Ward's missing five months

28th November 1997 at 00:00
Colleges' chief Roger Ward did not declare any link with financial advisers Burke Ford Reed until five months after the firm agreed to pay him #163;650 a month, it emerged this week.

A register of interests published by the Association of Colleges showed the AOC chief executive declared Burke Ford Reed as his personal financial advisers in October 1995.

But a letter dated June 9, 1995, to Mr Ward from Burke Ford Reed managing director Dominic Burke, seen by The TES, confirmed the #163;650 a month payment.

The letter referred to a consultancy agreement. Mr Ward denies there was such an agreement.

This week the AOC released a register of AOC board and senior staff members' interests, and a register of senior staff interests from its predecessor, the Colleges Employers Forum (CEF).

The move came after Mr Ward was questioned by Don Foster, Liberal Democrat education spokesman, at a meeting this week of the parliamentary education and employment select committee.

But former CEF chair Keith Scribbins told The TES Mr Ward had declared no interest in Burke Ford Reed during his chairmanship. Mr Scribbins was CEF chair between July 1995 and November 1996, when it became one of the parent bodies of the Association of Colleges.

The register lists the interests disclosed by Mr Ward between October 1995 and July 1997. This week Mr Scribbins said: "It is all new to me. I have not seen either of these documents before. In April 1996 the CEF adopted a code of conduct but I do not believe the CEF adopted a register of interests for board members.

"I note that there is an entry for October 1995 which refers to Burke Ford Reed. When I was chairman of the CEF no notice of any connection with that company came before the board.

"I think this register makes sense only if people filled it out by putting in past interests and not just current ones, because the AOC board had not come into existence in 1995."

The TES has revealed that in June 1995 Burke Ford Reed wrote to Mr Ward. Under a heading "Burke Ford Reed Insurance Management Limited - Consultancy Agreement" the company confirmed that "the consultancy agreement has now been finalised". It went on to say that confirmation had been received from Mr Ward's accountants for a standing order of #163;650 a month to be paid to Mr Ward, from April, 1995. Mr Ward has always denied the existence of a consultancy agreement. He says the money was paid as a refund for commission charges.

The TES has previously revealed that in September 1995, Mr Ward met representatives from Burke Ford Healthcare Ltd when a proposal for a corporate health plan was discussed. As a result of the meeting a disk containing the CEF mailing list was passed over. But questioned by MPs this week, Mr Ward denied that a mailing list was handed over.

Ward and the MPs, plus his

register of interests, 29

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