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MPs agree to repay £15,000 in Perry Barr Academy dontations

MPs agree to repay £15,000 in Perry Barr Academy dontations

🕔08.Apr 2016

Three Birmingham Labour MPs have agreed to pay back £15,000 in campaign donations they received from the Perry Beeches academy schools at the centre of financial mismanagement allegations.

Jack Dromey (Erdington), who is Labour’s shadow policing minister, Gisela Stuart (Edgbaston) and Shabana Mahmood (Ladywood) were each handed £5,000 from Nexus Schools, the academies’ service company, before the 2015 General Election to help bolster their offices.

The MPs have been under pressure following a damning report from the Education Funding Authority (EFA) into Perry Beeches which accused the Trust of claiming up to £2.8 million for children on free school meals, “where no evidence of eligibility exists”.

Nexus Schools received nearly £1.3 million from the Trust over two years, according to the EFA.

The report described the Trust finances as not being transparent.

The company paid £160,000 over two years to a business owned by the Trust’s executive head teacher Liam Nolan, who was already paid £120,000 a year.

Mr Nolan stepped down as Trust chief executive last month but remains headteacher.

Earlier this week the MPs were challenged by Birmingham Liberal Democrat leader Jon Hunt to repay the donations.

Cllr Hunt told a city council meeting the donations could amount to “cash for access”, and added: “The MPs should “return the money to the school so that it can be used for its proper purpose which is the education of children in our city”.

A regional Labour Party spokesman told the Birmingham Post:

In light of the EFA report, and after talking with the Constituency Labour Parties, we agreed it would be right to return the donations.

Labour is stressing that the donations to the MPs were all declared on the House of Commons register of interests in line with election rules.

The MPs are said to have been impressed with education standards at Perry Beeches schools and were happy to work with Mr Nolan and his colleagues. Mr Dromey has described Mr Nolan as ‘one of Britain’s finest headteachers’.

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