Major general jailed for 21 months for Dorset boarding school fee fraud

Figcaption Major General Jailed For Months For Dorset Boarding School Fee Fraud
Posted at: Author: Rain TV UK

A senior army officer has been jailed for 21 months for falsely claiming almost £50,000 in allowances to pay for his children’s boarding school fees.

Maj Gen Nick Welch, who is believed to be the most senior officer to face a court martial since 1815, was convicted of a single charge of fraud after a four-week trial at Bulford military court in Wiltshire.

Judge advocate general Alan Large said the panel of senior officers sentenced Welch, “on the basis the defendant behaved dishonestly throughout”.

The court was told the 57-year-old two-star general, who left the military in 2018, had applied for the allowance on the basis that he and his wife, Charlotte, would not be living close to the children’s schools in Dorset. He claimed the continuity of education allowance (CEA) to pay for annual fees of £37,000 and £22,500 at two Dorset schools between December 2015 and February 2017.

But the prosecution stated that Charlotte Welch, 54, actually spent most of her time at the family’s cottage in Blandford Forum, Dorset, close to the two schools, rather than at their allocated military accommodation in Putney, London.

The investigation was launched in February 2017 after a neighbour alerted authorities about the Welch family’s absence from their London home. Welch denied being dishonest and said he believed he had complied with the requirements.

The prosecutor, Sarah Clarke QC, said Charlotte Welch was a “country girl” who was away from the London home for more than 200 days a year and was involved in the local community in Dorset, playing the flute at the local church, being a member of a book club and having a “network of friends”.

The court was told that when Welch heard there had been a complaint about the fraud, the couple hurried to London.

Clarke said: “She cancelled her plans, drove up and spent the week going out and about being seen and being visible in the local area.” The barrister added: “He had an obligation not only with the army, but the public, too, to comply with the regulations. And, let’s face it, who is really going to question the word of a major general?”

As well as the custodial sentence, to be served in a civilian prison, Welch was retrospectively dismissed from the army, meaning he will not be able to benefit from the rank of retired major general.

He was also ordered to pay back the fraudulently claimed money.

Ultimele News