Former fascist sparks race row

26th May 2000 at 01:00
A FORMER National Front organiser has been appointed to help govern two schools that are involved in a prize-winning racial awareness programme.

Race Equality First is now threatening to withdraw its support for the programme at Cadoxton infant and junior schools in Barry, South Wales, after it was revealed that governor Stephen Newman is a former National Front member.

Local Conservative party leaders, who appointed Mr Newman as an education authority representative last autumn, knew of his background. But the matter only recently came to light, with a local election due to fill a vacant seat on the Vale of Glamorgan council.

Jazz Iheanacho, director of Cardiff-based Race Equality First, said he blamed the Conservatives for agreeing to the appointment, and Labour members for not raising the issue sooner.

He added: "There is little or no evidence that parents were informed, which in itself is not good practice.

"The feeling among local communities is disbelief hat this appointment should have been made - particularly as the people making the appointment were in full possession of the facts regarding this gentleman's background."

Race Equality First's "schools against racism" pledge last year won the British Diversity Awards' prize for good practice initiatives promoting racial equality.

Council leader Jeff James said: "Mr Newman has always been open and honest at expressing his regret about his liaison with the National Front so many years ago, and his selection was considered appropriate last October. He has been in place for nine months, and there has been no criticism of his role or adverse comment from either inside or outside the school."

Grace Rhys-Jones, head of the infant school, said it had long-standing equal opportunities and anti-racism policies.

She added: "Mr Newman is not our appointment.

"We have not had any problems, and he assures us he does uphold and promote the policies of the school."

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