A HAMPSHIRE school hit by sex abuse claims is at the centre of an investigation by a charity watchdog.

The Charity Commission has opened an inquiry into Romsey’s Stanbridge Earls School Trust, which is currently in administration.

The Romsey boarding school became the centre of allegations after it was criticised for excluding a pupil who had made a rape claim, and was subjected to multiple inspections.

As previously reported, the £39,000-a-year independent school, which had boarding and day pupils aged from 10 to 19, closed last year after failing to get enough children to sign up for classes for the new school year, making it financially unviable.

It was after a report by the Hampshire Safeguarding Children Board was released earlier this month in which a number of failings by the school were identified, that the commission began its inquiry.

A spokesman for the Charity Commission said: “A number of concerns were raised in the serious case review regarding the management and administration of the charity and its approach to the safeguarding of beneficiaries.

“These findings and concerns were added to the information already being considered by the commission under an existing assessment case, which opened in February 2015, and led to the opening of this statutory inquiry.

The spokesman added: “Although the charity is no longer operating and in administration, the commission considered it was nevertheless in the public interest to open an investigation.”

The inquiry will examine include whether:

• the trustees had sufficient oversight of the school’s management of safeguarding matters in order to discharge their legal duties and responsibilities as charity trustees.

• the charity had adequate record-keeping procedures and practices, in particular prior to January 2013 and in relation to the recording and reporting of safeguarding concerns.

The commission will not investigate specific safeguarding allegations but will focus its review on the conduct and behaviour of the trustees and the protection of the charity and its beneficiaries.

The spokesman added: “As in this case, its remit often covers just one area of much wider investigations involving or being led by other agencies.

“The purpose of this inquiry is therefore not to re-examine specific allegations of abuse and/or safeguarding incidents.

“It is to examine and find whether the trustees fulfilled their legal duties and responsibilities as charity trustees in relation to the above concerns.”

A report detailing what issues the inquiry looked at, what actions were undertaken as part of the inquiry and what the outcomes were will be published later on an unspecified date.