THE former boss of a trouble academy trust has been banned from running schools because of financial misconduct.

Nardeep Sharma was in charge of The Thrive Academy Partnership Trust, which ran Philip Morant School, in Colchester, and Colne Community School, in Brightlingsea, but was suspended in March 2018.

He formally left the role seven months later.

The trust has now been dissolved

Now a statement from the Department of Education has revealed Mr Sharma has been banned from running schools.

It said: “The Secretary of State found that Mr Sharma had engaged in conduct that is so inappropriate that, in the opinion of the Secretary of State, it makes a person unsuitable to take part in the management of an independent school; and that because of this he is unsuitable to take part in the management of an independent school including an academy or Free School.

“The direction also has the effect of disqualifying the person from being a governor at a maintained school.”

The statement added: “In his role as the chief executive officer, Mr Sharma has allowed and / or permitted breaches of the Academies Financial Handbook and has engaged in conduct that breaches the Seven principles of public life (Nolan principles), in particular the requirement of public office-holders to act with integrity and honesty.

“In the opinion of the Secretary of State this makes Mr Sharma unsuitable to take part in the management of an independent school.”

He does have the opportunity to appeal the decision.

In a damning report published last year, investigators revealed they uncovered failings and weaknesses in the financial management and governance of the trust.

It highlighted how a company, redacted from the report but identified as Mackman Ltd, had been hired by the trust for extensive work including branding and website design.

Investigators claim the company was chosen despite being the most expensive of three options put forward to the board of trustees.

The trust had paid the company almost £140,000 since October 2015, not including cash paid for “additional services not quoted for.”

Links were discovered between Mackman Ltd and school staff.

The report stated the events and marketing co-ordinator of the trust’s teaching school - who was also married to the assistant principal at Philip Morant - was the brother of one of the company’s directors.

The report also found alcohol had been charged to hotel rooms and Mr Sharma had spent £179 of the trust’s money on four “thank you” gift hampers.

The hampers, three of which included alcohol, were presented to the executive principal, a previous chair of the trust, a previous trustee and the former chair of Colne local governing body.

Mr Sharma took home a salary between £130,000 and £135,000 and received up to £25,000 in pension contributions.