Action and Follow up on Grafton College London Fraud exposed by BBC Panorama

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Dear Department for Education,
This query is about Grafton College that used to operate from Oxford Street London. BBC exposed their involvement in malpractice in November 2017 through their panorama episode. I understand that following investigations DfE has withdrawn their course designation and they have ceased to operate. But what I need to know is that whether Dfe has recovered any money from the Directors of college as they were involved in public money fraud. Or has dfe fined them. What steps have been taken to recover the fraud money.

Yours faithfully,

John Charles

MINISTERS, Department for Education

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ACCOUNT, Unmonitored, Department for Education

Dear Mr Charles 

Thank you for your email of 4 April, received by the Department for
Education, regarding Grafton College.

 

I would like to reassure you that the department takes any allegations of
malpractice at higher education providers very seriously.

 

Following the BBC Panorama programme in November 2017, the department took
immediate regulatory action and suspended Grafton College’s designation
and all tuition fee payments, to minimise the risk to public funds. The
department, with support from the Government Internal Audit Agency,
launched an investigation and liaised closely with other interested
parties including the Metropolitan Police Service, Insolvency Service,
Higher Education Funding Council of England, The Office for Students,
Pearson, Open University, Quality Assurance Agency, Ofqual and Student
Loans Company.

 

The subsequent investigations identified serious weaknesses in Grafton
College’s systems and processes, but insufficient evidence to substantiate
allegations of fraud at the College. Following the department’s
investigation, the college’s designation was not renewed and tuition fees
were withheld.

 

When the department became aware in August 2018 that the Director of
Grafton had taken steps to place the company into Creditors’ Voluntary
Liquidation, it notified the insolvency company assisting Grafton of the
department’s interest as a creditor. However, Grafton did not proceed with
Voluntary Liquidation and applied to Companies House to be dissolved by
voluntary strike-off, which was confirmed on 12 March 2019.

 

The subsequent dissolution of Grafton, which changed its name by
resolution in June 2018 to Bridgestone College, as a company in March
2019, has meant that, even if there were sufficient evidence of fraudulent
activity on its part or on that of its directors, the prospects of the
department recovering tuition fee payments already paid to the college
were and are negligible. The department has no legal powers to fine the
college or its Directors.

 

In conclusion, I would like to reassure you that the department thoroughly
investigated the issues raised in the BBC Panorama programme, and has
taken all appropriate regulatory action in relation to the college and its
Directors.

 

Thank you for taking the time to write and I hope the information I have
provided is helpful.

Your correspondence has been allocated reference number 2019-0013923. If
you need to respond to us, please visit:
[1]https://www.education.gov.uk/contactus and quote your reference number.

Yours sincerely

Michelle Boyes 

Ministerial and Public Communications Division

Web: [2]https://www.education.gov.uk
Twitter: [3]https://www.twitter.com/educationgovuk
Facebook: [4]https://www.facebook.com/educationgovuk

 

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2. https://www.education.gov.uk/
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Dear Department for Education,

Please pass this on to the person who conducts Freedom of Information reviews.

I am writing to request an internal review of Department for Education's handling of my FOI request 'Action and Follow up on Grafton College London Fraud exposed by BBC Panorama'.

The department has written in its response that as the Grafton College was dissolved, the chances of any recovery were minimal even if the fraudulent activity was found. This causes serious concerns. Do you want to say that people can commit fraud and get away easily by dissolving companies. Is it not going to open doors for more fraudsters. Even the staff and Directors of Grafton college have opened new colleges with different names and started their lives as normal. Would there be any solution to education related fraud in this country.

A full history of my FOI request and all correspondence is available on the Internet at this address: https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/a...

Yours faithfully,

John Charles

MINISTERS, Department for Education

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Thank you for contacting the Department for Education, you will usually
receive a reply within 15 working days.

You can find out how the department processes your personal information by
reading our [1]Privacy Notice.

 

 

References

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ACCOUNT, Unmonitored, Department for Education

Dear Mr Charles 

Thank you for your email of 2 May regarding your request for an internal
review of the department’s handling of your FOI request in relation to the
Grafton College London fraud as exposed by the BBC programme Panorama.  

 

As outlined in our response dated 2 May 2019, the department does take all
allegations of potential fraud extremely seriously.

 

Where we have evidence or concerns that suspected fraud or malpractice has
occurred, these will be investigated and if appropriate reported to the
police (as happened in this case). Where there is sufficient evidence,
criminal prosecutions can be taken forward by the Crown Prosecution
Service.

 

As explained in our previous correspondence, there was insufficient
evidence to substantiate allegations of fraud at Grafton College, which,
along with the prospects of actually recovering any payments, must be
taken into account when considering whether any civil action should be
pursued against either Grafton College or its directors. All appropriate
regulatory action was, however, taken in relation the college.

 

We trust this clarifies matters.

Your correspondence has been allocated reference number 2019-0017396. If
you need to respond to us, please visit:
[1]https://www.education.gov.uk/contactus and quote your reference number.

Yours sincerely

A Brown 

Ministerial and Public Communications Division

Web: [2]https://www.education.gov.uk
Twitter: [3]https://www.twitter.com/educationgovuk
Facebook: [4]https://www.facebook.com/educationgovuk

 

References

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2. https://www.education.gov.uk/
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