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Local leaders express disappointment at Gove ‘Trojan Horse’ review decision

Local leaders express disappointment at Gove ‘Trojan Horse’ review decision

🕔15.Apr 2014

Leaders from across Birmingham have expressed disappointment at the appointment of Peter Clarke, former Commissioner of Counter Terrorism Command, to lead a separate Department of Education review into ‘Trojan Horse’ allegations.

While government sources maintain the appointment is due to Clarke’s long experience as a “top cop”, the counter terror link has raised concerns that his appointment could harm community relations within the city.

West Midlands Police Chief Constable Chris Sims said: “This is a desperately unfortunate appointment. Peter Clarke has many qualities but people will inevitably draw unwarranted conclusions from his former role as National Co-ordinator for Counter Terrorism.”

Echoing Sims’ statement, West Midlands Police and Crime Commissioner Bob Jones stated he shared “ the Chief Constable’s concern about the appointment of Peter Clarke” adding that it sends “a completely inappropriate message to our local community.”

“This appointment gives the clear impression that the issues around Trojan Horse are predominantly around counter-terrorism issues.”

“I have every admiration for Peter in his previous role, but having had personal experience as an ex chair of primary, secondary and college governors and having led on the Education Authority, I feel he lacks the relevant experience in educational governance issues that are key to this investigation.”

Jones went further in his criticism, taking aim at Gove’s flag ship academy and free school policies: “My main concern is that the Secretary of State is attempting to divert attention away from the governance and diversity issues that might be embarrassing to his policies and approach to school governance.”

Having committed to a similar inquiry yesterday, Leader of the Council Sir Albert Bore described the announcement as “a missed opportunity to strengthen our co-ordinated approach to addressing these very serious matters”. He added: “in the interests of the children and young people of the city I will ensure that Peter Clarke and his team have every opportunity to add value to the work of our Chief Advisor, Ian Kershaw and the Review Group chaired by Stephen Rimmer.”

Sir Albert also sent out a similar cautionary message about community cohesion by stating: “Peter Clarke will need to give careful consideration to building a strong relationship with us and, given his recent counter-terrorism responsibilities in London, ensure that his investigation does not undermine the confidence of our communities.”

The Department of Education stated it “has maintained close contact with a number of parties since the allegations were first received, including the police and Birmingham City Council” and that the “department has already indicated its intention to appoint a statutory commissioner to oversee these services, which successive Ofsted inspections have found to be inadequate.”

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