Leeds & West Yorkshire

Bradford Kings Science academy staff 'defrauded government'

Dixons Academy Image copyright PA
Image caption Kings Science Academy in Bradford opened in September 2011

The founder of a flagship free school and two staff members used government money intended to help set it up for their own ends, a court heard.

A Department of Education (DoE) grant was given to help establish the Kings Science Academy in Bradford in 2011.

Sajid Hussain Raza, 43, and Shabana Hussain, 40, are accused of paying grant funds into their bank accounts.

Daud Khan, 44, is accused of fraud and three counts of false accounting. All three deny the charges against them.

Leeds Crown Court heard the three defendants had "treated public money as their own".

Family connection

Mr Raza, the founder and principal of the academy, used some of the £150,000 from government grants to offset his financial troubles and make mortgage repayments on rental properties he owned, the jury heard.

Prosecutor Simon Kealey said the fraudulent activity continued for three years up until December 2013, despite DoE concerns about his leadership and financial management,.

Mr Raza, from Bradford, is charged with four counts of fraud, three counts of false accounting and two counts of obtaining money transfer by deception.

Ms Hussain, a teacher at the school and Mr Raza's sister, is charged with one count of fraud and one count of obtaining property by deception.

Mr Khan, the school's financial director, is charged with two counts of fraud and three counts of false accounting.

The academy was one of the first free schools to open in September 2011. It has since become part of the Dixons academy group.

'Rude and dismissive'

Mr Kealey said Mr Raza opened a bank account in 2010, which had a balance of £28,000 in July the following year after it received three large credits from the Kings Science Academy.

Mr Kealey said almost half of that balance was used, in the same month, to make large mortgage repayments.

The prosecution said meetings took place between Mr Raza and the DoE during which he was "incredibly rude and dismissive", appeared to "pluck financial figures out of the air" and threatened to call the then Education Secretary Michael Gove when challenged.

Mr Khan did not receive any payments but, Mr Kealey claimed, "the offences could not have happened without Daud Khan's dishonesty and participation".

Mr Raza and Mr Khan are also accused of false accounting by submitting inflated or fabricated invoices.

Mr Raza is also accused of making false claims about his income and job on mortgage application forms.

When interviewed by police, the school principal initially denied responsibility and accused his colleague of "reckless accounting". After his arrest he made no comment.

Mr Khan, from Thornbury, Bradford, told police he was not responsible and blamed Mr Raza.

Ms Hussain, from Bradford, gave a no comment interview.

The trial continues.

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