Claim No: HQ10DO3740
SIR PETER VARDY
(1) TRIBUNE PUBLICATIONS 2009 LIMITED
(2) CHRIS MCLAUGHLIN
STATEMENT IN OPEN COURT
Solicitor for the Claimant
My Lord I represent the Claimant in this action, Sir Peter Vardy, who was knighted in 2001 for his services to education. The First Defendant is the publisher of the Tribune magazine, a weekly newspaper circulated in hard copy and online via its website. The Second Defendant is the Editor of Tribune.
In 1987, Sir Peter Vardy set up the Vardy Foundation to assist in the education of young people in the most socio-economically deprived parts of the United Kingdom through sponsorship of the City Technology College initiative. The schools with which the Vardy Foundation is concerned, through its Emmanuel Schools Foundation Academies, are open to students of all religious faiths, and the Vardy Foundation works in direct liaison with the Department for Children, Schools and Families. The schools that are supported by the Vardy Foundation are subject to regular Ofsted inspections and they work in tandem with their local Education Authorities. Three of the schools with which the Vardy Foundation is concerned have been awarded excellent Ofsted and HMI Inspection Reports since their inception and the fourth was rated as “good”.
On 5 October 2009, Tribune Publications (the First Defendant) published an article entitled “Creationist Claptrap that Beggars Belief”, which was attributed to the playwright Ed Waugh and the “Tribune’s Web Editor”. The sub-heading of the article said “Playwright Ed Waugh warns that Christian fundamentalism is having an increasing influence on British state schools”.
The article claimed that “the Vardy Foundation, led by Christian Evangelical Peter Vardy, which… controls three State Schools with the fourth on the way” was imposing “pseudoscience” “again on children whose education is paid for by taxpayers’ money”.
The article also claimed that; “By virtue of donating £2million of the £22million it cost the taxpayer to build an academy, the Vardy Foundation can impose its fundamentalist beliefs on children through the science curriculum”.
The article asserted that by virtue of the funding provided by the Vardy Foundation; “children in State Schools, funded by taxpayers’ money, are being taught in biology lessons that evolution is as much a “theory” as creationism and that everything was designed by a God creator as stated literally in Genesis”.
None of these allegations is correct. The schools funded via the Emmanuel Schools Foundation are not even faith schools, let alone ones which advocate creationism. As had been reported accurately by the Guardian before publication of the article, the allegation made in it that schools funded via the Vardy Foundation teach creationism “couldn’t be more wrong”. The schools sponsored by the Vardy Foundation teach an entirely orthodox syllabus, including its science teaching. The Sir Peter Vardy has specifically requested that at each Ofsted inspection, inspectors look for creationism anywhere within the curriculum of the schools sponsored by the Vardy Foundation, and on each occasion inspectors found no evidence at all of creationist teaching.
Both the Tribune and its Editor now accept the allegations made in the article concerning Sir Peter Vardy and his Foundation are untrue, and they have apologised to him for any damage which they have caused to his efforts to improve the education of the underprivileged. They also accept that Sir Peter is not a creationist, and still less has sought to advance the teaching of creationism by means of the sponsorship of education in the UK.
They have also paid a sum by way of damages to a charity of our client’s choice. Since the entire purpose of these proceedings was to ensure that Sir Peter Vardy was to set the record straight to enable the Vardy Foundation to continue to support the education of the underprivileged, he is content upon that basis to let the matter rest.
Counsel for the Defendants
I accept on behalf of the Defendants all that has been said by the Claimant’s solicitor. The Defendants accept that the aims both of Sir Peter Vardy and the Vardy Foundation are to promote the education of the underprivileged, and that Sir Peter Vardy has not sponsored schools through his Foundation for any other reason. They have apologised for and withdrawn the allegations made in the article, and agreed not to republish them.
Solicitor for the Claimant
Accordingly my Lord, I seek leave to withdraw the record.
For the Claimant
For the Defendant