AFTER the Purpose of Life charity, headed by Mohammad Sajad Hussain, inset above, revealed the name of a teacher who showed an image of the “prophet” Mohammed to pupils at a school in Yorkshire, the teacher was forced into hiding and received death threats.
Now it’s been reported that Purpose of Life has been formally rebuked by the Charity Commission for “inflaming tensions” and the risking safety of the teacher at the centre of the Batley Grammar School blasphemy row.
In March, Mohammad Sajad Hussain, Purpose of Life’s Chief Executive, accused the teacher of “terrorism” and “insulting Islam”. In a video he also called for the teacher’s sacking for showing pupils “sadistic” material.
Ironically, the union that came to the teacher’s defence had earlier given the charity a £3,000 donation. After protests began at the school, the Kirklees branch of the National Education Union said a statement:
The NEU is fully supporting its members at Batley school, and has been since the start. We have been actively pursuing news organisations and websites that have published names and asked them to withdraw them.
Free speech campaigners then complained to the Charity Commission, accusing the group of “recklessly” placing the teacher in danger of “physical harm”.
Following a lengthy investigation involving trustees, the regulator confirmed on Friday it has now issued Purpose of Life an official warning under section 75A of the 2011 Charities Act.
The notice says the Commission:
Considers that a breach of trust and/or duty and/or misconduct and/or mismanagement has been committed in connection with the charity.
Regulators said the charity’s open letter naming the teacher did not consider “foreseeable risk to the person’s safety” and:
Was written in such a way as to be likely to inflame existing tensions within the local community.
The Charity Commission demanded a series of actions to be taken, including:
Implementing effective written oversight and/or control mechanisms for the charity’s social media channels.
The charity’s leaders were also told to familiarise themselves with data protection law.
The Charity Commission threatened “further regulator action” may be taken if the breaches it identified are not remedied.
Toby Young, above, General Secretary of the Free Speech Union, which made the original complaint about the charity, said:
I welcome the action the Charity Commission has taken: naming the teacher at Batley Grammar School on Twitter was an irresponsible thing to do, given that a French teacher embroiled in a similar row had been beheaded by an Islamist terrorist the year before.
Teachers should be free to discuss controversial topics without having to worry that they will be doxxed by activists who take a particular aide in those controversies and their lives put in danger.
Purpose of Life, which eventually removed the teacher’s name from its online post after a fierce backlash over safety concerns, will have the regulator’s warning attached to its register entry for one year.
The teacher’s father told MailOnline earlier this year:
He knows that he’s not going to be able to return to work or live in Batley. It’s just going to be too dangerous for him and his family.
Following the row, the school pledged more rigorous monitoring of teaching aids and said it would never use the image of the prophet again.
The investigation concluded that the religious education teacher, in a bid to start a discussion about the meaning of blasphemy:
Genuinely believed that using the image had an educational purpose and benefit.
Hat tip: Robert Stovold