England

Royal Navy commander dishonestly claimed school fees

A commander in the Royal Navy has been found guilty of dishonestly claiming allowances to send his two children to boarding school.

Anthony Gray claimed the cash when he was not entitled to as he was no longer "prime" carer, having split from his wife, a court martial heard.

Gray, 49, based at MoD Abbeywood in Bristol, was convicted of nine charges at Portsmouth Naval Base.

He was found not guilty of a further four charges of fraud.

'Family home'

The fraudulent claims, made between July 2008 and March 2010, totalled £52,999.40.

Maj Jon Harris, prosecuting, said the charges related to allowances paid to Gray to send his children, then aged 15 and 11, to Kingswood School in Bath.

Gray separated from his wife in July 2007, which led to them selling the marital home in the city, the hearing was told.

Maj Harris said that from this point onwards, Gray was no longer the primary carer for their children.

This meant he did not qualify for the boarding school allowance provided by the navy - known as Continuity Education Allowance (CEA), the court martial heard.

The CEA is aimed at allowing children to stay in the same schools if their parent in the military is forced to move home regularly for their job.

Maj Harris said Gray had "dishonestly" completed the application forms to receive the benefit which he would have known he was not entitled to.

'Advice confirmed'

"This is not a marine who struggles with literacy or difficult concepts, this is a senior naval officer," he added.

Bob Williams, defending Gray, said his client, who now lives with his new partner in Cold Ash, near Newbury, Berkshire, was told his marital status would not change until a divorce was finalised.

He added that this advice was confirmed again in autumn 2009 when he was redeployed to Bristol, where he works as a submarine programme manager.

The case was adjourned for sentencing on a date to be set.

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