Council’s Lead For Children Says Evidence Justified Head’s Suspension

Councillor David Pearson

The Council’s lead member for children, David Pearson, says what he has seen from the school auditors’ interim report, justifies the suspension of the former head, Bryce Wilby, and the subsequent investigation.

But David says he’d like to think it’s a case of Mr Wilby not managing money properly, rather than dishonesty.

The alleged financial irregularities appear to be bad accounting rather than any matter of theft, he says.

ScillyToday understands that Cornwall Council auditors scrutinised the school travel budget of around £82,000. There wasn’t adequate paperwork for 43 transactions, worth around £4,700, but further investigation and tracing of payments reduced that figure to £3,287 that could not be reconciled with the school bank account.

From Radio Scilly

The interview with Cllr David Pearson on Radio Scilly

Councillor Pearson also alleges that inappropriate content was found on a school computer, which was used by Mr Wilby. This wasn’t outlined as a reason for the suspension in May.

David says police IT experts at their headquarters in Middlemoor were used to access the password-protected laptop, which David says was also protected by facial recognition software, and he confirmed that the police have not pursued this matter further.

He said the material was not, as far as he was aware, illegal and he didn’t want to make a moral judgement. He says the images are not of children. He also confirmed that he had not seen the alleged laptop material before making the press statement.

David Pearson didn’t have details of how the computer investigation had been undertaken but said education director Penny Penn-Howard had assured him that the proper procedures had taken place. However, when pressed, he confirmed that he was not aware whether a backup of the computer had been made before leaving the school site.

In a solicitors’ letter issued by the then school governors in June, they alleged that material and equipment had been seized from the school without a proper record being made of what was handed to them.

Councillor Pearson says he was briefed by Ms Penn-Howard ahead of her presenting the information to governors, which led to their decision to suspend Mr Wilby. He agreed with her actions and that the governors’ decision was correct in the circumstances to ensure any investigation was not impeded.

David says the work of the auditors continues and a final report will be presented to Full Council at the end of September.

David says he felt the time was right to release the information, as, since the end of August, Bryce has no longer been employed by the Council. He says his aim is to, “to alleviate the concern in the community” and was making himself available for anyone who wants to discuss the issues raised.

Mr Wilby hasn’t been questioned by the investigating team yet as his union representative has been on annual leave.

We asked Bryce for his view and he said: “It would be inappropriate to make any comment about an incomplete and confidential audit report. I expect to meet with the auditors shortly and will make an appropriate statement afterwards.”

David Pearson didn’t consult with the governors before issuing this statement and he says that’s appropriate in his role as lead member for children.

Chairman of governors, Ben Julian, was unaware that the Council press office was issuing a press release and says it doesn’t speak for himself or the governing body.


23 Responses to Council’s Lead For Children Says Evidence Justified Head’s Suspension

  1. Todd Stevens September 7, 2012 at 1:09 pm

    Desperation. I shouldnt worry.

  2. Stuart September 7, 2012 at 12:59 pm

    I agree with Jenny, it would also be interesting to know who instigated this petition.
    The opposite petition calling for the removal of the Chief executive has been signed by around 100 people and was available for signing in a public place.

    I call on the ios council to hold a public referendum on this subject.
    Do you the public have confidence in the chief executive…..yes/no
    Repeat for each senior officer involved
    Do you the public have confidence in the council of the ios….yes/no

  3. Jenny September 7, 2012 at 8:20 am

    Positive news today, 20 staff from the 5 Islands School signed a petition supporting the Chief Ex of the I.O.S Council. Not so good news for the education prospects of the children of the Isles, as some of the signatures were allegedly illegible. Golden Rule for petitions to be taken seriously, is to have the name of the signaturee printed after their signature, and an home address. Helps with crediability.

  4. lynn September 6, 2012 at 2:33 pm

    Todd and Merryn
    Agree with both your views.

  5. Stavropol September 6, 2012 at 12:17 pm

    Big lawsuit coming and the taxpayer will have to fund it again. Now who do you blame for this whole debacle, there are only a couple of officers who ultimately will be responsible for the mindless advice they give. Looks like they are happy to feed councillors to the wolves to try and deflect the critisism at their own doors.

    Unbelievable catalogue of events, it could almost be the catalyst to a new episode of ‘Only Fools and Horses’.
    I’ll let you make up your minds who is who!

  6. gwendoline gossip September 6, 2012 at 11:55 am

    Whilst images on a work computer may not be deemed illegal, as a parent, I do not find it at all appropriate, or defendable to have any type of such images on a work laptop when ones job puts you in the position of being an a example to children.

    • Jenny September 6, 2012 at 4:04 pm

      What images, have you seen them?

  7. Jenny September 6, 2012 at 10:39 am

    Mr Pearson, a Councillor, chose to make a public statement. This is not gossip, he made the statement and reignited the twittering in the community, for what ever purpose only he knows. I have never spoken to Mr Wilby, would not know his family if they past me in the street, but like many other people, I am concerned how this mess just grows and grows and reflects on people who should have our respect and trust.

  8. Diane Cidade September 6, 2012 at 9:43 am

    The Sun was only recently the center of a debate over publishing photos of Prince Harry in the nude – transparency is important, but confidentiality should reign supreme when the information being leaked doesn’t go any way to uncover information which might prove that there is some wrong-doing occurring (such as illegal actions) which affects the public at large. It seems that much of the information that Councillor Pearson is referring to in his statement is also mere speculation, as it is taken from an investigation which is incomplete, as well as being confidential, and he comments on information he himself admits he has not seen. To make mention of ‘improper’ images which are alleged to have been found on the laptop in question which are NOT illegal does not heal rifts in this community at this time. Although I’m pleased that he goes a long way to confirm that there are no illegal images, it’s still harmful to be talking about aspects of the investigation because of the further speculation it leads to. Councillor Pearson, unfortunately, seems to be lacking diplomacy in this case; He appears to be putting a lot of blind trust in what information is being spoon fed to him and again not helping rifts in this community by seemingly dismissing the serious allegations raised by the letter that the Governors of the school sent to the Council. Mr. Pearson would better serve this community by taking these allegations into account and pushing for an independent and external investigation into them, rather than making a public statement which implies there is nothing to worry about because one person said so. People will talk, and certainly news circulates fast in this small community, but hearing something on the street is not in the same league as reading something in official press statements, or hearing media interviews from Councillors or Council officials.

    • Todd Stevens September 6, 2012 at 9:33 pm

      Here here!

  9. Bill Hiner September 6, 2012 at 9:41 am

    To be suspended without cause from such a public position is, in my book “Awful treatment in public”.

  10. Merryn September 6, 2012 at 12:23 am

    “Awful treatment in public”? Mr Wilby was suspended in order that an investigation should take place unhindered. Part way through he resigned his post. The treatment that you refer to can surely only be on the part of the stories and talk that have bubbled up around this issue. The “talk of the town” and leaks to media outlets from unnamed sources have stoked the fire. It is all speculation. The facts have yet to be heard, people make up their own minds on the rights and wrongs of the issue and the agencies involved “have” to put out statements from time to time, whether from the governors or the council otherwise they will be criticised for a lack of transparencie and not engaging with the public. 90% of the unpleasantness in this situation has come from speculation and discussion stirring the pot, all of which will not change the facts when they do in fact come out.

    • Todd Stevens September 6, 2012 at 9:43 pm

      Two contradicions here Im afraid Mezzo, 1. you put up this statement on your facebook page! errrm- is this not stirring the pot? – 2. then commented under it that “people dont like the truth” So you are doing the same as everyone else. Here, however you are now saying that the facts are not out yet?? Oooo do we need to debate over a pint? : )

  11. Todd Stevens September 5, 2012 at 11:48 pm

    Some people should ask themsleves this- is what Wilby is supposed to have done really warrant such awful treatment of him in public? Was it really enough to loose a person thier job and home and damge thier carreer over? We have all seen far worse irregularities here that seem to just get swept under the carpet. Dont let this poorly thought out statement/interview detract from the real issue here:- Who engineered these events that are bringing such shame on our council?

  12. Todd Stevens September 5, 2012 at 7:01 pm

    Whatever happened to benefit of the doubt!! Mr Pearson states that he beleived it to be mismanagment rather than personal gain by Wilby. Mismanagment is not a sackable offence after just one instance-and a warning should have been issued after an audit had occurred at best. As for the stuff on his computer- he has been exonerated here too. However, there are any number of reasons for anyone to have inappropriate material on their computers- I can send you an iffy email for instance. You can research and accidentally get dodgy stuff. To say that noone else had access to his computer is nonsense. I went to see wilby and together we left his office to look around the school. His door was left open the whole time. Just because the history had not been deleted does not mean there is any guilt here either and those investigating said as much. I think this statement is probably designed to deflect attention away from the inquiry into emails between our officers and Cornwall council.

  13. Bill Hiner September 5, 2012 at 6:40 pm

    Suspended for poor money management. By that criteria, there shouldn’t be a banker in employment anywhere in the world!
    As for the computer issue, either it’s a reason for suspension or not, and certainly not to be used for “trial by inuendo”.

  14. Stuart September 5, 2012 at 6:01 pm

    To get all this out in the open why not publish these alleged images and then we can make our own minds up if they are indecent or not rather than having our minds made up for us by the director of social services

  15. Stuart September 5, 2012 at 5:55 pm

    Councillor Pearson’s statement raises more questions than it answers as far as I’m concerned.
    1. Why release this statement now when he could have waited until the full report had been read by all party’s concerned and the whole thing could have been debated in one go rather than this constant drip drip nature that is having such a caustic effect on our community; was it to deflect criticism about the recently leaked email alleging that the Chief Executive had instigated the head masters suspension?
    2. With regard to financial irregularity, surely that would be the domain of the school Bursar who should be responsible for paying out monies and keeping invoices and receipts in a manor to balance the books. Surely if there were financial irregularities then this would be the fault of the Bursar, unless it was the Bursar who brought any irregularities to the attention of the council officers.
    3. With regard to the allegation of pornography, Councillor Pearson is making comments not from what he knows but from what he has been told, He does not know for a fact if these images really exist. I would also question the integrity of the laptop security, 1000 images is rather a nice round number; if I were him I would want to see the images before I passed comment.
    I’m afraid that I am still not convinced of any wrong doing on the part of the ex-headmaster, but I’m pretty certain that the council didn’t want the school to get academy status.

  16. DaveH September 5, 2012 at 3:34 pm

    It may not have been illegal but it could have been something that was against his employers Acceptable Use Policy for IT equipment.

    • IanT September 5, 2012 at 5:09 pm

      Is that Policy that closely defined? Most ‘policies’ are meant to be guide lines not strict rules or laws. Who decides what is ‘appropriate’ and what authority do they have to make such a decision? As to the ‘expenses’ problem – The Head may have ultimate responsibility but he surely is not the person maintaining the accounts so may not have checked them on a regular, say even weekly, basis. It all seems very fishy to me.

      • DaveH September 6, 2012 at 9:01 am


        I have no idea, I have no personal interest in the story I was just reading through the website as I do most weeks and trying to clarify a point for you. If something is illegal then its a police matter (generally) however I may look at something on my work laptop that is against my employers Acceptable Use Policy (AUP), that could be anything from media sharing sites, Gaming sites, Social Media sites at one end of the specturm right the way through to pornography sites, (which incidentally as a company we rate from 1 – 5 5 being the low end of the pornography spectrum through to 1 being extreme and illegal pornography where 5 is a final warning, 1 is instant dismissal) In this kind of policy ie AUP i would imagine that what is acceptable and what isnt is probably fairly well defined. You ask what authority do they have to make the decision? well they have every right as his employer to look at, audit, and view any use of an employees IT equipment at any time…

        Hope that clarifies for you…

  17. Jenny September 5, 2012 at 1:19 pm

    What is the motivation behind Councillor Pearson’s statement?
    If the Head Master had no illegal downlaods on his computer then why does Councillor Pearson feel this requires publication and airing on the radio.
    Councillor Pearson states it is not for him to make moral judgement on the Head Master, but that is precisely what he has down by deciding to go public with statements about alledged computer down loads.
    How to make a simple matter of concern about a member of staff, into a farce of embarrassing proportions to all concerned.

  18. Cassandra September 5, 2012 at 11:11 am

    Regardless of your position on this matter I think Keri should be congratulated on the quality and rigour of his questioning in the interview with David.