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Damaging evidence does the rounds

Damaging documentary evidence of the consultation agreement between the colleges employers leader Roger Ward and the finance and health-care advisers Burke Ford Reed is circulating in the FE sector through e-mail, fax machines and by post.

Acknowledgement of the agreement is given in the letter (opposite) signed by Dominic Burke and carried on official company paper.

College governors and principals who have contacted The TES say copies of the document are often accompanied by anonymous letters calling for a campaign against Roger Ward.

Copies are also understood to have been sent to the inquiry for the AOC being carried out by solicitors McKeag and Co.

The TES first revealed the contents of the document last month . But Mr Ward has repeatedly insisted that no such consultancy agreement exists and that the Pounds 650 monthly payment was made because his financial adviser had taken too much commission when handling his personal affairs.

But few principals spoken to by The TES were willing to believe him. One said: "Just how big are his personal affairs if they warrant this level of commission?" Another said: "This is not just a matter for the McKeag inquiry. These assertions have been running for weeks and are doing the sector no good whatsoever. If there is no such agreement then Roger Ward should seek to take what action is necessary to clear-up the confusion."

* The AOC board, in the absence of Mr Ward, is set to come under increasing pressure to give a public endorsement to a range of teacher and lecturer supply agencies who say they were rebuffed when they sought approval for college work.

Kevin McNeany, chairman of Nord Anglia, the biggest private provider of education services to the state sector, confirmed this week that he was considering legal action for damages.

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