Former CEO taking legal action against trust that 'forced' his resignation

A leading headteacher is pursuing legal action after he claims he was “forced to resign” as chief executive of a trust amid a financial investigation.

Tom Quinn left Holy Family Catholic Multi-Academy Trust in April amid what Schools Week understands to be an internal investigation surrounding a black hole in the trust’s budget of potentially hundreds of thousands of pounds.

Now Quinn, who has since been appointed chief executive of the Frank Field Education Trust, has broken his silence on the dismissal, claiming his former trust made his position “untenable”.

“With the support of my professional association, I am pursuing legal action against my former employer and cannot therefore comment further at this time,” Quinn added.

He led the Holy Family’s St John Plessington Catholic College for 14 years and is a member of the secondary headteacher reference group, a select group of leading headteachers that advise and influence the Department for Education’s policy development, as well as being a national leader of education.

In a statement released today, Quinn said he was “deeply saddened” to leave St John Plessington, but was “forced to resign when my position became untenable due to the actions of the newly appointed Holy Family Catholic Multi-Academy Trust board”.

He added he was looking forward to his new role as chief executive of the Frank Field Education Trust where he hopes to help develop a new “model of education”,  after “what has been a devastating time for me personally”.

A spokesperson for the Diocese of Shrewsbury, which founded the Wirral-based Holy Family trust, previously said Quinn left “with the mutual consent of trustee directors” on April 18. However, rather than sign the final legal agreements on April 25, Quinn said he “wished to resign with immediate effect”.

On Quinn’s statement today, a spokesperson for the diocese added: “Investigations are continuing so the Diocese of Shrewsbury is not prepared to comment at the present time.”

In April, veteran MP Frank Field told this newspaper he was “overjoyed” that Quinn would be taking on the chief executive role at his trust full time, after serving as interim CEO,  and described him as “one of the best headmasters in the country”.

When questioned about the Holy Family’s ongoing investigation, Field added: “As things unfold, we must try and understand why people have tried to bring down one of our great headmasters. The most important thing for me is to bind myself with Tom. I have never ever doubted his qualities, his brilliance in teaching, his honesty.

“At stages in the future, people will have to account for their actions. I’m willing to answer for mine.”

The Holy Family’s operations manager left the trust on the same day as Quinn, as did St John Plessington’s chair of trustees.