Lib Dem candidate Vincent McKee suspended over fraud claims

A Liberal Democrat parliamentary candidate was suspended by the party today after allegations that a company he runs was overcharging students.

Vincent McKee is founder and director of the Coventry-based Institute of Independent Colleges and University Teachers (ICUT), which allegedly took unauthorised payments totalling more than £5,000 from clients' bank accounts.

A Sky News investigation claimed students and parents who gave their bank details when booking lessons through ICUT found they were charged more than they had expected.

But Dr McKee today denied any wrongdoing. In a rebuttal issued by his company, he said the broadcaster's investigations were conducted in a "very partial and prejudiced way".

According to Sky News, some £685 was taken from the account of student Ivie Ogodan, who was planning to spend only £90, while £3,260 was removed from the account of another student's mother.

And a Sky News reporter who signed up his fictitious son for a course of two lessons worth £60 said ICUT removed £203.50 from his account on Christmas Day and £125 on Boxing Day before trying, and failing, to take a further £225 the next day, even though the lessons were cancelled two days after being booked.

But today Dr McKee said ICUT was currently chasing around £10,000 of debt owed by former clients abusing "chargeback" rules.

He said: "ICUT's policy is for advance payments of lessons and registrations, and this is in place on account of adverse past experiences with unreliable and downright dishonest former clients.

"ICUT is in the process of amending our current practice to request clients at registration to indicate on the form how many lessons they expect to need.

"The current arrangement does not make that request, but we are hoping that the new arrangement will clarify very clearly the minimum number of lessons required, as well as specifying payments.

"In that way, we expect there to be a minimalisation of misunderstandings such as has led to this embarrassing episode.

"An organisation like ICUT with over 2,000 clients last year cannot realistically expect to please everyone, but we do genuinely try where overcharging or poor service has occurred to refund customers within a reasonable period."

The statement said there were also many clients whom ICUT had seen through exams and course difficulties.

"While sorry that we have not managed to keep everyone happy, still we feel some pride in our positive achievements over the past five years," it added.

Former politics lecturer Mr McKee contested the Coventry South parliamentary seat for the Liberal Democrats in 2001 and 2005 and Coventry North East in 1992 and describes himself on the ICUT website as head of policy with Coventry Liberal Democrats.

Following the broadcast of the Sky investigation, a Liberal Democrat spokesman said: "With the support of the federal party, the regional party launched an immediate investigation.

"Mr McKee has been suspended from the party, pending the outcome of further investigations. The party will work with all other authorities involved in this matter."

A West Midlands Police spokesman said: "Officers from West Midlands Police are talking to Sky News about their findings but we cannot comment any further at this stage."

peopleFrankie Boyle responds to referendum result in characteristically offensive style
Lewis Hamilton will start the Singapore Grand Prix from pole, with Nico Rosberg second and Daniel Ricciardo third
F1... for floodlit Singapore Grand Prix
Arts and Entertainment
'New Tricks' star Dennis Waterman is departing from the show after he completes filming on two more episodes
tvHe is only remaining member of original cast
Arts and Entertainment
tvHighs and lows of the cast's careers since 2004
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Gabriel Agbonlahor, Alexis Sanchez, Alan Pardew and Graziano Pelle
footballAfter QPR draw, follow Villa vs Arsenal, Newcastle vs Hull and Swansea vs Southampton
New Articles
i100... she's just started school
New Articles
Life and Style
Couples have been having sex less in 2014, according to a new survey
Arts and Entertainment
musicBiographer Hunter Davies has collected nearly a hundred original manuscripts
New Articles
i100... despite rising prices
Holly's review of Peterborough's Pizza Express quickly went viral on social media
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

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

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Cover Supervisor

£75 - £90 per day + negotiable: Randstad Education Group: Are you a cover supe...

Marketing Manager - Leicestershire - £35,000

£30000 - £35000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Marketing Manager (CIM, B2B, MS Offi...

Marketing Executive (B2B and B2C) - Rugby, Warwickshire

£22000 - £25000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A highly successful organisation wit...

SEN Coordinator + Teacher (SENCO)

£1 per day: Randstad Education Leeds: Job Purpose To work closely with the he...

Day In a Page

Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

Scrambled eggs and LSD

Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

New leading ladies of dance fight back

How female vocalists are now writing their own hits
Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam