Diary: Sir Frank schools hacks in the truth about gong

These days, the national press seems to be relentless in its pursuit of anybody suspected of being handed an honour in exchange for a fat cheque.

This may go some way to explaining why Sir Frank Lowe has been anxious to make it known to all and sundry that he has neither made a donation nor lent money to the Labour Party.

Mind you, it's easy to see why the hacks smelled blood. Five years ago, Sir Frank gave £2 million towards the establishment of Brent Academy in North-West London. It replaced Willesden High School which, at the time, had some of the worst GCSE results in the UK.

"I have been fortunate in my life in terms of business," the academy's benefactor declared at the time. "I thought, wouldn't it be nice to do something for others."

However, the public workers union, Unison, was less than impressed with what it saw as creeping privatisation, and with the fact that Lowe was knighted the following year. "Nobody has asked about the donation, but if they did we would simply point out that it is a matter of public record," Sir Frank's spokesperson says. "It's a private matter. He never boasts about it."

So the rumours that staffers at The Red Brick Road have to refer to Sir Frank by his proper title, Ben Kingsley-style, must be untrue.

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