Bright Tribe Trust accused of misusing government funds

BBC Panorama has found the Bright Tribe Trust received public money for building work, lighting upgrades and fire safety improvements that were either not finished or never done.

New trustees, appointed at Bright Tribe two months ago, have now commissioned independent investigations.

Bright Tribe has come under question over the past couple of years, with the latest investigation adding to the intense scrutiny that the Trust has faced since inception.

The Academy chain was given £1 million by the Government to set up a ‘northern hub’ which included Grindon Hall School in Sunderland, Haltwistle Community Campus lower and upper schools and Haydon Bridge School, in Northumberland.

However, it was revealed in December 2017 that discussions had started for Bright Tribe to walk away.

SCHOOLS NorthEast ran numerous stories on the Academy Trust, including:

Bright Tribe no longer sponsoring The Durham Federation (December 2016)

Bright Tribe in discussions over future of northern schools (December 2017)

Majority of Bright Tribe’s £1m ‘northern hub’ funding spent on senior staff (December 2017)

Bright Tribe pays £680,000 in related-party transactions (February 2018)

Grindon Hall school to leave Bright Tribe for North East Learning Trust (March 2018)

Northumberland County Council takes legal action against Bright Tribe (April 2018)

Northumberland County Council, which is responsible for schools in the northern hub area, has been trying to claim back some of the money spent on this.

Conservative councillor and Deputy Leader of the council Wayne Daley said the government was to blame for failing to safeguard the cash. He said: “That is a complete dereliction of duty to our community here and to the public purse. This can never ever be allowed to happen again. Ever. I’m genuinely shocked, I really am.”

Bright Tribe was set up by businessman Michael Dwan, who made his reported £114 million fortune from private contracts in the NHS.

Read the full article on the BBC, and you can watch the Panorama documentary here.

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