Fraud trial: Lincoln academy’s financial management described as “chaotic”

Financial management of funds within the Priory Federation of Academies was on Wednesday, November 11 described to a jury as “chaotic” during the time when Richard Gilliland was chief executive.

Jean Willey, who worked for the federation, told the jury at Lincoln Crown Court that she tried to improve the “the chaotic management of the financial minutiae” after becoming assistant to the finance director in 2010 and then director of finance two years later following the departure of Stephen Davies.

The jury has been told that Gilliland, who was paid £200,000 a year, and Davies, a former maths teacher who was appointed finance director, defrauded the organisation out of thousands of pounds.

Willey, under cross-examination from Mark Harries, who represents Gilliland, agreed that some of the financial practices in operation at the school were “cavalier”.

She added: “In hindsight they were not as we wished they had been.”

Willey described Gilliland as “hands on” and agreed that he “lived, breathed and slept education.”

The jury has heard that the federation, which was an amalgamation of seven different schools, had an annual turnover of more than £30 million which was described as similar to a sizeable blue chip company.

Willey told the jury that when Gilliland’s job title was changed to chief executive and director of education he was no longer able to be a member of the teachers’ pension scheme which included a death in service benefit.

As a result, the federation agreed Gilliland should be allowed a £2,000 life insurance allowance, which he did not receive directly, instead being allowed to set off the allowance against private purchases he made on Amazon using academy credit cards.

Willey told the jury she disagreed with this practice. She told the jury: “I believe private things should be paid privately and I disagreed with this. I certainly wouldn’t condone any set off”.

Gilliland, 64, who now lives in Spain, denies six charges of fraud by abuse of position on dates between October 2008 and November 2011.

Davies, 58, of Abingdon Avenue, Lincoln, denies three charges of fraud by abuse of position.

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