David Meller takes ‘leave of absence’ from his own academy trust

David Meller, the organiser of the disgraced Presidents Club charity dinner, is taking a “leave of absence” from the academy trust he founded.

The Meller Educational Trust has condemned the allegations of inappropriate behaviour of guests at the men-only dinner last Thursday, and said Meller’s leave of absence from the board of trustees, which he chairs, will take effect “with immediate effect”.

However, it is unclear whether Meller remains a member of the trust, which runs four schools and a University Technology College. He is still listed on the chain’s website as a member, trustee and its chair.

Meller resigned from his non-executive board member role at the Department for Education yesterday after an investigation by the Financial Times revealed allegations of sexual harassment by guests at the Presidents Club, which was held at London’s prestigious Dorchester Hotel.

He also stood down as chair of the government’s apprenticeships delivery board. His resignation from both government roles were announced in the House of Commons yesterday afternoon by the skills minister Anne Milton. During the debate, the shadow education secretary Angela Rayner told MPs that Meller “should not have any other roles in education”.

His leave of absence from the trust was subsequently announced overnight.

“The trust is absolutely committed to equality of opportunity and respect for all members of society,” said a spokesperson for the Meller Educational Trust. “We are appalled to hear reports of what happened at the Presidents Club dinner.

“We, as trustees, wish to express our sympathy to those women who have been so badly treated. David Meller is taking leave of absence as a trustee with immediate effect. The trustees will continue to support the academies within the trust.”

More to follow.

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  1. Mark Watson

    You’re either a Trustee (registered as a director at Companies House) or you’re not. There is no concept of “taking a leave of absence” in company law so does this mean he is no longer a director?
    There are less rules that apply to being a member, so I’m betting he keeps his head down and hopes attention shifts somewhere else before public opinion forces him out entirely.

    • Mark – you’re right that ‘taking leave of absence’ is rather a woolly concept.
      According to Companies House records, Meller is director of The Meller Educational Trust and The Meller Educational Charitable Trust. According to accounts (y/e 31/8/17) for the former, (not yet available from Companies House but can be found on the site of The Bushey Academy under Governance), Meller is both a member and a trustee of The Meller Educational Trust.
      My guess is that it will take some time to untangle Meller’s involvement. He’s the lead sponsor having been involved in sponsoring academies since 2008 when he was approached by the then Labour government to consider sponsoring what was to become The Bushey Academy.

      • Mark Watson

        If an individual resigns as a director the formal notification does not need to be submitted to Companies House for 14 days. Add on the time it takes for Companies House to process the information and put it online and this is why you can’t take what it says on Companies House website as being completely uptodate. The accounts you refer to are a snapshot of the position as at 31 August last year. The simple fact is that we don’t know if David Meller is currently a Trustee of The Meller Educational Trust.

  2. Mark Watson

    The issues as to David Meller’s position as a Sponsor is much more interesting though. According to Companies House, the current Articles of Association of The Meller Educational Trust were adopted on 10 September 2014. These Articles set out that the “Principal Sponsor” is (a) a Member of the Academy Trust, and (b) also gets to appoint 5 other Members. The Principal Sponsor also gets to directly appoint 7 Trustees.
    The only problem is that the Articles don’t actually say who the Principal Sponsor is. Anywhere.
    I can’t believe this was intentional, but it’s pretty embarrassing from a constitutional and governance perspective.