Trojan Horse row: Theresa May ‘breached ministerial code’ in Michael Gove feud over extremism in Birmingham schools

The Education Secretary has apologised and Ms May's special adviser resigned

Theresa May has been accused of breaching the ministerial code in the course of her feud with Michael Gove over the handling of Islamic extremism in schools, as Labour stepped up pressure on the Cabinet after a David Cameron crackdown.

William Hague said today that the Prime Minister wanted to restore “team discipline in the Government” following the clash, which has seen Mr Gove, the Education Secretary, apologise and one of Ms May’s most senior advisers resign.

But that wasn’t enough for her Labour counterpart, the shadow Home Secretary Yvette Cooper, who called for Ms May to come out and explain her actions.

She told BBC1's Andrew Marr Show: “We've seen the Education Secretary apologise, the special adviser to the Home Secretary resign, but we've so far heard nothing from the Home Secretary even though it looks pretty clear that she has breached the ministerial code by writing and then authorising the publication of this letter.

“Well the Prime Minister's responsible for enforcing the ministerial code. He needs to act and to make sure that that happens, at the same time as making sure they also address these more important issues about what's happening in schools and communities.”

The Home Secretary's special adviser Fiona Cunningham resigned following the investigation ordered by the Prime Minister into the bitter round of briefings and counter-briefings which overshadowed the Queen's speech.

The shadow Home Secretary, Yvette Cooper, called for Ms May to explain her actions (PA) The shadow Home Secretary, Yvette Cooper, called for Ms May to explain her actions (PA) Mr Gove wrote to apologise to the Prime Minister and senior Home Office official Charles Farr “in acknowledgement of his role” in the row.

Keith Vaz, chairman of the Home Affairs Select Committee, said Ms May would be called before MPs to be questioned about the “unseemly” situation.

He said there was also a “strong case” to hear from Ms Cunningham herself about why she stepped down.

“Counter terrorism requires a cohesive strategy. This unseemly row obscures the pressing issue of how to combat radicalism in schools.

“Communities hold the answer and the police must go into schools to tell children of the dangers of terrorism. Theresa May must also ensure that in the future there are no potential conflicts of interests that may impact on her decision-making.”

Ms May’s letter to the Education Secretary questioned his department's response to the Islamist “Trojan horse” allegations in Birmingham schools, and was released in retaliation for comments in The Times attributed to an unnamed source - but apparently Mr Gove himself - criticising counter-terrorism chief Charles Farr's approach to preventing the spread of extremism.

The Foreign Secretary, William Hague, said the Government would be 'very robust, very clear about anything that puts children in our schools at risk of extremism' (PA) The Foreign Secretary, William Hague, said the Government would be 'very robust, very clear about anything that puts children in our schools at risk of extremism' (PA) Ms Cooper said: “I think Theresa May needs to come out publicly and answer what she did to publish this letter. The ministerial code says that ministerial correspondence and cabinet committees shouldn't be published, it should be private.”

Mr Cameron was understood to have been “deeply frustrated” about the row between two of the Government’s most senior Tories.

Underlining the strength of the response from No 10, Foreign Secretary William Hague said “the Prime Minister has dealt with [it] in a very firm and clear way”.

Ofsted will release reports into 21 schools in Birmingham at the centre of allegations tomorrow, with Mr Gove expected to make a Commons statement giving his response.

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