Extremist video shown in Trojan school, MPs told

Peter Clarke Peter Clarke: "I'm not a great believer in coincidence"

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A violent extremist video was shown to pupils in a Birmingham state school, MPs investigating the alleged "Trojan Horse" plot have been told.

"It should have been stopped," said Ian Kershaw, who headed an inquiry into the allegations of a hard-line Muslim takeover of schools in Birmingham.

Former counter-terror chief Peter Clarke, who also investigated the claims, said there was no direct evidence of radicalisation.

But he found an "air of intolerance".

The Education Select Committee was taking evidence on claims state schools in Birmingham had been targeted by groups wanting to promote a hard-line Muslim ethos.

'Manipulating' schools

The committee heard from the heads of two inquiries into the allegations - Peter Clarke, who carried out an investigation for the Department for Education, and Ian Kershaw, who produced a report for Birmingham City Council.

Mr Clarke was pressed on whether there had been evidence of extremism - and much of the questioning revolved around how "extremism" was interpreted.

He told MPs he had not found "violent extremism" or "direct radicalisation" in the schools - but there had been a culture that had failed to challenge intolerance.

"I believe I found very clear evidence of people who espouse, are sympathetic to, or do not challenge extremist views," he said.

There had been teachers who wanted more segregation between boys and girls in school, he said, and he described a "general air of intolerance" towards other religions and points of view.

Mr Kershaw said there was no evidence of widespread extremism in the Birmingham schools under investigation, but there had been some "very bad behaviour" in isolated cases.

'Unacceptable' video

As an example, he told MPs that a "violent extremist" video that was "completely unacceptable" had been shown.

Without identifying the school, he said: "It should have been stopped and should not have happened."

Asked by MPs whether this was a type of "violent jihadist promotional video", he indicated it had been.

Mr Kershaw said there had also been groups of people who had "learnt to manipulate" the school system, getting sympathetic governors to replace other governors and then to improperly manipulate staff appointments.

Governors had also overstepped their role, seeking the disciplining or sacking of members of staff, Mr Kershaw told MPs.

He said that he remained worried that there were still head teachers in Birmingham who felt unable to share their "deep concerns".

Ofsted chief Sir Michael Wilshaw, delivering his own findings in June, said there had been a "culture of fear and intimidation" in which head teachers had been bullied and undermined by governing bodies.

Mr Clarke had said that some school staff had been unwilling to report what had been happening because they had "lost all faith, trust, confidence in the council" and had been afraid about their careers.

Social cohesion

Mr Clarke said that he had come across a reluctance within the city council to confront the problems.

He said this had been driven by fears of being accused of racism and worries that it would upset "social cohesion".

There were also questions about the governance of academies, which are outside of council control - with Mr Clarke saying that who was responsible for academies could be "opaque".

While there might not be explicit evidence of a specific Trojan Horse conspiracy, Mr Clarke said, there had been clear signs of people acting with a "common mindset" and "shared objectives" and using tactics that had been "remarkably similar".

He said it would be surprising if there were not similar problems in other parts of the country.

"I'm not a great believer in coincidence," he told MPs.

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