The Grenfell action Group have recently been contacted by the Information Commissioners Office regarding our appeal against the refusal of Kensington and Chelsea College to provide us with information we requested explaining the departure of former Principal, Mark Brickley, and his former sidekick Deputy Principal Fiona Ross. The correspondence between the Information Commissioners Office and the Grenfell Action Group must remain confidential for now as we do not want to preempt the appeals process which we hope will lead to disclosure of the information we are seeking. However, we can confirm that we have lodged a formal complaint with the Information Commissioner in an attempt to obtain a full explanation from KCC of the departures of Mark Brickley and Fiona Ross from the College in such haste and in such opaque circumstances.
Following the sudden departure of Mr Brickley, at the end of October 2017, the College claimed that he had resigned for ‘personal reasons’, although the circumstances of his departure have never been fully explained and were not recorded in the minutes of the relevant Board of Governors meeting. Following Brickley’s departure there have been persistent rumours, in College circles and in the local community, that the departure of the former Principal had less to do with ‘personal reasons’ and may have had much more to do with some form of serious misconduct in office.
It has become evident to the Grenfell Action Group that the interim Principal, Michelle Sutton is well aware of some of the allegations made against the former Principal and other members of the College’s senior management team that surfaced through responses to a recent staff survey at the College. These concerns were recorded in the mintues from the KCC Governors Meeting held on 5th December 2016 and paint an alarming picture of low staff morale and poor leadership at this much loved educational establishment.
Members of the Grenfell Action Group can only guess at the contents of the alleged ‘unprofessional responses’ made by staff members against various members of the senior management team but it hasn’t escaped our notice that the Interim Principal, Michelle Sutton, seems to have done her best to intimidate complainants into silence by strongly implying that their most serious allegations were ‘defamatory or libellous comments’.
Anyone who reads this blog on a regular basis will know that the Grenfell Action Group do not normally publish content based only on rumour or hearsay and that all of our postings are backed up with authoritative corroborating evidence. For this reason we have not yet detailed the nature of the rumours that accompanied the sudden departure of Principal Mark Brickley and Deputy Principal Fiona Ross from KCC. However, we have not shyed away from our efforts to reveal the truth behind the circumstances surrounding Mark Brickley’s departure from the College and we are now in a position to publish, with some confidence, further information that we have received in relation to this matter.
At a recent “Let’s Clear Some Air” community event organised by Rap23 at the Acklam Village a member of the Grenfell Action Group spoke with our local MP, Victoria Borwick, and a local Tory Councillor, Robert Freeman, who were both attending the event. We took this opportunity to speak to our elected representatives about the situation at KCC and asked Cllr Freeman to explain why the freehold for the College building had been purchased by the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea Council and why the College appeared to be in crisis and facing such an uncertain future.
Cllr Freeman chose to answer these questions by stating that the College building was too large for it’s current student intake and that most of the students that now attend the College come from other London Boroughs and are no longer local. This response was then challenged by our representative who pointed out that the College is still vital to the educational well being of the North Kensington community and that the dire situation that the College finds itself in might be partly attributed to the behaviour of the ex Principal Mark Brickley. It was at this point that our MP, Victoria Borwick turned to Cllr Freeman and asked what was meant by this latter statement. Cllr Freeman responded thus; “Mark Brickley was the unfortunate man who put up those compromising photos”.
The Grenfell Action Group would not wish to overinterpret the statement above made by Cllr Freeman to our local Member of Parliament, and witnessed by others present at the event, but we would suggest that these words certainly hint that there might be more to the departure of Mark Brickley than has so far been revealed by the College.
We have been informed by KCC that Brickley resigned his position for ‘personal reasons’ but we strongly suspect that these ‘personal reasons’ may be related to the actions so tantalisingly referred to by Cllr Freeman at the Rap23 event. If we are correct, and KCC are attempting to cover-up serious professional misconduct by either Brickley or Ross, or even both, then we can be confident that the Information Commissioner will order KCC to release the documents that we have requested, and which they have so far witheld.