Selective memory

1st December 2000 at 00:00
IT is encouraging to see that MPs on the public accounts committee are now seeking answers on the Further Education Funding Council's actions and inactions at Bilston Community College.

However, Professor Melville is skating on thin ice when he reportedly suggests that Bilston claimed money for units that were ineligible for funding.

Has he forgotten that much of the disputed work, worth perhaps pound;5 million, was reviewed externally at the FEFC's request in April 1998? And almost all the courses were "satisfactory"?

Has he forgotten the letter the council then wrote to the firm which undertook the review, suggesting that it might care to withdraw it, or the FEFC might commission another firm for an independent review? And that the council's audit service reviewedBilston's management arrangements in July 1997 and decided that they met the requirements?

Regarding the fraud squad investigation why, after two forensic audits, an FEFC inquiry, a Department for Education and Employment inquiry, a Charity Commission investigation and the fraud squad, none of the former senior staff at Bilston has been interviewed by the police? Could it be, as chair of the public accounts committee David Davis seems to suspect, that David Melville's refusal to answer key questions on Bilston because they are "sub judice" is a smokescreen?

Mr Melville's answers to the public accounts committee raise more questions than they answer.

Paul Goddard-Patel

Former assistant principal and finance director

Bilston Community College


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