STUDENT Loans Company (SLC) chairman Christian Brodie apologised to ­ministers and offered to resign over "misleading" letters sent out by the agency in an attempt to recover debts, it has been revealed.

The "clear and ­unequivocal" apology on behalf of the Glasgow-based company came in a meeting with business secretary Vince Cable last week. Mr Brodie's resignation was not accepted.

The Government agency has been accused of using "Wonga-style" tactics by sending out letters under the name of Smith Lawson and Company Recovery Services - a firm it set up - demanding repayment from graduates who were in arrears.

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In a ministerial statement, universities minister David Willetts said ministers believed Mr Brodie had a "very important" job to do at the SLC, and it would be unfair for him to take the blame for a practice that was nearly 10 years old.

More than 300,000 ­graduates received letters from Smith Lawson and Company over a period of 10 years.

Letters were sent to more than 300,000 graduates but the system was stopped in June after the Financial Conduct Authority's ­decision to sanction payday lender Wonga for "aggressive and misleading practices".