Ex-school governor embroiled in Trojan Horse row: I am not radical or extremist

A former chairman of governors at a state secondary school embroiled in an alleged Trojan Horse Muslim takeover plot in Birmingham has told a tribunal that he would not describe himself as extremist or radical.

Tahir Alam told a care standards tribunal that he was a Muslim who believed in "democratic values" and held "generally" mainstream political views.

Mr Alam, who 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, has been barred from involvement in the management of schools by the Department for Education.

Officials imposed a ban in September 2015 after concluding that he had engaged in conduct aimed at undermining fundamental British values.

Mr Alam has appealed against the ban at a tribunal hearing in London and began giving evidence on Thursday.

A three-strong tribunal panel began analysing evidence earlier this month.

Lawyers representing Mr Alam and Education Secretary Justine Greening have outlined rival arguments.

Martin Chamberlain QC, who represents Ms Greening, has told how in late 2013 Birmingham City Council received an anonymous ''Trojan Horse'' letter which described a ''strategy'' to take over a number of state schools in Birmingham and run them on ''strict Islamic principles''.

Investigators found evidence of ''co-ordinated, deliberate and sustained action, to introduce an intolerant and aggressive Islamic ethos'' into a few schools in Birmingham.

Mr Chamberlain said Mr Alam - plus Park View School and the managing trust - were ''at the centre'' of what happened.

Department officials then imposed a school involvement ban on the grounds that Mr Alam's behaviour had undermined British values.

Mr Alam has complained that investigators had a ''pre-conceived agenda'' and reached ''unfair or inaccurate'' conclusions.

He says he has been ''made a scapegoat'', investigation reports had not ''accurately reflected'' reality and denies holding ''intolerant or narrow'' views.

 Mr Chamberlain asked Mr Alam whether he was an "extremist or radical" Muslim.

"The word 'extremist' is not defined anywhere, nor is 'radical'," Mr Alam told the tribunal.

"I would not describe myself as that."

He said he believed in "democratic values" and held "generally" mainstream political views.

Mr Alam said investigators' conclusions had to be seen in context.

"I think that the inspections took place within a certain atmosphere which was to do with the Trojan Horse letter and the responses to that letter, which included a media frenzy, if you like," he said.

"My view is that those investigations took place with a certain context, not with a vacuum."

He added: "Our schools were unfairly treated because of that context."

Mr Chamberlain said inspectors had reported school staff being intimidated and afraid of speaking out against changes.

He suggested that there had been a "climate of fear" and that Mr Alam could be "a pretty threatening and intimidating individual".

"I never received any complaint along those lines," Mr Alam told the tribunal.

"This is not the kind of climate I would have accepted or tolerated."

Mr Alam said schools had been in a "media storm".

"We were being targeted, of you like, in the media and there was so much negativity going around," he said.

"I haven't intimidated anyone, I haven't bullied anyone, I haven't knowingly wronged anyone."

He added: "I don't know why people felt intimidated."

The hearing continues.

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