Home / Analysis / Michael Gove’s Trojan Hoax Plot Thickens

Michael Gove’s Trojan Hoax Plot Thickens

It is ironic that the BBC perpetually calls on controversial figures with reputations for causing discord amongst the British Muslim community to discuss issues that affect traditional Islam and orthodox Muslims. The irony of the statement “it is the vocal minorities that are dominating the discourse” on Newsnight could not be lost since it is figures like the one invited who are the vocal minority given an unprecedented amount of media space. [1]

Watching this particular guest espouse his aggressive rhetoric on national television shouldn’t surprise us.  Little has changed since he came into prominence in 2008. In spite of his constant renunciation of his previous ways, it is clear from the manner in which he recently felt the need to constantly interrupt his fellow Newsnight Guest Ibrahim Hewitt that he is still an attention seeker who wishes to be heard by shouting the loudest. The way that he demands instant answers which require insightful explanation is reminiscent of that of his apparent foe, Anjem Choudary. Those who know him will recognise the similar tactics of interrupting and shouting over fellow guests. He has indeed taken a leaf out of Choudary’s book; after all, they’re both cut from the same cloth. They both live in a world of black and white.

It was interesting how this guest felt he needed to question Ibrahim Hewitt’s personal beliefs on the penal code of the Shariah (which isn’t as black and white as he wishes to make the unassuming British population believe) rather than discuss the subject at hand, ‘The Trojan Hoax’. Keeping the Trojan Hoax alive is merely opportunism from some within the government. We cannot help but examine the absurd nature of the “plot”. An ‘anonymous letter’ found by the wayside outlining the desire to increase religious influence in public schools is submitted to the local council in Birmingham. This consequently instigates four separate government inspections, one of which was led by a counter-terrorism officer of a school in a deprived inner city area of Birmingham. A school that has a near-complete intake of ethnic minority students who come from an extremely deprived area of the UK. A school which has successfully managed to overturn a culture of academic failure, achieving results well above the national average. A school that was only recently identified as a model example by the education authorities. The Education Minister, Michael Gove’s decision to turn this story into a national concern along the lines of tackling extremism in schools has been nothing short of sensationalism and a disingenuous attempt to create distrust between the Muslims and the wider society.

Gove has been accused of maliciously using the “Trojan Horse” schools row to push an ideological anti-Islamic agenda within the government. Whitehall sources revealed that behind the scenes the Education Secretary has been pressing David Cameron for months to widen the government’s definition of “Muslim extremism”.  These sources have suggested that he has used allegations of a plot to “take over” a number of schools in Birmingham to press the Prime Minister to agree tough new measures to secularise schools in Muslim areas. One said: “Michael Gove’s views are so incredibly black and white. It’s either his way or no way. He seems to think that anybody who strictly follows Islam is not really integrated. And he thinks anybody who holds conservative Muslim views is a bit of an extremist. He has been using Birmingham to pursue an ideological agenda that he’s had for many years.” [2] This is where the Quilliam Foundation enter the fray. These people have long claimed to be the commanding voice on defining ‘Islamic Extremism’.  Losing its funding from the Home Office, Quilliam have now been funded to the cool tune of £120,000 by Gove’s Department for Education (DfE) according to the Newsnight report  on the 4th June 2014. On the topic of Trojan Horses, it is interesting to note that a Quilliam Foundation member, Ishtiaq Hussain, left his post there to work for the Department for Education, a year or so before the latter started funding the former [3].  It may also be worthy of note that Hussain is one of the lead investigators in the Trojan Hoax plot, on behalf of the DfE [4].

Mr Gove’s stance is understood to have caused unease among cabinet colleagues including the Home Secretary Theresa May and the Communities Secretary Eric Pickles. In particular both were angry at his decision to appoint Peter Clarke, the former head of Scotland Yard’s counter-terrorism department, to investigate the Trojan Horse claims using ministerial statutory powers.  Ms May and Mr Gove are said to have had a number of “spats” in cabinet committee meetings. One source said that part of the dispute between Ms May and Mr Gove was personal – in part fuelled by leadership ambitions. “They are trying to outwit each other and have had some real spats in the past within Cabinet, where Michael has just ripped into Theresa and has tried to set her up to look stupid.” [5]

Should we be surprised with Mr Gove? After all, he is quite explicit in his allegiances, being signatory of  the “Statement of Principles” for the right wing neoconservative think tank, the Henry Jackson Society. [3] ”The Henry Jackson Society is a non-profit and non-partisan organisation that seeks to promote the following principles: that liberal democracy should be spread across the world; that as the world’s most powerful democracies, the United States and the European Union – under British leadership – must shape the world more actively by intervention and example; that such leadership requires political will, a commitment to universal human rights and the maintenance of a strong military with global expeditionary reach; and that too few of our leaders in Britain and the rest of Europe today are ready to play a role in the world that matches our strength and responsibilities” [6]

A cursory look at his book ‘Celsius 7/7’ should give us an insight of the type of individual Gove is. In his book, he writes about the threat of “fundamentalist terror” worldwide and how it is the fault of “Western appeasement”. The book itself was extremely controversial and heavily criticised. The Guardian accused it of promoting a “jejune Cowboys-and-Indians world-view”.[7] William Dalrymple was particularly vocal saying that

“Gove’s book is a confused epic of simplistic incomprehension, riddled with more factual errors and misconceptions than any other text I have come across in two decades of reviewing books on this subject”. [8]

What is even more interesting is that one of the chapters in Gove’s book is entitled ‘The Trojan Horse’, a chapter in which he highlights the “failure to scrutinise, monitor or check the actions, funding and operation of those committed to spreading the Islamist word within Britain.” Could this whole episode of questioning ‘extremism in schools’ be something inspired by Gove’s writings, in order to legitimise the harassment of Muslim schools? This should be the first sign into the entire hoax. The second and most obvious sign that the document was a forgery was its use of the phrase “Trojan Horse” to summarise the strategy which it claimed to be proposing. The term is fairly common in anti-Muslim writings but not at all likely to be used by Muslims, least of all by any who hold the kinds of view which the document caricatures. Thus, for example, Anders Behring Breivik described Islam as a Trojan Horse in a passage in which he quoted with approval by an author who had written that “in Europe, the Muslim Brotherhood discovered a unique opportunity: Democracy. The democratic system leaves room for freedom of religion and freedom of speech, and finances religious communities and religious organisations. This has been utilised by the Muslim Brotherhood to infiltrate the Muslim communities, recruit members and build the Islamist networks that have become so visible lately.” [9]

On the issue of the subsequent school inspections which were performed in a sinister fashion, Lee Donaghy, the assistant principal of Park View School said “Their selective search and use of evidence was clear to us. They picked on small things and things that would fit a narrative, and ignored things that would go against that narrative.” [10] In a letter to the Guardian newspaper, Sir Tim Brighouse, a former chief education officer in Birmingham, stated that he was extremely unhappy at the way Ofsted has conducted inspections into schools allegedly infiltrated by conservative Muslims and that it is at risk of compromising political independence by producing “tarnished reports”. Describing the mass inspection as “a landmark in the history of education in these islands”, Brighouse and the other signatories argue:

“First-hand accounts of the Ofsted inspections that have emerged are disturbing. They suggest that inspectors were poorly prepared and had an agenda that calls into question Ofsted’s claim to be objective and professional in its appraisal of standards in schools serving predominantly Muslim pupilsIt is beyond belief that schools which were judged less than a year ago to be outstanding are now widely reported as ‘inadequate’, despite having the same curriculum, the same students, the same leadership team and the same governing body. This is uncharted territory, with Ofsted being guided by an ideology at odds with the traditional British values which schools are meant to espouse, particularly fairness, justice and respect for others.”

On Tuesday, further evidence also emerged of abrupt shifts in Ofsted’s inspection results with a leaked inspection report showing that a second secondary school in the city that had been previously rated as good or outstanding in November 2013 is expected to be downgraded to inadequate when its new report is published this week.[11]

To suggest that cabinet ministers are in collusion with Ofsted isn’t a farfetched assumption. If we examine this further, it does seem that Ofsted have been instructed to shift their goal posts. Take for example the manner in which Ofsted inspectors conducted their investigations in all of the implicated schools, which included the independent (i.e not state funded) Olive Tree primary school. They persistently questioned primary children about their attitudes towards homosexuality. Contrast this to happenings earlier this year, where a number of Catholic state-funded schools across the Lancashire region in the North-West of England distributed a booklet to pupils discussing a boy dealing with homosexual attractions, that suggested, could stem from “an unhealthy relationship with his father, an inability to relate to other guys or even sexual abuse.”  The booklet went on to state that the homosexual act is “disordered” and was directed against “God’s natural purpose for sex – babies and bonding.” When the TUC wrote to Gove about what they believe to be a contravention of current equality legislation, he insisted: “the law did not extend to the school curriculum, and any materials used in sex or relationship education would not be subject to the discrimination provisions of the Act.” [12] It will be interesting to see whether Mr Gove will make a similar defence of the implicated Muslim Schools in the Trojan Hoax affair, when Ofsted release their reports.




About Ghulam Esposito Haydar

Ghulam is an experienced Prescribing Pharmacist and currently splits his time professionally as a clinician in primary care and as a healthcare development consultant. He is active in da’wah, new Muslim support and community affairs in his city – Manchester. He is a founder and a trustee at the Myriad Foundation and works with a number of key stakeholders and institutions in Manchester.


  1. Thanks for documenting the immorality & duplicity around the witch hunt against British Muslims…. Sounds like a case of desperate individuals snatching at straws. Sad people.

  2. jazak’Allah Khair for the article, very well put, the weekly onslaught of islamaphobic attacks on the Muslim community is indeed taking it’s toll and people like Majid Nawaz and the Quilliam Foundation…. well Allah (سبحانه وتعالى ) will deal with him but he expose of funding they get from DfE says it all. My only criticism of the article is your mention of Anjem Chaudhary, yes he is a controversial figure, but after unheard his Radio 4 interview where he was being pressed on the events of Lee Rigby, I have to admit that it was perhaps brother Anjems high point in the media. We will have all sorts of personalities out there but I think it is not right to mention him in the context of this article. May Allah (سبحانه وتعالى) reward you for your efforts.

  3. Native Brits must learn to respect and tolerate those who are different. The needs and demands of the Muslim community are different from those of natives. Muslims are in Britain not to give up their cultural heritage. They must integrate in their new home country, learn new languages and apply for political representation — without forgetting their cultural heritage. It is important to learn Standard English, but their languages should not be neglected. They need Masajid and grave yards. Muslim children not only need halal meat or Eid Holidays but they need state funded Muslim schools with Muslim teachers as role models during their development period also. There is no place for a non-Muslim child or a teacher in a Muslim school.
    A Muslim is a citizen of this tiny global village. He/she does not want to become notoriously monolingual Brit. The whole world belongs to Muslims. He/she must learn and be well versed in Standard English to follow the National Curriculum and go for higher studies and research to serve humanity. At the same time, he/she must learn and be well versed in Arabic, Urdu and other community languages to keep in touch with their cultural heritage and enjoy the beauty of their literature and poetry. For a Muslim English is an economic language and Arabic is a religious while Urdu and other community languages are their social and emotional languages.

    Muslim children not only need halal meat or Eid Holidays but they need state funded Muslim schools with Muslim teachers as role models during their development period also. There are hundreds of state primary and secondary schools where Muslim pupils are in majority. In my opinion all such schools may be opted out to become Muslim Academies. This means the Muslim children will get a decent education. Muslim schools turned out balanced citizens, more tolerant of others and less likely to succumb to criminality or extremism. Muslim schools give young people confidence in who they are and an understanding of Islamic teaching of tolerance and respect which prepares them for a positive and fulfilling role in society. Muslim schools are attractive to Muslim parents because they have better discipline and teaching Islamic values. Children like discipline, structure and boundaries. Bilingual Muslim children need Bilingual Muslim teachers as role models during their developmental periods, who understand their needs and demands. There is no place for a non-Muslim child or a teacher in a Muslim school. Legally, the state has an obligation to respect the rights of parents to ensure that ‘education and teaching(of their children) is in conformity with their own religious and philosophical convictions.’ The schools must satisfy the spiritual, moral, social, and cultural needs of Muslim pupils. State schools with non-Muslim monolingual teachers are not in a position to satisfy their needs. A good school is not just a knowledge factory or a conveyor belt for churning out exam passes – it is a community, a family. A community is held together by common values and principles.

    What gives OFSTED the right, or indeed any brits, to preach to minority groups about how they should live their lives. This is a cosmopolitan country, the Muslim community have the right to educate their children how they choose. What has being British got to do with your religious belief? In Britain there are Hindus Sikhs pagans Jewish Buddhists atheist Zoroastrians Rasta’s and many more should they all change there religious beliefs because they are British? Studying the Qur’an will certainly help towards these children becoming fully integrated citizens of the UK.

    Ofsted should be an advisory body – full of experts who are able to support and guide schools into a better service for our young people. Instead, figures are massaged, teachers bullied, children get a raw deal and all because there are ‘standards’ to be reached or else the brown stuff hits the fan. The standards seem to me to be all wrong; my children’s first school had a motto ‘learning with love and loving to learn’. From what I have seen in primary schools throughout my 20 years (I have just thrown in the towel) is a continual drive to get children to higher standards quicker than ever which tends to overlook the fact that they are children and need time to explore and assimilate their learning. Child-centred learning should be top of the agenda with Ofsted helping to achieve the goals. We get what we pay for and currently we have a system which berates rather than supports.

    If 8 out of 10 schools are getting good or outstanding why is that not a headline? That would be positive & when the next Pisa comes out & shows no improvement the government would be made to look stupid because the 8 out of 10 schools are good or outstanding is bullshit just like much of what Ofsted say. Ofsted are a political tool used to show progress to the electorate & win votes. Their comments, inspections & judgements are utterly, utterly worthless. Wilshaw was just on radio 4 and he seemed to reject the proposal that parents have any responsibility for their children’s attitude to learning and behaviour, preferring to point out that Head teachers ‘have tremendous powers to set the culture’. This wilful blindness is what has hindered the progress of too many students in mainstream state schools for too long.

    One of the most remarkable things about this whole through-the-looking-glass “debate” is that the media still treat OFSTED as anything other than a bad joke. OFSTED are corrupt, incompetent, self-serving and redundant parasites. There are plenty of cases which demonstrate that an OFSTED “judgement” has slightly less value than wet toilet paper, and Michael Wilshaw is an oafish buffoon so lacking in intelligence that he finds it absolutely impossible to imagine that there might be any other way of teaching than the one he used himself thirty years ago. Yet when he opens his bowels and shits out his latest attack on teachers, the media treat it as if it’s the bloody word of God. Incredible. Whether Ofsted’s reports are accurate is a perfect example of luck.

    Look at the way Ofsted subcontracts the inspection work. Do we have any actual Ofsted employees working consistently together to improve schools. Many inspectors are retired teachers, lead inspectors have full-time posts in schools. The teams are ad hoc and only visit schools for two days before walking away without any responsibility for their judgements, which are increasingly meaningless to students, parents and teachers.Ofsted is a fraud. What’s the difference between a plastic surgeon and an Ofsted Inspector? A plastic surgeon tucks up features. Actually, a good Ofsted report can often be down to luck. Take a look at the Secret Teacher’s posting in the Guardian on Saturday 10 November 2012. The article is entitled: ‘Dear Ofsted inspector, I am giving you notice to improve’. Can we be brave enough to do away with Ofsted altogether and instead bring about a revolution by investing in good teachers?

    Ofsted don’t know their arse from their elbow, who on earth would work for such a miserable organisation? Always so negative, positives are only ever begrudgingly given. Miserable, miserable bastards. Quite honestly I’m bored to tears hearing about Ofsted and the latest pronouncement from Wilshaw on what is wrong with state education. Maybe just maybe people don’t give a fuck anymore given all the bullshit politicians, ‘experts’ and prates like Wilshaw keep giving us. Out of curiosity, I read the Ofsted Inspector’s Manual recently. One might expect a manual to contain instructions. This particular manual was 148 pages but, if you removed the waffle, it could have been summarised in a single page. Apart from a dozen repetitions of the need to reduce stress on those being inspected (without saying how that would be achieved) it contained no instruction whatever. It was certainly not a manual by any normal definition of the word. I did wonder if it was conceived and authored by early products of its own creation. The abolition of Ofsted is long overdue. An inspector speaks. OFSTED are an obstacle, a hindrance an irrelevance to a good education. It is their raison d’etre.
    London School of Islamics Trust

  4. Thanks for laying out the position of the muslim community of the UK. At the end of the day it is for the muslims to outline their position on issues of the day…. Muslims have not renounced their right to represent themselves to any third party whether it be immoral tabloid editors, extremist right wing types or corrupt politicians.

  5. Toffs such as Michael Gove are an embarassment to the political landscape of the UK. Does he really command the respect of the teaching profession, or is he seen as some fumbling immature idiot groping around in the dark?

  6. When the politics of fear on the part of corrupt politicians, along with the politics of hate on the part of exremist right wing types takes prescedence over empirical evidence then we should know that the schooling system is failing, and in dire need of a revamp.

  7. Michael Gove snatches at straws as he is buffeted by paranoia of his own making amidst the storm in a tea cup. All in all a lack lustre affair.

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