A crowdfunding campaign has been launched to raise the legal funds for a school governor who will be challenging a ban imposed on him by the Department for Education over the so-called “Trojan Horse” plot in Birmingham.
My name is Tahir Alam. For the past 20 years, I have been committed to education and better education outcomes for local children in Birmingham and more recently, nationally. As a former chair and school governor of the Park View Educational Trust, I was caught up in the so-called “Trojan Horse” allegations. I have been accused of “Islamic extremism” and of undermining “Fundamental British Values”, a charge that I categorically refute and reject entirely.
Even so, I am now the first person to have been banned by the Department for Education from having any involvement with schools and stand accused of undermining “Fundamental British Values”. I am fighting this ruinous measure, and appeal your sense of justice for help. Left unchallenged, this ban will allow the government to arbitrarily accuse people of extremism for undermining “Fundamental British Values” and ban them from public life.
What I stand for in education terms
I am a family man and have two children. I have strong community links and have served as a volunteer governor in deprived inner-city schools for nearly 20 years. I believe that every child has the right to a high standard of education and the right to fulfil their potential. I believe that schools should be inclusive and grounded in the community they serve, and provide an outstanding service to their constituency. I believe strongly that local people should serve as Governors to help give direction to schools and hold leadership to account by being their “critical friends”. I am proud of what we achieved for children in our schools in deprived areas which had been historically failing for decades.
I believe in a pluralistic society and reject extremism in all its forms.
The Trojan Horse Plot
In 2014, allegations surfaced in the media that several schools had been taken over by extremists and that the curriculum had been manipulated. This became known as the “Trojan Horse” plot because an anonymous letter accused me and others of being those so-called “extremists” who had secretly forced Islam into the curriculum and taken control of state schools. I and others have strongly refuted these allegations and will continue to do so until justice is served.
The allegations arose amidst a media feeding-frenzy – they took hold in an atmosphere where there were frequent unsubstantiated accusations of Muslims intent on taking over this country. After “investigations” into these allegations, I became the first person to be banned by the Department for Education from having any involvement within education and schools.
I feel that I have been condemned and the decision to do so has been unfair, unjust and politically motivated.
Yet, in 2015, the Parliamentary select committee on Education said in its report, “Extremism in Schools: The Trojan Horse Affair”, that there was “No evidence of extremism or radicalisation…no evidence of sustained a plot…”.
Despite running highly successful schools in deprived communities; having committed no crime and being a law abiding citizen, I find myself vilified, suffering massive reputational, professional and economic damage.
Why My Case Matters to Us ALL, Regardless of Creed or Colour
The decision to bar me is essentially a politically administered (ministerial) one made by the Secretary of State for Education, not a judicial one. In this manner, a person can be barred, with serious consequences of pariah status, without any rigour of an open judicial process.
The Department for Education has chosen to continue to seek banning orders against governors and teachers.
It is based on arbitrary notions of British Values, and affects anyone who does not ‘fit in’ or fall into line. This is a massive distraction from the day-to-day problems of many failing schools in our communities.
This issue is not just about justice – in word and deed- but an issue about human rights; the right to a fair hearing and equality. The case is of wide public importance and affects governors, teachers, parents and students. My case will set the standard for other cases to follow. This is your – our -opportunity to overturn this blatant injustice.
The Legal case- what it involves
My only avenue to contest the ban is by appealing to the Education Tribunal. I do not have sufficient the funds to fight this on my own. I am not eligible for legal aid.
I want to present evidence in the case to be able to defend my role as a governor and disprove allegations against me. As I am the first person to be banned by the Department for Education from having any involvement with schools and stand accused of undermining fundamental British Values, my case is a test case. It is vital that I should have the chance of putting my side of the story. Only with appropriate legal representation do I have chance of a fair hearing. I can only do that with your help.
What will the funds be used for?
My appeal to the Tribunal is scheduled to be heard in March. There will be a lot of evidence presented. My lawyers have to go through many files of evidence. They will have to track down witnesses, take statements and agree a timetable. Witnesses will be called and cross examined. Legal submissions will be made. This is likely to involve a two week – or may be longer – hearing. I will need barristers to represent me at the hearing.
I am asking for a initial minimum sum of £10,000 (stretch target £18,000) to enable me to gather, document, prepare evidences, and to have legal representation at hearings so I can defend myself against these spurious allegations.
The Trojan Horse case has been a high-profile case, widely covered in screen and print media, nationally. It has been, and continues to be the subject of discussions and recently was also the subject of a BBC1 documentary programme, “The hunt for classroom extremists“.
If you believe in justice and a fair fight – then please assist me. Without your support there can only be one outcome- an unjust one!
I am represented by Mr Ahmad of M-R Solicitors who said: “There is no way that Mr. Alam can have a fair hearing under the present circumstances. A case of this importance and magnitude will require considerable person power and resources to come anywhere close to matching those of the Department of Education. It is vital that all the issues are aired and a just and unbiased decision is made. Without equality of arms this will simply not be possible.”
You can make a donation towards Tahir’s fundraising campaign via this link.