Teacher barred over homophobic Freddie Mercury slur: ‘Shame he was a f****t’

Freddie Mercury wears a white outfit as he sings on stage during a performance with the band Queen

A former PE teacher has been banned from teaching after being found guilty of unacceptable professional conduct, which included calling the late, great Freddie Mercury a homophobic slur. 

James Gardner, who had been a PE and science teacher at Broomhill Bank School in Hextable, Swanley, was barred from teaching for at least three years following a three-day hearing this month. 

A prohibition order made against Gardner saw him immediately banned from teaching from 5 April, but the order allows him to apply for the rule be “set aside” from April 2026, Kent Live reported.

The 41-year-old, who joined to teach at the school for pupils with communication and interaction difficulties such as autism, on 1 September 2019, admitted to two counts of unacceptable professional conduct. 

A Teaching Regulation Agency panel scrutinised a string of allegations against Gardner, including a proved one which saw him make a homophobic remark about queer Queen frontman Freddie Mercury

The incident occurred while Gardner was in a seven-seater car with another staff member, and pupil who had earphones on.

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He said: “That man can sing for a f****t”, when a Queen song came on radio. 

In writing, Gardner told the panel he “cringed” on reflection of his actions, he added: “I should never have used inappropriate language as I did when saying Freddie Mercury was a fantastic singer, shame he was a f*****.”

Gardner claims the homophobic slur was a ‘joke’

“I realise this is an offensive word, but didn’t mean to cause offence at the time.” 

His statement went on to claim he said the slur as a “joke albeit in extremely bad taste” and “it makes me cringe to think that I said it”. Gardner added that he isn’t “homophobic or racist in any way” and wrote that he is aware his words “were not acceptable”. 

He added that he has “deep regret as it is not my true character to speak like that”. 

Further findings against Gardner included him not disclosing he had not completed the induction period of the Newly Qualified Teacher (NQT).

The panel found he had also failed to mention that he had been dismissed from a previous teaching post for gross misconduct, and another that while travelling in a car with another adult and at least one other pupil, Gardner referring to having smoked cannabis in the past.

Gardner only admitted to his prior dismissal and incomplete NQT, but didn’t make clear his position on any other allegations made against him. 

The panel did not reveal the name of the school where Gardner was previously sacked from. 

Broomhill Bank School told PinkNews: “Following the outcome of the investigation of Mr Gardner’s conduct during a school off-site event in November 2019 he was summarily dismissed; the matter was then referred to the Teaching Regulation Agency for their review. 

“The Teaching Regulation Agency concluded its panel hearing over the Easter break and the school and Local Authority support its findings.”

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