We've all been misled on Bilston

28th September 2001 at 01:00
Following your report (FEFocus, September 14) regarding the conclusion of the police enquiry into Bilston community college, it is becoming evident that the former Further Education Funding Council has misled both the public and Parliament over key matters. The facts are as follows:

* notwithstanding the FEFC making a great deal of noise about a police inquiry into alleged fraud at the college, the police, following a lengthy investigation into the allegations, have found no evidence of financial irregularities;

* none of the former senior staff was even interviewed by the police;

* the FEFCLearning and Skills Council has not begun the promised civil case against the college's former auditors, nor have they produced a statement of claim for either putative criminal or civil cases. David Melville, former chief executive of the funding council, said this would be produced by March 2001.

However, the following questions remain unanswered, following the "Open letter to the FEFC" (FE Focus, February 23 2001):

* did auditors report specifically on FEFC concerns over the eligibility of Bilston's funding claims and find the claims to be essentially satisfactory?;

* did the FEFC then put what might be interpreted as pressure on auditors to come to a different conclusion, as revealed in letters between auditors and the council?;

* will the LSC publish these letters so that people can make up their own minds?

Paul Goddard-Patel

Former assistant principal and finance director

Bilston community college

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