News Professional Discipline 19th Sep 2017

Harry Bentley Secures Acquittal for Alleged Fraudulent Headteacher who ‘raided school funds’

Harry Bentley secured an acquittal last week for RM, the headteacher of a Primary School in East London, who was accused of fraudulently claiming for expenses and taking money from the schools petty cash.

The former head was accused of abusing her position by dishonestly claiming the expenses between January 2009 and August 2013.

RM, who also worked as an Ofsted inspector, was accused of using school finances to finance an unauthorised trip across the Atlantic in December 2012.

It is alleged that RM used petty cash claims and the school credit card to cover the costs of her activities, which remained hidden until she left prior to the 2013/14 academic year. It was only during an audit of the school’s accounts following her departure, that the scale of RM’s spending is said to have been uncovered.

However, under her leadership the school’s academic standards appear to have improved, with an Ofsted inspection in November 2012 upgrading its rating from satisfactory to good. In their report, inspectors singled out RM for praise, describing her as an “outstanding leader” whose management of the school is “highly effective”.

RM was accused of spending £2,388 on an Apple laptop, which she gave to her partner as a Christmas present, and more than £1,000 on the five-day stay at the Ace Hotel in New York. The court heard that RM also used the school’s money to pay for staff meals out, including £293 at Zizzi and £107 at Nuovo in Canary Wharf. She is also accused of spending £363 on a meal in September 2012, and £83 on a shopping trip to Tesco.

Jurors heard that the Apple laptop, bought in December 2011, was never used at the school, and RM initially claimed it had broken when she spilled tea on it. However, it was found in working order during a police search of her home last year. The headteacher then allegedly admitted buying it as a present for her partner.

RM denied three counts of fraud and was acquitted for all charges last week.

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