Prison teacher 'sacked after X Factor appearance'
Published 08/11/2011 | 07:51
A PRISON teacher who auditioned on The X Factor was suspended and later sacked after bosses claimed the skimpy outfit she wore on the show was "inappropriate", a tribunal has heard.
Faye Bray, who taught life skills and literacy to young offenders, appeared on the ITV1 talent show in 2009, when Simon Cowell and Louis Walsh joked about her job.
She claimed that after the audition was broadcast, bosses at HMP Brinsford in Wolverhampton would frequently criticise her appearance.
She told an employment tribunal in Birmingham that she was shouted at over the height of her heels, the length of her skirt and wearing hair extensions at work, but insisted she had always dressed within prison guidelines, never wearing a skirt above the knee.
Mrs Bray, who worked part-time as a cabaret singer, claimed that colleagues suggested that she had used her prison job to further her stage career.
“I was also reprimanded for the clothes I wore for the show and told they were inappropriate,” she said. “They were no different in style to other performers who, like me, wished to make an impact on the judges and audience.
“The show’s producers initially asked me to wear a bikini but I declined.”
The tribunal heard that Mrs Bray was suspended in October 2009 while her X Factor appearance was investigated. She claimed she was reinstated only after the prison’s governor, whom Mrs Bray described as having “antiquated” views about women, left his job.
She was suspended again in September last year over an alleged security breach when it was claimed she had given her phone number and address to an inmate. She was also accused of not seeking proper permission while trying to arrange a visit by a local MP.
Mrs Bray dismissed these allegations, which were later found to be false, as “malicious and totally baseless”.
Later in the year, she faced a third bout of disciplinary proceedings after bosses viewed her personal website, on which she was pictured posing “provocatively”. Mrs Bray received a final letter in December advising her that she had been permanently excluded from the prison. “I was told that the image I portray in my performance and on my website was not compatible with the standards required of me as a prison teacher,” she said.
Mrs Bray, a mother of three, has accused the Manchester College, which provides teaching staff to the prison service, of unfair dismissal, sexual discrimination and failing to provide written conditions of employment. The other respondent in the case is the Secretary of State for Justice.
Mrs Bray performed the Ike & Tina Turner song River Deep, Mountain High in her audition. After telling judges her job, Simon Cowell said: “I bet you’re popular.”
Louis Walsh then asked her if that was how she dressed for work, to which she replied that she dressed “like Margaret Thatcher”.
The case continues.