THE actor famous for playing Eric Catchpole in the Lovejoy television series has accused Chipping Campden School's headteacher of planning to control her pupils Big Brother-style.

Headteacher, Annette France, responded to Chris Jury's accusation by saying he was being alarmist and denying that new technology being installed at the school would threaten pupils' freedom.

Mr Jury, a Blockley resident whose children attend the Cidermill Lane school, made his accusation in an open letter to Ms France.

He was responding to a letter she circulated to her pupils' parents announcing biometric machines would be installed at the school.

Each of the 1,200 11-to-18-year-old pupils will be asked to insert a fingertip into one of the machines when arriving at school every day.

The machine will record the child's unique digital signature to identify him or her for electronic registration - intended to improve security - and cash-less catering which will remove the need for children to carry money to purchase school meals, thus reducing the likelihood of loss, bullying and theft and eliminating stigma associated with free school meals.

This technology will also shorten the time it takes pupils to be served school meals.

Parents can opt their children out of this system, which would see the youngsters use a card-swipe alternative.

However, in his letter to Ms France, Mr Jury said he was disturbed by the introduction of the technology which he believes is the latest example of an authority seeking to infringe the public's freedom on the grounds that people need protection from various threats.

He said pupils will be exposed to the threat of being tracked and manipulated for sinister purposes, as in the novels Brave New World by Aldous Huxley and Nineteen Eight-Four by George Orwell.

Mr Jury, who has also directed episodes of the Eastenders TV soap opera, said: "I read Brave New World and 1984 while at school in the seventies, now my own children don't have to read about it - they can experience it everyday at their delightful Cotswold school.

"The use of this technology is simply not justified by your stated aims of reducing truancy and lunchtime queues.

"I urge you to reconsider this proposal."

Ms France said she wished Mr Jury had raised his concerns with her before going public.

She said third parties would not access the biometric data and the school already securely held the pupils' names, addresses and dates of birth.

Saying the technology was only being introduced because it was more efficient, Ms France added: "Mr Jury's being a bit alarmist.

"I'm not infringing human rights and I'm not managing their behaviour, I'm checking they are in lessons; it's my job."