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Case against teachers in 'Trojan Horse' affair halted over abuse of process

A panel has dismissed proceedings against five teachers involved in the Birmingham ‘Trojan Horse’ affairs, declaring them an abuse of process.

It said the National College for Teaching and Leadership (NCTL) had committed “an extraordinarily serious error of judgement” in its conduct of the disciplinary case, which had other serious defects.

Teachers Monzoor Hussain, Hardeep Saini, Arshad Hussain, Razwan Faraz and Lyndsey Clark argued both that it would be impossible for them to receive a fair trial and that continuing the proceedings would offend justice and propriety.

The panel had been due to announce decisions on the five on 23 December 2016 but it became apparent that the NCTL had failed to disclose essential documents.

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It said there was insufficient evidence that the NCTL had acted in bad faith but “there appears to have been a significant breakdown in communication between those responsible for the conduct of this case.

“The panel has also found the deliberate decision to withhold, and not declare the existence of, the Clarke transcripts [of an earlier investigation] prior to the commencement of proceedings to represent an extraordinarily serious error of judgement as opposed to bad faith.”

Its ruling said this was not a case of a procedural error being quickly announced and rectified but rather part of “serious failures with regard to disclosure, which are far-reaching and extend over the entire life of this case.

“Such failures arise out of decisions which were consciously made, and affect core evidence on which the NCTL has relied.

“The Panel now knows, belatedly and only by chance, that these serious failures have beset these proceedings from the very outset.”

The ruling said it was fundamental to the panel’s work that it could rely on regulators ensuring the integrity of the process but “sadly, it is accepted by those presenting the case on behalf of the NCTL that the panel, the teachers and their representatives have been told matters which misrepresented the true position and that they have been misled.”

Even with the failures now known, the panel was disturbed to find “a lack of candour and openness with regard to the underlying reasons for those failures and a lack of cooperation in assisting the panel to get to the bottom of what has happened”.

It said its decision was not intended to punish the NCTL, but “there has been an abuse of the process which is of such seriousness that it offends the panel's sense of justice and propriety.

“What has happened has brought the integrity of the process into disrepute. In such circumstances the Panel finds that the stage has been reached where it would be fair and appropriate for these proceedings as against Monzoor Hussain, Hardeep Saini, Arshad Hussain, Razwan Faraz and Lindsay Clark to be discontinued.”

Trojan Horse concerned a series of allegations that extremists had sought to take over the governance of certain schools in Birmingham.

Mark Smulian

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