This is a major about-face for the Isle of Wight council.
Back in November 2013, the two officers were firmly placed in the frame by the senior leadership at the council – both director level and political – heavily implying they were the reason for the school being delayed. Not only that, but the name of at least one of them was leaked to the County Press, something highly unusual.
Now, although unnamed in this statement from the council, Janet Newton and John Brocklehurst, the council today confirms, “were not responsible for the shortcomings in the project or for any wrongdoing”.
What follows is the statement from the council, in “words agreed legally between the council and those members of staff”.
Dave Burbage, Isle of Wight Council managing director and strategic director of resources, said: “The council recognises that there were a number of shortcomings in the delivery of the Cowes Enterprise College building. This was because of a range of differing reasons and circumstances.
“Two members of staff were suspended in November 2012 as a precautionary measure pending the outcome of an internal investigation into the management of the contract. It has been concluded that, although there were undoubted delays and issues that arose, the two suspended officers were not responsible for the shortcomings in the project or for any wrongdoing. In these circumstances the two members of staff who were suspended are no longer the subject of any further investigation or action.
“In addition the council recognises that this has been a long, stressful and protracted process for the two individuals concerned and that issues related to the way the suspension and other matters were handled is likely to result in cases being taken through an employment tribunal process.
“There is now a need to bring this matter to an early conclusion and bearing in mind the potential costs of defending the cases at tribunal and the costs of any potentially successful claims for compensation, it has been agreed by the two individuals and the council that a settlement is made.
“The council has devoted considerable efforts to ensuring that the Cowes Enterprise College building is fit for purpose and that it is available to handover to the Trust as soon as practicable. This will happen in September this year.
“The council will need to learn from what has happened in this case and will be reviewing its processes and procedures.”