Principal and academic director suspended in college inquiry

August 11, 2000

The investigation into financial irregularities at Bretton Hall moved up a gear this week with the suspension of principal and chief executive Gordon Bell and academic director Ron George.

The finance director was suspended last month. Chair of governors Robert Hughes said the planned merger with Leeds University, which has been under negotiation for nearly two years, was still "the best possible way forward" for both staff and students.

"The suspensions are not a disciplinary or punitive measure but have been made following clear advice to facilitate ongoing inquiries," said Mr Hughes.

It is understood that concerns about the allocation of European Social Fund resources emerged during routine due diligence work carried out by Leeds University.

But the suspension of Professor Bell was unexpected, since Bretton Hall announced last month that he was to leave the college in the middle of August. David Sugden, a pro vice-chancellor from Leeds, was announced as acting principal from August 14.

Mr Hughes said that study would be unaffected. "Prospective and current students can be reassured that all courses will continue to operate and that staff remain committed to delivering high quality training, research and consultancy in the arts and education."

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