Trial hears former academy chief executive was ‘in a terrible state’

Court News.
Court News.

The former chief executive of the Priory Federation of Academies Trust told police that he was in turmoil when an investigation was carried out into the organisation, a jury at Lincoln Crown Court was told yesterday (Monday).

Richard Gilliland admitted to officers that he had mentioned the prospect of being jailed to other members of staff in conversations arising out of the inquiry into allegations of fraud.

David Allan, prosecuting, read to the jury details of a series of police interviews in which Gilliland told officers: “I was in a terrible state. They had said this could be fraud.”

Mr Allan added: “He said he had been in a terrible mental state for months prior to the auditors. He said the school had had interest from the BBC then a Freedom of Information request from the News of the World. Also there had been contact from the Parliamentary Public Accounts committee.

“He said he had gone to the doctors and was on medication and just out of it really.”

The jury has heard allegations that Gilliland together with the Federation’s then finance director Stephen Davies defrauded the school out of thousands of pounds.

Gilliland is alleged to have hidden a Criminal Records Bureau check which revealed past convictions of his son Kia Richardson when Mr Richardson was taken on as an employee by the Federation at Laughton Manor equestrian centre near Sleaford.

And he is alleged to have used Federation funds to pay for training courses for Mr Richardson before his son was employed.

But Gilliland denied the allegations to officers. He said in his interviews that it was a genuine mistake that a course at West Bridgford Equestrian Centre was paid for by the Federation.

And he added that the costs of another course at a college in Chelmsford attended by his son were paid from an “allowance” he was given by the Federation following his promotion to Chief Executive.

Gilliland said his new role meant he was no longer eligible to be a member of the Teachers’ Pension Fund. As a result he said he was given an allowance to make up for the pension and life insurance.

He told officers that personal items bought on Amazon using a Federation credit card were paid for out of the same allowance.

Richard 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, denies three charges of fraud by abuse of position.

The trial continues.