Pepys and Jones can rest easy as Sir William publishes his diary

1st November 2002 at 00:00
THE saga of Sir William Stubbs continued this week with the publication of his diary plotting the 10 weeks which led to his downfall, and that of the then Education Secretary Estelle Morris.

As diaries go, it is no Bridget Jones and if it was written on a day-by-day basis, Sir William must be suffering from blackouts.

However, it did reveal some interesting titbits. For instance, he and Jeremy Paxman go back a long way. Fiona, his youngest daughter, likes shopping in London's West End. And he portrays Ms Morris's spin doctor, the "fearsome" and "aggressive" DJ Collins, as the villain of the piece.

The log, published in a Sunday paper, begins one splendid summer morning when the Qualifications and Curriculum Authority chairman arrived back from a trip to Sydney with his wife Marie and breathed a sigh of relief at how well the A-level results had gone.

But as reports of unhappy schools began to filter through, the chairman's mood changed. Pupils with high grades in exams from the OCR board had been awarded a U grade in the coursework element.

"How could this be explained?" he asked. It was the only time (on day three of the saga) that Sir William voiced the concerns of those schools that had started the ball rolling.

The tough Scotsman revealed that he was opposed to the Government's independent inquiry, although he said at the time that he had personally asked Ms Morris to carry one out.

He was incredulous at the extent of the investigation and with the foresight of a soothsayer warned Ms Morris that if, as he suspected, the number of candidates to be regraded would be small: "Most of you will go from your jobs." Sir William believes he was exonerated in the Mike Tomlinson report, hence his amazement when he was sacked by Ms Morris.

His surprise seems odd given his ferocious attack on the Government two nights earlier when he had accused the education minister of interfering in the inquiry on the BBC's News at Ten O'Clock. The diary fails to record this little detail.

Like the rest of the education world, Sir William believed Ms Morris had ridden the storm. When his dinner with Marie was interrupted with a phone call bringing news of her resignation, he thought it was a hoax.

The one question Sir William chose not to answer in his wealth of column inches was whether he will pursue an unfair dismissal case. Perhaps all will be revealed next week when he is grilled by MPs on the education select committee

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