Ashcroft ally;Diary

16th July 1999 at 01:00
Also avoiding the limelight is Richard Painter, the man summoned by Stephen Byers to deal with the failings of Hackney's education service.

Since standing down as head of the hit squad sent to the east London troublespot, ministers have found no further use for his talents. The reasons could be connected with the fact that he divides his time between the ADT City Technology College in south London, where he is chief executive, and Conservative Central Office, where he carries out duties for the billionaire party treasurer, Michael Ashcroft.

The generous Mr Ashcroft, tax exile and bankroller of the Tories, is the original benefactor of ADT College. However, there is an investigation over the accounts of Adlearn, the Ashcroft-backed charity which channels funds to the school. The Charity Commission is looking into an alleged discrepancy of more than pound;250,000 between what Adlearn's 1997 accounts suggest had been donated to the school and the college's own accounts. In that year, Adlearn apparently paid one of its employees between pound;140,000 and pound;150,000.

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