Man, 32, posed as fifth-former for year

JOHN ARLIDGE

Scotland Correspondent

A 32-year-old man spent a year at a prestigious school posing as a 17-year-old pupil, education officials revealed yesterday.

The man, who called himself Brandon Lee, enrolled at Bearsden Academy, Glasgow, in August last year. Although he had been a pupil at the school in the late Seventies, none of the teaching staff recognised him.

His youthful looks also fooled classmates who studied alongside him as the fifth-formers sat their Scottish higher grade exams last June. After getting five A grades, Mr Lee won a place at Dundee University medical school and was due to start there in two weeks.

His deception only came to light last month when he and two female classmates were on holiday in Tenerife. After a dispute in a tourist bar, Mr Lee was arrested. When Spanish police searched his hotel room, they found two passports - one showing him as a 32-year-old, the other as a 17-year- old. After returning to Britain, Mr Lee was questioned by the school's headmaster, Norman McLeod. He is understood to have admitted concealing his real age and choosing to name himself after the son of the 1970s kung- fu star Bruce Lee.

Education officials at Strathclyde Regional Council said yesterday they "had no idea" how Mr Lee managed to escape detection for so long. David Alexander, the council's deputy education director, said: "We are totally bemused by this case." Education officials and lawyers have begun an investigation. An education department official said Brandon Lee enrolled as a fifth- year pupil in August 1994 and attended the school until June this year.

He had presented documents which convinced teaching staff he had been at another school but had moved into the area. Investigations had shown that he attended Bearsden Academy between 14 and 17 years ago. Mr MacLeod has interviewed the bogus pupil twice but officials have failed to discover his motive for masquerading as a fifth-former. He could have enrolled at the school as an adult "returner" or attended the local college at Anniesland.

The spokesman said the bogus pupil had fooled both teachers and pupils. He had achieved "exceptional" passes in his exams and had submitted project work to obtain his straight A's in mostly science subjects.

It was thought that at the very least he would have obtained Scottish O grades when he originally attended the academy. The education spokesman said: "We are as surprised as anyone at this stage. A full inquiry involving the education department and the legal services department is under way."

Mr Lee's whereabouts are not known although there were unconfirmed reports yesterday that he was attending an open day at Dundee University. Mr Alexander yesterday appealed to Mr Lee to contact the council's education department.

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