Former leader of bankrupt college returns to auditing firm

Investigations by the government’s insolvency watchdog into the former leadership of two bankrupt colleges are still ongoing – as one of the individuals at the centre of the scandal takes up a role at the colleges’ former auditor.

The Insolvency Service confirmed this week its inquiry into the conduct of directors at Hadlow College and West Kent and Ashford College (WKAC), the first two colleges to enter education insolvency, last summer, are “continuing”.

It comes as the former deputy principal of both colleges, Mark Lumsdon-Taylor, has rejoined the accountancy firm MHA MacIntyre Hudson as a “senior corporate consultant”.

MacIntyre Hudson employed Lumsdon-Taylor from 1997 as an audit manager and director of education until 2003, before he moved to Hadlow, according to his LinkedIn profile. The accountancy firm was internal auditor for Hadlow and WKAC in the years leading up to its collapse.

The company was also the internal auditor for eight different colleges in 2018/19, and the external auditor for 11, according to the Education and Skills Funding Agency’s register of college accounts for that year.

It is not clear at this stage if Lumsdon-Taylor is back working in MacIntyre Hudson’s education department.

His LinkedIn profile says he has “returned to the financial corporate world in 2020 after stepping down following a 15-year career in rural business and education in which he built a £50 million institution employing over 1,000 staff and oversaw multi-million-pound investment and regeneration projects.

“As a result, Mark is seen as leader in the finance, HR, education and corporate landscapes.”

It also says he has been seconded as a chief financial officer for a “world-class business”, but does not specify the name of the company.

Lumsdon-Taylor declined to comment, saying he would only comment after the Insolvency Service’s investigations are complete. MacIntyre Hudson did not respond to multiple requests for comment.

It was revealed in November last year the Insolvency Service would be investigating the “conduct of relevant personnel in the period leading up to the onset of insolvency”, after Hadlow entered administration in May 2019, followed by WKAC the following August.

If their investigation does find evidence of misconduct, and if it is in the public interest, the service may pursue enforcement measures, such as director disqualification.

They have a three-year window from the date of insolvency “within which to issue disqualification proceedings should there be evidence of wrongdoing”.

Administrators, which in the case of Hadlow and WKAC is BDO, have also prepared a report on the conduct of “relevant persons” at the colleges in the three years prior to administration, according to the latest administration progress reports for both colleges.

BDO could not say when the conduct report would be published.

The principal of both colleges Paul Hannan, Lumsdon-Taylor, the chairs of both colleges, as well as several governors, all resigned after having to apply for emergency funding from the government to keep the colleges open, as Hadlow had run up £40 million in debts, while WKAC owed over £100 million.

Last week, North Kent College confirmed 90 staff are at risk of redundancy under plans to cut 44 posts, following its takeover of Hadlow College and the West Kent campus of WKAC in August.

EKC Group (East Kent College) said it had cut three jobs when it closed a motor vehicle centre as part of its takeover of the Ashford campus and Hadlow’s Canterbury site in April.

Capel Manor College, which took over Hadlow’s Mottingham campus in January, confirmed it had not made any redundancies, nor does it plan to.

Pictured: Paul Hannan (standing) and Mark Lumsdon-Taylor

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