|Hank Roberts, the union representative whose courageous whistle blowing eventually led to today's outcome|
A former head teacher, who arranged to pay himself a whopping £400,000 in one year, and former colleagues face paying back thousands of pounds they received unlawfully as part of a school bonuses scandal.
Alan Davies, the former Head teacher of Copland Community School in Wembley, alongside former Deputy Head, Dr Richard Evans, former HR Manager Michele McKenzie and former School Bursar Columbus Udokoro were found to have benefitted from the “vast sums” they received in illicit bonuses over several years before Mr Davies was suspended in May 2009.
Davies, who had previously been knighted for services to education, took home more than £400,000 in one year, three times the going rate for the job, and was convicted of false accounting in 2013. He was stripped of his knighthood in 2014 following his conviction. The High Court today (17 August) found that his justifications for the excessive payments were “patently untrue” and “false”.
The purported bonuses to Davies and the others were sanctioned by former Chair of Governors Dr Indravadan Patel and former Vice Chair of Governors, Martin Day, both of whom were criticised by the Judge for “dishonest breach of fiduciary duty”, “wholesale failures” and “reckless indifference”.
Mr Davies, Dr Patel and Mr Day were today found by the High Court to have breached their fiduciary duties to the Council, leading to losses of more than £1million. Dr Evans, Mr Udokoro and Ms McKenzie were found to have been in knowing receipt of payments arising from those breaches of duties.
The exact sums that each of the six must now pay back will be decided at a further Court Hearing in October.
Cllr Margaret McLennan, Deputy Leader of Brent Council, said:
We are delighted with the verdict as it means the money, which had been swindled, will be returned and can now be used for the benefit of local people.The verdict comes five years after a criminal conviction was secured against Mr Davies at Southwark Crown Court, who pleaded guilty to false accounting at the school. Copland Community School closed on 31 August 2014. A new school, the Ark Elvin Academy, opened on the same site on 1 September 2014.
Davies and his chums were arrogantly paying themselves ridiculously high and unjustified bonuses, including Davies pocketing a whopping £400,000 in one year – which is around three times the going rate for the job.
It has taken years of stamina and determination to win this victory but justice has finally been done.
Hank Roberts, the original whistle-blower on the case and a member of the National Education Union Joint Executive Council said:
Brent Council was totally justified and I praise its commendable action in bringing a High Court case against Alan Davies et al. Davies had already been given a 12-month sentence, suspended for two years for pleading guilty to six charges of false accounting. He was subsequently stripped of his knighthood. However, none of the large sums misappropriated were ever paid back. Davies received over £400,000 in a single year alone.
Justice Zacaroli’s judgement found against a conspiracy charge; but found that all six defendants had received and or authorised receipt of large sums from the school funds that were totally unjustified. Those in receipt will now have to pay back their ill-gotten gains.
I, and the other school Reps, Shane Johnschwager, NASUWT and John Kubenk, NUT were suspended by Davies and faced dismissal charges after I blew the whistle. Later Davies was suspended and we were reinstated. I, the Unions and the Council have been totally vindicated.
It was tough at the time, but I would encourage all who discover anything similar to whistleblow.
This is occurring far too often especially in academies that have totally inadequate system of financial oversight and control.
To lessen this corruption, all academies should be brought back under local authority control.