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Former Bilston principal to sue

THE FORMER principal of Bilston Community College is threatening to sue the Further Education Funding Council over a suppressed report into the crisis at the college.

Keith Wymer, who retired as head of the West Midlands college last year, is preparing to take libel action following allegations made in a forensic audit report jointly commissioned by college governors and the FEFC.

Preliminary reports into the college's network of companies and whistleblower's allegations were prepared by auditors Bentley Jennison and Deloitte amp; Touche and went before a meeting of Bilston's governors in April this year. The board of governors was dissolved at the end of the meeting.

Last week Bilston merged with Wulfrun College to become Wolverhampton College.

Minutes of the meeting record governors as expressing concern over "inaccuracies and selectivity" of one report and describe the other as "extremely poor in terms of competence and professionalism".

Because of the "highly sensitive and potentially damaging nature" of the reports, copies were collected by the clerk at the end of the meeting and taken away to be shredded.

"The contents of the reports must remain strictly confidential and ... any publicity could have serious consequences," the minutes state.

The minutes also note the FEFC's "concern" that governors should have seen the report and say that the final versions were to be sent directly to the FEFC. But a copy of one of the preliminary reports, which had been posted to governors several days before the meeting, was shown to Keith Wymer.

Two pages are devoted to Mr Wymer's foreign travel in 1997 and 1998, during which time he is said to have visited Boston, Washington, Uzbekistan, Moscow, South Africa and China - trips he denies making.

Another allegation, which he challenges and will form the basis of his libel action, is that he had used pound;1,500 of college money to pay for himself, his wife and two daughters to go to America. Other former senior staff denied claims made against them in the reports but stopped short of legal action.

Mr Wymer says his legal expenses - which could run into tens of thousands of pounds - are being underwritten by several individuals and organisations "who believe that Bilston had a raw deal".

He added: "I have spoken to my lawyers and they say it is a black and white case. The report is full of false information. "

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