Top legal advisor to investigate sudden closure of Sheffield school

The case of the sudden closure of an independent Sheffield girls' school has been sent to a top legal advisor to investigate.

Wednesday, 25th October 2017, 12:27 pm
Updated Tuesday, 12th December 2017, 12:14 pm
Steve Wilkinson

Brantwood School, in Nether Edge, closed in February 2010 with dozens of pupils forced to find alternative schools at short notice.

Details of the closure have been submitted to Andrew Green QC, who is scrutinising the workings of the Royal Bank of Scotland's small business restructuring unit, the Global Restructuring Group.

Parents and pupils leave Brantwood School at the end of the school day in February 2010

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It handled 12,000 troubled companies between 2007 and 2012 and some customers have accused it of forcing them out of business so that it could pick up cheap assets.

Sheffield property developer Steve Wilkinson, one of the school's creditor, said the school followed the pattern of being mistreated by banking specialists.

The school, a charity, had been valued by the GRG at £600,000 - a month after it had been independently valued at just over £1.05m.

Further borrowing was declined and days later the school went into administrations and closed.

Parents and pupils leave Brantwood School at the end of the school day in February 2010

Mr Wilkinson has been at the forefront of calls for the UK's financial watchdog, the Financial Conduct Authority, to publish a full report it commissioned into the misconduct instead of a short summary, which found 'widespread' mistreatment of customers in some areas.

Now the FCA has agreed to the Treasury Committee's proposal for Mr Green QC to compare the summary with the full report.

Mr Wilkinson said: “Brantwood is in effect the poster child. It proves the scandal, it is very easy to understand in terms of how the RBS model operated in a ruthless and pre-meditated manner. Brantwood was a lamb to the slaughter, a soft target and that is why RBS and the FCA has a problem with it.

“It is a national disgrace and scandal that a state-owned bank can wilfully destroy businesses, livelihoods, relationships and in extreme cases some people will have paid the ultimate price.

“What is happening is like a nuclear bomb going off in the financial sector and nobody knows how to deal with it.”

RBS has admitted some wrongdoing over its handling of small businesses but has said there was no evidence it forced companies to fold.

However, it has set aside £400 million to compensate customers who claim they were mistreated.