AN independent school in South Lakeland has responded to the findings of an investigation by the Office of Fair Trading which alleges it has "provisionally" breached UK competition law.

Sedbergh School was one of 50 across the country, including Harrow and Cheltenham Ladies College, which the OFT said had contravened the law by sharing detailed information about the fees they intended to charge.

A report on the OFT findings stated the system was anti-competitive and resulted in parents of children attending the schools involved being charged higher fees than would otherwise have been the case.

But Sedbergh School this week claimed it had co-operated fully with the OFT during the two-year investigation, and had given a full and transparent explanation of the way annual fees were budgeted.

Bursar Neil McKerrow said the school now intended to respond to the findings after continuing discussions with legal advisers.

He added that Sedbergh School was a charity that did not make profits. Any excess funds were reinvested in the school.

"It has always been the policy of the governors to set the fees no higher than is necessary to maintain the standards of education and pastoral care that parents expect.

"We believe the OFT's action against us and similar schools is misconceived. The matter is likely to proceed for many months yet," he said.

The Office of Fair Trading, which stated Sedbergh School, along with Truro School, had taken part in just two of the three surveys carried out, has now given all parties several months to make written and oral representations on the findings before it makes a final decision on whether Chapter 1 prohibition of the Competition Act has been infringed.

And, while the OFT is then able to impose a financial penalty, it has already stated this is unlikely to be levied at the top end of the scale.