Nescot College board learn husband to principal was paid £177,000



[A complaint was received from Sunaina Mann on 31 May, in terms that our Article suggests that Ms Mann corruptly handed a secret consultancy contract to her own husband.  Ms Mann denies that there was any non-disclosure or that she promoted or oversaw the contract and says that any conflict of interest was properly taken into account.]

UPDATE: Nescot accepts former £360k a year principal was unfairly dismissed

The husband of the highest-paid FE principal in the country has been paid almost £200,000 in a contract that was not declared to college governors for 18 months.

As previously reported in FE Week, Sunaina Mann (pictured below), the principal of North East Surrey College of Technology (Nescot), received a salary of £363,000 in 2015.

sunaina

Now it has come to light that her husband, Jaswinder Singh Mann, was also employed as a consultant by Nescot to work on its controversial partnership in Saudi Arabia, the Jeddah Female College.

The arrangement means that the couple gained £775,000 in total from Nescot over the course of two years.

However, even though Mr Mann signed his first contract with the college on September 24, 2014, Nescot’s governors were not made aware of his role until a board meeting a year and a half later, on March 18 2016.

The college revealed to FE Week that two further contracts were signed in 2015, on June 8 and August 1, again apparently without the knowledge of the board.

A spokesperson for the college has refused to confirm or deny whether the college failed to adhere to their procurement policy.

According to Nescot’s financial statements for the year ending July 31, 2015, payments of £71,000 in 2014 and £106,000 in 2015 were made to Point Nemo Ltd,“a company “under the control of the principal and chief executive’s husband” for “consultancy in the role of NCL [Nescot Consortium Limited] Vice Dean MIS and Funding”.

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Mr Mann is the only director of Point Nemo, holding 90 per cent of its shares.

But minutes from a board meeting on March 18, at which point the arrangement was made known to governors, show that “disclosure errors” regarding “related party transactions” had been made.

The minutes list recommendations made by external auditors MacIntyre Hudson, including a need for “much better quality management information and on a more timely basis”, improved controls to ensure “the accurate capture of related party transactions”, and “a comprehensive register of interests” to be updated through the year.

FE Wenescotek reported last week that Ms Mann’s 2015 pay packet was originally under-reported to the Skills Funding Agency to the tune of £27,000 plus £5,000-worth of “benefits in kind”.

Her reported salary was revised upwards – to £358,000 per year plus benefits – by the SFA earlier in May.

In a statement, Ms Mann said that “robust governance arrangements” had “removed any conflict of interest” from the college’s arrangement with her husband.

MacIntyre Hudson said it had “no comment” to make on Nescot’s financial arrangements.

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Likewise, internal auditors RSM UK told FE Week: “Internal audit reports are provided to clients on a confidential basis and as such, I am afraid that we are not able to comment.”

Attempts to contact Mr Mann were unsuccessful, and there is no information about Point Nemo Ltd available online, beyond four filings which have been made with Companies House.

 

Following the board meeting, Ms Mann’s salary for 2014 was also restated, consequently jumping from the figure of £154,000 claimed in the initial report, to £235,000.

This £85,000 increase was made up of £46,000 in allowances and £35,000 in paid holiday.

Sally Hunt, director general of the University and College Union, said the findings were “a real concern” at a time of “severe cuts to adult education budgets”.

It is “more troubling yet”, she added, that the details of the arrangement had only come to light following an external audit.

“Too many college principals like Ms Mann have continued to enjoy bumper pay awards and sanction profligate spending on agencies for often questionable added value. It is time that ministers took action,” she said.

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Jonathan Isaby, chief executive of the TaxPayers’ Alliance, said: “It is astounding that such a large amount of money was paid out without the knowledge of the governors, given such obvious potential for a serious conflict of interest.

“The errors in the financial statements will just compound taxpayers’ concerns and they deserve answers.”

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FE Week contacted Professor Mark Hunt, chair of the college’s board of governors, to ask what action they had taken on discovering Mr Mann’s contract with the college. He provided no comment by the time of going to press.

Peter Stamps, chair of the finance and general purposes committee and a qualified accountant, was also contacted by FE Week, but declined to comment.

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Editorial : Serious money – serious questions

Nescot governors were not made aware of the contract to pay almost £200,000 to their principal’s husband for 18 months.

You would think that having been contacted by FE Week, the board members would fall over themselves to demonstrate that they had a robust governance response.

But despite written and verbal communication with several governors, including the chairman, they were not forthcoming before we went to press.

I found that disappointing given the seriousness of the issues at stake here.

As I said in an email to the chair, I used to work for a college and attended board meetings, so have a good idea how it all works.

Putting aside the complex nature of the Saudi project, were the college’s internal related party transaction and procurement policy rules broken and if so what, if anything, did the board do about it?

The college spokesperson said the college was declining to answer, but hopefully the chair will in due course.

Nick Linford



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19 Comments

  1. Dylan

    I’ve worked at nescot for nearly 10 years and the moral here is at a nadir. Our pay (some of the lowest in the sector) has risen by just 1% over the past 6 years and we all feel duped by a “leader” who, as it has turned out, was only truly concerned with her own standing in the educational system and lining her family’s coffers.

  2. Jordan Rhodes

    Absolute disgraceful behaviour. Leaving aside the Principal’s obscene salary, how could a contract totalling almost £200,000 be hidden from the governing body for 18 months. Well done to Alix for uncovering this scandal. If this is not legally wrong, it is, in my opinion, morally wrong. Where was the scrutiny and challenge from the governing body during the 18 months in question? Where was the total transparency from the Principal. Surely the Principal has a responsibility and duty to fully explain all Alix’s questions on whether proper procurement processes were followed. This has such a massive reputational damage on FE. And I am sure the FE Commissioner had made it clear before – focus on your own learners without chasing expensive overseas partnerships.

    Perception is crucial. Perception damaged Gazelle – again only after FE Week shone its spotlight on the T-shaped wizards. And the perception of what could be termed, questionable activities in this story, is not good for NESCOT. Which is a shame because it once used to be an impressive college.

    Best summed up by a show my son is watching now. “We would have got away with it if it wasn’t for you meddling kids”.

    Great work Alix and Nick.

  3. Richard Le Corney

    Another example of “freedom from red tape and bureaucracy” and the government’s confidence in the rigorous oversight (ambiguity intended!) by “independent” autonomous governing bodies.

    I’m sure it sets the pace for other FE Colleges and Academies to follow. The latter will soon have freedom also from parents’ interference in their pursuit of Mammon.

    I suppose accountability is just too old-fashioned even for the “Conservative” party.

  4. Craig Hanlon-Smith

    I used to work for Nescot College, from September 2001 to late to 2007. During that time the college went through some turbulent times both financially and as a result of an inadequate Ofsted inspection. Ms Mann was an effective principal at the back end of my time there and I understand has turned the colleges fortunes around. However, as I have remained in contact with staff at the college (and continue to work in FE in a central London role, now in senior management), I am aware that UK based staff and students at the East Ewell sigh have been subject to the same funding cuts to provision, and inadequate pay wards that do not meet the cost of living in the South East of England. It is an outrage that Ms. Mann has been paid this level of salary by the corporation whilst the teaching, support and ancillary staff, who are the real force behind the reversal of fortunes go unrewarded. Excellent teachers, managers, and support staff who are highly innovate and inspirational in their approach are leaving, not just Nescot, but FE in droves. FE cannot afford to lose these hard working, exceptionally gifted and enthusiastic individuals. Our young people, tomorrow’s workforce, our future artists, teachers, medical researchers, public servants, members of the armed devices, marketeers, accountants, physiotherapists, counsellors, journalists cannot afford to lose these exceptionally gifted and enthusiastic individuals. I feel both sadness and disappointment towards the Senior Leadership of this particular college, he Principal of which has seemingly taken a sum fast approaching £1,000,000 that will only truly benefit herself, her husband and her daughter. How desperately shameful.

  5. nick Mattey

    I am a councillor in the London Borough of Sutton and we have very serious issues with members of Sutton Lib Dems forgetting to tell anyone of their close connections with an Incinerator company. The Incinerator is now being built, councillors have refused to have the matter investigated.

  6. #SMH Interesting piece of investigative journalism. Standard practice at our Board meetings is item #1 ‘conflicts of interest’. All directors must declare any conflicts for the minutes no matter how trivial. If the Principal did fail to declare her husband’s contract then the Board must determine why. If I, as MD of a Charitable provider, had done this I can guarantee I would have been sacked. Suggest the DofE get into this organisation and find out what is going on.

  7. Given that the full facts are not known it is interesting that the majority of individuals commenting are jumping to a number of conclusions and making sweeping judgements.
    Indeed, it is not clear how much income has been generated for this college by the Saudi contract. Which of course, is not SFA or tax payers money !!!
    I also note that the majority the contributors appear to be white males.
    Could this indicate a sexist or racist issue here !!!!

    • PC tofar

      Accusing others of jumping to conclusions then doing exactly the same! Why not go throw ageism into the mix too? they’re almost certain to young white males, the cheeky little scamps!

      I’d be interested to know what you think would be a reasonable amount of funding generated to justify that sort of pay increase (£5m? £10m?) and whether you think that pay increases should permeate down through the organisation?

      • If you had bothered to read my comment properly you would see that I have asked a question not jumped to a conclusion. Perhaps individuals making previous comments should have taken the same approach. No doubt there are questions to be asked and answered in these matters but educated and intelligent people making sweeping judgements on partial information is not the way forward.
        I note that you attempt to trivialise the issues of sexism and racism and also do not properly identify yourself….I wonder why?

    • It is irrelevant whether or not the Saudi contract is profitable or otherwise. As is the fact that the project is not SFA funded. This is an issue of Governance. And how are you are able to know someone’s ethnicity simply from their name? In fact, it is quite disgraceful that, out of all the posters here, you have tried to introduce the theme of identity politics into this very serious issue. Why is her gender and ethnicity relevant?

      • I agree that these matters do include the issue of governance amongst other factors. A number of comments refer to tax payers money so the issue of where the income has come from is relevant.
        My point is really that so many individuals have jumped to sweeping judgements and conclusions without knowing the full facts or both sides of the story.
        If you had read my comments properly I stated that individuals making comments appeared to be white males.
        The article in FE week included a picture of the Principal which make clear her ethnicity. I still find interesting that one of our few BME Principals should be attacked in such a way by individuals that do not have that full facts. Of course, only each individual knows there own motives. In my view asking a question about Equality and Diversity is both appropriate and relevant in these matters.

        • You have absolutely no way way of knowing the “skin colour” of any of the posters here. Is “Matt Garvey a “white” name……can African people not be called John? All you are doing is trying to bring ethnicity into a place where it is not an issue. Or are you seriously suggesting that the actions and behaviours of ethnic minority Principals should be subject to a different level of challenge and scrutiny than “white” Principals?

          • No, my point is as previously stated that the majority of the individuals making comments on this matter have made sweeping judgements and conclusions based on limited information. To put it as simply as I can the full facts are not yet known so it is unwise to make such judgements at this stage. Educated and intelligent individuals should be aware of that and therefore run the risk of having their motives questioned if they decide to act in any other way. Looking back at the previous comments the same points could have been made by an appropriate question rather than judgemental statements. For the record I agree that any Principal or manager should be held accountable to the same standards regardless of race or sex. However, it seems that the difference between me and the other contributors is that I believe that judgements and suggested punishments should follow a process not happen before it.
            Interesting that my assumption (based on limited information) that the majority of the individuals commenting were white males has drawn comment from you but the comments from other individuals based on far less factual information has not !! Reversing your own logic you suggesting that it is ok to attack a BME Principal based on limited and partial information without a due process?
            I also agree that you can’t tell a person’s race by their name and did not say that. However, what is clear is that the 10 plus contributors were all male and that the majority of them would be white. If you think that fact is incorrect then prove it. Perhaps any non-white contributors might be prepared to identify that fact.
            In conclusion, any comments I have made are based far more on fact than any of the other contributions.

    • Richard Le Corney

      Given that none of the individuals commenting have mentioned the sex or race of those involved, it is interesting that you are jumping to such a conclusion and making sweeping judgments about the sex and race of contributors.

      I look forward to a fully transparent explanation by the college, including the income generated by the Saudi contract. However, in view of their reluctance to say anything so far, I’m not holding my breath.

      • If you had read my comment properly you would see that I have asked a question not jumped to a judgement or conclusion. The FE week report made the ethnicity of the Principal clear. I still think it is worth considering why one of our few BME Principals comes under such an attack when the full facts are not known.
        I agree that that are questions that need to be answered. That would be the correct approach not the current approach of sweeping judgements. I can now understand better how Lynch mobs are formed !!

        • Your use of the highly inflammatory phrase “Lynch” mob is clearly racist. You must surely be aware that Lynch is one of the most popular names in southern Ireland and, as someone who also has an Irish surname I am deeply offended, as will, no doubt, my very good friend Seamus Milne. I will be reporting you to the Equality & Diversity thought police straight away.