Shabana Mahood Labour MP for Ladywood says that the Government's appointment of the former anti terrorism chief Peter Clarke to investigate allegations that Muslim extremists are trying to take control of some schools in Birmingham is a very provocative move.
Police and council leaders in Birmingham today voiced dissatisfaction over the Government's decision to appoint former anti-terrorism chief Peter Clarke to investigate the Trojan Horse allegations.
West Midlands Police's Ch Cons Chris Sims called the appointment "desperately unfortunate".
– Chief Constable Chris Sims, West Midlands Police
This is a desperately unfortunate appointment. Peter Clarke has many qualities but people will inevitably draw unwarranted conclusions from his former role as National Co-ordinator for Counter Terrorism.
I am a strong supporter of open and inclusive education for all children in Birmingham and across the West Midlands and am committed to the process adopted by Birmingham City Council with educational and social inclusion at its heart.
Meanwhile, city council leader Sir Albert Bore warned having Mr Clarke as an independent investigator risked undermining the investigations already being carried out.
– Birmingham City Council leader Sir Albert Bore
At first sight, today’s announcement of an Independent Commissioner is a missed opportunity to strengthen our co-ordinated approach to addressing these very serious matters.
Peter Clarke will need to give careful consideration to building a strong relationship with us and, given his recent counter-terrorism responsibilities in London, ensure that his investigation does not undermine the confidence of our communities.
The Department for Education today announced a dedicated education commissioner has been appointed to examine allegations that schools in Birmingham are being targeted by a hardline Muslim plot.
Peter Clarke will work with Birmingham City Council to analyse reports that extremists are trying to infiltrate and take over academies and council-run schools to push their agenda.
Education Secretary Michael Gove said he was "extremely concerned" by the allegations.
I have already asked Ofsted to inspect a number of schools of concern and these investigations are ongoing. But wider, more comprehensive action is needed.
These allegations need either to be substantiated and firm action taken, or to be shown to be baseless. We cannot allow uncertainty for parents or pupils to persist.
That is why I am appointing a Commissioner to oversee this work.
– Education Secretary Michael Gove
Peter Clarke brings a wealth of relevant skills and experience, and is very well placed to lead a fair and thorough assessment of the evidence, and report back to me. We expect he will work closely with Birmingham City Council.
No pupils should be exposed to extremist views or radicalisation while at school.
I have tasked Peter Clarke with getting to the bottom of these allegations, so schools in Birmingham can continue the excellent progress that so many have been making.
Birmingham City Council's Cabinet member for Children and Family Services has said allegations relating to extremism in the city's school span from 20 years ago to right up to the present day.
Speaking to ITV News, Cllr Bridget Jones said: "So far the allegations that have come in recently relate to things that are happening present day, as well as things that happened 20 years ago.
"We have got a very wide range here. Each of these allegations, we will look into individually. We hope to build up a full picture as to what has happened. We think some of it will be related to Trojan Horse [investigation], maybe some of it not."
Park View Educational Trust has been at the centre of allegations of extremism in schools. The Trust runs three schools in Birmingham - all of which have been subjected to snap Ofsted inspections in recent weeks.
Anonymous whistle-blowers, including former teachers, have also come forward since the Trojan Horse claims hit the headlines.
The allegations include:
- Segregation of boys and girls in classes and assemblies
- A ban on sex education
- Bullying of non-Muslim staff
- Staff member praised al Qaida-linked Muslim cleric Anwar al-Awlaki in an assembly
School trustees have firmly denied all the claims, branding the allegations "a witch-hunt".
Birmingham City Council meeting weekly with West Midlands police over the #TrojanHorse
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Birmingham City Council have appointed managing director of Northern Education Ian Kershaw to oversee investigations into Trojan Horse.
The investigation will look into an alleged plot by hardline muslims to seize control of schools in the city.
The focus of the allegations has been the Park View Educational Trust which runs 3 schools- all of which have been subjected to snap Ofsted inspections in recent weeks.
The trust denies all the allegations.