The chief executive of Durand Academy Trust has stepped up his war of words in the latest installment of the Trust’s feud with the government, reports SchoolsWeek.
Durand, which runs three schools in England, is to have its government funding terminated, after failing to comply with an order to break up the Academy Trust from its other businesses- a charitable arm the Durand Education Trust (DET), London Horizons Limited and GMG Resource Management which are commercial entities.
Previously unpublished letters sent by Durand’s chair of governors, Sir Greg Martin, to various government officials, including former Prime Minister David Cameron, were published last night as the Trust maintain there is no legal basis for the government to cut its funding.
The funding termination will come in to effect next year if the order is not complied with. Durand has responded, saying it will take court action against the government.
In one letter addressed to Mr. Cameron, Sir Martin takes issue with Peter Lauener, chief executive of the Education Funding Agency (EFA), saying he is “disappointed” that Lauener and Lord Nash, academies minister, were appointed to investigate Durand’s business set up. He also accuses the two men of launching a campaign of “bullying and harrassment” against the Trust.
Martin also rebuffed a personal attack on his character, alleging that Lauener had “colluded” with Margaret Hodge MP, former chair of the public accounts committee, to “generate an image of wrongdoing” of Martin.
Martin’s links to Durand’s other businesses were revealed when he appeared before a committee of MPs in January 2015. They criticised his £400,000 Durand Trust salary plus management fee payments, which he received from New Horizons, which commercially operates the schools’ leisure facilities.
MPs questioned him on his being Durand chief, whilst also holding a 25% stake in The Coterie, a dating website, which Margaret Hodge MP alleged was registered at one of the schools Durand operated in Stockwell, South London.
Martin is no longer the director of The Coterie, having resigned in January 2015. He also relinquished his stake in the company.
Martin sought to defend the Trust and his conduct, in an interview with Radio 4 on the 18th October. Accusing the EFA of “abusing its power”, he also said that the body was fully aware of the business structure of the Trust prior to it issuing the Trust with contracts to operate the three schools.