A FORMER church volunteer is taking legal action against a school after a lengthy dispute about his personal views.

Peter Shields is applying for a judicial review at the High Court, claiming Harwell Primary School near Didcot wrongly judged him to be a safeguarding risk in 2017.

The Christian visited the school in his role as a youth and schools worker at St Matthew's Church in Harwell, before an investigation was carried out over his social media posts.

Although his three-year contract came to an end at about the same time, so there was no dismissal as such, his view is that the school 'interfered' with his freedom of speech.

ALSO READ: Council faces legal action over Trans Toolkit for schools

The 49-year-old, who lives in Chilton, said: “For anyone who works in schools, they thing they dread most is being investigated over safeguarding. Your heart sinks.

“It was a Sword of Damocles hanging over my head.

“I was exonerated but since then it’s been frustration - I’ve been trying at the least to extract an apology.

“If I had said left-wing things, in favour of same-sex marriage or open borders, that wouldn’t have been flagged up as unacceptable.”

The school allegedly raised concerns about some of his social media posts in 2017, which were passed to Oxfordshire County Council, Thames Valley Police and the Diocese of Oxford.

It came after the head of a neighbouring school saw them and - according to Mr Shields’s solicitors - felt some were ‘racist’, ‘homophobic’ and ‘contrary to a tolerant school community’.

Police concluded that no crime had been committed and the council and Diocese said they would not be taking further action.

He said the school never told him which specific comments they felt had posed a safety risk to children.

ALSO READ: Parents drop Judicial Review against Christian assemblies after school agrees on changes

Father-of-four Mr Shields appealed to school governors but they concluded in October that this should not be upheld.

He said: “I might have more sympathy if they had said it was professional misconduct, but that’s not the line they took - they said my views were putting children at risk.”

A document prepared by his solicitors said: “Governors stated in their own adjudication that the private views expressed by our client were entirely lawful, and there was no evidence at all that his views have at any time had a direct effect on the welfare of children.

“[His] claim is that your actions constituted a misuse of the safeguarding system to unlawfully interfere with his rights to freedom of expression.”

Last week solicitors told the school Mr Shields would not seek a judicial review if they apologised, admitted they were wrong and paid him £4,200 for legal costs.

He said he did not want to resort to legal action but that he felt he had exhausted all other avenues.

Mr Shields has been working as a delivery van driver for the past two years, as he said the process left him with a ‘nasty taste in my mouth’ and he felt unable to resume his 20-year career in schools.

He stood as an independent candidate in the 2010 General Election.

ALSO READ: Troubled school's new head writes to parents announcing changes

His Twitter biography states: “Apparently I’m a hateful, racist, homophobic, Islamaphobic, god-bothering bigot. Boy, ‘liberals’ sure don’t like losing an argument do they!”

Some of his tweets last year referenced ‘remainiacs’, ‘#CorbynOut’, #VoteUKIP, and #VoteTommy in reference to Tommy Robinson.

Tweeting about Boris Johnson's 'letter box' comment about burqas in 2018, he said: “At a school I worked in in Bradford I marvelled how at home time 100s of children would all go to the right pair of eyes peering out from identical black pillar boxes!”

In a crowdfunding page launched in 2018 to help cover his legal costs, Mr Shields wrote: “Although some of my views might be considered fringe or radical or contentious, they are also reasoned and reasonable parts of social, theological and political commentary.

“The idea that there is a very narrow set of social, philosophical and political views which can be held, and anything outside of these constitutes a ‘safeguarding risk’ to children is a very frightening, tyrannical prospect.

“What is at stake are some fundamentally important principles: justice, free speech, religious and political liberty.”

The school said in a statement: "The school has fully dealt with the complaint raised previously and is aware of the individual's intention to seek a judicial review. Due to potential legal matters the school cannot make any further comments."