Hafs Academy wishes to issue the following statement following the conviction of Mr Umar Haque for preparing acts of terrorism.
We are deeply shocked and saddened by the nature of the crimes of which Haque and his co-defendants have been found guilty, and that a terror attack was being planned by members of this community. Hafs Academy stands strongly and unequivocally against terrorism, hate crimes, and all criminal activity in general. Our school has been providing support at the heart of our community for a number of years and has assisted the Police and relevant authorities with their investigations to ensure the safety of our community and to see that justice is achieved.
We are concerned about speculation and unverified accounts circulating in the media that have sought to unjustly connect the actions of Mr Haque to Hafs Academy. Haque was employed as an Assistant Administrative Officer at Hafs Academy for two years, from 2012 to 2014. He had passed all DBS checks prior to his employment and had minimal contact with students in his role. At no time were staff or management aware of any extremist views espoused by this individual during his tenure with us, and it is our belief that a drastic shift in his views and beliefs occurred at some point in the three years after his employment at Hafs Academy and before his arrest in 2017. The school is strongly committed to an ethos of respect for the rule of law and the values of our country, including tolerance and social harmony, which is evident in the Ofsted report of Hafs Academy.
We have reviewed all our safeguarding procedures in light of this case and will continue reviewing these at regular intervals. We are also confident that all of our staff have the necessary training and support to deal with any safeguarding concerns should they arise.
In relation to Haque’s tenure at Hafs Academy, a BBC article dated 2nd March 2018 correctly notes: “there was no evidence in the trial that he had sought to brainwash children during while _[sic]_ there”.
The broader question of extremism and radicalisation is of great concern to all at Hafs Academy, and we continue to explore further ways of developing resilience against this among our students and to contribute to counter extremism efforts in society at large.