Birmingham & Black Country

'Trojan Horse': Plea to ensure witness anonymity

Nansen Primary School Image copyright PA
Image caption Nansen Primary School in Birmingham was one of five schools inspected by Ofsted following the "Trojan Horse" allegations

The government is being urged to ensure witnesses in the so-called "Trojan Horse" inquiry are not revealed.

Those who gave evidence to an inquiry into the alleged schools scandal fear their identities may be revealed despite a promise of anonymity.

The action comes after the witnesses received letters saying their interview transcripts would be passed to the lawyers of teachers facing tribunals.

Birmingham City Council said it was alarmed by the decision.

Image caption Birmingham City Council and NAHT are urging the government not to reveal transcripts given in evidence

Several schools were investigated amid claims of a Muslim hardliners' plot to control them; known as the Trojan Horse affair.

Rob Kelsall, from the National Association of Headteachers (NAHT), said the union was contacted by nine witnesses who gave statements to the government-commissioned inquiry by Peter Clarke.

He said they all received letters on or around 22 December from lawyers acting for the Department for Education (DfE).

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He said the letters detailed that full transcripts of their evidence to the review - including their names - would be disclosed to both the teachers accused of professional misconduct and their lawyers at 16:00 GMT on 3 January.

Mr Kelsall said the NAHT had managed to prevent the publication of the nine witnesses' names by making legal representations to the DfE's lawyers.

"Once disclosure of those names are made, there's no control or caveat over where that information goes after," he said.

Image copyright Thinkstock
Image caption Birmingham City Council said it was "extremely alarmed" witnesses could be named

Anonymous witness

I got the letter and email on the 23rd completely out of the blue.

Every time I get an email or a phone call about it [Trojan Horse] I'm reliving the event time and time again.

We'd done very well in Ofsted inspections, we were a non-faith school and suddenly we came under pressure to impose a very clear religious agenda.

I was fed up with the bullying and it took me a year to recover.

We had a verbal agreement from Peter Clarke (head of a report into the "Trojan Horse" allegations) for anonymity.

If we hadn't had the promise half of the people wouldn't have come forward.

Although I'm anonymous, it's clear some people involved know I was a witness, but I'm really worried if it's published widely that myself and my family would become targets for extremists.

Birmingham City Council said it was writing to the government over the issue and its potential impact.

Brigid Jones, cabinet member for children, families and schools, said councillors from all parties were "extremely alarmed" the guarantees of anonymity for witnesses "appear to no longer stand".

"This has potentially serious consequences not just for the individuals involved in this case, but for whistleblowers nationwide."

Image copyright PA
Image caption The former Park View School in Birmingham has since been renamed Rockwood Academy

The five teachers from schools in Birmingham facing tribunals over allegations regarding unacceptable professional conduct are:

  • Razwan Faraz, former deputy headteacher at Nansen Primary
  • Arshad Hussain, assistant head teacher at Park View
  • Hardeep Saini, former headteacher at Golden Hillock
  • Lindsey Clark, executive headteacher at Park View
  • Monzoor Hussain, former headteacher at Park View

They argue their lawyers need to be able to question individuals who have given evidence against them.

The Department for Education has not yet been available to comment.

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