Royal Academy of Music director Janet Whitehouse jailed for fraud

Finance chief who abused position to siphon off £236,000 from institution sentenced to 20 months

She had a prestigious position at one of Britain's premier arts institutions, a six-figure salary and a string of properties across London, but that was not enough for Janet Whitehouse.

As finance director of the 190-year-old Royal Academy of Music, Whitehouse was credited with pulling the institution out of the financial mire in the mid-1990s. But apparently piqued by a lack of recognition for her efforts, she embarked on four years of systematic deception, during which she cheated the charity of £236,000.

She fabricated paperwork to increase her pension fund by £100,000, secured rent-free accommodation for her son and submitted false invoices for more than £100,000, Southwark Crown Court heard yesterday. Last night, she exchanged her penthouse flat by the River Thames for a cell as she was jailed for 20 months for defrauding the country's oldest conservatoire and misleading its eminent governing body, which included the soprano Lesley Garrett and the economist Sir Howard Davies.

Whitehouse, who worked at the academy for nearly 20 years, had close relationships with members of the body including Lord Burns, the chairman of the Academy. The former Treasury mandarin and newly appointed non-executive member of the Office for Budget Responsibility was said to be devastated by Whitehouse's betrayal.

Her crimes were only uncovered during an audit after the Academy was found to have been affected by another, separate, alleged fraud. Suppliers were contacted for help during the audit but one, Whiteley Associates, failed to respond. It was later revealed that Whitehouse was a director of the company, which had submitted a series of false invoices.

She then tried to persuade two fellow workers at the Academy to help doctor her files to try to cover up the crimes. "Jan Whitehouse... has abused her position and taken advantage of the faith placed in her by her friends and colleagues at the Academy," said Detective Inspector Andrew Fleming, of the Metropolitan Police's economic and complex crime unit.

The Academy, founded in 1822, trains nearly 700 students from more than 50 countries. Its list of alumni includes Dame Evelyn Glennie, the conductor Henry Wood and Annie Lennox. Sir Elton John is its vice-president.

Whitehouse, a mother-of-two, wept in the dock as she was sentenced for three counts of fraud. The court heard that she had paid back all of the money that she had taken.

Judge Deborah Taylor said: "It's never pleasant to sentence someone of your obvious qualities and ability who has suffered such a fall from grace."

Club legend Paul Scholes is scared United could disappear into 'the wilderness'
A model of a Neanderthal man on display at the National Museum of Prehistory in Dordogne, France
Dawkins: 'There’s a very interesting reason why a prince could not turn into a frog – it's statistically too improbable'
newsThat's Richard Dawkins on babies with Down Syndrome
Arts and Entertainment
Eye of the beholder? 'Concrete lasagne' Preston bus station
architectureWhich monstrosities should be nominated for the Dead Prize?
ebooksAn evocation of the conflict through the eyes of those who lived through it
Dinosaurs Unleashed at the Eden Project
Arts and Entertainment
Life and Style
This month marks the 20th anniversary of the first online sale
techDespite a host of other online auction sites and fierce competition from Amazon, eBay is still the most popular e-commerce site in the UK
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Day In a Page

Middle East crisis: We know all too much about the cruelty of Isis – but all too little about who they are

We know all too much about the cruelty of Isis – but all too little about who they are

Now Obama has seen the next US reporter to be threatened with beheading, will he blink, asks Robert Fisk
Neanderthals lived alongside humans for centuries, latest study shows

Final resting place of our Neanderthal neighbours revealed

Bones dated to 40,000 years ago show species may have died out in Belgium species co-existed
Scottish independence: The new Scots who hold fate of the UK in their hands

The new Scots who hold fate of the UK in their hands

Scotland’s immigrants are as passionate about the future of their adopted nation as anyone else
Britain's ugliest buildings: Which monstrosities should be nominated for the Dead Prize?

Blight club: Britain's ugliest buildings

Following the architect Cameron Sinclair's introduction of the Dead Prize, an award for ugly buildings, John Rentoul reflects on some of the biggest blots on the UK landscape
eBay's enduring appeal: Online auction site is still the UK's most popular e-commerce retailer

eBay's enduring appeal

The online auction site is still the UK's most popular e-commerce site
Culture Minister Ed Vaizey: ‘lack of ethnic minority and black faces on TV is weird’

'Lack of ethnic minority and black faces on TV is weird'

Culture Minister Ed Vaizey calls for immediate action to address the problem
Artist Olafur Eliasson's latest large-scale works are inspired by the paintings of JMW Turner

Magic circles: Artist Olafur Eliasson

Eliasson's works will go alongside a new exhibition of JMW Turner at Tate Britain. He tells Jay Merrick why the paintings of his hero are ripe for reinvention
Josephine Dickinson: 'A cochlear implant helped me to discover a new world of sound'

Josephine Dickinson: 'How I discovered a new world of sound'

After going deaf as a child, musician and poet Josephine Dickinson made do with a hearing aid for five decades. Then she had a cochlear implant - and everything changed
Greggs Google fail: Was the bakery's response to its logo mishap a stroke of marketing genius?

Greggs gives lesson in crisis management

After a mishap with their logo, high street staple Greggs went viral this week. But, as Simon Usborne discovers, their social media response was anything but half baked
Matthew McConaughey has been singing the praises of bumbags (shame he doesn't know how to wear one)

Matthew McConaughey sings the praises of bumbags

Shame he doesn't know how to wear one. Harriet Walker explains the dos and don'ts of fanny packs
7 best quadcopters and drones

Flying fun: 7 best quadcopters and drones

From state of the art devices with stabilised cameras to mini gadgets that can soar around the home, we take some flying objects for a spin
Joey Barton: ‘I’ve been guilty of getting a bit irate’

Joey Barton: ‘I’ve been guilty of getting a bit irate’

The midfielder returned to the Premier League after two years last weekend. The controversial character had much to discuss after his first game back
Andy Murray: I quit while I’m ahead too often

Andy Murray: I quit while I’m ahead too often

British No 1 knows his consistency as well as his fitness needs working on as he prepares for the US Open after a ‘very, very up and down’ year
Ferguson: In the heartlands of America, a descent into madness

A descent into madness in America's heartlands

David Usborne arrived in Ferguson, Missouri to be greeted by a scene more redolent of Gaza and Afghanistan
BBC’s filming of raid at Sir Cliff’s home ‘may be result of corruption’

BBC faces corruption allegation over its Sir Cliff police raid coverage

Reporter’s relationship with police under scrutiny as DG is summoned by MPs to explain extensive live broadcast of swoop on singer’s home