POLICE have been asked to investigate one of Scotland’s largest colleges amid allegations that it fraudulently claimed European funding.
• Alleged fraud took place between 2007 and last year
• Interim principal Iain Harrington was suspended last year when allegations were first aired
Adam Smith College in Kirkcaldy today confirmed it has suspended a number of staff after an audit by the Scottish Government indicated that the institution will have to repay a “substantial amount” of money claimed under European Structural Funding.
In a statement, the college’s interim principal, Martin McGuire, said the action was being taken following an investigation by auditors into European project funding received by the college between 2007 and last year.
He said: “The college has not seen a copy of the report produced by the auditors, however top line findings have been verbally provided, which have resulted in the decision to suspend those staff members who worked in the relevant areas as a precautionary measure, with immediate effect. The college plans to fully investigate the issues arising and identify whether any disciplinary proceedings are necessary.
“In addition to the college investigation, the Crown Office has asked the police to conduct an investigation into potential fraudulent activity. The government audit has indicated that the college will have to repay a substantial amount of the monies claimed although the exact figure is still not known at this time.
“As interim principal, I am determined to address and resolve these issues as quickly as possible and to ensure that high quality learning and teaching at the college continues to be a priority for staff.”
Last year, the college’s then interim principal, Iain Harrington, was suspended from his post on the orders of the college’s board while the investigation into the potential misuse of European funding was carried out.
Mr Harrington had replaced former principal Dr Craig Thomson, who resigned in March, a week after he had been suspended indefinitely when the Scottish Funding Council launched a separate investigation into allegations of bullying, intimidation and the misuse of funds.
The college is currently in the process of merging with Carnegie College to form a new regional college for Fife.