Police investigate riding lessons and sex games at academies' expense

Department for Education finds 'serious failings' after audit of trust running four schools

Police have been called in to investigate the financial affairs of a federation running four of the Government's academies.

The decision came after an audit investigation team from the Department for Education (DfE)revealed "serious failings" in the running of the Priory Federation of Academies Trust.

The department's report, published yesterday, revealed a catalogue of examples of financial mismanagement including:

* The trust's chief executive was paying for horse-riding lessons for his son out of trust funds;

* He had "personal items of an inappropriate nature (eg sex games and supplements)" paid for on his federation credit card and delivered to the federation offices;

* He furnished a flat, at the federation's expense, at the 90-acre Laughton Manor site in Lincolnshire which he subsequently decided against living in for tax purposes.

The chief executive, Richard Gilliland, resigned on 30 March, the day that the department reported its concerns to the Trust.

The DfE report also revealed how Mr Gilliland's daughter, Anna, was paid £868 for a trip to Bali to set up an itinerary for a diving holiday for boarders at the school. The holiday never materialised as the school's boarding section did not open as planned in 2011.

In addition, the report reveals how Mr Gilliland and the trust's former finance director Steve Davies used their federation credit cards whilst in France at a centre bought by the Trust for residential trips "to purchase items at supermarkets and meals at restaurants".

Examples cited in the report include a Christmas Day purchase at a restaurant of lunch for £314.84p.

The report also reveals that Mr Davies was not a qualified accountant, adding: "Mr Davies is a sailor and is currently sailing his boat in the Caribbean."

The Priory Federation runs four government-financed academies in Lincolnshire: the Priory Academy LSST, the Priory Witham Academy, the Priory City of Lincoln Academy and the Priory Ruskin Academy. The Priory Trust regularly appears on the list of the top-performing state schools .

A DfE spokesman said yesterday: "The Department's investigation into the Priory Federation revealed serious failings of key individuals in relation to financial management. The Trust has accepted responsibility and the CEO has now left. The Department has also referred this matter to the police."

The Trust, in a statement, said: "The report and its findings relate only to the operation of the Trust and not to any of its individual academies." It added the investigation had accepted its purchase of the centre in France and Laughton Manor had been justified as "innovative educational practice". It said the Education Funding Agency, which carried out the investigation, had graded its auditing systems as "outstanding" only a year ago.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Education

Tradewind Recruitment: English Teacher

Negotiable: Tradewind Recruitment: My client is an excellent, large partially ...

Tradewind Recruitment: Science Teacher

£90 - £140 per day: Tradewind Recruitment: I am currently working in partnersh...

Tradewind Recruitment: Year 3 Primary Teacher

£100 - £150 per day: Tradewind Recruitment: Year 3 Teacher Birmingham Jan 2015...

Tradewind Recruitment: Key Stage 2 Teacher Required in Grays

£21000 - £40000 per annum + Negotiable: Tradewind Recruitment: Key Stage 2 tea...

Day In a Page

Isis hostage crisis: The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power

Isis hostage crisis

The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power, says Robert Fisk
Missing salvage expert who found $50m of sunken treasure before disappearing, tracked down at last

The runaway buccaneers and the ship full of gold

Salvage expert Tommy Thompson found sunken treasure worth millions. Then he vanished... until now
Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

Maverick artist Grayson Perry backs our campaign
Assisted Dying Bill: I want to be able to decide about my own death - I want to have control of my life

Assisted Dying Bill: 'I want control of my life'

This week the Assisted Dying Bill is debated in the Lords. Virginia Ironside, who has already made plans for her own self-deliverance, argues that it's time we allowed people a humane, compassionate death
Move over, kale - cabbage is the new rising star

Cabbage is king again

Sophie Morris banishes thoughts of soggy school dinners and turns over a new leaf
11 best winter skin treats

Give your moisturiser a helping hand: 11 best winter skin treats

Get an extra boost of nourishment from one of these hard-working products
Paul Scholes column: The more Jose Mourinho attempts to influence match officials, the more they are likely to ignore him

Paul Scholes column

The more Jose Mourinho attempts to influence match officials, the more they are likely to ignore him
Frank Warren column: No cigar, but pots of money: here come the Cubans

Frank Warren's Ringside

No cigar, but pots of money: here come the Cubans
Isis hostage crisis: Militant group stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

Isis stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

The jihadis are being squeezed militarily and economically, but there is no sign of an implosion, says Patrick Cockburn
Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action

Virtual reality: Seeing is believing

Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action
Homeless Veterans appeal: MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’

Homeless Veterans appeal

MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’ to help
Larry David, Steve Coogan and other comedians share stories of depression in new documentary

Comedians share stories of depression

The director of the new documentary, Kevin Pollak, tells Jessica Barrett how he got them to talk
Has The Archers lost the plot with it's spicy storylines?

Has The Archers lost the plot?

A growing number of listeners are voicing their discontent over the rural soap's spicy storylines; so loudly that even the BBC's director-general seems worried, says Simon Kelner
English Heritage adds 14 post-war office buildings to its protected lists

14 office buildings added to protected lists

Christopher Beanland explores the underrated appeal of these palaces of pen-pushing
Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Scientists unearthed the cranial fragments from Manot Cave in West Galilee