WINCHESTER College has turned down gifts of £800,000 for scholarships for poor white students after claiming it would be discriminatory.

Sir Bryan Thwaites, 96, wanted to leave money to the city college and Dulwich College because he had attended both on scholarships.

The money was to help poor, white students because research has shown that they are among the lowest achievers in education. But it is claimed his offer was refused over fears of breaking equality laws.

Sir Bryan told a national newspaper: "If Cambridge University can accept a much larger donation in support of black students, why cannot I do the same for under-privileged white British?

"Winchester said it would harm its reputation by accepting my bequest, but in my opinion it would gain enormously by being seen to address what is the severe national problem of the underperforming white cohort in schools."

The former leading university professor and chairman of local health authorities, formerly of Winchester, wanted to give £800,000 to Winchester and £400,000 to Dulwich in south London.

Winchester College was unavailable for comment but a spokesman told the Daily Mail said: "Acceptance of a bequest of this nature would neither be in the interests of the school as a charity nor the interests of those it aims to support through its work."