The Trojan Horse case brought forward by the National College for Teaching and Leadership in 2014 which accused 5 former principals and senior teachers in the Park View Academy Trust of attempting to ‘Islamify’ secular schools, has now closed proceedings.
The independent panel of teachers was due to reach a decision over the fate of the 5 teachers, Arshad Hussain, Hardeen Saini, Lindsey Clark, Monzoor Hussain and Razwan Faraz in December, but amid the ‘conscious decisions’ to withhold evidence which ‘have beset these proceedings from the very outset’ according to the panel, further delays were announced. The panel decided yesterday that this was an ‘abuse of process’ of ‘such seriousness’ it necessitated the foreclosure of the Trojan Horse case, Schools Week announced.
Lawyers for teachers Monzoor Hussain and Hardeep Saini claimed that witness statements pertaining to the earlier government ordered inquiry of Counter-Terrorism Chief Peter Clarke were not disclosed to the defence in time for the commencement of the trial. This subsequently did not permit the defendants to accurately and fairly depict their cases during examination and cross examination, The Telegraph notes.
There is some debate as to whether the act of withholding information was done through negligence or bad faith. The panel decided that there was not enough evidence to implement the NCTL in a cover-up.
“Even now, once the failures have been identified, the panel considers that there has been a lack of candour and openness with regard to the underlying reasons for those failures and a lack of cooperation in assisting the panel to get to the bottom of what has happened.”
The lawyers of the prosecuted teachers implied that it was more than just the ‘significant breakdown in communication’ and an ‘extraordinarily serious error of judgement’ as the panel concluded according to TES.
The Trojan Horse case itself derived from a letter written in 2014 which was purportedly intercepted and later reported on by the BBC, alluding to rumours of a plot to overthrow headteachers of four Birmingham schools and usurp them with Muslim teachers who could promote ‘Islamification’. News outlets the Guardian, The Times and The Independent contested the letter – The Times deeming it a ‘crude forgery’ and The Guardian claiming it was ‘widely regarded as fake’. However, Birmingham City Education Commissioner Sir Mike Tomlinson stated ‘without a shadow of a doubt’ that a Trojan Horse style plot was in motion, leading former Prime Minister David Cameron to convene an emergency meeting of the Extremism Taskforce.
Representatives of Linsey Clark have said that she is ‘utterly spent – both emotionally and psychologically’ but ‘hugely relieved that the debacle is over’. Up until the start of the Trojan Horse ‘witch hunt’, Clark was revered in her profession, dedicating 40 years of her life to education in Birmingham.
The Department for Education is under close scrutiny now as the remaining cases against Saqib Malik, Shakeel Akhtar and Muhammad Umar Khan are called into question.