Nick Welch is the most senior Army officer to face a court-martial in more than 200 years today stood trial accused of defrauding the taxpayer out of almost £50,000 to pay for his children’s private school fees.
Welch allegedly abused Army allowances when he took on the top job at the Ministry of Defence’s London headquarters.
He is 57 years old.
Nick Welch Crime
A military court heard the two-star general, earning about £120,000 a year, told the Army that his wife Charlotte would be living at his new London residence – which meant he could claim an allowance for his children’s education.
In fact, she spent most of her time at their £800,000 country home while they boarded at schools nearby, the prosecution said.
One child was sent to the £37,000 a year Clayesmore School while another went to the £22,500 Hanford School.
Welch has become the most senior officer to face a court-martial since 1815 when a Lieutenant General was convicted during the Napoleonic wars.
Maj Gen Welch, who has a glittering career and an OBE, is accused of swindling just over £48,000 in education allowance over a period of 15 months from December 2015 to February 2017.
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The first day of his four-week trial at Bulford Military Court, Wiltshire, heard Maj Gen Welch and his family had been living in Gloucestershire in 2015 when he was appointed Assistant Chief of the General Staff.
As part of the role, the father of three became the most senior officer at MoD HQ and had to relocate to a four-bed family quarter home in Putney, London.
Continuity of Education Allowance (CEA) is offered to soldiers to help fund 90 percent of their child’s education when they relocate on assignment, as long as their family lives with them, practice is known as ‘serving accompanied’.
Opening the case, prosecutor Sarah Clarke QC said: ‘Very rarely were they in London, it was not being used as the family home.
‘It was in fact a convenient second property – and that’s very nice, but that’s not what CEA is about and if that was the case then Welch was not entitled to CEA.
‘He should not have been claiming the allowance. He had a duty to inform of any risk that his family was failing to satisfy the CEA rules.
‘And he does not dispute that. At no point did he raise a red flag and tell them.’
She said an investigation showed Mrs. Welch, who did freelance work in London on occasion, spent less than 10 percent of Fridays over the 15 month period in London and zero Saturdays.
The longest period she spent in London was five days, which only happened on three occasions.
Ms. Clarke QC said: ‘The whereabouts of Welch’s wife are the most important piece of evidence.
‘If she is supposed to be living with him in London but spending more time elsewhere than that, the prosecution submits, that means Welch was not serving accompanied.