Bilston heads may sue 'vengeful' council

September 14, 2001

Former heads of Bilston Community College are considering legal action against funding chiefs over allegations of fraud.

The move follows the conclusion of a two-year police investigation, instigated by the Further Education Funding Council, into the college's financial affairs.

The police have concluded that there was "no evidence found to suggest that any of the activities at the college were of a criminal nature".

Keith Wymer, who stepped down as chief executive of the college shortly before it was closed by the FEFC in 1999, said he was consulting lawyers on the possibility of suing for malicious libel.

Other former senior figures at the college, including its finance director Paul Goddard-Patel, have said they may take similar action.

The FEFC shut Bilston after an audit report accused its management of financial malpractice in running up debts of £10 million.

Accusations levelled at Bilston included inventing students to get extra funding and dubious business operations such as importing champagne from Russia.

The audit followed a battle between Bilston heads and the FEFC over a government-led decision to cut the college's budget for franchising activities by £3.5 million, after which Bilston managers threatened to apply for a judicial review.

Mr Wymer has accused the FEFC of using the police investigation as a "smokescreen" to avoid answering questions about its decisions over Bilston.

He claims there was a political agenda behind the closure, and that he was subject to threats from FEFC officers that they would "get their revenge" for Bilston's plan to go for a judicial review.

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