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Sir Paul Marshall steps down from Ark Schools board

Conservative donor and media mogul Sir Paul Marshall has stood down as chair and trustee of Ark Schools after he was accused of liking and sharing far-right extremist posts and conspiracy theories on social media.

Ark, one of England’s largest academy trusts, said Marshall had “indicated earlier in the year his intention to step down from the Ark Schools board to focus on other philanthropic and business commitments”.

The trust claimed this comment was made during a confidential board discussion at the end of last year.

The News Agents podcast and Hope Not Hate, a charity opposing far-right extremism, reported in February that Marshall had retweeted and liked content “which is on the most extreme end of political opinion about Islam” from a private account on X, formerly known as Twitter.

At the time, Ark stood by its co-founder, saying the trust was a “diverse organisation which exists to serve communities of all faiths and cultures”.

They added that Marshall had “made clear” in a statement “that he shares those values, as is evidenced by his decades of charitable work, including with Ark”.

News website Education Uncovered also reported last month that members of the National Education Union working for the trust had started a petition arguing Marshall was “no longer a fit and proper person to be associated with Ark Schools in any capacity”.

But the trust told the union it had “taken advice and are satisfied that he continues to be a fit and proper person to be a trustee”.

However Ark announced today Marshall has been replaced by Tina Alexandrou, an “experienced member of the Ark Schools board, where she has been both vice-chair and board lead for safeguarding and inclusion”.

Marshall praises ‘amazing organisation’

Marshall, who also co-founded GB News, said this week that Ark Schools “is an amazing organisation”.

“It has been a privilege to support its growth as chair. It has been a great pleasure working with all of you and I will of course continue to support Ark in other ways in the coming years.”

Marshall will remain as a trustee of Ark’s parent charity, Absolute Return For Kids.

Alexandrou, who is currently chair of governors at Ark White City Primary, said she was “very much looking forward to taking on this role”.

“Like all multi academy trusts we face considerable challenges, and I am grateful for the commitment right across our schools to improving outcomes for our students. I would like to thank Paul for his long-standing and passionate commitment to Ark Schools.”

Earlier this year, a spokesperson for hedge fund owner Marshall said the sample of posts “does not represent his views”.

“As most X/Twitter users know, it can be a fountain of ideas, but some of it is of uncertain quality and all his posts have now been deleted to avoid any further misunderstanding.“

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