DfE to bar unsuitable governors

27 June 2014

PA

Allegations: Ghoma Abdrabba faces the press in the offices of the Sanabel Relief Agency in Manchester, in 2006, after the US Treasury Department alleged that the charity's priority was to "provide support to Libyan Islamic Fighting Group jihadist activities"

Allegations: Ghoma Abdrabba faces the press in the offices of the Sanabel Relief Agency in Manchester, in 2006, after the US Treasury Dep...

THE Department for Education (DfE) is planning to introduce new powers to bar unsuitable people from running independent schools, a spokesman said this week. The statement came after the department confirmed that it was urgently investigating claims that the chairman of governors at the privately run Birmingham Muslim School, Ghoma Abdrabba, had been accused by the United States Treasury of misusing charitable funds.

Mr Abdrabba founded the school in 2001, but has since transferred ownership to the Albayan Educational Foundation Ltd. The charity has four trustees, who include Mr Abdrabba, and his wife, Aisha, who remains the head teacher. OFSTED inspectors, who had earlier deemed the school inadequate, upgraded it to adequate last year, but commented on frequent absences and persistent lateness among its 90 pupils. All pupils learn Arabic, and follow an Islamic studies programme.

The Sunday Times reported an allegation from the US Treasury that Mr Abdrabba used a charity organisation to "transfer documents and funds for terrorist activities overseas". In 2006, Libyan-born Mr Abdrabba, a British national, was put on the US's "specially designated nationals" list for allegedly funding the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group.

The same year, his name was added to a UN Security Council list of individuals suspected of being involved in terrorism, but was removed in 2011 after he was cleared of wrongdoing.

The DfE statement said: "We are looking at this information urgently. It is vital that we ensure that unsuitable people are not managing independent schools. We are introducing new powers to ensure that people whose past conduct demonstrated that they are not suitable to run an independent school can be barred."

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