in Bristol.
Mr Lindsay said her comment had been ”very racist” and the whole episode had wrecked his love for teaching.
He said: ”When the verdict came I felt a great relief but sadness at the same time.
”I felt relief because the case was not just for me but for anyone who has faced injustice from all walks of life and sadness because racism still exists.
”I was stereotyped. I felt degraded and after it had sunk in, the humiliation kicked in.
”Until this incident I loved Bristol and I loved my job but the system has destroyed me and it means I have to leave a city and job that I love.
”There is some serious damage that has been done. I have never felt anything like this – I hurt, I really hurt.
”I have made up my mind – I don’t want to teach anymore. I will take my skills to somewhere where they are appreciated.”
Mr Lindsay added the assault charges further damaged his name because in Caribbean countries the term battery is used for ‘gang rape’.
City council spokeswoman Katharine de Lisle confirmed the authority had received the full written reasons for the judgement from the employment tribunal.
She said: ”We recognise that it raises very serious issues.
”We are seeking legal advice and can’t comment further at this stage, except to say that the findings will receive full consideration.”
Jibin Philip, from Avon and Bristol Law Centre who represented Mr Lindsay at the hearing in Bristol last month, said: ”We are delighted that Mr Lindsay has been exonerated.
”No one should suffer like him.”