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Fraud probe launched after school audit

By Western Morning News  |  Posted: November 16, 2012

Police have launched a fraud investigation following a damning report which uncovered financial mismanagement at a school in Exeter.

A letter from Shaun Sawyer, chief constable of Devon and Cornwall Police, to Exeter MP Ben Bradshaw, confirmed that officers are investigating whether any fraudulent activity had taken place at West Exe Technology College.

Mr Sawyer confirmed police investigations were running in conjunction with Devon County Council auditors and the Crown Prosecution Service. Council officials informed police about issues raised in an internal audit report it conducted into the financial management of the school under the leadership of its former executive head Steve Maddern and former chair of governors Paul Smith.

The report criticised the close relationship between Mr Maddern and Mr Smith. It stated Mr Maddern's "significantly higher than normal" salary of £156,000 came about after he, at the request of Mr Smith, produced what is described as "misleading" information with regard to national pay scales and potential pay rises. The £86,000 salary of his wife Beverley, who was senior deputy headteacher, was also deemed excessive by auditors. Mr and Mrs Maddern both resigned from their posts in the spring.

A police spokesman said no arrests had been made and enquiries were continuing.

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