Army colonel cleared of fraud over children’s private school fees

 

Powered by Guardian.co.ukThis article titled “Army colonel cleared of fraud over children’s private school fees” was written by Steven Morris, for theguardian.com on Wednesday 14th November 2018 14.52 Asia/Kolkata

An army colonel who has claimed tens of thousands of pounds in allowances to send his children to public schools has been cleared of fraud.

A court martial board of five senior officers took just over two hours to find Col Roddy Lee, 52, not guilty after a seven-day trial in Bulford, Wiltshire.

Lee claimed the continuity of education allowance (CEA) to send two of his children to Marlborough College and two younger children to two prep schools in Wiltshire and Dorset.

CEA enables service personnel to send children to boarding school to prevent disruption to schooling caused by postings around the UK and abroad.

Prosecutors alleged Lee became ineligible for the allowance because he was posted in 2015 to army headquarters at Andover, Hampshire, which was less than 50 miles from his family home near Devizes, Wiltshire.

It was alleged that he tried to get around the rules by taking service accommodation at an RAF base – but it was claimed he did not really live there. He was caused of fraudulently claiming almost £100,000.

Speaking after his acquittal, Lee’s solicitor, Lewis Cherry, criticised the decision to prosecute him and described the investigation by Royal Military police as flawed.

Cherry said: “He has always protested his innocence and the trial has shown that he acted completely within the rules. I was astonished that this prosecution was brought at all, it went against sheer common sense.

“Although neighbours said they had seldom seen him or his wife [at the RAF base accommodation] and appear to have been the source of the tip-off that commenced the investigation, when the police raided their home they found the family dog in the house and his wife arrived home from work during the search.

“They [the police] failed to properly gather the information that would have shown the whole basis of investigation was wrong.

“The court heard that immediately after the initial arrest, his entitlement to the allowances was reviewed by the military authorities and deemed correct. They have been reviewed a further three times since then and continue to be paid.”

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Army colonel cleared of fraud over children's private school fees - NORTH INDIA KALEIDOSCOPE

Rajesh Ahuja

I am a veteran journalist based in Chandigarh India.I joined the profession in June 1982 and worked as a Staff Reporter with the National Herald at Delhi till June 1986. I joined The Hindu at Delhi in 1986 as a Staff Reporter and was promoted as Special Correspondent in 1993 and transferred to Chandigarh. I left The Hindu in September 2012 and launched my own newspaper ventures including this news portal and a weekly newspaper NORTH INDIA KALEIDOSCOPE (currently temporarily suspended).