Wiltshire

Army Colonel denies £98k fraud and 'did live in army digs'

Marlborough College Image copyright Geograph/Dr Duncan Pepper
Image caption Col Roddy Lee claimed allowances to send his children to Marlborough College

An Army colonel accused of a £98,000 fraud told a court martial he was eligible to claim the money for his children's school fees.

Col Roddy Lee is accused of abusing the army allowance system to send his children to Marlborough College and prep schools in Wiltshire and Dorset.

Prosecutors allege he was living at the family home in Devizes, Wiltshire - which would have made him ineligible to claim - and not army lodgings.

Col Lee denies two charges of fraud.

A court martial in Bulford, Wiltshire, heard that during the 2015-16 school year Col Lee claimed £98,306.80 in school fees for his children's education under the Army's continuity of education allowance (CEA).

But prosecutors say that after Col Lee was posted in 2015 to RAF Odiham, Hampshire, which was less than 50 miles from his home at Littleton Pannell, near Devizes, Wiltshire, he should not have made the claim.

Col Lee said he continued to live at army lodgings in Hampshire.

But when Royal Military Police searched the house in Littleton Pannell on the weekend before his arrest in September 2016, they found the fridge full of food.

Col Lee said this was because he and his wife had spent the two previous weekends there.

He also said damp washing would have been left to dry by his wife.

He said: "I can imagine that someone would think that someone was living there."

Col Lee told the court martial a large removal lorry of belongings was taken from the family home to RAF Odiham when they moved in.

He said: "It would have been a physical impossibility to get all the furniture and belongings at Littleton Pannell to the quarter at Odiham. It would have been well over the allowance.

"I had no intention of cluttering up the quarter."

Fiona Edington, defending, asked whether he had meant to commit fraud and he replied: "No."

He said the rules for claiming CEA changed on a "regular basis" and he wanted service accommodation in Hampshire because of the future uncertainty of his posting.

He added that this would help his wife who was a medical student in London.

He accepted he could not have afforded the school fees without the allowance.

The court martial continues.

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