THE fate of a teacher who admitted having a Bobby Sands mug and ‘Free Derry’ Christmas card in his classroom is to be decided this month – almost one year after the case first began.

Jim Beattie appeared before the General Teaching Council for Scotland in December last year before the case was postponed until January. However, it never resumed.

Almost 22,000 people signed a petition calling for the teacher – described as a ‘legend’ by pupils – to be allowed to keep his job.

The Evening Times can reveal the case began again yesterday and is due to continue today, tomorrow and September 7 before coming to a close on September 25.

Mr Beattie asked for the case to be heard in private, which was denied by the GTCS.

A GTCS spokesman explained the delay was ‘unfortunate’ but ‘unavoidable so the full facts of the case could be established.

He added: “There was an application made for this hearing to be heard in private. This was rejected by a panel and the hearing will take place on 4, 5, 6, 7 and September 25. Notice of public hearings is posted on our website. The time delay is not unusual for cases.”

“This is because of a range of factors including the application for a hearing in private; the deliberations of the panel; the legal arguments made on either side; and then the arrangements requiring to be made to find a hearing date that suited all of those involved, particularly taking into account the summer holidays. We appreciate any delay is unfortunate but it is unavoidable.”

Amongst a string of charges, Mr Beattie is alleged to have written the term “hun town” in his notes while working as a modern studies teacher at Our Lady and St Patrick’s High School in August 2014.

He is also accused of having a ‘Free Derry’ Christmas card and postcard, and a mug bearing an image of Sands – an Irish Republican Army member who died at the notorious Maze Prison in Northern Ireland after going on hunger strike.

Another charge alleges the teacher used “prior knowledge” of a Modern Studies exam to “advise pupils on the areas to study in advance” of the exam.

He is accused of having “inappropriate contact with pupils personally by email”.

Mr Beattie denies his ability to teach was impaired.

Mr Beattie was moved by West Dunbartonshire Council to the nearby Vale of Leven Academy after the concerns were first brought to light.

Speaking last year, a spokeswoman for West Dunbartonshire Council said: “West Dunbartonshire Council expects the highest standards from all of its teachers and stipulates that staff must meet the requirements of the General Teaching Council for Scotland.”

A temporary restriction has been placed on the teacher’s licence until the hearing has concluded.