Bradford West MP George Galloway last night branded the review into the death of Hamzah Khan a “whitewash”.
The Respect MP said he believed the four-year-old – who lived in his constituency – had been failed by those who should have been there for him and accused the report of “attempting to cover it up”.
He said: “We are expected to believe from this review that despite numerous inquiries and alerts, from neighbours, the involvement of the police, teachers, social services – a whole multiplicity of agencies – despite the obvious signs from the house, the smell which was overpowering, the state of the other children, that the death of Hamzah Khan could not be predicted.
“Well what could be predicted, and I did, is that those investigating this deeply sad and troubling death, would thoroughly coat themselves in whitewash, which they have done.
“Hamzah’s mother is responsible, but he has been failed not just by those who should have been there for him but those who are now attempting to cover it up.”
He said Prof Nick Frost, chairman of Bradford Safeguarding Children Board, blamed a system failure for the tragedy “as if no human had any involvement in creating, implementing or monitoring the system”.
He added: “We need a thorough, independent and urgent inquiry into this catastrophic failure and all of those involved in signing off on this charade removed from any future involvement.”
Coun Jeanette Sunderland, leader of Bradford Council’s Liberal Democrat group, agreed there was ‘something not quite right’ about the serious case review, which she hopes will be discussed by the Council’s children’s services scrutiny committee.
George has submitted more than 40 parliamentary questions over the Kings Science Academy free school in Bradford. To reprise the issue, the school was built for £10m on land belonging to Tory vice-chairman Alan Lewis. Lewis’s company is receiving £296,000 a year of public money for 20 years for leasing the land and the building will revert to him afterwards. More seriously, a report from the Department of Education, delivered to Michael Gove in April, alleged fraudulent invoicing to claim over £86,000 of public money. This report was not properly delivered to the police – or Action Fraud as the department is known – and for five months was sat on until a whistleblower came forward. There is now, belatedly, a police inquiry, largely brought about by George’s demand for accountability.
Galloway applies for debate over free school ‘shambles’
Bradford West MP George Galloway has applied for an adjournment debate over the Kings Science Academy debacle. He will learn early next week if his request has been successful.
Applications for adjournment debates go into a ballot. His application last week was not successful.
“At the start of this shambles I asked if this was a cover-up or incompetence. We know now that it was both,” Galloway said. “What we don’t know is who was involved in the cover-up. We know Michael Gove saw the report when it was delivered, but what we don’t know is what advice he gave to his civil servants who signally failed to properly inform the police about the seriousness of it, or to pass on his department’s damning report. And what we don’t know is why he, and his department, failed to question why the conclusions of the unseen report were deemed not to be worthy of police action. Why wasn’t he on the phone to Action Fraud or whipping-on his senior people to do just that? He needs to answer that and so much more. It’s also totally unacceptable that this report is hugely redacted, particularly where it refers to Tory party donor and vice-chair Alan Lewis.”
Galloway is also the raise the issue of what he claimed was a “clear conflict of interest” over £400,000 of public money which was spent in improving a building owned by a company in which the principal of Kings Academy, Sajid Raza, was a director along with his father, a trustee of the school. “Before the present Kings site was leased at a cost of almost £300,000 a year from a company owned by Alan Lewis, it set up in the Coral College building owned by the Razas company. £417,422 was spent on doing it up. If that isn’t a clear conflict of interest then what is? It’s a scandal that’s what it is.”
The MP added: “The more you look at this the more the questions rear which are still to be properly answered. This whole free school process is a shambles and a grotesque waste of public money. There clearly is no proper monitoring or accounting for the taxpayers’ money. I have so far submitted more than 40 parliamentary questions and I will continue to do so until this whole mess is cleared up and those responsible held accountable.”