ROGER Ward, the embattled Association of Colleges chief executive, has been replaced by his deputy while his activities are investigated.
The AOC board relieved Mr Ward of his duties at an extraordinary meeting on Friday last week, instructing him to focus on answering allegations against him.
The association has referred "certain allegations" against Mr Ward to an independent inquiry conducted by Clive McKeag, of Newcastle solicitors McKeag and Co. "It has become clear that the task of both representing the further education sector and defending himself has placed an unreasonable burden on the chief executive," an AOC statement read.
Sue Dutton, deputy chief executive, will act in Mr Ward's place until the AOC has received and considered the report produced by the inquiry.
Mr McKeag said his report would be completed in the new year. He and two partners have been working on the matter since mid-November.
The AOC initiated the inquiry after allegations in The Times Educational Supplement about Mr Ward's links with staff recruitment agency Education Lecturing Services and financial advisers Burke Ford Reed.
The inquiry aimed to "ascertain whether or not there has been any impropriety by Mr Roger Ward in relation to ELS and/or Burke Ford Reed," said Mr McKeag.