Glendene Arts Academy: Three arrested in fraud inquiry
Three people have been arrested by detectives investigating an alleged fraud at a County Durham academy.
The arrests follow a Department for Education report, which highlighted alleged financial irregularities at Glendene Arts Academy in Easington.
A 57-year-old man and his wife, aged 56, were arrested in Whitley Bay, while a man, 41, was arrested in Darlington.
Earlier this year, the academy was ordered to repay more than £162,000 of taxpayers' cash paid to a private firm.
Glendene, which became an academy in September 2012, caters for pupils aged from two to 19, who have varying degrees of special needs.
A Durham Police spokesman said: "All those detained were arrested on suspicion of conspiracy to commit fraud and are in custody at Peterlee police station.
"Officers from the economic crime team have been carrying out inquiries following a report published last November by the Education Funding Agency - an executive agency of the Department for Education - into the financial management of the academy.
"All three have been released on police bail until mid-July, pending further enquiries."
The academy's new management team said the fraud investigation had triggered the resignation of the chairman of governors, while the principal, Eric Baker, was on sick leave.
Rob Wight, chairman of the Glendene Arts Academy, said: "We are helping the police and education authorities to unravel and understand this extremely complex case.
"Because of the investigation, we are unable to comment on the case itself.
"However, the trustees and I are keen to assure parents and the local community that we have a strong interim leadership team, excellent teaching and excellent provision for vulnerable and special children - as well as robust financial systems."