Head of Gad's Hill David Craggs accused of misusing school funds

Gad's Hill headteacher David Craggs is accused of misusing school funds.

Gad's Hill headteacher David Craggs is accused of misusing school funds.

First published in News This Is Local London: Photograph of the Author by , reporter

The headteacher of a Higham private school may have nearly quadrupled his own salary and misused school funds, it has emerged.

Gad’s Hill headteacher David Craggs has been accused by a former chairman of governors at the school, John Melville, of giving himself a 381 per cent pay rise over 11 years.

A 2012 report revealed by Mr Melville also shows Mr Craggs made more than 20 purchases on school bank cards which governors may not have approved.

The Charity Commission, which oversees the school because of its charitable status, is awaiting a response from trustees to "serious" concerns it has raised over the alleged misappropriation of funds.

Mr Melville, who resigned as chairman of governors in April, told the BBC he was "bitterly disappointed, angry and upset" over the allegations.

Mr Craggs reportedly began his tenure as head of the school in 2000 on £35,130 a year, but by 2011 was being paid £168,985 having apparently been free to set his own salary.

A former employee of the £10,000-a-year school blew the whistle in March 2012 and an internal review was carried out.

It concluded Mr Craggs "had not breached any school policy or procedure and therefore would not be subjected to any disciplinary process."

The Charity Commission was informed of the result and according to a statement from Gad’s Hill’s acting chair of governors Kirsty Hillocks, "concluded the school may need to review some of its internal procedures" but that it had "acted appropriately" and "no further action" was required.

But the commission was not told of allegations over Mr Craggs’ use of school credit cards, which have emerged since Mr Melville spoke out.

It is now waiting for a response from the trustees before deciding whether to take any action against the school in Gad’s Hill Place, where Charles Dickens lived for the last 14 years of his life.

A spokesman for the school said it was "unfortunate Mr Melville has felt the need to speak to the media when he had full knowledge of the school’s finances during his 17 years as a school governor.

"The media are focussing on the financial management of the school which is something Mr Melville, in his role as chairman of governors and also vice chair of the finance committee, had control and oversight of throughout his tenure."

Ms Hillocks added that Mr Craggs "deservedly has the full confidence of school staff and the governing body."

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