Pupils suspended after posting malicious comments on Facebook

LONDON - A London girls' school has suspended 29 of its pupils after they posted insulting comments about a teacher on Facebook.

The pupils at The Grey Coat Hospital School subscribed to a group on the social networking site called "The Hate Society".

It is believed their comments caused the unnamed female teacher to seek counselling.

The girls were suspended for between two and 15 days after a pupil printed the webpage containing the comments and passed it around at school.

Grey Coat, a comprehensive located in Westminster, is a Church of England school for girls aged between 11 and 18. In its most recent inspection report in 2005, Ofsted assessed the school as "outstanding".

Rachel Allard, head teacher at Grey Coat, said: "While the offending material has been removed from the website, the school's decision to exclude these pupils temporarily was not taken lightly.

"It has been designed to send a strong message to our whole school community that we do not tolerate such behaviour.

"The vast majority of parents who have been to see me about this incident understand why we have taken firm disciplinary action."

Virgin Atlantic dismissed 13 members of its cabin crew in November last year after they insulted customers and criticised the airline's safety standards on Facebook.

Following an investigation, it was found that all 13 staff participated in a discussion on Facebook, calling customers "chavs", claiming that Virgin Atlantic's 747's were infested with cockroaches and that Virgin's engines require replacement several times a year.