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Camden Academy awaits court decision

PUBLISHED: 16:56 13 November 2008 | UPDATED: 15:36 07 September 2010

THE fate of Camden's flagship academy hangs in the balance while a High Court judge reviews whether council bosses unlawfully chose a sponsor. Camden Council is accused of forging a backroom deal last year when it put UCL in charge of the Swiss Cottage ac

THE fate of Camden’s flagship academy hangs in the balance while a High Court judge reviews whether council bosses unlawfully chose a sponsor.

Camden Council is accused of forging a backroom deal last year when it put UCL in charge of the Swiss Cottage academy despite huge opposition.

Parent Gillian Chandler won a judicial review, which finished on Tuesday, against the way the council and Secretary of State appointed UCL.

The mum-of-three, who lives near the Adelaide Road site, is supported by other parents and teachers who agree a lack of open competition was unfair. Mr Justice Forbes is now considering the review and will make a decision in the coming weeks.

Lawyers argued Camden Council did not hold a fair and open competition for the new school and chose UCL without considering others.

High level meetings between the council and UCL go back to 2005 and Camden did not ever seriously consider interested parties including the London Diocese or Ark, the Royal Courts of Justice heard.

Barrister David Wolfe, representing Ms Chandler, also argued the consultation the council undertook was fundamentally flawed.

The court heard the council chose not to have a competition for party-political reasons and was also prejudiced against the church as a sponsor.

In June last year, then children’s boss Cllr John Bryant sent a copy of his private briefing for Liberal Democrat Governors to other councillors. The email said: “I think there are big risks in proceeding with a competition for our new school. We would be obliged to bid for a community school and would likely lose, providing an own goal for the opposition and damaging our reputation.”

Lawyers representing Camden assured the court that the council had acted in a lawful manner throughout the process and guidelines do not say a competition must be held for an academy – only for maintained schools.

A spokeswoman said: “We remain confident Camden Council acted lawfully throughout the entire process in line with statute and government guidance, consulting widely with residents, schools and other stakeholders.

“We await the outcome of the case with optimism. We intend to press ahead with our Building Schools for the Future programme which will transform the lives of all our children and young people.”

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