Hodge quizzes AOC chairman

19th December 1997 at 00:00
Association of Colleges chairman Howard Phelps was not aware of two letters from top solicitor John Hall expressing concern about a lack of openness on the association's board, he told MPs.

Mr Phelps said he had received subsequent letters in recent weeks referring to the previous correspondence from Mr Hall, senior partner at national law firm Eversheds, and the AOC's former lawyer and company secretary.

But he could neither find nor recall the two warning letters Mr Hall had sent to Mr Phelps's home in the Cotswolds expressing his concerns.

As The TES revealed last month, Mr Hall quit as AOC company secretary because he was dissatisfied with the level of openness on the board, Committee chairman Margaret Hodge quoted The TES story to Mr Phelps and asked him what became of Mr Hall's letters.

Mr Phelps replied: "He wrote to me probably a month or six weeks ago, about the same time the whole inquiry was set up, and he said I have written to you as company secretary about the need for matters to do with registers. He sent me a couple of letters he said he send me. I have a difficulty. I have no recollection of any letters." Mr Phelps added: "I do not see why he is raising it now. It's quite proper for an adviser to a board to say 'you should do this' - it's then for the board to do it or not."

Pressed on whether he had received Mr Hall's letters. Mr Phelps replied: "I have no recollection at all. I believe he wrote it because he is an honest man. Where it is I don't know."

Mr Phelps said the matter had been passed to the AOC's solicitors.

Asked about the issue, AOC chief executive Roger Ward also denied knowledge of Mr Hall's letters.

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