Investigation Blocks Release Of School Audit Report

Former head teacher Bryce Wilby

Former head teacher Bryce Wilby

The actions of Cornwall Council’s audit team are being investigated after a formal complaint by the former Five Islands school head teacher, Bryce Wilby.

As we have reported, Mr Wilby has questioned the process by Cornwall’s audit team who were hired by the Council of the Isles of Scilly to investigate alleged financial irregularities at the school.

Bryce has also asked Scilly’s council to start complaint proceedings against the Cornwall investigators because they were working on behalf of the islands’ council.

Yesterday Scilly’s council was forced to cancel the release of a censored version of the report, minutes before its planned press conference at the Town Hall.

Bryce wrote to the Council claiming that issuing a press release concerning the contents of the audit, when it is being investigated, showed “extremely poor judgment.”

In his email to Peter Lawrence-Roberts, Mike Hicks and Amanda Martin, Bryce warned the Council that the complaint may go further, to the Local Government Ombudsman.

Peter Lawrence-Roberts told the press yesterday that Bryce’s notification of a formal complaint was only received 27 minutes before the press conference at 10am, and he only opened the email 10 minutes before the planned release of the redacted report.

Local media, however received details of Bryce’s complaint before the weekend.

Peter said the council had no choice but to suspend the release after having sought legal advice. He was uncertain what the complaint was about but told journalists he assumed it was about the auditors’ process.

He wanted to make it clear that the suspension of publication was, “at Bryce’s instigation.”

Both Council chairman and governors’ chairman claim to be disappointed that the report’s partial release has been prevented.

Mike Hicks said: “This delay at the eleventh hour is very unfortunate. There has been a great call in the community for the report to be released, and it is a shame that we have been stopped by the former head teacher from doing this.

“We will ensure a thorough and independent investigation is conducted before making a decision on a new publication date.”

Ben Julian, chairman of the Five Islands School governing body, said: “The recommendations made in the audit report will be discussed by the governing body. However with such public demand to see the audit report, it is obviously disappointing that this roadblock has been put in place to halt its publication.”



7 Responses to Investigation Blocks Release Of School Audit Report

  1. Pepper January 31, 2013 at 10:09 pm

    I have no worries over whether it was carried out professionally, I’m sure it was. I expect the individual doesn’t like the contents of it, is what the problem is.

    • Kev Wright February 1, 2013 at 8:25 am

      Would someone simply not liking it be grounds to prevent its publication? I very much doubt it! Surely it would have to be looked at by a legal team before just an action could be taken. There’s obviously something not right. You can’t just say “don’t publish that, I don’t like it!” and expect it to be put on hold! It’s a legal matter!

    • Nobby Nobbs February 1, 2013 at 3:30 pm

      I think you’ll find that the individual in question brought issues of financial irregularity to the attention of the auditors, who then chose to leave this information out of the final report.

      Any report that omits information is misleading.
      If the audit was carried out professionally then CCC and the IOS council would not have withheld the report at the last moment. The very fact that they did withhold the report would suggest that there are indeed errors in the report.

      I don’t know what your problem with Mr Wilby is Pepper, but the man is allowed a fair hearing. And as we all know, that has not always been possible in the past and, considering that this audit was commissioned by the ex chief executive I would question the parameters of the report.

      Also bare in mind that we are one of CCC major customers, constantly buying in ‘legal advice’. One has to ask “is it in the interests of the CCC auditors to find fault with the IOS council?’, this would be akin to biting the hand that feeds them.

      I think in the fullness of time, we will find there were indeed big financial irregularity’s with the schools finances, however I think that the location of these irregularity’s will lay with the LEA and NOT Mr Wilby. Hopefully the DofE report will provide a comprehensive overview of all these issues.

      • Todd Stevens February 3, 2013 at 10:25 am

        Very well put Mr Nobbs. It’s written like you’re somone quite close to events?

        Then again- I would have thought that any fool, even from a distance, could see the truth of this. I know this fool can!! : )

  2. islander January 31, 2013 at 5:29 pm

    I think when all is looked into. we will see excactly what legacy Mr Hygate has left behind. to many people doing jobs they are not quilified in, some given jobs when they’r not really needed,
    And yes we do have alot of decent council staff, but each department needs to be checked.
    and while i am glad the councilors have finally woken up, !! they should never have let it get to this stage.
    Let us hope when this is all sorted ….we will never get into this mess again .
    Mr Hygate’ s supporters!!. i dont think they know half of what has been going on.. some dont want to know, which is fine, but please dont judge what you dont know.

  3. Todd Stevens January 30, 2013 at 7:54 pm

    Hygates’ legacy.

  4. Mark Prebble January 30, 2013 at 8:51 am

    While I applaud the chair’s commitment in supporting the call from the community for the report to released, surely it is prudent for the those driving for publication of this report to be reassured that it has been compiled to the highest standard.

    The need for any audit report to present a full and accurate account of evidence presented in response to allegations is a professional obligation and essential if there is to be any credible action taken on its findings.

    I personally welcome the decision to commission an independent investigation into the whole matter. Surely it is time that we as a community are given the truth about financial irregularities at the school.