Cornwall Auditors Reopen School Investigation After Council Complaint

The Five Islands School

The investigation into the suspension of the Five Islands School head teacher has taken yet another twist today.

Last week, the Cornwall Council auditors who were brought into by our Council to investigate alleged financial irregularity in the school, stated their report was finished and they wouldn’t need to interview Bryce Wilby.

But last night, Cornwall’s auditors did a dramatic U-turn.

In a joint statement, issued by the Cornwall and Scilly Councils, they say the auditors are working on the report again and Bryce will, after all, have a chance to answer the allegations made against him.

From Radio Scilly

Council Chair Mike Hicks on the latest development…

ScillyToday understands that Scilly’s Director of Education, Penny Penn-Howard, told Councillors she was very unhappy with the Cornwall auditors’ behaviour, telling the media their job was done, when they had not consulted her, the client, before going public.

Last night, Council Chairman Mike Hicks said the Cornwall auditors were contracted to do the work and he says they haven’t done that to the Council’s satisfaction.

Mike says they complained to them and they had apologised verbally.

He accepts there are questions about the auditors’ actions and he’ll be, “keeping an eye on them” but he will accept their report as factual, adding that he doesn’t think they have “fabricated” the findings in any way.

If Cornwall hasn’t played the game, says Mike, the Council will be looking at procedures to ensure it never gets into this situation again.

Bryce Wilby told us, “I am delighted that the Audit investigation has been re-opened and confirm that I will be arranging a meeting date with the Audit team in the time frame they suggest, although once again I have only received this news via the press rather than my employer.”

But he says he’s, “greatly puzzled by the assertion that I was previously unavailable for interview as I have emails and phone logs that prove otherwise.”

Bryce claims he’s spent the past three weeks trying to contact members of the audit team to arrange a meeting. He said eventually the auditors sent him an email saying that wouldn’t happen as they’d completed the report.

Referring to the confusion over his employment status, Bryce added, “As a current employee I am sure the Council have realised that I need to have a fair and equal opportunity to be heard.”

This new development adds a further delay to the publication of the report, which is now unlikely to appear before the October half term. The auditors report was meant to be available on Thursday for the Full Council meeting.

It once again raises questions about the way the Five Islands School head teacher was suspended and the subsequent investigation into the financial management of the school and comes a week after the Department for Education said they were launching an investigation into the affair.


17 Responses to Cornwall Auditors Reopen School Investigation After Council Complaint

  1. Pat Hicks September 29, 2012 at 10:44 pm

    hopefully mr Wiliby union sort out his issues, even tho it was handled very badly and as you say if he’s done nothing wrong ,i’m sure he’ll be paid handsomley. refering to all the other things that have gone on over here over the years. what the council has paid out in court, payments etc. sueing people, even councillors. alot of it has been a waste of time and taxpayers money. do you think there should be a commitee to monitor these things. so they can make the rest of the councillors aware of whats going on….

  2. Jenny Green September 27, 2012 at 4:02 pm

    People should only loose their jobs based on facts, which are supported by evidence, whether it be Mr Wilby, or council officers.
    If there is evidence to support Mr Wilby’s suspension from his post, then so be it. It there is no evidence then he sues the LEA for constructive dismissal.
    It there is evidence to support that, the management of his suspension was illegal or flawed, by whoever, then if proved, he will receive compensation which is commensurable to his previous situation.
    If there is evidence to support that an Isles of Scilly Council Officer or Officers are corrupt or have abused their position then there is a formal employment investiagtion, which may or may not sack them.
    The law will view these as three separte issues.
    The fourth issue could be that there is evidence to support that the actions surrounding Mr Wilby are the result of a corrupt system, which have previously used the same methods to rid themsleves of an employee time and time again to achieve there own agenda.

  3. PAT HICKS September 27, 2012 at 9:37 am

    Yes the thing is people are afraid to speak up, SAD but true.
    Jenny may i ask, if you live on the islands, how long ….. because you seem to know so little about What really goes on here, or perhaps people dont trust you. i find it hard to believe you’v not heard the rumblings etc .. …

  4. Jon September 27, 2012 at 9:30 am

    Councillor Bilsborough, I appreciate your reply. However, it’s all well and good going on the record to say you’re “frustrated and angry” but you haven’t spoken to the detail of any of the points I raised above.

    Being angry and then issuing a statement confirming that you’re angry doesn’t necessarily constitute effective governance.

    Could you, and maybe some colleagues, please go through the points I raise above?

  5. Robin September 26, 2012 at 11:05 pm

    The political sideshow that still surrounds Mr Wilby’s suspension and subsequent resignation, is all very interesting and allows the more vocal of us to engage in ill informed points scoring. However what is overlooked is the way the school has been rejuvenated since the last Head left. The new management has the confidence and respect of the pupils and staff. The Governing body seems more settled and progressive, with emerging strong and effective leadership. The whole place appears happier and united as it finds a vision and philosophy so lacking under Mr Wilby.
    Whatever ‘financial irregularities’ might or might not be discovered; whatever was allegedly found on the former Head’s laptop, is secondary to the success of the school and our young people.
    I hope that Mr Wilby will eventually have a fair and open resolution to his difficulties, but in the meantime let’s be happy that our school is moving forward and our children are increasingly successful.

    • Todd Stevens September 27, 2012 at 8:48 pm

      Maybe your right, Robin, maybe the school is doing well under somone new. That does not negate what was done to the previous Head master. Whatever grievences some people may have had with him-these could possibly have been resolved/negotiated without all the unecessary unpleasantness that occurred.

  6. Gordon Bilsborough September 26, 2012 at 7:20 pm

    Your correspondent Jon (see above) writes:

    “One of the most depressing things about this entire mess is the absolute silence of the Councillors – either through ignorance or cowardice. There are 21 of them and as yet nobody has stood up and said “i demand to know what’s going on.”

    If Jon had read Scilly Today, listened to Radio Sciilly recently and read the locall paper, he would have been aware that I vented my feelings in no uncertain terms (frustrated and angry) about not being told what was going on. I don’t mind criticism from people who GET THEIR FACTS RIGHT! Also, I always give my full name when whem commnenting on Scilly Today and elsewhere.
    Gordon Bilsborough (Councilllor).

  7. Jenny September 26, 2012 at 6:32 pm

    To clear out the problem(s) as Todd sees them will take evidence and no doubt this has long gone.
    If there is evidence for what is being alleged over the years, from sexual harressment, to bullying, secret pay offs and the fabricating of evidence to get rid of someone who does not tow the organisational line, then why has it never been used.
    The case of the head master’s suspension from his post will not be the spark that sets the fuse alight to bring down perceived abuse of power in the corridors of the Town Hall.

    • Todd Stevens September 26, 2012 at 11:22 pm

      I never mentioned any of those things in my posts Jenny. However, malfeasance is gross misconduct and should lead to dismissal.

  8. Todd Stevens September 26, 2012 at 5:40 pm

    We will NEVER be able to move on from this unless the real culprit behind engineering it is sacked or has resigned. That person cannot be trusted and has lost ALL respect of the people here. They have adminsitered malfeasance and defamation upon an innocent person; divided a community and brought shame on our council and its members. They have to go!!

  9. Jenny September 26, 2012 at 5:10 pm

    I disagree with Jon. Once this matter is finally resolved no council officer will loose their job. They may not need to, we will just have to wait and see.
    What will probably happen, there will a plether of well meaning phases; I will suggest a few.
    ”Mistakes were made on both sides”, ” We can learn from this”, ”on reflection things could have been handled better”, ” it is time to forgive and forget, we must move on and turn a new page in life on Scilly, work together as a united community fighting for improved transport links etc etc” and the final one. ”trust me”.

  10. frederic September 26, 2012 at 4:05 pm

    Since we are talking about education we need to do some maths…
    Mr Hicks works 24/7 5 days a week…please find the error.

    • Diane Cidade September 26, 2012 at 11:09 pm

      Perhaps this is advanced maths, and he’s giving the rest of the class his calculations after allowing for his ‘Time Off In Lieu’…

  11. Stuart September 26, 2012 at 1:48 pm

    I agree with Todd.
    Personally I would now question the validity of Cornwall councils inquiry, after all if they can’t even get a simple thing like interviewing the person suspended which you would think would be the first port of call, how can we trust that this second or additional enquiry is being carried out properly.
    I would rather put my trust in the DFE’s enquiry as theirs will be FULLY independent.

  12. Jon September 26, 2012 at 1:35 pm

    What an absolute disgrace. Nearly 5 months after suspending the Head for “the worst thing” the Chief Exec had seen “in 30 years” they now have no choice but let him respond to the allegations. I for one can’t wait to find out the truth about whether he took dishwasher tablets home with him. If he’s anything like his wife he’ll be able to explain every single point and a host of new questions will emerge – this time about the islands’ Council itself and senior figures within it. Maria Wilby gave a heartbreaking interview on Radio Scilly and you could almost see her waving copies of emails and receipts relating to every item of “serious financial irregularity” referred to in the interim report.

    Mr Wilby says he can prove through emails and letters that he has been asking to meet the auditors for weeks and week, yet they say they couldn’t get hold of him.

    So who is lying here? Did the IOS Council give any instructions or pressure for Cornwall to not interview Bryce? Don’t assume that Cornwall Council’s “audit people” (as the Chairman insists on calling them) are in any way independent; Cornwall Council have been cleaning up the IOS Council’s mess for years in a very convenient relationship. Penny P-H says she’s upset with Cornwall Council’s behaviour. I expect she’ll be even more upset when the Department for Education haul her in for an explanation as to her role in this bungled attempt to knife a Headteacher who dared question the Council’s behaviour.

    One of the most depressing things about this entire mess is the absolute silence of the Councillors – either through ignorance or cowardice. There are 21 of them and as yet nobody has stood up and said “i demand to know what’s going on.” Not even Mike Hicks – though he does assure us he’s working on it “24/7, 5 days a week.”

    Finally, the Chairman of the Council says he “has to accept what he’s told at face value.” There’s another name for someone like this – it’s called a “yes man.” Of course he isn’t obliged to accept what he’s told – he’s the Chairman! If he wanted to he could summon Senior Officers and grill them in front of full council.

    The Council have tried everything they can to gag Bryce, suspend the inquiry, release poisonous and inaccurate information, block questions and generally hang on for as long as they can but I would suspect that some very senior figures at the Town Hall have just enjoyed their last summer on Scilly because the truth is coming out and no amount of increase in their employer liability insurance can save them now.

  13. Todd Stevens September 26, 2012 at 12:48 pm

    I do hope we are not going to pay for thier previous half baked effort?

    Im wondering too if somone isnt simply trying to head off/avoid the independent DoE inquiry.

    Oh what a tangled web we weave!!

    • IanT September 26, 2012 at 5:10 pm

      I wonder who that might be..??