LEADERS of a closure-threatened free school have demanded the Education Secretary step aside from determining its future, claiming she is “tainted with bias”.

Lawyers acting for the Durham Free School (DFS) Trust say Nicky Morgan has a “closed mind” on its proposed closure, having already resolved to axe its funding.

Campaigners accused of using Durham Free School pupils as pawns

In an 18-page legal challenge sent to the minister hours before Tuesday’s (February 3) deadline for representations, renowned international law firm Aughton Ainsworth, acting for the Trust, says it has very serious issues over whether Ms Morgan’s shock announcement she intended to withdraw funding, made on Monday, January 19, was lawful.

The letter demands details of as-yet-unspecified “serious allegations” mentioned by Ms Morgan are released to the school and the final decision on its future is taken by another minister from another government department, warning if Ms Morgan refuses to step aside the Trust may pursue a judicial review.

“Our client has no confidence in your ability to make a fair, proportionate and lawful final decision in relation to the future of the school since you are not open to any representations made by the Trust,” it says.

A spokesman for the Department for Education, which has consistently said it remains Ms Morgan’s intention to close DFS, said a decision would be announced “in due course”.

The Trust wants a response to its points within seven days.

Meanwhile, DFS chair of governors John Denning has made an official complaint against Ofsted, which claimed the leaders of the controversial new Christian academy tolerated racism, sexism and homophobia, accusing the schools inspectorate of breaching its own guidelines and acting unfairly.

Mr Denning claims inspectors asked pupils aged 11 to 14:

  • What would you do if a Muslim came to this school?
  • Do you know anybody in the school who is gay?
  • What would you do if someone gay came to this school?
  • Have you ever met anybody who is gay/bisexual?
  • Have you had ‘The Talk’?
  • Have you learned to make a baby?

It is also claimed one inspector asked a female pupil “inappropriate questions of a sexual nature in an unsafe situation”.

Ofsted chief Sir Michael Wilshaw has publicly defended his team, saying he personally investigated allegations of inappropriate questions and found them to be false.