Education Secretary Nicky Morgan has withdrawn a letter threatening the former governor of a Birmingham school targeted during the Trojan Horse controversy that she would prevent him from ever managing an independent school again.
Waseem Yaqub O.B.E. was chair of the board of governors at Al-Hijrah Islamic school, the entirety of which was dismissed by the DfE after a two year campaign by Birmingham City Council.
Education Secretary Nicky Morgan wrote to Mr. Yaqub on June 29 last year informing him of her intention to issue a direction preventing him from assuming the post of governor again.
But she has now withdrawn the letter after Mr Yaqub instructed solicitors to challenge the DfE’s conduct.
“Even after a cursory reading, I realised that the Secretary of State had broken numerous laws. So I asked my local MP, Mr. Liam Byrne, to write to clarify the matters of concern, but Nicky Morgan only confirmed that she was personally leading the case against me,” said Yaqub.
In fresh correspondence sent on 29 February the DfE says that while it rejects the criticisms made by Mr Yaqub’s solicitors it wishes to withdraw the earlier letter. However, it also states that it may issue a new letter to Yaqub indicating that the Secretary of State for Education is still minded to issue a direction against him.
This means that Yaqub’s head remains firmly wedged in the guillotine for an indefinite time.
In a press release the Islamic Human Rights Commission (IHRC), which is representing Yaqub, said the latest development leads them to believe that the DfE is still intent on banning Yaqub but has withdrawn the earlier letter (which listed various grounds for seeking to do so) simply to prevent itself being open to legal challenge. The IHRC now believes that the DfE will present an attenuated list of reasons or cite fresh ones.
IHRC chair Massoud Shadjareh said: “We believe that the recent targeting of Muslim governors and schools under the pretext of preventing extremism is in fact a thinly-veiled attack on Muslim values which is part of a wider social engineering programme designed to ‘liberalise’ Muslims. The persecution of Mr Yaqub and Al-Hijrah also represent a shocking abuse of power by the DfE which has to be challenged.”
Yaqub’s dismissal as chair of the board of governors at Al-Hijrah Islamic school came after an inspection following the so-called Trojan Horse affair in which six other schools with majority Muslim board of governors were subjected to what many in the community called “an Islamophobic witch-hunt,” after the circulation of a hoax letter suggesting a sinister plot by radical Muslims to take over some Birmingham schools.
Al-Hijrah school, which caters for pupils aged 4-16, was one of the most sought after schools in Birmingham until it was placed in special measures in 2014. All official inquiries cleared Al-Hijrah School governors of any involvement in the fake “Trojan Horse Conspiracy.”