Essex

British army brigadier sentenced after wrongly claiming taxpayer money

Brig Charles Beardmore Image copyright PA/Chris Radburn
Image caption Brig Charles Beardmore admitted breaching British Army rules

A brigadier has been sentenced after admitting wrongly claiming taxpayers' money for his two sons' school fees.

Brig Charles Beardmore, 51, is believed to be the most senior officer to face an Army court martial since 1952.

At an earlier hearing at Merville Barracks in Colchester, Essex, Brig Beardmore admitted a single charge of negligently performing his duty.

The court martial heard there was no suggestion of dishonesty.

Brig Beardmore, of the defence medical services in Whittington, Staffordshire, was sentenced to forfeit all seniority as a brigadier by a board of three Army brigadiers - a punishment that only applies to commissioned officers.

He was also "severely reprimanded" and ordered to pay a service compensation order of £11,750 to the Ministry of Defence within 14 days.

Image copyright PA
Image caption He appeared at Merville Barracks in Colchester, Essex

At the earlier hearing, prosecutor Col Nigel Jones said Brig Beardmore had claimed an education allowance for his sons without declaring his wife had not been living at the same address as him for more than 90 days in a single year.

The allowance can be claimed by certain service personnel to help pay for boarding school fees.

The current rates allow for claims of £5,470 a term for a junior school and £7,245 a term for a senior school.

Brig Beardmore "failed to seek the proper exemption" under Army rules for his wife being absent from the family home in Germany for more than 90 days, Col Jones told the hearing.

The last brigadier to face a court martial is believed to have been Mike Calvert, a commander during World War Two, in 1952.

He was found guilty of gross indecency with male persons, 15 years before homosexuality was decriminalised, but always denied the charge. He died in 1998.

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