01:13PM, Friday 06 May 2016
The National Union of Teachers (NUT) is calling for the Government to investigate the companies behind an education trust that runs a free school in Maidenhead.
The Bellevue Place Education Trust (BPET) , which runs Braywick Court School was established by education provider Bellevue Education and educational consultancy Place Group.
Last month the trust stated it has no connection with an investor linked to a company set up by Mossack Fonseca, the law firm at the centre of the so called ‘Panama Papers’. The statement followed reports in the national press that a Saudi investor was a major shareholder in Bellevue Education through a company in the British Virgin Islands set up by Mossack Fonseca.
The BPET set up the free school in Hibbert Road in 2014 and runs six others in London and the South-east.
In a report calling on the Department for Education (DfE) to investigate, the NUT said: “The NUT believes there are still serious questions to be answered about connections between BPET and Bellevue Education.”
Christine Blower, general secretary of the NUT called on the Secretary of State for Education to explain why the DfE and the Education Funding Agency allowed the company to be involved in running state funded schools.
“What due diligence has been applied when approving BPET's applications to open free schools? Were the backgrounds of the two companies behind the academy trust - Bellevue and Place Group - scrutinised? If not, why not?,” she asked.
“There must be a full and frank inquiry into this matter with the findings made public at the earliest opportunity”.
BPET chief executive Mark Greatrex responded: “BPET is an independent charitable trust and an entirely separate organisation to Bellevue Education Group Ltd and Bellevue Education International Ltd. BPET was established in 2012 and was approved by the Department of Education, a process that included a rigorous due diligence of the members and trustees of the trust. BPET's accounts and filings are published and audited in accordance with the Department of Education procedures.”
The ‘Panama Papers’ refer to a leak of more than 10 million files from the law firm’s database revealing how the rich can exploit secretive offshore tax regimes.
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