‘Forceful’ ex-Lincoln academy boss rarely backed up expenses with receipts, court hears

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A culture of lavish spending was behind the Priory Federation of Academies, a jury was told on Thursday, November 12.

Jean Willey, who was employed in the finance department of the federation, described the organisation’s former chief executive Richard Gilliland as having a charismatic and forceful style of leadership and said he was a man who got what he wanted.

The jury was told that the federation had a projected income of more than £32 million in 2010-11 with Gilliland allowed to personally spend £20,000 on items for the academies.

Willey, under cross-examination, said that there was an “extravagant and lavish nature” to some of the spending by the organisation.

She added that the philosophy behind it was that there was a degree of lavish spending on the different establishments that made up the federation.

She told the jury: “That was what separated the Priory Federation of Academies from many of the schools in the area and in the country.”

Gilliland, together with the federation’s former finance director Stephen Davies, is alleged to have defrauded the organisation out of thousands of pounds as well as employing Gilliland’s son, Kia Richardson, after suppressing a CRB check which revealed Mr Richardson had past convictions for flashing and masturbating in public.

Willey said that Gilliland’s expenses claims were often not backed up by receipts, whereas Davies provided receipts “99.9%” of the time when he made expense claims.

“All I was seeing was the absence of receipts for various expense payments from Mr Gilliland. That surprised me.”

Stephen Davies appearing at Lincoln Crown Court, facing fraud accusations. Photo: Steve Smailes for The Lincolnite

Former finance director Stephen Davies appearing at Lincoln Crown Court. Photo: Steve Smailes for The Lincolnite

She said that Gilliland and Davies had very different personalities and agreed that Gilliland was the more forceful with Davies the weaker man. She described Davies to the jury as “a very nice man”.

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.

The trial continues.

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