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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76 Comments

  1. B Williamson

    Slow news day? This is such a non story. This article doesn’t say anything new except that a person has updated their LinkedIn profile and is working!

    Typical of FE Week to try and sensationalise something mundane to create a story…..lazy journalism.

  2. Michael Adams

    Personally I find this type of “witch hunt” style of reporting unacceptable in this day and age. Especially when mental health issues are of particular concern at present. The media have short memories when it comes to the seriousness of their actions when enjoying the demonisation of an individual. As we have sadly seen recently with some high profile cases.

    The content of this article is almost irrelevant to comment until due process has been completed

  3. Tom Brooks

    Premature writing this – what’s happened to innocent until proven guilty?
    Unless the Insolvency Service find otherwise why shouldn’t all parties find alternative employment?
    Regarding the inevitable job cuts – this lies with either the FE Inspector or new college owners and is a symptom of the underlying issue of the sector’s inability to provide courses/services which the education market wants coupled with over burdensome ineffective administration leading to excessive back office.

  4. Peter Collins

    was there not a principal that ‘paid’ back £1m in funding that he ‘made a mistake’ about. small article and then forgotten. £1m is quite a large sum to forget about. This guy appears to have been found guilty of what ever he has suppose to have done by FEW. Is there something here that we don’t see that he has on the newspaper for you destroy him publicly?

    A concerned individual – not related.

    • A Colleague

      Yes…and I seem to remember he was rewarded with some post or other to boost his position within FE.

      This is the absolute definition of personality politics. Those-that-be were threatened by Hadlow’s commercial approach to education. Since the FE Commissioner stepped in they have closed down most of the income-generating projects. That’s probably why they only have 70% of the income and need to make so many redundancies.

      • Hadlow Concerned

        You can spin it how you like but North Kent College assessed that most of the commercial businesses at Hadlow did not generate enough income to be financially viable and shut them down. We’re already behind the private sector competition if one looks at the additional costs of public sector pensions that add 10% payroll costs compared to private sector shops, nurseries, florists, etc. It isn’t surprising – the farm shop was in a terrible location and staffing costs were high and so were the veg (that the college didn’t grow).
        Mark’s aspiration of a third of income from each area, FE, HE and commercial, is not the problem; he isn’t very good at being controlled on spending. Just look at how often he kept buying furniture for the tea room. He was happy to pillage the income on decorating the college with beautiful floral arrangements which ate at the profits and saw little return from the florist.

        The redundancies are inevitable for a financially savvy college: old WKAC and Hadlow computer systems and financial books are retired/closed and they no longer need teams of staff to manage them as staff move onto North Kent systems that are already staffed.

  5. This is misleading – you say “It is not clear at this stage if Lumsdon-Taylor is back working in MacIntyre Hudson’s education department” but your heading unfairly suggests that he does… stop stirring the pot with “fake news” singling out one person who was a part of team. Lumsdon-Taylor didn’t benefit personally from this sad situation but FEWEEK is vilifying him.

    The college is under investigation not this poor chap!

  6. Both of these should be stopped from any financial activities for what they have done. 44 people are being made redundant before Christmas and in the middle of lockdown during a period of record unemployment.

    • A Colleague

      What have they done? Tried to run a college on too little money? They have done exactly the same as every other principal and deputy principal – the only difference is that the FE Commissioner chose to bail out the other colleges and chose not to bail out Hadlow. Add to that, the new leadership is making redundancies, not these guys. They haven’t been in the business for nearly two years and fair a few decisions have been made since then!!!

      Your anger is misplaced.

    • Mrs Marangoz

      According to the BBC nearly 500,000 redundancies have been planned since the COVID crisis began. Why should Lumsdon-Taylor be vilified for 44 of them when he no longer works in Education?

    • Westkentconfidential

      I work at west Kent, and this sort of comment is a joke. If you are competent and able to work, they you should not be at risk, numbers are your responsibility. Stop blaming others and get a life.

  7. Are you kidding me? It must be a really slow news week to give this situation even more profile. Dont most people at his level retire and disappear? At least he is standing up and being counted. Give him a break

  8. Richard E.

    Are you still digging up dirt in such a page 3 manner… this is still under investigation by the authorities – I doubt you have an inside line on what really happened. What makes FEW think it’s knows better than the Insolvency Service – additionally your facts are wrong as noted by more astute readers in their comments above. Such poor journalism I want to spill my tea over your typewriters…

    Furthermore, the sad redundancies announced recently have absolutely nothing to do with the previous management team who resigned quite some time ago! How could you with clear conscience bundle them together as if they are directly related – was it to make your word word count? Atrocious reporting.

  9. A Colleague

    This clearly is an unbalanced view. Given press should be taking an impartial and balanced view this article is anything but.

    Why drag out a story unnecessarily when other people where involved and focus on one selected individual – when it clearly wasnt that person´s fault.

    Journalism and media has a social responsibility to be unbiased. This is nothing but a cheap and slanderous piece of journalism which should be ignored.

  10. Cameron Thomas

    I think this is disgusting. I’ve met Mark multiple times at events and I have to say you have totally mischaracterised him with this article. You should be ashamed of yourselves.

  11. PATRICIA CRAWFORD

    Too many assumptions. ‘Witch-hunting’ is absolutely correct.
    And by the way, Mark lumsdon-Taylor is not auditing in the education sector and so the inference is wasted.

  12. A Colleague

    Mark is not working in education. And as your article reports, there have been no findings of wrongdoing so the concept of the article itself is a mischievous attempt to prevent him from trying to rebuild his life.

    Considering his LinkedIn profile changed weeks ago, I wonder whether there is a monkey on his back who brought this to your attention.

    And while I’m here, WKAC was NOT £100m in debt. Approximately £90m of that was a hangover from K College which was never due to be repaid. It didn’t even sit on the books. I guess it reappeared in order to justify taking this college and its staff & students through an administration process while every other college in the sector continues to be bailed out.

    Mark is not the story here – the story is that the FE sector is bankrupt due to years of systemic underfunding. The Ney Report recognised this, but for some reason Hadlow has been singled out. Everybody knows the sector is underfunded. The Educational Insolvency system itself would not have been developed if the problems were down to a few bad apples.

  13. Kenneth Lyndon-Dykes

    I have read your comments with interest. I know Mark to be a decent man of honour and integrity why would you not wait for the completion of the investigation before writing such a article. ?

    to be

  14. I supported Hadlow College very substantially for many years as I believe in providing the best education and training for those in the green sector maintaining young people in their own communities helping the land and the environment. For many years Hadlow College showed exceptional initiative which gave considerable confidence to many people; those who were students, the excellent teaching staff of considerable calibre and those who believed like me.

  15. Hope if nothing is proved FE Week will publish an apology and whilst investigations continue take down this article.

    If this was balanced I expect to be reading a similar article about the performance and fees charged by the ESFA team and administrators BDO – including naming names. If they had solved the root underlying issue of losses these poor employees would not be facing unemployment today.

  16. I’m surprised at many of the comments on here. The reporting of misappropriating public money is always necessary. Otherwise, those with the morals of alley cats would do as they please rinsing one organisation after another for their own selfish gain.

    • Former Hadlow Employee

      The reports of misappropriating money have long since stopped and are not part of the investigation. This comment is a perfect example of how false allegations damage reputations and lives. There is no suggestion the college was rinsed for personal gain.

  17. What ‘scandal’? Business go bankrupt all the time, and a watchdog regularly goes in to verify the reasons why.

    Hadlow was days away from going under and disappearing completely 20 years ago yet these two gentlemen and others kept it going and growing way beyond its anticipated demise.

    They are rightfully lauded in our local Kent community, and your assumptions and attribution of wrongdoing are shameful and speculative.

    • It’s not a business though, is it. It is public money, and as such, Mark should be held to account for any failings publicly. As someone who lives in Kent, I absolutely know that Mark’s not lauded in the community. He’s become an outright pariah.

      • There are a lot of people who still celebrate everything that was achieved at these colleges. Investigations are ongoing; public defamation, misinformation and unsubstantiated allegations are not ok.

      • Held to account yes, but not defamed as he has been with unsubstantiated allegations that have quietly disappeared without apology.

        He has a big and loyal network for a pariah, including many from his Hadlow days! That says something about the story vs the man.

      • DavidPeterey

        I think you must be away with the fairies. Colleges have to be run as a business. Don’t take your anger out on someone that actually created jobs, and saved 100s from redundancy. If you had bothered have the honesty to say who you are, people may take your comment seriously. Otherwise, try not to be jealous of those that try to achieve in life.

        I live in Kent, and I know of Mark, and he is well respected and honoured for his services to Kent.

        #learn.

  18. Being part of the FE family, I work in social care for a PTP. Seeing this targeted press coverage on this man, and other principals is concerning for FE as a whole. I hope the newspaper prints this comment. I understand news needs to be reported but with such an agenda (reference Garry Phillips) from the likes of the FE Commissioner I don’t think a single principal has responded to the veiled threats. I looked up Mark Lumsdon-Taylor and he obviously did a lot for FE. Mistakes or judgments are made, but this guy is being harassed to the point of no return (in my opinion). Well done for not stooping to the low level and unlike the rest who retire, this man is to young to quit or quit for good. Judging by the number of comments, I Hope FEWeek listens. Doubt it.

  19. So he was the COO of the colleges, was ultimately accountable for the finances and it was “nothing to do with him”

    The comments are right that due process should be followed but these angry comments “he doesn’t work in education” etc. are irrelevant. He was second only to the CEO in relation to signing off the finances of the now liquidated colleges.

    But yes, as with everything else in the sector it’s everyone else’s fault. And the sector wonders why government won’t raise funding.

    • Absolutely – agree with every word. How can a COO who regularly told everyone how he was the financial genius of Hadlow be allowed to get away with this. Due process must follow, but he certainly shouldn’t be allowed to lay the blame at any other door.

    • In response to: DP

      Where comments have been raised, specifically in regard to “nothing to do with him” – I can’t see anywhere where Mr Lumsdon-Taylor has said it was not. SMT are always responsible. I wonder how many colleges are ‘praying’ that its ‘not them next’. The facts are clear, and people are quick to react and misstate the truth. I doubt many CEO/COO/CFO leaders and indeed front line managers have never made mistakes. There difference here is ‘Politics’ with a capital ‘P’ and 5 years there was no FE Week to plaster it across the sector.

      It is about time the sector stops being so frightened and stand up for their own.

    • Individual

      Very fair comment and I felt it was important to reply. Comments fall into:

      1.Abject Support people for someone in an article
      2.The ‘Monkeys’ (As referred to) who are angry / keyboard warriors – Flowers, seriously?
      3.The Objective and considered views

      This comment is excellent. I see no where, he has not said is is accountable, as PART of the senior management team – many of which still work in the group. So print that? Also, FEW you do pick and choose who you target and ‘report upon’. Its a shame as FE really needs a good PR machine. I see challenges down the track for the sector.

      This chap has had more comments that the last year of FEW combined I reckon – Apparently he likes profile – and majority of it excellent.

      Well done on comments record, and well done on staying professional

  20. Totally poor on you FEWeeek, this is old news and not worth a read to be honest shame on you, for not thinking that the amount of people across Hadlow and West Kent College that now face losing their jobs is not as important as the dross you have written, that’s real news perhaps send your reporters out to speak to how this has impacted their lives –

  21. Behind the provocative and inflammatory headlines is a heartboken man who watched his future, friends and home disappear in a cloud of smoke. Now he is being hounded as he attempts to rebuild his life away from education. There are mental health considerations here too.

  22. Former Hadlow Employee

    You’re trying to paint a picture of Mark succeedimg while others are being made redundant because of him. BUT:

    1. Mark did not decide to merge the colleges.
    2. Mark did not decide who the colleges would be merged with.
    3. Mark did not decide what would happen to the colleges post-merger.
    4. Mark did not decide on the organisational structures which have made jobs redundant.
    5. Mark is not responsible for low student recruitment on some courses which have made teaching posts redundant.
    6. Mark did not decide on the timing of these redundancies.

    It is time for the people who have been running the colleges for nearly two years to be responsible for their decisions.

  23. HadlowStaffer

    As one of the people directly affected, I for one am glad that FE Week is following this up.

    If it is true that this individual is continuing to tell the world what a superstar he was at Hadlow, and about his financial genius, he absolutely shouldn’t be able to. He took an outstanding, and financially solid college, and drove it to insolvency. The impact he’s had on thee thousands of lives of students and staff has been profound, and I feel he must be held accountable of this. He should not be allowed to get away with singing about his former ‘triumphs’ at Hadlow, because there were no real ones given the state he left it in.

    Another commenter has raised that mental health issues should apparently give this individual some sort of carte blanche to walk away – given he was being paid a huge six figure salary, it is absolutely right that he’s held to account, both in the press and elsewhere.

      • Ashfordlifer

        Just wanted to say this guy actually worked night and day to deliver Ashford college when no one else had made it happen. Not perfect but at least built. Never met someone that worker harder. The few negative comments are a little sad and actually full of bluff.

        Merry Christmas.

  24. David Priestly

    This is one of the most derisive articles I have yet seen on FE Week. Judging from the volume of comments published (and not published) I can only assume that other share this view. FE has been in difficulty for many years and it does not require a world class mind to work out that ‘Hadlow Group’ administration was to test the new administration and that test has cost the tax payer millions in fees and impact into students and business. This senior manager (who is not the principal by the way) has carried on and attempted to rebuild. I am not surprised he has not commented, it would be twisted in the usual way.

    FE Week, you are better than this (or I thought you were). How about some decent coverage on the Mary Ney Report or why no other colleges have gone into administration. That is proper journalism – I just hope this chap stays the course and is recognised for standing up when no one else dares.

    This is concerning for the sector. Facts Speak; Subjective coverage does not.

  25. Yes!!! When government funding doesn’t pay the bills, college leaders are forced into taking commercial risks to generate income to fund the education of their students. No leader in any organisation is infallible, but everyone in FE is there 100% for their students and trying to deliver the best education they know how.

  26. Good to see that this individual is being held to account by someone at least – shocking that government appears content to ‘brush this under the carpet’. Hopefully he’ll be disqualified after what he’s done.

    • And what did this individual do differently from every college leader who applied for a bail out and got it, before and since?

      By your reckoning every leader who needs a bail out should be disqualified? That would make an awful lot of SMT pretty uncomfortable!!!

  27. Hadlow Lifer

    Surely the real story is why the government decided to sacrifice staff and students just to test out the insolvency procedure? Every other college has been bailed out; the government chose not to bail out Hadlow. These leaders have done nothing different to any SLT still in their posts in a college which is only solvent because they received a bail out. Should all leaders in those colleges be investigated and hounded in the same way???

    The other story is systemic failures in funding levels and ESFA oversight. FE Week – surely these are public interest stories that you want to follow up???

  28. Sad to see FE Week taking a ‘tabloid’ approach to reporting. I thought this was a serious publication. If so, it would report on facts not hearsay and speculation. This article reads like a gossip column. Very disappointing.

  29. Hadlow Concerned

    Yes, it is fair that FE is badly funded and Mark is not responsible for K College debt and the £100M WKAC figure is sensational unfair reporting but that doesn’t automatically get him off the hook.
    Whilst I am all for letting the investigation run its course, many of you gloss over his appalling behaviour. The FE Commissioner found in his report that the financial health of the colleges were mispresented. He was part of the problem of having governing bodies with no qualified accountants. Both Mark and Paul cut the board of governors out from many decision making processes. He doctored government emails to claim taxpayer funding the colleges weren’t entitled to. These are facts and do not stack up to being a personal of excellent financial leadership. But the principal was not holding Mark to account either. They were both treating WKAC and Hadlow like one legal entity.
    Mark did not vacate the college-owned property where he lived until the summer when he resigned in Feb/March. How can that possibly be showing integrity or honour to remain living in the middle of campus? And turning up to the tea room? Had he no shame?

    Spare us all the sob stories about his mental health – he cared not one jot for those he targeted for redundancy whilst happy to exploit college expenses or fund novelty projects that weren’t viable. Look at Betteshanger! And yes, there is significant evidence of that but obviously its not in the public domain. That said, he wasn’t buying Ferraris on college money but he was happy to allow the college to pay the ‘sundries’ that the rest of us have to pay for ourselves like his meals.
    Its a shame as no doubt he did a great job at Hadlow in the beginning but those who actually know what happened will be very aware that the ego took over.

    • I can promise you redundacies always hurt him and were always a last resort.

      And on the email point, ask yourself whether the ESFA would have processed any payments without checking with the person who agreed the funding with Hadlow. The ESFA would have promised anything to find a taker for K. Email is just one way of reaching an agreement…a phone call is another…

    • Hadlow colleague

      Yep, this is absolutely accurate. Anyone who ACTUALLY knows Mark will know his ego is the size of a planet. I just think there are far too many people within the sector who constantly want to blame government funding, when actually there have been some genuine cases of impropriety.

      One principal even tried to tell me that Highbury’s principal was hard done by – typical of the sector to always seek to ‘look after its own’. The sooner government takes over this utter shambles full of arrogant incompetents who are barely leaders in any sense of the word, the better frankly.

    • Hadlow Concerned

      Well done – your comments have summed up this very nicely. – Hadlow took over K College to rescue it but instead they took the money that West Kent had and spent it on unprofitable vanity projects not related to Education – such a shame as the students and staff paid the price.

      • Hadlow Concerned

        Thank you Jobseeker.
        It is regrettable that WKC and Ashford was essentially asset stripped or at least that’s the impression we were left with. Why did WKAC lend Hadlow money in the tune of nearly £4 million and not paid back? This is listed on Companies House under the creditor reports. That took money away from the Ashford campus build that wasn’t completed and did that money come from the sale of WKC land? Quite rightly we feel angry when we have had no pay rises and a lack of investment in so many areas!

    • Trust me when I tell you that restructures and redundancies were very difficult decisions and always a last resort.

      Moving his family out of his home of 15 years and letting go of that last connection to Hadlow was gut-wrenching. His world fell apart overnight and he needed a period in which to transition. It was not somewhere he wanted to be – the college was extremely nasty. Opening and withholding personal post for example, and not just Mark’s post but his partner’s too.

      And I’m not sure about doctoring emails. Yes, they say they don’t have that email on file. But would the ESFA really process payments on the back of that email without checking with their man that the figures were correct?

      • Hadlow Concerned

        Family? What family? Just a girlfriend and a few cats.
        There is little sympathy for someone on a significant income that couldn’t find alternative living arrangements in a reasonable time. Some transition is required but this is an overstay of about 5 months.
        Why not set up a postal redirect?

        The point is missed: the ESFA did not process the payments as they found the emails to be doctored.

    • Legalbeagle

      This kind of comment is typical of a subjective ‘news’ article. Individuals who are often targeting in the press have to be individuals. I very much doubt mr lumsdon-Taylor arrived at 9am, took an hour for lunch and left at 5pm. Equally I imagine his salary was reflective of his rise to near the top of a business. And from what this group was, it was run aa a business with public funds in part. Business Leaders are usually criticised for what they didn’t do, not what they did do. These kind of comments are always one sided, based on emotion rather than fact and the person often will have a personal agenda.

      You only need to look at coverage in articles such as these on other people to know they cannot comment. However, I don’t think I have seen such targeted subjective coverage such as this. If this man enjoyed support before, he certainly publicly has it now.

      Editorially from a legal perspective, in our world, the term ‘thin ice’ would spring to mind.

  30. If these practices are true, they are in clear breach of the FRC Revised Ethical Standards of 2019 which states in regard to External Audit rotation:

    A firm shall establish policies and procedures to ensure in respect of a recurring [external audit] engagement that:
    (a) no one shall act as engagement partner for more than five years, this includes time spent participating in an engagement, where an audit engagement has moved between firms; and
    (b) anyone who has acted as the engagement partner for a particular entity for a period of five years, shall not subsequently participate in the engagement until a further period of five years has elapsed; and
    (c) on completing their rotation, the engagement partner, shall not continue to have significant or frequent interaction with senior management or with those charged with governance of the entity they have previously audited until the cooling off period has elapsed.

    I’ve no axe to grind against any person, just the poor processes, weak governance, and low ethical standards in some colleges.

  31. Wow the far left have really gone to town with this. Take it from me this guy is nothing more than a fraudulent crook leaving the tax payer the bill to clean up his mess. I am shocked this man is not in prison yet

  32. At the end of the day – comments are comments. And at the appropriate time MLT will give his promised statement. Remember this is the first and only time such a process has been carried out – the impact has not yet been assessed in comparison to the continued £10m+ bailouts. Politics with a small or capital P may never come out. Process will complete and one thing I imagine is for sure is the chief accounting officer (Mr Hannan) is primarily accountable under the legal act. This is not transferrable by law. His SMT, including this person are also responsible (Some i understand still there). The comparator is also the sector, and in comparison I imagine this is not the size that is reported.

    It make close behind confidentiality – what ever the outcome their impact was felt, as was the FECommissioners approach to colleges (read Mary Ney Report). Bullying and harassments has no place in any sector – applying to these comments as well.

    This is about the ‘non’ article here today. I for one admire someone that has not run away and disappeared (think large pensions and pay offs). He received nothing of the kind (reported by this newspaper). He will have made countless errors, done ego projects and made difficult decisions. He also took risks which builds organizations. Remember that, as we will be no where without taking risk. FE Week was a risk to set up, and whatever your view of them, they do report a variety of news. Style is something to ponder.

    Enough now.