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St Austell report published;FE Focus

Ministers have finally published a report on the handling of a serious sexual assault at St Austell College in Cornwall, 15 months after it was completed.

The Department for Education and Employment released it today just as the education select committee publishes its tome on further education. The TES reported the document's existence in March but was legally restrained from quoting from it.

Professor Howard Newby, vice-chancellor of Southampton University, was commissioned to investigate how the allegation of assault by one lecturer on another was handled. He found serious mistakes in the three-year inquiry, involving a breach of natural justice and mismanagement. The earlier version of the report was shown to governors, legal advisers, the principal and the accused lecturer.

"Professor Newby has reviewed comments made by them on that draft. The report now published incorporates a number of amendments which take into account those comments," states the report.

David Blunkett, the Education Secretary, said: "I am quite clear that there are important lessons to be learnt from this episode. These lessons extend beyond the FE sector and indeed beyond the world of education. I therefore consider that there is a clear puiblic interest to be served by publishing the report."

All colleges will receive a copy of the report.

Full story, page 34

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