POLICE have been called in by a top independent school in Taunton after the headmaster suddenly quit.

Chris Alcock, who was not due to retire from Queen's College for another year, is alleged to have downloaded "highly inappropriate material on the computers and phone provided to him by the college".

Governors also discovered evidence of "inappropriate adult relationships" and Mr Alcock resigned when confronted with accusations he had breached the school's code of conduct.

Chairman of the governors Mark Edwards stressed that detectives have not "so far" found proof of any criminal offences and there is nothing to suggest any students were affected or at risk.

Mr Edwards, who declined to answer questions when the County Gazette broke the story last month, has now written to parents outlining the reasons for Mr Alcock's sudden departure.

In the letter, Mr Edwards, an Old Queenian, said: "We became aware that Mr Alcock had been downloading highly inappropriate material on the computers and phone provided to him by the college.

"In addition, we discovered evidence of inappropriate adult relationships.

"The conduct fell well short of what the college expects from its head, and when presented with the allegations, Mr Alcock offered his resignation, which, as you know, I accepted."

Mr Edwards said that the school's concerns were reported to the authorities, which have been investigating for "some weeks".

He added: "So far, the police investigations have not uncovered any criminal offences or anything that suggests any pupil has been affected or was at risk.

"Establishing this has been a priority for the authorities and for the college.

"If new information were to come to light that changes this position, I shall, of course, inform you as soon as I am permitted to do so."

It has also emerged that, in Mr Edwards's words, there were "elements of the safeguarding regime that were unsatisfactory".

The recently released report of an unannounced emergency Independent Schools Inspectorate visit requested earlier this year by the Department for Education raised a number of concerns.

The school's safeguarding policy for the welfare, health and safety of students does not fully reflect the current statutory guidelines, while the leadership and management do not consistently meet all of their responsibilities with regard to the safeguarding of students, according to the report.

Mr Alcock's fall from grace is of acute embarrassment to his wife, Linda, who also teaches at Queen's and was often at her husband's side at Old Queenian reunion events.

Mr Alcock, who was appointed in 2001 by Queen's, which has a roll of 776 students and charges fees of £5,800 a term for day pupils and £9,770 for boarders, has asked that his privacy be respected.

Deputy head Dr Lorraine Earp has been appointed acting head while a permanent replacement is sought to take over at Queen's, which was founded 173 years ago on strict Methodist principles.