Former imam of Edinburgh mosque launches unfair dismissal legal fight

THE leader of prayers at Edinburgh Central Mosque is suing its board for unfair dismissal after he was sacked, the Evening News can reveal.

Yahya Barry begins the case this week.
Yahya Barry begins the case this week.

Former imam Yahya Barry was dismissed last September a little over 18 months into the role, he says for “whistleblowing on malpractice” and lifting the lid on a “toxic culture.”

His grievances are contested by the Potterow place of worship and will be heard at an employment tribunal starting this week.

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“I went to work in the morning and came home without a job,” said married father-of two Mr Barry, 34, of Broughton.

“I told my loved ones what had happened and watched my family break down in front of me - it was really hard.”

Edinburgh University PhD student Mr Barry recalled how he was appointed to the £30,000-a-year role as imam in December 2015.

Aside from leading prayers, he was responsible for community outreach work, building the mosque’s profile and implementing policies and protocols.

But friction began with the appointment of a new director, in January last year, he claims.

Gambian-born Mr Barry says he was then fired for gross misconduct relating to his conduct in two meetings four months apart.

“Because I have been doing my work properly, not abusing my office or position and have maintained my integrity and hard work ethic, they could find nothing to directly implicate or incriminate me,” he said.

“From the 1052 prayers I led, 225 classes I taught and 58 sermons I delivered, they could not officially fault me in a single one.”

Mr Barry said he was given five minutes to pack his things and escorted from the premises by security “as though a criminal” and branded his treatment “unfair, ungracious and callous.”

He added: “This severe and inappropriate action was taken against me because I have blown the whistle and stood against malpractice.”

Mr Barry has since gone on to found his own grassroots Islamic evening school, Olive Tree Madrasah, out of a Craigentinny community centre.

His unfair dismissal claim will be heard at the Melville Street court and is listed until Thursday.

A spokesperson for Edinburgh Central Mosque said: “As the matter is before a tribunal it would be inappropriate to comment at this time.”