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Two MPs urge police to investigate Bradford academy
Two Bradford MPs have urged police to investigate a fraud scandal at a city school – dismissing ministers’ claims that a probe has already taken place.
Both David Ward (Bradford East) and George Galloway (Bradford West) have demanded a proper inquiry into financial failings at Kings Science Academy.
They accused the Department for Education (Dfe) of “misleading” statements that the police had “decided no further action was necessary” at the academy.
In fact, West Yorkshire police has stated it had not pursued any inquiry into the mis-spending of £86,335 of taxpayers’ cash. Now Mr Galloway has written to Chief Constable Mark Gilmore and Mark Burns-Williamson, the elected Commissioner, seeking clarification of their involvement.
And Mr Ward has contacted Simon Atkin, Bradford’s divisional commander, urging him to open a proper investigation. The Liberal Democrat MP said: “As far as I am aware, the department’s statement that there has been a police inquiry is factually incorrect.
“It said, in its official release, that the police had decided not to take action, but the police have told me they were not informed about it at all.
“I want what would happen in similar circumstances at a normal, local authority school when fraud has taken place – which is a thorough investigation.”
And Mr Galloway, a Respect MP, added: “This whole affair stinks to high heaven. There has either been gross incompetence in the investigation of this case, or there has been a cover up.
“I am determined to get to the bottom of this and make sure the wrongdoers are brought to justice. In the first instance I want a police investigation opened, or is it reopened?”
Both MPs have also tabled a blizzard of written parliamentary questions, to put further pressure on Education Secretary Michael Gove.
The latest developments risk huge embarrassment for the DfE, which said, last Friday: “We informed the police who decided no further action was necessary.”
That statement accompanied a damning report – slipped out at 4.10pm on a Friday – which found Kings Science Academy had submitted “fabricated invoices”.
Payments went towards teachers' furniture, with more than £600 spent on parties or meals and £169 given to an employee to buy clothes, Dfe auditors found.
The DfE also stated “A plan is in place to recover funds and the school is undertaking its own investigation. Any necessary disciplinary action is a matter for the school.”
But Mr Ward dismissed such a stance, saying: “In a local authority school, new management would be sent in. Instead, they are backing off and letting the school sort it out.”
Meanwhile, the DfE will reject Mr Galloway’s call for the release of an “un-redacted” report – without key information blanked out – on data protection grounds.