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Cash probe at Ulster college.

THIS is the headmaster of one of Ulster's top integrated colleges whose financial bungling cost his school a whopping pounds 25,000!

Highly-respected Kevin Lambe handles the financial affairs of Shimna Integrated College in Newcastle, Co Down.

But the principal is now at the centre of two probes over how he failed to instal a lift for the disabled at the school.

For we can reveal today that Lambe:

l WON a pounds 25K grant from the Department of Education for the lift

l FAILED to have the lift installed within a certain time frame

l gave a FAKE invoice to the Department purporting to show the facilility had been provided

l was CAUGHT out when officials came to inspect the non-existent lift

l LOST the grant again

l had to PAY for the lift out of other school funds.

The amazing bungle emerged after dozens of pupils stormed the school last Monday after a false rumour was circulated that Mr Lambe was due to be sacked by the Board of Governors.

A governors' meeting was held up for more than two hours as a result of the protest.

In a statement, the Department would only say: "We are investigating the issue regarding grant payment and it would be inappropriate to make any further comment until the investigation is completed."

But a department insider told us: "Lambe handles the finances at the college so it was up to him to order the new lift.

"Having failed to do so, he then sent the department an invoice purporting to show that a lift had indeed been installed.

"Our inspectors were shocked to find it hadn't been. Now the governors must answer questions over how finances at the school are handled.

"The grant aid was then withdrawn - so the college had to pick up the tab out of existing school funds which will obviously effect things like new books."

Mr Lambe was unavailable for comment, but one teacher at the college did tell us: "It must have somehow slipped his mind and we have lost a great deal of money as a result. It hasn't gone down well at all.

"At least the lift has finally been installed - even if we did have to pay for it."

When Sunday People called governors chairman Wilson Cowden he would only read out a prepared statement which said: "A sub-committee of the Board of Governors at Shimna Integrated College is currently dealing with certain matters within its internal procedures."
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Author:Harkin, Greg
Publication:The People (London, England)
Date:Oct 8, 2000
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