Retired colonel accused of defrauding MoD was a ‘father figure’ to colleagues, court hears
A retired colonel accused of fleecing the taxpayer to fund his children’s private education was a ‘father figure’ to colleagues while deputy director of the Government’s Covid-19 taskforce, a court heard.
Marcus Reedman, 52, denies defrauding the Ministry of Defence (MoD) out of tens of thousands of pounds to pay his children’s £75,000-a-year private boarding school fees.
Mr Reedman had a desk job at the MoD building in Whitehall at the time of the fraud allegation between October 2016 and August 2017.
He was paying £75,000 in annual school fees, equivalent to his entire yearly salary, but received more than £40,000 in Continuity of Education Allowance (CEA) claims, it is said.
His eldest daughter and son attended Brighton College, costing around £30,000 each a year, while his youngest daughter was a daygirl at the Marlborough House prep school in Kent, for which no CEA was claimed.
Marcus Reedman (right), 52, denies defrauding the Ministry of Defence (MoD) out of tens of thousands of pounds to pay his children’s £75,000-a-year private boarding school fees
Mr Reedman had a desk job at the MoD building in Whitehall at the time of the fraud allegation between October 2016 and August 2017. Pictured: Mr Reedman at Southwark Crown Court
But Mr Reedman allegedly failed to declare that he was serving unaccompanied at his residence at work address in Biggin Hill, Kent, while his wife, Astrid, lived at the family home in Rye, East Sussex.
Giving evidence as a character witness for Mr Reedman on Thursday Conn MacEvilly, who was chief of staff of the Covid-19 taskforce, told Southwark Crown Court: ‘The government was in a pickle. It didn’t have the government machinery to cope with an emergency of that kind. They created a thing called the Covid-19 taskforce.’
Mr MacEvilly said Mr Reedman supported more junior colleagues who were under stress at this time.
He said: ‘You might not like me to say that was a father figure, because he is only two years older than me but he really was.
‘He could appreciate the strain that more junior people were under. He took time to have one to one talks to check if people were ok. That was rare.
‘As we moved to the back end of 2020 people were getting angrier and angrier, especially after Christmas was cancelled.
But Mr Reedman (left) allegedly failed to declare that he was serving unaccompanied at his residence at work address in Biggin Hill, Kent, while his wife, Astrid, lived at the family home in Rye, East Sussex. Pictured: Mr Reedman with former Prime Minister David Cameron in 2014
‘It was a really high pressure environment. He is someone who is honest when it takes courage to be honest, and is honest all the time in my experience.’
Mr MacEvilly added Mr Reedman was always prepared to tell the Government things it did not want to hear.
He said: ‘Marcus’s job was to speak truth to power and he and his team did that at a time when the Government really did not want to hear bad news.
‘They wanted to believe that things were going well and that things were going to get better.’
His brother Simon Reedman, who is a fireman, said: ‘There aren’t many people in this world who have risked their life so many times in the line of duty.
‘He is an amazing father, an amazing husband and an amazing uncle. He has instilled those values in his three children.’
Earlier this week Mr Reedman denied defrauding the MoD, claiming he moved to Biggin Hill and his family ‘moved with me’.
But he was left unaccompanied at the work address while his wife Astrid spent a great deal of time at their family home in Rye while she underwent medical treatment.
He told the court he had disclosed this information via an email to his chain of command in May 2017.
Mr Reedman, of Tunbridge Wells, Kent denies one charge of fraud between 13 October 2016 and 17 August 2017. The trial continues.