AN INVESTIGATION into an academy trust which took thousands of pounds to turn around a Tyne Valley high school before walking away has been dropped.

Fraud officers at the City of London police have dropped an investigation into Bright Tribe, the scandal-hit academy trust which pulled out from converting Haydon Bridge High School and the first and middle schools at Haltwhistle Campus to academies at the end of 2017.

Its departure left Haydon Bridge in an uncertain position once again, after it had been placed in special measures in December 2014, and following reports of dwindling pupil numbers and financial losses.

The former Northumberland County Council cabinet member for education, Coun. Wayne Daley, accused Bright Tribe of a “complete dereliction of duty to our community here and to the public purse”.

A shocking BBC Panorama programme in 2018 highlighted a series of failings at the academy trust in relation to the misuse of government funds.

The documentary revealed that the Government gave the trust a £1m grant in 2015 which was used to set up a northern hub for academies in the North-East.

But despite Bright Tribe pulling out of the project, the investigation revealed the £1m had not been repaid. Bright Tribe said the vast majority of the grant had already been spent on salaries, and provided a list of staff who it said had worked on the project.

The academy trust’s decision to walk away prompted a reorganisation of Haydon Bridge Partnership schools from three-tier to two-tier schools.

Coun. Daley, blamed the trust for slow progress at the school after it received another critical Ofsted report in October 2018.

However a multi-million pound project from Northumberland County Council to refurbish the school has since been completed.

Coun. Daley praised the work of the county council to ensure Haydon Bridge High School was saved.

“Bright Tribe got around £600,000 to turn around Haydon Bridge High then walked away from it,” he said.

“I am proud under my leadership with the county council, the school was saved, had over £5m invested and is prospering under local control.

"We want our money back.”

A spokeswoman for City of London Police said its fraud team had concluded its initial investigation and found there was insufficient evidence to support a criminal investigation.

A Bright Tribe spokesman said the trust was aware of the investigation into the trust’s previous leadership but didn't comment further.