A MEMBER of staff at Blackburn College has been sacked after police began an investigation into suspicions of financial irregularities.

Police launched their investigation into an allegation of fraud by false representation after they were contacted by the college.

Principal Ian Clinton said an internal audit began looking at the college’s accounts when ‘minor’ financial discrepancies came to light.

The college said it had dismissed a member of staff when suspicions of financial irregularities involving a five-figure sum were discovered.

As well as an internal review of the finances, the college also called in its external auditors, KPMG.

Mr Clinton said: “I can confirm that a former colleague has been dismissed.

“This action follows the findings of an investigation that was initially triggered by minor financial discrepancies.

“The college has carried out a thorough investigation, both via internal staff and external experts, utilising the college’s auditors, KPMG.

“Naturally, the police were immediately consulted and have fully supported the approach taken by the college.

“We understand that the police’s own investigations are still on-going and will not be concluded for another couple of weeks.

“Therefore, regrettably, we are unable to go into further details at this stage, because we do not want to risk prejudicing the result of any potential court case.”

Although the college was missing some of its funding, Mr Clinton said students had not suffered as a result of the loss.

He said: “It is important to point out that Blackburn College, as one of the largest, and most financially stable further education colleges in the UK, has substantial financial reserves and therefore, whilst this situation is regrettable, there is no impact on the education and training of our learners.

“The college has a duty to its students and staff to protect its good name and, while this is an unfortunate and upsetting situation, the college has acted profess-ionally throughout.”

A police spokesman said the force was investigating an alleg-ation of fraud by false representation in connection with a complaint from the college.

He said: “A complaint has been made by Blackburn College and we are looking into it.”

Blackburn College has been rated outstanding by the education watchdog Ofsted.

It has been investing tens of millions of pounds in new facilities, and upgrading existing ones for its further and higher education students over recent years.

The latest building, the Beacon Centre, opened in January.