Bilston cleared in police inquiry

14th September 2001 at 01:00
A two-year investigation by the West Midlands police into the former Bilston community college has found no evidence of any criminal activity. Detective inspector David Churchill, head of the major fraud unit, has told the "Friends" of the college that it has filed its papers.

"We have now completed the investigation into the allegations of impropriety at Bilston community college. No evidence was found to suggest any of the activities at the college were of a criminal nature."

The college was closed in 1999 with pound;10 million of debts, and its management was accused by the Further Education Funding Council of financial malpractice.

Councillor Norman Davies, leader of Wolverhampton City Council, has called for a public inquiry into the closure of the college. He said those who had pointed the finger had lost a lot of good people their jobs.

David Kyte, representing the Friends of Bilston, also said there should be a fair, independent and public inquiry into the "destruction" of the college.

The FEFC always declined to answer inquiries about Bilston because of continuing police inquiries. John Harwood, chief executive of the Learning and Skills Council, which has superseded the FEFC, said police had been brought in "because funds appeared to have flowed out of the college via a complex network of companies whose status with the college was unclear".

He added: "The LSC has inherited the responsibility for winding down some of the affairs of Bilston, in particular companies which may have been owned or controlled by the FE corporation.

"The wind-down includes seeking to reclaim any recoverable monies. The Department for Education and Skills, the National Audit Office and the Public Accounts Committee are being kept fully informed of the work."

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