‘misled MPs’ over
free school

matter?” David Ward, the Liberal Democrat MP for Bradford East said: “This document from Action Fraud shows the DfE did not do what they could nor did they do what they should.

“They have been told that the matter was being treated as an information report and that more information and a crime report was needed. It was wrong to have told the public on the basis of this that the police had decided not to investigate.

“It looks like the DfE have tried to cover their backs by reporting the serious findings of their own internal audit about one of their flagship free schools but in such a way that it never reached the stage of a criminal investigation and was kept out of the public domain until this was all leaked.

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“The missing piece of the jigsaw now is the phone call which the department made to Action Fraud. Then we can see why the case was recorded as an information report and have a complete picture of what is looking like a complete shambles.”

A DfE spokeswoman insisted that the department had been right to say on October 25 that police had decided not to investigate as that was what it had been told by Action Fraud.

She said: “The department followed all correct procedures in reporting this incident.

“Officials supplied all the critical information to Action Fraud in April and asked for an update in September. Action Fraud said that the National Fraud Intelligence Bureau had assessed the case but determined there should be no further action.

“In November Action Fraud told the department the information supplied had in fact been wrongly classified. This was Action Fraud’s error and they have apologised for it.”

She also said Mr Gove’s written statement about the matter had been correct as the DfE was only told that the case had been mistakenly classified as an information report on November 1.