Concerns about the infiltration of Birmingham schools by the Islamic extremist group Hizb ut-Tahrir have existed around for at least two decades.
According to Sky News, concerned school governors wrote to the government in 1994 to warn them of the problem.
John Ray, the former chairman of the governors at Golden Hillock School even travelled to Westminster to meet with the then education minister Emily Blatch. Golden Hillock is one of the schools that is likely to be taken into special measures, as a result of concerns about a takeover of its governing body.
He claims that the government could have acted in the 1990s, but instead chose to ignore the warnings they were given. Mr Ray said that the Trojan Horse plot “reveals something, something that is true.”
“It reveals a mess that the city council has not been able to check – the development of this whole infiltration of this ceding in of governors of one particular ideology. They are not people who have the welfare of these children at heart.
“I think the city council but also central government and all parties were very reluctant to question the received wisdom that suggests it is fair enough that a separate Islamic identity should be stressed.”
Like other observers he believes that the Trojan Horse letter, which detailed a plan to remove all but extremists from governing bodies, was probably a hoax. But he firmly believes that it highlighted practices that exist and have become a problem.
Mr Ray resigned as a school governor at Golden Hillock after 25 years of service when it was taken over by the Park View Education Trust. The group is headed Tahir Alam, who has been accused of exerting pressure on state funded schools to adhere to radical Islam, even though they are supposed to be secular.
Concerns about Mr Alam and the influence of the Park View Educational Trust have led to a spate of high-level investigations by Ofsted, the Department for Education and Birmingham City Council.
Mr Ray’s intervention will raise questions about what the government knew and when. It also raises the possibility that his warnings were ignored to avoid offending the Muslim community, at the expense of the rights of children.