Flagship free school trio found guilty of defrauding Department for Education

Flagship free school trio found guilty of defrauding Department for Education

The principal, financial director and teacher at a flagship free school have been found guilty of defrauding the Department for Education (DfE) out of around £150,000.

A jury today convicted Sajid Husain Raza, 43, Daud Khan, 44, and Shabana Hussain, 40, of fraudulently obtaining the cash from government grants to set up Kings Science Academy, in Bradford.

The school was one of the first waves of free schools to open in 2011, and was visited by then prime minister David Cameron (pictured above with Raza) in its first year, who said he was “very impressed”.

Raza, the school’s founder, was convicted of four counts of fraud, three counts of false accounting, and two counts of obtaining money by deception. The court previously heard he used some of the school’s grants for mortgage repayments.

His sister, Hussain, a teacher at the school, was convicted of one count of fraud and one count of obtaining property by deception. And Khan, the finance director, was convicted of two counts of fraud and three counts of false accounting.

Peter Mann, the head of the complex casework unit at the Crown Prosecution Service in Yorkshire and Humberside, said Raza’s “motive” was clear – adding: “He was in considerable financial difficulties as his buy to let business had been running at a considerable loss.”

“In setting up Kings Science Academy, Raza deliberately set about defrauding the [DfE] of approximately £150,000 by creating false invoices, submitting fraudulent expense claims and paying himself an inflated salary.

“Far from being a model school, Raza treated the academy like a family business, employing his relatives there and, for at least the first 12 months, operating with no proper governance. His co-defendants were also drawn into this criminality.”

He said Hussain received “unlawful payments” and Khan helped to falsify documentation, saying the trio “treated public money as their own” and fabricated documents to cover their tracks when challenged.

Jon Morgan, senior investigating officer detective superintendent from West Yorkshire Police, said the trio acted “selfishly and dishonestly” and stole thousands of pounds of public money intended for the academy.

He thanked all those who “helped uncover their unscrupulous activities and brought them to justice”.

The trio are due to be sentenced next month.