Ex-Lincoln academies finance director had no accountancy qualifications, court hears

The former finance director of the Priory Federation of Academies Stephen Davies told a fraud trial jury that he struggled in his role as he had no accountancy qualifications.

Davies, entering the witness box for the first time during his trial at Lincoln Crown Court, said he had loved his previous job as head of maths at the Priory LSST School.

But he told the jury that things changed when the LSST became part of the Federation of Academies and he was appointed finance director.

Davies said: “I researched it. You had to be involved in all sorts of things I had never heard of. I wasn’t terribly comfortable.

“I was happy to do the job but I really needed somebody else to work with me. I wanted a trainee accountant there.”

He said it was suggested to him that he be given accountancy training but he told the jury the course involved three years of full-time study and he did not have the time to fit that in with his teaching role and running a £30 million annual budget.

It was only later that an accountant was appointed to work with him.

Davies described the federation’s chief executive Richard Gilliland as “very, very driven”.

“The Priory was his life. He was amazingly good at what he did. It was just a wonderful place to be. He created that and I really do respect him for that.

“But you have to be a certain type if you want to be the best. He was sometimes quite difficult to get on with. He had a hell of a temper on him. I have experienced that a few times.”

He told the jury that on one occasion he independently approached the chair of trustees Terry Coffey with his concerns about a possible project involving the purchase of a derelict building which was to be converted into an outdoor pursuit centre.

During the discussion with Coffey they were interrupted when Gilliland walked into the room.

Davies said “Mr Coffey blurted it all out. Mr Gilliland went absolutely ballistic. Really bonkers.”

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

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

The trial continues.

Due to the judge’s ruling on Friday, November 13, any comments on the ongoing trial on The Lincolnite will be removed.

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