A secret payoff to a departing headteacher is being investigated by a Government watchdog.

The district auditor has refused to sign-off last year’s Sutton Council accounts after a complaint from a member of the public about the “golden goodbye” given to Overton Grange School’s headteacher when he quit.

Former headteacher Stephen Foxwell is understood to have received more than £150,000 when he resigned at the end of 2008.

An Audit Commission spokes-man said: “The district auditor has received an objection and can’t issue a certificate to Sutton Council for its 2008-09 accounts until this has been considered.”

Chairman of Sutton Council’s audit committee Tim Crowley said the accounts had not been signed off because an elector had made an objection, but refused to divulge the details.

He said: “The Audit Commission is looking into this – if it says something is wrong I will launch an investigation.”

The investigation came to light at Monday’s full council meeting, when Conservative candidate for Wallington North Jason Hughes asked why the Audit Commission had been unable to issue a certificate for Sutton Council’s accounts, but councillors were unable to give a full explanation.

Mr Hughes said after the meeting: “I understand the reason the Audit Commission will not issue a certificate for Sutton Council’s accounts is because of a scenario in Overton Grange School, which has lead to a massive drain on the school’s general fund.”

Since Overton Grange opened in 1997 it has had five headteachers, including two who only stayed at the school for one year.

Mr Foxwell is now headteacher at the British School of Houston in America.

Strategic director of young people and learning services Ian Birnbaum said: “The former headteacher resigned and left at the end of 2008, and the new headteacher started at the school in September 2009.

“I cannot comment on specific monetary matters to do with the pay and allowances for individual staff as that is confidential.”

A council spokeswoman said she expected the accounts to be signed off in April.

Chairman of governors at Overton Grange School Brenda Morley said Stephen Foxwell had resigned from his post, however, she refused to comment on his £150,000 pay-off.

Overton Grange School’s current headteacher Peter Butterworth said he did not want to add anything to the Sutton Council statement.