Clearly, the Telegraph has invested a considerable amount of its credibility in the series of attacks by Andrew “transcription error” Gilligan on a number of schools in Birmingham, taking as data an unsigned and undated anonymous letter alleging that something called “Operation Trojan Horse” is under way, and is some kind of conspiracy to impose Islamism on those schools.
Yes, "Oiky", I'm asking about your involvement
So Gilligan is published once again in today’s paper, and, as with the previous article where he claimed to have had sight of a number of WhatsApp conversations, this time he has had sight of a preliminary report by DfE inspectors, the report confirms what he had already told readers, and we have to take him on trust, although the paper could easily provide example redacted copies of the text.
But here a problem enters for Gilligan: he now says that six schools will be placed in special measures, but he said that about one of them – Park View School in Alum Rock – last month, and the deed has not yet been done. Moreover, much of his report today is merely restating what has been said in previous pieces. And not everybody is as convinced as he is of the case against the schools.
The TES notes “that these inspections have again been mandated at the direct behest of Secretary of State for Education Michael Gove, and there is substantial concern that the so-called Trojan Horse Document may yet turn out to be a hoax”. There still does not appear to have been any effort to authenticate the letter that is being used as the pretext for all the upheaval.
Also noted was “The apparent advance briefing on a report that has still not been published” (ie someone leaked part of it to Gilligan) and “sources at the Birmingham secondary have told TES that they were also alarmed by the behaviour of DfE inspectors who asked ‘very leading’, ‘very personal’ questions that made students feel ‘uncomfortable’; and appeared to be selective in the evidence they gathered”.
A source at Park View told “They asked one male pupil, ‘Are girls here forced to wear headscarves?’ and his answer was ‘Well there are three girls sat in the room that aren’t wearing them. So what do you think?’” and the TES article goes on to say “One girl told school staff that DfE inspectors asked her: ‘Do you have to pray after every lesson?’” at which point something starts to smell slightly fishy.
Going into schools without authenticating the letter that precipitated the action, asking what appear to be highly provocative and leading questions, and all the time maintaining a constant stream of leaks to a hack who has a record of organised Muslim bashing does not look good – and then there was the appointment of a former counter-terrorism officer by Michael “Oiky” Gove.
Something does not look right about the Birmingham business. There’ll be more yet.