A senior British Army officer has denied defrauding the Ministry of Defence (MoD) to pay his children’s boarding school fees, telling jurors he was not “wedded” to the idea of private education.
Retired colonel Marcus Reedman, 52, is accused of cheating the system to “dishonestly” claim £43,470 of taxpayers’ cash.
He claimed continuity of education allowance (CEA) payments to help fund his three children’s £75,000-a-year private school fees, which matched his entire Army salary, Southwark Crown Court has been told.
His eldest daughter and son attended Brighton College, costing around £30,000 each a year, while his youngest daughter was a daygirl at the Marlborough House prep school in Kent, for which no CEA was claimed.
Reedman is on trial over three payments towards his eldest children’s fees between October 1 2016 and August 17 2017, when he was posted to a desk job at the MoD building in Whitehall.
CEA covers up to 90% of the cost of private boarding school fees for children of eligible service personnel to enable them to stay in continuous education while their serving parent is posted away from home accompanied by their spouse, the court was told.
Prosecutors say Reedman defrauded the MoD by dishonestly failing to disclose information that had an effect on his CEA eligibility.
An indictment says he failed to disclose a change in his personal circumstances – that his wife Astrid Reedman and family were not living at his residence at work address in Biggin Hill, south-east London, but instead staying at the family home in Rye, East Sussex.
Giving evidence on Monday, Reedman, who attended a prep school before completing state education, said he joined the Army aged 23.
He described tours of Iraq and Afghanistan as “very, very difficult for my family” and said he decided to send his children to private school because his daughter was being “severely bullied”.
His barrister Eleanor Laws KC said: “Were you wedded to the idea of sending your children to private school?”
Reedman said: “No, not at all. I was very happy thinking they would go to even maybe the same school as me.”
He denied dishonestly defrauding the MoD and, when asked if he moved to Biggin Hill alone, said: “No, I moved with my family,” and told the jury his wife had not moved back to Rye by October 2016.
Ms Laws said: “Have you been involved in a prolonged and dishonest cover-up of any of that?”
Reedman said: “No.”
He denies a single count of fraud.
The trial continues.