SENIOR Conservative businessman Alan Lewis is no longer the executive patron of the former Kings Science Academy.
However he is still the landlord of the free school, in Bradford, in a controversial deal which sees his company paid nearly £6m over a 20-year lease.
Mr Lewis, who was appointed a vice chairman of the Conservative Party by Prime Minister David Cameron, was said to have been the executive patron at the flagship free school, which first opened in 2011. However this involvement came to an end when the school was taken over by the Dixons Academy chain this year and was renamed the Dixons Kings Academy.
Dixons were brought in to run Kings following two critical Ofsted inspections which said the school required improvement and following the dismissal of the school’s founder and principal Sajid Raza last year. He had been suspended since January, last year, when he was arrested over allegations of fraud. It was announced in August, last year, that he had been dismissed by the school following a disciplinary investigation. The school said the dismissal was not connected to the fraud allegations.
There has also been controversy surrounding separate questions of what Mr Lewis’ role was at the free school, which was visited and praised by Prime Minister David Cameron in 2012.
The Department for Education have previously said it had been told by Kings Science Academy in September 2011 that he was its chairman of governors. However it was then told 12 months later that this was not the case and that in fact the school had no chairman of governors in its first year.
Mr Lewis has consistently denied ever being the school’s chairman of governors and said a page describing him as chairman on the school’s website was a mistake which was rectified when brought to his attention. His spokesman has previously said that if he had been on the governing body of the school he would have been recorded as a director of the trust which ran Kings but records at Companies House show this was not the case.
However Bradford’s Liberal Democrat MP David Ward put down a parliamentary motion in September, last year saying Mr Lewis had been referred to as the school’s chairman of governors on the school’s website, in its prospectus, in an email from the school to the DfE, in an application to open a second Kings Science Academy in Sheffield, on the Conservative Party’s website and in a draft investigation report by the DfE into the school’s finances.
Mr Ward has also raised questions in Parliament about the separate issue of the land deal which sees Mr Lewis’ company Hartley Property Trust paid £295,960 a year
*Mr Raza was charged earlier this month with three offences of fraud by abuse of position, three offences of false accounting, two offences of obtaining a money transfer by deception, and one offence of fraud by false representation. His solicitors issued a statement saying he was determined to clear his name The Crown Prosecution Service has also announced that the school’s former finance director Daud Khan faces two charges of fraud by abuse of position and three of false accounting and the school’s former head of department Shabana Hussain faces one charge of fraud by abuse of position and one offence of acquiring criminal property. These allegations predate Dixons involvement in the school.