A police investigation into the collapsed Bright Tribe academy trust has been referred to the City of London’s fraud squad.
The trust was reported to Cumbria police back in 2017 following allegations of financial mismanagement at Whitehaven Academy. However police have refused to provide information about the nature of their enquiries.
Schools Week has now learned Cumbria police has passed the investigation onto the City of London’s fraud investigators.
A spokesperson for City of London said the investigation was still “very much in the early stages”, but confirmed that “officers from our fraud unit are currently reviewing the information provided by Cumbria police”.
An investigation by the Education and Skills Funding Agency into the trust will not be published until all legal matters and due processes are complete, a spokesperson for the Department for Education said.
All of Bright Tribe’s schools have now been rebrokered to other trusts, and both it and its sister trust Adventure Learning Academies Trust are in the final stages of being closed down.
Schools Week has previously reported that accounts for the trusts, published at the end of June, revealed the government was looking to take action for “potential improper use of historic grants”.
The accounts also raised concerns about a “lack of clarity” over how £1 million northern hub funding was spent, a “blurring of lines” in the use of funding by the trusts and two linked private firms and serious concerns over “unsafe” school buildings.
An investigation by Panorama in September alleged Bright Tribe had received hundreds of thousands of pounds in grants to carry out improvement works at its school that were never completed. The published accounts said there was “insufficient evidence in the completed evidence for some of the capital grants and salix loans”. There is no suggestion these findings are part of the police investigation.