Retired colonel denies fraudulently using taxpayer money to send his children to private school

A retired colonel accused of "dishonestly" using taxpayers' money to pay for his children's private school education has denied fraud.

Marcus Reedman, 52, is accused of defrauding the Ministry of Defence (MoD) to claim £43,470 of taxpayers' cash.

The defendant claimed continuity of education allowance (CEA) payments to help fund his three children's £75,000-a-year private school fees, which matched his entire army salary, Southwark Crown Court was told.

His eldest daughter and son attended Brighton College, a boarding school estimated to cost £30,000 each a year, while his youngest daughter was a daygirl at the Marlborough House prep school in Kent, for which no CEA was claimed.

Mr Reedman is on trial over three payments towards his eldest children's fees between 1 October 2016 and 17 August 2017, when he was posted to a desk job at the MoD building in Whitehall.

The accusation said he failed to disclose a change in his personal circumstances that had an effect on his CEA eligibility - that his wife Astrid Reedman and his family were not living at his residence at work address in Biggin Hill, southeast London, but instead staying at the family home in Rye, East Sussex.

CEA covers up to 90% of the cost of private boarding school fees for children of eligible service personnel to enable them to stay in continuous education while their serving parent is posted away from home accompanied by their spouse, the court was told.

Mr Reedman gave evidence in court today describing tours of Iraq and Afghanistan as "very, very difficult for [his] family".

He added that he decided to send his children to private school because his daughter was being "severely bullied".

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When asked by his barrister Eleanor Laws KC if he was "wedded to the idea" of sending his kids to private school, the former colonel, who went to a state school himself before joining the army at the age of 23, said: "No, not at all. I was very happy thinking they would go to even maybe the same school as me."

He denied dishonestly defrauding the MoD and, when asked if he moved to Biggin Hill alone, said: "No, I moved with my family," and told the jury his wife had not moved back to Rye by October 2016.

Mr Reedman also denied being "involved in a prolonged and dishonest cover-up" of that matter.

He denies a single count of fraud.

The trial continues.