Head unaware of overtime payments to equestrian centre yard manager, court hears

Lincoln Crown Court.
Lincoln Crown Court.

The head of a school equestrian centre told a jusy today (Tuesday) he never authorised any overtime payments to the Chief Executive’s son while he was working in the yard.

Richard Gilliland, who was chief executive of the Priory Federation of Academies (PFA), denies defrauding the organisation out of thousands of pounds as well as employing his son, Kia Richardson, after suppressing a CRB check which revealed his past criminal convictions.

A jury at Lincoln Crown Court has been told Mr Richardson was employed as a yard manager at the PFA’s Laughton Manor Equestrian Centre, near Sleaford, between February and June 2011.

Giving evidence Robert Reeve, who was headmaster at the Laughton equestrian centre, said he was not aware of two alleged overtime payments which were made to Mr Richardson until a Department of Education audit report was published in March 2012.

Mr Reeve, who is now Director of Operations for the PFA, told the jury he was Mr Richardson’s line manager but was never asked anything about any overtime payments to him.

Asked how many overtime requests were made by Mr Richardson to him, Mr Reeve replied: “Never.”

“People couldn’t choose to do overtime, it was at a line manager’s suggestion because of the need. The person would undergo the overtime and be appropriately signed,” Mr Reeve told the court.

“We have forms to do that.”

Asked how many times he authorised overtime to Mr Richardson, Mr Reeve replied: “None.”

Mr Reeve confirmed that Mr Gilliland came to the yard with his wife at the end of June 2011 and told him that the News of the World newspaper was going to print a story about his son.

“He alluded to general aspects of things in Kia Richardson’s past, in general terms troubles he had, but nothing more than that,” Mr Reeve said.

Mr Reeve said Mr Richardson was driven away by his parents and another member of staff was told to lock up the Manor.

Asked if he had any prior knowledge of Mr Richardson’s previous convictions or prison sentence for flashing before the News of the World inquiry, Mr Reeve replied: “Absolutely not.”

When asked why he had not previously considered sacking Mr Richardson, Mr Reeve said: “To put it bluntly I dare not approach it because of his father’s role and style of management.”

Mr Reeve told the jury he would not have employed Mr Richardson in the Laughton Manor setting had he been aware of his CRB check.

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

The PFA’s former finance director Stephen Davies, 58, of Abingdon Avenue, Lincoln, also denies three charges of fraud by abuse of position.

The trial continues.