Waheed Saleem, disgraced official in Trojan horse scandal given top police force role

Published on 2 May 2020 by BrickTop

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Last modified 19 October 2020

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Muslim prominent in scheme to bring hardline Islamic practices into schools given top police force post.

A disgraced former Muslim councillor who was banned from serving on any local authority has been be given a top post at England’s second largest police force.

Waheed Saleem, 40, who played a prominent role in the “Trojan horse” scandal when schools in Birmingham were feared to be introducing hardline Islamic practices, has become a deputy police and crime commissioner (PCC).

Mr Saleem’s rise raises questions about how appointments are vetted. He once mocked someone who committed suicide but was then chosen as director of a mental health trust, an investigation by The Times discovered.

Mr Saleem has been nominated by David Jamieson, a former transport minister who is PCC at West Midlands.

Mr Saleem, whose duties include holding the chief constable to account, was banned from sitting on councils for a year by the Standards Board in 2004 for bringing his office into disrepute.

He had manipulated a tendering process for Walsall council property by revealing bids to a Muslim organisation that was able to submit a high late offer.

Sir Anthony Holland, chairman of the watchdog, said: “The majority who work in local government are honourable and trustworthy people; it is the tiny minority who tarnish their reputation.”

Mr Saleem became embroiled in the “Trojan horse” affair after allegations made in an anonymous letter. He became chairman of Park View school after the scandal.

Mr Saleem denied extremism and later tweeted: “All reports concluded there wasn’t extremism in our schools,” although Peter Clarke, the former head of counterterrorism who led the government’s investigation, said he found evidence that people of influence in schools endorsed extremist views. Mr Saleem also shared an online article: “Ofsted’s slur on the Muslim community of Park View school.”

Haras Rafiq, chief executive of the counterextremism organisation Quilliam, said: “We know extremism leads to terrorism. Outside London, Birmingham has the biggest terrorism and extremism problem in England. Is he really fit to be responsible for policing?”

Mr Saleem claims to support diversity but tweeted in 2017, while on the PCC’s strategic board: “Is it one rule for the Hindus and another for the Muslims? Very interesting article asking important question . . . !?”

Yesterday he apologised for a tweet he wrote in 2011 that said: “Thanks to inconsiderate person who decided to commit suicide at Apsley I’m stuck in London Euston and won’t be getting home anytime soon!” Two years later he was appointed associate non-executive director of Birmingham and Solihull Mental Health Trust.

Mr Saleem said that he regretted his actions at Walsall council. On extremism, he said: “Many people expressed criticism of Peter Clarke’s appointment, including the then chief constable of West Midlands police, Chris Sims. The outcome and validity of the Trojan horse letter remains disputed.” The criticism of Ofsted had been written by a teacher at the school and Mr Saleem said he shared it to give perspective.

The article he shared about Hindus “was a widely read piece from The Guardian that raised questions of the role of religion in politics”.

Mr Jamieson said: “Waheed has made a huge contribution to West Midlands police with his work to improve and increase recruitment to make sure [it] looks more like the people it serves.”

Sue Davis, chairwoman of the mental health trust, said Mr Saleem’s tweet was “certainly insensitive, as many references to suicide by those who have never seen it up close often are”.

However, she said that two board colleagues since bereaved by suicide had experienced “nothing but compassion and consideration” from Mr Saleem.