Former Winchester special school bursar denies £70,000 fraud

Basingstoke Gazette: Linda Whittaker: denies fraud Linda Whittaker: denies fraud

THE former bursar of a Hampshire special school is alleged to have defrauded it of more than £70,000, a court heard.

Prosecutors accused Linda Whittaker, 65, of abusing her position as senior business manager at Osborne School in Winchester by submitting numerous bogus timesheets for herself and a friend Patricia Hickman between 2008 and 2012.

Whittaker, of Lovedon Lane, Kings Worthy, denies two charges of fraud.

Barnaby Shaw, prosecuting, said Whittaker submitted claims for hours she did not work and for hours and rates to which she and Ms Hickman were not entitled.

Whittaker allegedly claimed £54,000 or herself between January 1 2008 and September 19 2012, the day she was suspended. For Ms Hickman, Whittaker claimed about £18,000 between January 1 2008 and July 31 2010.

Mr Shaw said: “She facilitated payment to herself and another over and above what she was due. The defendant exploited her position.”

He said Whittaker paid herself time and a half and double time, often for work she had not done, when her contract for the £42,000-post clearly stated she was supposed to always work above 37 hours a week.

“Her position of financial responsibility and knowledge of how the payroll operated gave her the opportunity to systematically defraud the school and Hampshire County Council,” he told the jury.

Mr Shaw said Whittaker was only entitled to claim overtime in exceptional circumstances and when agreed in advance with her manager, the headteacher. In 2008 the then-head Rod Wakelam agreed overtime for some temporary weekend work, and said Ms Hickman, who had worked at the school until 2004, could help her on a casual paid basis.

Mr Shaw added that Whittaker will claim she had far more work than she could handle in 37 hours and so had to claim for overtime.

“However when she handed the job over to Lisa Adam in 2012 she did not mention the difficulty in completing the workload in 37 hours a week.”

Mr Shaw said that in 2009 Whittaker was separately apid for clearking to the board of governors. In one period she was entitled to be paid for 320 hours work; instead she claimed for 1,920 hours.

The trial at Winchester Crown Court heard that Whittaker joined Osborne, off Andover Road, then known at Lankhills, in 1987 and was promoted to bursar in 1995.

The alleged offences came to light when she retired from full-time working and was replaced by Ms Adam in August 2012.

The jury has seen much evidence comprising the school accounts.

The trial before Judge Jane Miller QC and a nine-man and three-woman jury, was set to end next week.

Proceeding.

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