Ex-Army colonel denies fraudulently claiming thousands to pay school fees

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A senior British Army officer who was the deputy director of the Government’s Covid-19 taskforce has denied fraudulently claiming tens of thousands of pounds in allowances to pay his children’s private school fees.

Retired colonel Marcus Reedman, 51, was a lieutenant colonel at the Ministry of Defence (MoD) building in Whitehall at the time of the allegations, between October 1 2016 and August 17 2017.

It is alleged that Reedman, whose last post was deputy director of the Covid-19 taskforce as acting brigadier, claimed continuity of education allowance (CEA) payments to fund his three children’s £75,000-a-year private school fees, which matched his Army salary.

Prosecutors say he failed to declare he was serving unaccompanied at his residence at work address (RWA) in Biggin Hill, south-east London, while his wife Astrid Reedman lived at the family home in Rye, East Sussex.

Marcus Reedman with then defence secretary Michael Fallon in 2014
Marcus Reedman with then defence secretary Michael Fallon in 2014 (Mark Owens/PA)

The allowance is aimed at enabling children of service personnel to remain at the same schools to allow their serving parent to be accompanied by their spouse as they are posted to different locations.

CEA payments come with conditions and include rules saying the spouse must not be away from the RWA for more than 90 days per year.

Reedman, who has been pictured alongside the King – then the Prince of Wales – and then-prime minister David Cameron during his career, appeared at Southwark Crown Court on Friday to plead not guilty to a single count of fraud.

The indictment alleges that he dishonestly failed to disclose to the MoD that he was serving unaccompanied at his RWA from October 1 2017.

It says the information “had an effect on (his) eligibility to claim CEA which (he) was under a legal duty to disclose”.

Reedman faces a two-week trial from May 9 and was granted unconditional bail by Judge Nicholas Rimmer.

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