Lib Dems resign panel after school hijab affair
BIRMINGHAM Liberal Democrats have walked away from the city council’s standards committee claiming it is ineffective after a row over hijabs in schools last year.
The group has relinquished its seat on the panel which looks into complaints into councillors’ code of conduct.
It follows a row last year when St Clare’s Catholic Primary School, in Handsworth, reportedly ruled that a four-year-old girl could not wear a headscarf.
The situation made national headlines after Birmingham City Council’s then equalities chief Cllr Waseem Zaffar (Lab, Lozells) told the school it was in breach of anti-discrimination laws when they were not. It prompted former Government integration tsar Dame Louise Casey to write to the council condemning the actions.
Cllr Zaffar, who resigned from the cabinet in the wake of the situation, was ultimately cleared of any wrongdoing by the standards committee.
But the lack of a wider report into the case has led to the latest developments.
Lib Dem group leader Jon Hunt did not say whether he agreed with the conclusion, but stated either way the standards committee should have issued a full report back to other councillors in order to prevent a similar situation happening again. He said: “We have had to make decisions on what committees to sit on. We decided ‘standards’ was not particularly effective. I have asked several times what has come out of the Cllr Zaffar affair?
“It was obviously a very difficult situation which any councillor could find themselves in, being asked to negotiate a difficult situation.
“It raised significant issues over what is appropriate behaviour; it was serious enough for him [Cllr Zaffar] to resign from the cabinet over and serious enough for Dame Louise Casey to intervene.
“The standards committee needed to feed back to the council as a whole.
“We needed a lessons learned report. Just saying he was cleared of wrongdoing does nothing.”
> Cllr Waseem Zaffar