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  1. ITV Report

Councillor accused of 'inappropriate' interference at school to step aside from equalities role

Cllr Waseem Zaffar (inset) has resigned after a letter from the government's integration tsar raised concerns over his actions Credit: Twitter/ITV News

A councillor at the centre of a controversy over school rules and discrimination has announced he is stepping aside from his cabinet role, just days after ITV News revealed the government's equalities tsar had raised concerns about his behaviour.

Cllr Waseem Zaffar, who was Birmingham City Council's equality chief, faced accusations of impropriety after a four-year-old girl - who later turned out to be his niece - was asked by teachers at St Clare's Catholic Primary School to remove her headscarf so as to comply with school uniform.

He took to social media to condemn the request, saying it breached equalities laws and vowing there should be a change of policy.

ITV News last week obtained a leaked letter from the government's integration chief Dame Louise Casey to council leader John Clancy, criticising his actions.

In it, she accused him of putting the primary school under "grossly unfair and undue pressure" and asked why he thought it was an appropriate use of his office.

An excerpt from the letter sent by integration chief Dame Louise Casey

He announced late on Thursday evening that he would be stepping aside from his cabinet role with immediate effect, blaming "continued media and social media speculation".

I will be asking the city council to commission an independent review into all current and historical speculation against me.

Clearly this speculation is a distraction for Birmingham City Council at a time when John Clancy’s administration has important work to do. So I believe this is the right decision.

I want to thank Cllr John Clancy for giving me the honour of serving this great city as a cabinet member. I look forward to continuing to represent the people of Lozells and East Handsworth in my capacity as a ward councillor and I will continue to serve the city that has given me so much.

– Cllr Waseem Zaffar

Cllr Clancy said the council would announce a new cabinet member for transparency, openness and equality in due course.

“I want to thank Waseem for his service to the city as a cabinet member," he said.

"While this has been a difficult decision for him I fully understand why he is stepping aside at this time.”