Town Hall petition being handed in tonight over convicted killer working in Tower Hamlets school

Helal Abbas... calls for head teacher at Ian Mikado to resign

Helal Abbas... calls for head teacher at Ian Mikado to resign - Credit: Archant

Protesters are handing in a petition tonight to Tower Hamlets council over the appointment of a once-convicted killer as a classroom assistant in an east London special school.

Protesters at meeting in Whitechapel over Devlin's appointment

Protesters at meeting in Whitechapel over Devlin's appointment - Credit: Archant

They are demanding tighter appointment procedures following revelations that Ian Devin has been working at Ian Mikardo special needs school in Bromley-by-Bow, half-a-mile from the spot where he and two others killed 35-year-old Shiblu Rahman 15 years ago.

Devlin served time for manslaughter, but parents and even Tower Hamlets mayor John Biggs have called his appointment as a classroom assistant “insensitive” in the same neighbourhood as the racist killing he was involved in back in 2001.

The Mayor is to receive the petition from protesters outside the Town Hall before tonight’s council meeting at 7pm.

The protesters held a rally last week and another in June in Whitechapel when calls were made for the head teacher to resign.

Tower Hamlets Mayor John Biggs

Tower Hamlets Mayor John Biggs - Credit: Archant

Devlin, now 32, who had also worked as premises manager at Bow Road Methodist church, was 17 at the time Mr Rahman was stabbed in the street while pleading for his life. Devlin was convicted of manslaughter with an accomplice in 2001, while a 15-year-old who stabbed Mr Rahman was convicted of murder.

Feelings still run high 15 years on, in this largely-Bengali neighbourhood. Four school governors have resigned over the issue.

Former council leader Helal Abbas had earlier told the East London Advertiser: “The school has shown misjudgement. I believe in rehabilitation—but not in a school in the same area.

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“The head teacher should hang her head in shame should leave the job.”

Head teacher Claire Lillis defended the appointment in a statement last month claiming Devlin “has been an example of how a rehabilitated offender can contribute to his community”. All appropriate checks and advice in the appointment were made, she insisted.

A former governor at the school, Lisa Panavich, warned: “We must consider the children’s vulnerability when protesting, because they have fragile minds and complex emotional needs.”

Mayor Biggs has begun a full council investigation into the protocols of hiring teachers and has hinted that “it may need Parliament to get interested”.