A truck driver from Kent has forced the British government to rewrite guidance for schools that want to show Al Gore’s climate change film, An Inconvenient Truth.
Stewart Dimmock, a father of two, brought a High Court action against the screening of the documentary in schools, claiming that it was “politically partisan” and “sentimental”.
His lawyers argued that the film contained serious scientific inaccuracies. They accused the government of backing the film, by the former U.S. Vice President, as a way of “brainwashing” pupils on global warming.
Mr. Dimmock, a school governor with children aged 11 and 14, said at the outset of the hearing, “I wish my children to have the best education possible, free from bias and political spin, and Mr. Gore’s film falls far short of the standard required.”
Yesterday the High Court judge Justice Burton said that the film did promote “partisan political views.”
In an indication of his ruling, he said that schools should follow the new guidance, which calls for balance when showing the film, which has been sent to more than 3,500 schools and is aimed at 11 to 14-year-olds. He said that he intended to give his full ruling next week.
John Day, Mr Dimmock’s lawyer, described the move as “a U-turn” but said it did not go far enough.
The government’s counsel, Martin Chamberlain, said the original guidance notes for schools, warning against political indoctrination, would ensure that the documentary was presented in a balanced way.
Although teachers could present the film in any way they wished, they were under a duty to provide balance – for instance, by explaining to pupils that some of the views expressed in the documentary were political and asking, “What do you think about it?”