Islington Council wins court victory for college student
By poppy_smith | Saturday, September 29, 2012, 15:13
Islington Council has won a court victory for a student at a local college which falsely claimed one of its courses was NCTJ accredited.
NoSweat Journalism Training, a registered charity, was running journalism courses at 16-17 Clerkenwell Close, London EC1R 0AN under Director, Stephen Ward, 63.
On 27 September 2012, Highbury Magistrates Court heard NoSweat Journalism Training promoted a Newspaper journalism course as an NCTJ accredited course.
Students were charged £3,900 per year.
Cllr Paul Smith, Islington Council's executive member for environment, said:
"We are on the side of residents so we work hard to make sure that when businesses sell goods and services they are of suitable quality.
"NoSweat Journalism Training students parted with large sums of money thinking their college qualification would have the quality mark that NCTJ accreditation confers.
"Sadly they have been misled.
"This is a groundbreaking case but Islington Council believes in standing up for young people who are often going into debt to get a job in tough times."
The Newspaper journalism course was first accredited in 2002. Following student complaints, the NCTJ visited in May 2011.
NoSweat Journalism Training found themselves in hot water when an NCTJ panel unanimously agreed they could not recommend re-accreditation as the training facility required 'significant development and investment as the course had fallen irredeemably short of the required standard.'
The panel recommended that the accreditation should not be renewed.
On 8 July 2011 the accreditation lapsed and NCTJ did not renew due to the standards at the training centre falling short of the NCTJ's required standards.
Mr Ward continued to display the NCTJ logo and make reference to this on the website, continued to use NCTJ teaching material in breach of Schedule 1 of the Consumer Protection Act 2008.
He failed to inform students that the course was no longer accredited and continued to take money for the course, which is a breach of the Consumer Protection From Unfair Trading Regulations 2008, misleading by omission.
Mr Ward pleaded guilty to four offences under Consumer Protection From Unfair Trading Regulations 2008, for misuse of the word 'NCTJ' on their website and training materials. Also misleading by omission two students who paid £3,900 for the course believing it was accredited.
The court awarded full costs to Islington Council of £1,625.03 and issued Mr Ward with a conditional discharge for 2 years and ordered him to pay £3,700 compensation to one student.
The NCTJ released a statement saying: "The NCTJ is pleased that Highbury Magistrates have taken this case seriously and that officers from Islington Council Trading Standards pursued the matter so vigorously.
"The NCTJ is especially pleased by the decision of the court to award compensation to the named student who was duped by Mr Ward. Having reviewed the activities of NoSweat in 2011, the NCTJ made it clear to Stephen Ward that he could no longer trade as a training college offering NCTJ courses.
"The NCTJ deplores and regrets the way its reputation was misused by Mr Ward and the effect of his actions on students."
Islington Council Trading Standards received a rash of complaints in late September 2011 from the NCTJ and students prompting an immediate investigation. Officers visited the NoSweat Journalism Training on 28 September 2011 to seize documents.
A number of students provided statements to Islington Council Trading Standards who were investigating complaints from students. The training facility has since gone into liquidation and NoSweat Journalism Training is no longer trading.