Thursday 20 January 2022

LETTER: Richard Evans and Copland payments - the true story

 Dear Editor,


This is the true account of Richard Evans’ involvement in what was at the time the biggest misappropriation of state school funds at Copland Community school in Wembley (£2.7 million) in the UK history.


I was the whistleblower who investigated massive misappropriation of school funds from a school.  For this I was suspended, alongside two other school union reps, Shane Johnschwager, NASUWT Rep and Dave Kubenk, NUT Rep. We all faced disciplinary charges and dismissal. 


During our suspension we continued to collect evidence.  The DfE was slow to react.  However the evidence eventually was so overwhelmingly they were suspended – i.e. the Head, the deputy (Evans who was head of finance), the chair and vice chair of governors, the head’s PA and the school bursar.


We were reinstated and the disciplinary charges overturned.  A wide-ranging police investigation took place.  They were charged with conspiracy to defraud, money laundering, conspiracy to commit false accounting and fraud by abuse of position. A criminal trial took place.  


The crown prosecution service, headed by Keir Starmer, brokered a plea bargain.  If the head Sir Alan Davies (knighted for ‘services to education’ - more like self-service!) pleaded guilty to the six charges of false accounting the other charges would be dropped.  Davies received a 12-month prison sentence suspended for two years.  He was ultimately stripped of his knighthood.  


Remember, the others were not found ‘innocent’ of the charges, just as Davies was not found ‘innocent’ of the more serious charges. Charges were dropped as part of the Davies plea bargain.  I was informed that the police were gutted that the case regarding the serious charges which they had spent months meticulously collecting evidence was for, were dropped. 


I, staff, union members, ratepayers and parents at the school were furious that not only had they escaped from the most serious charges, but they had also kept their ill-gotten gains.  We petitioned/ lobbied the Council to seek to get the money back.  To their eternal credit the Council decided to take them to the financial High Court to seek to get them to have to pay the money back.  The High Court Judge found they were all complicit in the overpayments and other financial irregularities.  


Evans claim that he didn’t know he was being overpaid is risible.  Truth and justice are not cheap, but they are precious, indeed priceless.


Hank Roberts,

Previous teacher at Copland Community school, recently retired NEU Executive member


Please note the following conclusions reached by Judge Zacaroli in his judgement on 16.08.18 [Numbers refer to the paragraphs in the judgement]:


1.    Dr Evans received over £600,000 in overpayments (13)

2.   The vast majority of those payments were unlawful (125)

3.   The Judge found that Dr Evans’ evidence was ‘not credible’ (237) in regards to how those payments were made and ‘did not stand up to scrutiny’ (421)

4.   The Judge notes that many of the payments to Dr Evans were double payments (383)

5.    The Judge goes on to note ‘the payments to Mr Davies and Dr Evans represent obvious double counting’ (430) and there were ‘simply not enough hours in the week’ to have undertaken claimed additional duties (425)

6.   He also notes ‘a lack of any possible justification’ for payments (506)

7.    Crucially, Justice Zacaroli found there was knowing receipt of funds by Dr Evans paid in breach of fiduciary duty (565)

8.   Other findings by the Judge regarding payments to Dr Evans are that they were ‘unconscionable’ (592) and that Dr Evans must have been aware of the risk that payments ‘could not be justified’ (593). He goes on to say Dr Evans ‘must have appreciated that there was no proper justification’ for another payment and ‘the retention of this sum was unconscionable’ (594).

9.   Justice Zacaroli ordered that Dr Evans pay back all unlawful payments that are not outside the limitation period.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Big Thank You to Hank Roberts for setting the record straight, without your diligence we would be none the wiser, and despite it going to court they still got off lightly, and they should have been made to pay every penny back.