Since the sudden departure of Mark Brickley from his role as Principal of Kensington and Chelsea College in October 2016, a persistent flow of unsettling rumours have been reaching us that has even had the street dogs barking. We first learned about the resignation of the Kensington and Chelsea College Principal after an article appeared on the widely circulated “FE Week” website on 4th November 2016 that cited “personal reasons” as the only explanation given for his departure:
This article was then posted on the respected “Hornet’s Nest” blog and a number of worrying allegations were made with regards to alleged going’s on at the Kensington and Chelsea College. These comments were posted anonymously and the Grenfell Action Group have no idea what truth, if any, they contain:
Following publication of the item on the Hornet’s Nest blog, and the start of the campaign by local residents to save Wornington College, these same allegations resurfaced on a number of different occasions. The Grenfell Action Group believe that the public are entitled to know if there is any substance to the rumours that the former College Principal may have mis-used Kensington and Chelsea College money to fund a number of trips abroad on the pretext of recruiting overseas students. To this end, we wrote to the Clerk of Kensington and Chelsea College, using Freedom of Information legislation, to request details of all of Mr Brickley’s trips abroad at the college’s expense. We received the following information in response:
We shared this information with FE Week and they published a follow up to their original article: http://feweek.co.uk/2017/02/24/principal-racked-up-60k-bill-on-overseas-trips/ Mindful of an air of secrecy surrounding the unexplained departure from KCC of Mr Brickley, and the slightly earlier departure of Deputy Principal Fiona Ross, we followed up our initial FoI request with additional requests for full and comprehensive accounts of the reasons why these two senior figures had so suddenly resigned as Principal and Deputy Principal of KCC, and why their resignations were not recorded anywhere in board minutes. We also queried whether Ms Ross had been subject to a ‘gagging order’ or any other disciplinary measures prior to her departure. KCC subsequently sent us an FoI Refusal Notice which ignored the part of our query related to board minutes and instead offered the following justification for their non-disclosure of all other information we had requested relating to the sudden departure of these two key figures from KCC:
Given the persistent rumours that some form of misconduct in office may have led to the departure of Mr Brickley, and possibly of Ms Ross, we found KCC’s refusal to provide a full explanation of their departures less than reassuring.
It has been claimed that the £64,000+ spent on Mr Brickley’s travels abroad was wasteful and extravagant. This certainly would appear to be the case. But It has also been rumoured that he may have misbehaved in other ways and that his departure may have resulted from improper conduct in office rather than ‘for personal reasons’ as claimed thus far by KCC. If there is any truth in the rumours of misconduct by either party then Kensington and Chelsea College have a duty to inform their students, their staff and the general public.
THERE SHOULD BE NO COVER UP!
The Grenfell Action Group will not rest until we have obtained the full facts behind Mr Brickley’s and Ms Ross’s departures from KCC and we suspect that the circumstances, once fully revealed, may prove highly embarrasing to all those concerned. We will be appealing the decision of KCC to withhold the information we requested in relation to these events. We believe that time will prove that it is very much in the public interest to fully explain the reasons why the College Principal and Deputy Principal of Kensington and Chelsea College left their posts in such secrecy and haste.
The Grenfell Action Group have no confidence in the decision of the Clerk of Kensington and Chelsea College to refuse our FoI request on this matter and we have serious concerns about the competency of the Board of Governors who seemingly felt it appropriate to approve and fund Brickley’s multiple trips abroad. We believe the Board of Governors should now focus their attention on improving the educational ambitions and life chances of their students rather than on attempts to cover up the reasons why their most senior staff members have vacated their roles and responsibilities so suddenly and without proper explanation.