Ruling on ex Chair of Governors at Birmingham school to remain secret

Tahir Alam

A tribunal ruling relating to Tahir Alam, the former Chairman of Governors at a Birmingham school who was forced out of his job, is to remain under wraps.

Alam was Chairman of Governors at Park View School in Alum Rock, Birmingham, from 1997 to 2014, and chairman of a trust set up to manage the school.

He was issued with a ban by the Department for Education in September 2015 after officials concluded he had engaged in conduct aimed at undermining fundamental British values.

The ruling came after the media furore around the supposed “Trojan Horse” affair which alleged that extremist Muslims were trying to take over some Birmingham schools. The affair was based on a letter which later turned out to be a hoax.

Mr Alam challenged the ban at a specialist tribunal hearing in London in March. But a care standards tribunal panel has not made its decision or made a detailed ruling publicly available.

But a DfE spokesman said the panel had upheld the DfE decision and ruled against Mr Alam.

Former Birmingham MP John Hemming says the tribunal oversaw a hearing in public and should make its ruling public.

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“How can ‘judges’ oversee a public hearing but not make their ruling public?” said Mr Hemming, MP for Birmingham Yardley between 2005 and 2015.

Former Birmingham MP John Hemming

“This is clearly a matter of great public interest and importance.

“The general public – let alone teenagers, parents, teachers, social workers and religious leaders – have a right to know why the tribunal came to the decision they came to, who they criticised and didn’t criticise and how the evaluated the evidence they heard.

“And what reason can there be for the ruling not being published? There’s a website – the British and Irish Legal Information Institute website – which has been set up for the publication of judgments. Eight months have passed since the hearing. The ruling should be published straight away.”

A spokesman for the judiciary said the full ruling will not be published – even though the hearing was staged in public. The spokesman said the tribunal had barred the publication of the identities of some witnesses called by the DfE. He said the tribunal feared that the identities of some of those witnesses might be revealed if the ruling was published – and described the decision not to publish as “exceptional.”

“Tribunal orders mean that the disclosure or publication of the names and identities of (a number of) witnesses, or any information likely to lead to their identification, is prohibited,” he said. “The final decision of the tribunal makes reference to those witnesses and sets out the evidence they gave, which the tribunal considers could lead to their being identified locally.”

He added: “It is only exceptionally that a public decision is not published on the tribunal’s website, although it is worth emphasising that all decisions are public decisions and in all cases each party in the proceedings will be provided with a written copy of the decision.”

The spokesman said a summary of the decision would be published on the tribunal’s website.

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