A FREE school which is set to be granted a 125 year lease of council land for its new school site has recently been investigated for financial irregularities, The Argus has learned.

The Bilingual Free School is set to have its long lease of council-owned land at the Hove Park Depot agreed tonight at Brighton and Hove City Council’s policy and resources committee.

The school was investigated by the Department for Education in April after a whistleblower reported “financial irregularities”.

While the report, which was published in April, said there was “no evidence of fraud or attempts to conceal fraud”, the school was cautioned for paying more than £10,000 to chair of governors Marina Gutierrez for marketing, individual parent tours, website development, “uniform research” and stationery which were not tendered for.

The report added that a financial action plan arranged following a visit in June last year had still to be implemented with no formal registers for staff expenses, hospitality or procurement.

The school was granted planning permission for the 630-pupil school at the site last week.

SaveHove campaigner Valerie Paynter said the council had rushed the decision to allow the Bilingual Primary School to use the site.

She added: “They don’t have enough of a track record to be entrusted with this site.”

Headteacher Carolina Gopal said the school was “disappointed” that a former employee made a number of unsubstantiated allegations.

She added: “The payments were made only when the timeframe was too short to follow a procurement process and when the cost of doing so would have outweighed any savings that may have been achieved.”