Credit card principal axed

April 7, 1995

South Bristol College governors have sacked their principal for financial misconduct after he used the corporate credit card for personal purchases.

David Smetherham, 51-year-old chief executive of South Bristol College, has been suspended since November 18 while claims of financial impropriety were investigated.

The claims against him included using college money to join a health club without permission.

Chairman of governors Keith Scribbins, a prominent member of the Colleges' Employers' Forum board, said the college corporation decided with regret that the various allegations were "substantially proven". "The governors have received a report that there was financial misconduct," said Mr Scribbins.

"We are clear in terms of our public duty that there is no alternative but to dismiss the principal," he said. "He did not put into place procedures we might expect of a chief executive. It is wholly about personal financial conduct and there are no implications for the financial health of the college."

Dr Smetherham has applied for early retirement and the exact terms of his dismissal are still to be decided.

The sums of money were said to be small but Mr Scribbins said the principles involved were clear given that public money was involved.

Dr Smetherham is being asked to make a refund.

Graham Baskerville, principal of Chippenham College, represented Dr Smetherham on behalf of the Association of Principals of Colleges at a recent board hearing. Mr Baskerville said Dr Smetherham would not be making a statement. "It has been a very difficult time for him," said Mr Baskerville.

The Further Education Funding Council said it had been kept informed throughout the inquiry by South Bristol College.

"We have advised on procedural matters but not on the decision they might come to, which is a matter for the college," said spokeswoman Patricia Stubbs.

"If money had been misused then the council would expect the college to recover it."

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