Principal goes on ‘leave of absence’ at college under investigation for nepotism and ‘financial wrongdoing’


The principal and chief executive at a college under investigation for nepotism and ‘financial wrongdoing’ is now on a ‘leave of absence’, FE Week can reveal.

Hull College Group has confirmed that Michelle Swithenbank is no longer running the college.

It is understood that the FE Commissioner, Richard Atkins, visited the college following the revelation in FE Week that the ‘independent’ investigator hired by the college chair, was in fact the college lawyer.

A source has told FE Week that the FE Commissioner’s team were at the college until late into the evening last Thursday, and the ‘leave of absence’ was agreed at a meeting on Friday morning.

Darryn Hedges, vice principal for finance, joined the college earlier in the year and has been placed in charge on an interim basis.

FE Week asked the college for a statement and whether there have been any further changes to the senior team or governors.

A spokesperson for the college said: “Michelle Swithenbank is currently away from the college on a period of leave. Darryn Hedges is deputising for her during her absence.”

At the time of publication the college had declined to comment on whether there had been any other changes to the leadership team or governors.

More to follow…

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  1. We are clearly experiencing a period of significant change with the accompanying scrutiny but I am questioning the impact of such significant media attention on ongoing investigations, even when the issue in question has been originally highlighted by F.E. Week.
    We need to Police our sector and root out bad practice but often these articles highlight an individual and their alleged actions and not the wider organisation they work for. Surely Hull and any other College has polices in place to stop any individual making decisions of this nature without scrutiny? If not then any news article should highlight the whole organisation and not an individual.
    I don’t underestimate the power of the press in highlighting bad practice and this must be protected, but we also need to protect the individuals concerned until an investigation has been completed otherwise there’ll be no way back for them, regardless of the outcome!