Principal quizzed by fraud squad

3rd November 1995 at 00:00
An agricultural college principal has been suspended after being questioned by police investigating allegations of fraud.

Peter Thompson, principal of Kirkley Hall College in Northumberland, was arrested as detectives launched an inquiry into allegations of irregularities in livestock records.

Dorothy Irvine, the college's farms secretary, was also questioned and suspended from work. Both were released on police bail. Northumbria Police refused to disclose the extent of the alleged fraud, but said "a large sum" was involved. The inquiry is understood to centre on the recording of movements of cattle.

Detectives are examining college accounts to try to discover how far back the alleged offences date and to pin down the sums involved.

Kirkley Hall College, where Mr Thompson has been principal for 10 years, runs two lowland farms breeding dairy cows and sheep and has a small herd of beef cattle.

The farms are managed by a company which is part of the college corporation. A total of 203 full-time and 1,000 part-time student take courses in agricultural and environmental subjects, machinery and estate, horticulture and adult education.

College vice-chairman of governors Charles Beaumont described the incident as "most regrettable, particularly in the light of the college's recent progress with student enrolment at its highest level ever".

Staff had been praised in a recent Further Education Funding Council inspection report, he added, and would continue to maintain their "excellent record in teaching and support".

Following Mr Thompson's suspension, vice-principal Keith Hoskins has taken over as acting principal. Mr Beaumont took the decision to suspend Mr Thompson, as chairman of governors Alan Jackson is on holiday.

The vice-chairman said: "The governing body has every confidence that Keith Hoskins and his staff will maintain the smooth running of the college."

The college is carrying out its own inquiry. Police inquiries are likely to continue into December.

Log-in as an existing print or digital subscriber

Forgotten your subscriber ID?


To access this content and the full TES archive, subscribe now.

View subscriber offers


Get TES online and delivered to your door – for less than the price of a coffee

Save 33% off the cover price with this great subscription offer. Every copy delivered to your door by first-class post, plus full access to TES online and the TES app for just £1.90 per week.
Subscribers also enjoy a range of fantastic offers and benefits worth over £270:

  • Discounts off TES Institute courses
  • Access over 200,000 articles in the TES online archive
  • Free Tastecard membership worth £79.99
  • Discounts with Zipcar,, Virgin Wines and other partners
Order your low-cost subscription today