Independent school fraud

Bell Yard was engaged by a private school in London to assist with communications around a fraud issue. They had discovered that a business manager had submitted false expense claims over a 1.5 year period amounting to nearly £250,000. A settlement was agreed with the perpetrator for repayment of money owed, however given the police had commenced criminal proceedings, the fraud was bound to become known during a public court hearing.

The Chair of the Board of Trustees asked Bell Yard to help prepare communications to staff, parents, donors and the media.

Our advice was to present this as a shocking and blatant breach of trust by a rogue former employee but one with no negative impact on the accounts or financial viability of any of schools concerned. There was no black hole nor had the thefts disrupted any planned expenditure on pupils, staff or facilities and a plan was in place to achieve repayment of the stolen funds. We prepared various letters and statements to have ready for the possibility of a leak before the court appearance.

In the event local media did attend the court hearing triggering a letter to parents and staff. In addition Bell Yard advised how to respond to a Mumsnet thread which touched on the fraud issue and required careful handling.

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M: Melanie Riley, Director: +44 (0) 7775 591244