Worries over Muslim school plot ‘first began six years ago’

Concerns that hardline Muslims allegedly tried to take control of a school in Birmingham were first raised to council officials in 2008, it has been claimed.

Keith Townsend, who says he was a prospective governor at a school in the city, told the BBC he warned Birmingham City Council that a small group of new members had been “infiltrated” into a governing body and put the headteacher under huge pressure.

Mr Townsend said at least three of the governors demanded religious assemblies and regular time out of class for worship while the non-Muslim headteacher’s life was turned into a nightmare, according to BBC Radio 4’s Today programme.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

The claims have emerged after Tim Boyes, head of Queensbridge School in the city, told BBC News last week that he cautioned the Department for Education (DfE) in 2010 about governors with a “disproportionate impact” wanting to replace one city head with a Muslim.

In recent months allegations about a so-called “Operation Trojan Horse” plot by hardline Muslims to seize Birmingham schools have emerged.

Inquiries into the claims have been launched by several bodies, including West Midlands Police, the Government and Ofsted, at a number of schools in the city.

Education Secretary Michael Gove caused controversy by asking Peter Clarke, the former head of counter-terrorism at Scotland Yard to investigate.

Mr Townsend told the BBC: “The governing body was largely Muslim and most of the governors had been in place for several years.

“They were intelligent, they were active within the school and they were working alongside the head and the leadership team in a normal manner.

“Then two or three new governors were appointed and things started to change.”

He added: “Many demands were made that were simply impossible to meet and it began to appear as though there was some sort of organised attempt to undermine the management of the school.”

“I wrote to a senior member of the education department at Birmingham City Council expressing my concerns.

“I received what I can only describe as a dismissive reply. It was obvious that my concerns, and those of others who I know had contacted the city council, were just being dismissed. They either didn’t believe them or chose not to believe them.”

The BBC programme said the council would not confirm whether it had received letters from Mr Townsend but added that retrospective correspondence was being looked at as part of its investigation.