A former college principal who has refused to pay back a contentious £304,000 pay-off is under "active investigation" by the police, a Holyrood spokesman has said.

Former Coatbridge College principal John Doyle has been publicly accused of colluding with college chairman John Gray to withhold information from the college board to secure the pay-off, which was well in excess of Scottish Funding Council (SFC) guidelines restricting pay-offs to a year's salary.

Holyrood's Public Audit Committee , the Auditor General and the SFC all agreed the collusion took place and First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said she was "appalled" by the situation.

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In an unprecedented move for a Holyrood committee, Public Audit sent a copy of its report to Police Scotland to "consider what action can be taken".

Police Scotland told the committee this week the matter "is under active investigation", a Scottish Parliament spokesman said.

Read more: Parliamentary report into pay-off row college principal passed to police

SFC chairman Laurence Howells wrote to the committee on March 22 to provide an update on their efforts to recover the payment.

He attached a letter from Mr Doyle's solicitors which said the former principal intends to keep the money as he does not accept the allegations of collusion.

Mr Howells said the SFC will take no further action to recover the payment unless "further evidence comes to light, for example from any police investigation".

Mr Howells said: "We have now had a response from Mr Doyle's legal advisers stating that he will not return any of the payment.

"SFC has sought counsel's opinion on potential recovery of the payment from Mr Doyle. Counsel's opinion ... is that such action would not have a sufficient chance of success to justify the expense.

"We will therefore, regretfully, not be taking any further action to recover the money at this time.

"We will however reconsider this should any further evidence come to light, for example from any police investigation."

A letter from Mr Doyle's solicitor Brechin Tindal Oatts stated: "Our client has instructed us to advise you that he is not prepared to repay the severance payment made to him by Coatbridge College in October 2013.

"For the avoidance of doubt, this is because our client does not agree with the findings of the Public Accounts [sic] Committee report.

"His position is that he fulfilled his duties as the principal and chief executive officer and; in particular there was no collusion between our client and John Gray and information was not deliberately withheld from the [Coatbridge College] remuneration committee."

Mr Doyle said he has uncovered an email from remuneration committee member Tom Keenan which indicated that he was aware of the SFC guidance but "remained supportive of that payment".

BTO added: "This email was sent to the Public Accounts [sic] Commission but they have indicated that they are not willing to publish it."

A Scottish Parliament spokesman said: "The Public Audit Committee's inquiry into severance payments at the former Coatbridge College concluded at the end of last year following a series of evidence-taking sessions. The committee's report was published in January.

"Mr Doyle subsequently wrote to the committee with what he described as additional evidence.

"Mr Doyle was afforded several opportunities to provide evidence to the committee while the inquiry was live and the committee continues to stand by the conclusions of its report."