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Lessons to be learned from report;FE Focus

College criticised over sex inquiry. David Blunkett accepts St Austell College mismanage investigating complaints against a lecturer. Ngaio Crequer reports

Baroness Blackstone, the further and higher education minister, wrote to Matthew Taylor, the local MP in July 1997.

"The council's (FEFC's) advice was based upon a review conducted by Professor Howard Newby. Professor Newby considered that mismanagement had taken place and the council agreed with that view. The Secretary of State considered the council's advice carefully. He also agreed with the finding of mismanagement. You will have noted that he welcomes and supports a range of actions that the council proposes to take forward in conjunction with the sector and that the governing body is recommended to take forward with the principal in view of his role in the mismanagement.

"You will also have seen the expression of the Secretary of State's concern about how the college handled this case, in its earliest stages." She also said that Professor Newby had made no proposal to replace the members of the governing body. In such circumstances the law does not permit the Secretary of State to replace the governing body, she wrote.

She added that Education Secretary David Blunkett was "minded to agree" that the report should be published as there had been considerable public interest in the case, and lessons to be learned from it.

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