S-NICHE-D! Free School boss caned by ex-lover

CELLAR FELLA: But Mr Morahan insists he's fit to run a school.
CELLAR FELLA: But Mr Morahan insists he's fit to run a school.

THE ACADEMIC who wants to open a “Free School” in the Dearne is reeling... after being caned by his ex-lover and former pupil.

Speaking exclusively to the Times this week, John Morahan ADMITTED:

* Being an ex-BANKRUPT and FAILED businessman

* Living in poverty in a CELLAR after being thrown out by his lover, and...

* Putting his BROTHER’s name on a mortgage for a house he then rented out.

Cancer-stricken academic Mr Morahan was already at the centre of a huge controversy over plans to open a new private academy at Manvers.

He is principal of the Nationwide Independent College of Higher Education (NICHE), that wants to open a school free of state intervention.

This week he came under further fire – from his ex-partner and former pupil, Julie Chappell.

Mrs Chappell, 51, made a string of claims against him – saying he left her with debts after his business and their relationship hit the rocks.

Mr Morahan angrily denied the claims as “preposterous and unfounded” – and labelling his ex a “fantasist”.

Mrs Chappell had told how she had started taking psychology classes in Doncaster, whilst in the process of divorcing her husband in the mid-1990s.

Mr Morahan became her teacher, and the pair started dating after the run of classes had ended, she said.

They moved to Knaresborough, North Yorkshire, and then left to live in a village in Scotland in 1997.

While she set up a floristry business, Mr Morahan launched a mobile phone company called Argyll and Bute Connections.

But she claimed he ran the mobile phone business into the ground and had left her to face his creditors when she kicked him out in January 1999.

She claimed: She said: “For about six months I had phone calls from angry customers saying they had not received their phones after paying a deposit.

“It was a nightmare, but fortunately I managed to sort it out with the bank in the end.”

She also told how Mr Morahan had been declared bankrupt a number of years earlier – after an insurance business he had set up, went under.

And, she claimed he had used his brother Terry’s name on mortgage documents, to get a house in Goldthorpe – without Terry’s consent.

Mrs Chappell said: “Given his history, he is not fit to run a school.

“I have had a look at the courses they are offering, and a lot of them are not even accredited.”

But Mr Morahan hit back to categorically deny leaving Mrs Chappell facing his debts.

He claimed he had set up the mobile phone business to help out Mrs Chappell’s floristry business and added: “She cost me and arm and a leg.

“She kicked me out with basically just the clothes I was wearing. I was effectively homeless and penniless and I ended up staying in a friend’s cellar for a time.”

However, Mr Morahan did confirm that he had been declared bankrupt about 20 years ago after a pensions service company of which he was a director, collapsed.

He also admitted adding his brother’s name to the mortgage forms for the house in Goldthorpe, which he then used to rent out to other 

But he explained to us: “There was a misunderstanding there. I had hoped that my brother would go into it with me as a joint venture.

“I was sure I had told him and explained this, but he thought differently.

“The matter has been dealt with now, and no-one was left in any debts.”

But when the Times spoke to his brother at his Kilnhurst home this week, Terry did not share his brother’s explanation.

He told us the pair had not spoken for years, over the incident, until their mother healed the rift.

Mr Morahan admitted the mobile phone company had gone under as a result of a “fatal flaw”... there was NO mobile reception in the area!

Mr Morahan said: “Everyone has skeletons in their closet” – but he insisted he was fit to run a school.

He said: “If the kids here in this area get a bad deal because of comments made by Julie Chappell, then it would be reprehensible.

“The young people in this area deserve better. The school would be run by a headship and management team of very high calibre.”

“Many of our courses are in the process of getting accreditation.

“I was surprised that she (Mrs Chappell) decided to speak up now, because we haven’t spoken in years.

Mr Morahan said he formed NICHE in February. He plans to open the Three Valleys Independent Academy in the former Midwifery and Nursing College at Manvers.