Are councils employing hopscotch teachers for Asian women?

16 February 2011

"Haringey hired someone to give hopscotch lessons to Asian women."
Richard Littlejohn, Daily Mail, 15 January 2011

With executive pay at local councils again surfacing in the news, the Daily Mail's Richard Littlejohn turned his sights on what he perceived to be the "insanity and waste in Britain's Town Halls" manifesting itself in the hiring of staff from the public purse to perform "non-jobs".

Amongst these was the post in Haringey whose duties apparently included teaching a playground pastime to women of Asian descent.

This was eye-catching for a number of reasons, not least for the bizarre nature of the work. For those with a long memory however, the job described by Mr Littlejohn was striking for an altogether different reason.

Back in 1995, former Conservative Party Chairman Brian Mawhinney regaled his Party's Conference with a story of how taxpayer's money was being similarly spent on hopscotch for Asian women.

In fact, it later transpired that the public money had been given to the Hopscotch Asian Women's Centre, a well-respected voluntary organisation that deals with domestic violence, language and integration issues in Camden, which neighbours Haringey.

So could a similar misunderstanding have been made by Richard Littlejohn?

We contacted Haringey Borough Council to ask about the mysterious job, who told us that they had "checked a number of databases and records and can find no evidence of funding this." We've also tried to get in touch with Mr Littlejohn himself to find out more about how he came across this vacancy, as the Mail have also yet to locate a job fitting his description.

But the Hopscotch Asian Women's Centre did advertise for a management position in May last year.

So whilst as yet we're unable to say with complete certainty that Haringey haven't been engaging the services of Asian hopscotch specialists, given the claim's history and the proximity of an Asian women's voluntary centre named Hopscotch to Haringey, you might be advised to treat this particular "non-job" with some scepticism.


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