After Andrew “transcription error” Gilligan claimed there was a “Trojan Horse” plot to “Islamise” schools in Birmingham, this turned out, after several schools were turned over by Ofsted and some that had been rated Outstanding were suddenly placed in Special Measures, to have been largely baseless. So the press pack moved on to Oldham, where they discovered another “Trojan Horse” plot by Scary Muslims™ that didn’t exist.
The result of failures in journalism ...
So it was that last year, the increasingly desperate and downmarket Telegraph, under the by-line of Henry Bodkin, claimed “Second Islamist 'Trojan Horse' scandal feared after Oldham headteacher reports death threats”. There was more. “Fears of a second wave of Islamist plots to take over schools have been raised after a teachers’ union revealed it was dealing with a ‘variety of apparent Trojan Horse issues”. Do go on.
“A head teacher in Oldham has reportedly said she has started working at home having been subjected to a campaign of ‘death threats’ and verbal abuse by people determined to introduce an Islamic agenda”. And the alleged culprits? “Nasim Ashraf, a former parent governor and the brother of Shasta Khan, who is serving an eight-year prison sentence for her part in a plot to target Jewish targets in Manchester”. Guilt by association, then.
Oh, and his wife was in on it, too. “The report states that Ashraf organised ‘Islamic teaching sessions’ on the school premises and that his wife, Hafizan Zaman, ‘made remarks to Asian staff members that they should, as Muslim women, be wearing a veil and covering their heads’”. But, as Captain Blackadder might have observed, there was only one thing wrong with this idea - it was bollocks. Libellous bollocks, in fact.
... and failures in judgment
We know this as the last papers to settle defamation cases brought by Nazim Ashraf and Hafizan Zaman, whose children had in fact finished at Clarksfield Primary school in 2013, have now done so. Press Gazette has told “The Times and Express newspapers have settled a libel case brought by a husband and wife who were wrongly named in reports as being responsible for an Islamist ‘Trojan Horse’ plot at a primary school”.
There was more. “Both newspapers have apologised to the married couple, who have already settled separate defamation and data protection claims against four other news groups. They comprise News Group Newspapers, publisher of the Sun, Telegraph Media Group, Mirror Group Newspapers and Associated Newspapers, publisher of Mail Online, which were all settled earlier this year”. And more.
“Each paid damages and costs and published statements apologising to the pair and accepting any suggestions of involvement by the couple in an alleged Trojan Horse plot were unfounded”. And then came the icing on the cake. “The Times settled on undisclosed terms and also agreed to remove an online article by Times columnist Melanie Phillips headlined: ‘Soft-pedalling won’t quash Islamist extremism.’”
Yes, Melanie “not just Barking but halfway to Upminster” Phillips had, as is her wont, gone in with both feet without bothering with such trivial things as facts, It’s almost as if the modus operandi of the press right now is to smear Muslims and ask questions afterwards.
Which suggests the print media has a racism problem. I’ll just leave that one there.
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