Police probe into suspected fraud at school is dropped

Glendene Academy in Easington Colliery.
Glendene Academy in Easington Colliery.
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There will be no prosecutions after an 18-month police investigation into a suspected fraud at a special school.

Glendene Arts Academy in Easington Colliery found itself at the centre of a probe into alleged financial mismanagement in April 2014.

Three people were arrested as part of the fraud investigation by Durham Police, which centred on the school’s involvement with a Sunderland company.

Those arrested on suspicion of conspiracy to commit fraud were a 57-year-old man and his 56-year-old wife, which were believed to be Eric Baker, who at the time was principal at Glendene, and his wife, Marian Baker, as well as a 41-year-old man.

However, Durham Police has confirmed the criminal investigation has now been closed.

A spokesman for the force said: “A file was sent to the Crown Prosecution Service and in October the CPS advised police that no further action be taken.

“The criminal investigation has therefore concluded and there is no longer any police involvement.”

Prior to the investigation officials from the Education Funding Agency (EFA), which oversees the money spent by academies and free schools, revealed it was recovering £162,000 claimed to have been misspent by the school in paying the salaries of employees, and the running costs, at a private company, Glendene Arts and Training Enterprise, The GATE NE Ltd, which has now been dissolved.

The Crawlaw Road school, which caters for pupils aged two to 19 with special educational needs, has since become part of the Ascent Academy Trust in Sunderland and changed its name to Hope Wood Academy.