MP George Galloway has asked West Yorkshire’s Chief Constable to broaden a criminal investigation into a fraud scandal at a flagship Bradford free school, to examine its links to a top Conservative official.

Conservative Party vice-chairman Alan Lewis is listed as executive patron on the website of the Kings Science Academy and his company, the Hartley Group, owns the school site in Northside Road, Lidget Green.

Mr Galloway, Respect MP for Bradford West, yesterday said he had written to Chief Constable Mark Gilmore after a whistleblower “raised concerns about the lease arrangements between the school and a company owned by a Mr Alan Lewis”.

In his letter to the Chief Constable, Mr Galloway says: “As I understand there is now a criminal investigation into various financial matters at the school, I wondered if this issue could be drawn to the attention of the investigating team.”

But last night a spokesman for the Hartley Group denied any wrongdoing and stressed that agents for the Department for Education spent many months negotiating a “very advantageous” deal for the DfE and that the school had enjoyed an initial 19-month rent-free period.

The spokesman added: “Thus, in financial terms the school has benefitted substantially from the patronage of Alan Lewis.”

West Yorkshire Police was called in last week to investigate financial failings at the school which had been uncovered in an audit by the DfE.

The DfE findings were made in April, but they were only referred to West Yorkshire Police to investigate last week, following pressure from MPs Mr Galloway and David Ward (Lib Dem, Bradford East). The auditors found a series of major failings in the academy’s financial controls, with £86,335 of taxpayers' cash found to be misused of which almost £77,000 is unaccounted for and is having to be paid back.

The audit uncovered incorrect payments made to the academy’s principal, Sajid Hussain Raza; unexplained £5,000 expenses payments to a governor; and the school was found to have paid for the refurbishment of a property owned by a company of which Mr Raza is a director and his father a trustee.

Mr Galloway has tabled Parliamentary questions for Monday, asking the Education Secretary Michael Gove if Action Fraud was given the full internal audit into the academy after it was contacted by the DfE; and whether the Department queried a decision by the National Fraud Intelligence Bureau not to proceed with an investigation into fraud allegations. A West Yorkshire Police spokesman said last night: “We can confirm that we have received an e-mail today from Bradford MP George Galloway providing further information in relation to this matter.”

Meanwhile, Mr Ward welcomed an announcement that the House of Commons Education Select Committee will investigate the effectiveness and educational value of free schools, following the revelations about the Bradford academy and a free school in Derby. Mr Ward said: “It is the system in place and the complete lack of scrutiny over public money that has directly facilitated the fraudulent and inappropriate practices at Kings Science Academy.”

Hartley Group Statement “In 2010, the founders of what would become the Kings Science Academy approached Hartley’s chairman Alan Lewis seeking his support – specifically they sought the use of one of his property group’s sites for their academy at a below-market rent. (We were informed that, in their Option Appraisal, the Department for Education had considered numerous sites, and identified Hartley’s as the most suitable to accommodate the educational requirements of the young people in this deprived area.)”

“The terms of the lease with Kings Science Academy were, of course, worked out on a completely arms length basis.

“The agents acting for the DfE, leading property experts DTZ, spent many months negotiating a very advantageous deal for the DfE with the independent estate agents Knight Frank acting for Hartley’s property division.”

“In the interests of supporting the school’s mission to provide quality education to disadvantaged youngsters, Mr Lewis instructed Hartley to accept a rent for its site that works out at significantly less than the site had been generating for the company before from previous tenants.

“Furthermore, in order to facilitate turning over the site to the school, Hartley stopped accepting long-term tenants some 18 months prior to granting the lease, in addition to the 19-month rent-free period the school received at the start of its lease. Thus, in financial terms the school has benefited substantially from the patronage of Alan Lewis.”