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Friday 6th
posted by Paddy McGuffin in Britain

Anonymity of whistleblowers threatened

THE government must keep its promise to honour the anonymity of school staff who were asked to give evidence amid allegations of hardline Islamic schooling in Birmingham, Labour said yesterday.

Whistleblowers who first raised concerns during the so-called “Trojan Horse” investigation fear that their identities may be revealed after it emerged that their personal details could be handed to the people they had accused.

Shadow education secretary Angela Rayner told the Star that the least the Tories could do was to protect the whistleblowers that they had relied on to prop up their inquiry.

This comes after Education Secretary Justine Greening was told by former Labour frontbencher Liam Byrne to sort out the “dog’s breakfast” that her department made during the aftermath of the investigation.

Ms Rayner added: “The government must stand by the guarantee of anonymity that was given at the time and which enabled people to give vital evidence about this case, without fear or favour.

“Ms Greening must step in to protect that anonymity on behalf of the teachers and staff who have given evidence.

“They have rights too, just as much as the accused have rights, and the law needs to be seen to be even-handed in balancing the two.

“This is turning into a horrible mess because the government is failing to act properly.”

The scandal revolved around suggestions that a number of schools in the region had been teaching divisive and extremist views to students.

Birmingham City Council has already called on the Department for Education to halt the disclosure of the identities of witnesses amid the cases involving five former head teachers currently facing disciplinary hearings on the issue.

Birmingham Hodge Hill MP Mr Byrne said that the witnesses now have “fear rippling through them.”

Former Met Police counter-terrorism commander Peter Clarke carried out a government ordered investigation in 2014 into several Birmingham schools, which led to dozens of staff members providing information.

His original findings found no evidence of terrorism, radicalisation or violent extremism in schools but “clear evidence” of a group of like-minded individuals working to support “extremist views.”

General secretary of the National Association of Head Teachers Russell Hobby said: “It is vital that where anonymity is promised it is kept.

“Without this, witnesses may think twice about coming forward, meaning that future cases might never be uncovered or investigated.”

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