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Probe put on back burner

Poor Ivan Lewis, the adult skills minister, continues to be haunted by the disastrous Individual Learning Accounts. When the ILA scheme closed, we were told the subsidies for adult learners fell victim to cunning fraudsters and that the lack of quality wasn't down to incompetent civil servants.

But as memories fade, the promise to expose the villains who allegedly milked the learning accounts is gradually being toned down.

In November 2002, the Department for Education and Skills said police enquiries and its own "investigations unit" would take about two years to bear fruit.

FErret hears some of the alleged culprits may be basking in the Med - presumably quaking in their boots at the thought that the investigation, backed by the DfES sleuths, is still underway. After all, the big arrests must now be less than a year away.

Asked for a progress report, Ivan Lewis has admitted to the House of Commons: "It is not possible to assess the amount of time for the police to complete their inquiry."

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