Commander accused of falsely claiming £75,000 fees for elite boarding school

(c) Ministry of Defence

Commander Anthony Gray, a senior officer in the Royal Navy, has been accused of fraudulently claiming £75,000 in boarding school allowance from the service’s education authority.

A court martial at Portsmouth Naval Base heard that, over the course of 13 terms, Cdr Gray sent his two children to Kingswood School in Bath. The fee allowance of 20% of fees would be illegitimate since he left his wife of 20 years in July 2007.

The Ministry of Defence (MoD) spent £180 million on this allowance last year, to help keep children in one place while officers change postings around the world. It is also used for servicemen in the Royal Marines. Cdr Gray’s children were reportedly living with their mother over the 13 terms, ‘finishing on Fridays and coming home at the weekends’, she told told the court.

In April 2010, Cdr Gray was allegedly struggling with child support, and was questioned by service police about the fee allowance he’d been claiming. He reportedly said that he thought himself eligible to claim the allowance.

Major Harris, prosecuting, said: “This is a man who does not struggle with literacy. He is a commander. He was not solely responsible for the children after he split up with his wife and should have notified the authorities.”

Cdr Gray’s estranged wife told the hearing: “He does whatever he wants whenever he wants and is involved in the children’s life very little. Anthony wrote to me asking to take sole custody of the children in order to apply for the boarding school allowance. But I refused to agree because the children lived with me.”

The Kingswood School is a high-performing independent school in Bath, Somerset, with boarding facilities and a theatre often used by BBC Question Time. It charges most boarders roughly £25,000 a year, and 97% of students in 2010 attained GCSEs at A*-C grade (classed as a ‘good’ GCSE by the Department for Education). The national average was 69.1%. 61% of A-level students gained an A*/A grade in the qualification in the same year, as nationally 8.1% attained the new A* grade.

jon.baldie@gmail.com

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