Faked expenses and an airport run in the school bus as Bradford free school head hired his family, fraud trial is told

Sajid Raza (left) leaving Leeds Magistrates' Court. Picture: Ross Parry Agency
Sajid Raza (left) leaving Leeds Magistrates' Court. Picture: Ross Parry Agency

The former vice-principal of a “flagship” free school in Bradford had three inaccurate expense claim forms totaling over £4,000 requested in his name - despite submitting only half that amount himself, a court heard.

The former headteacher of Kings Science Academy, Sajid Hussain Raza, 43, is on trial for defrauding the Government out of £150,000 alongside his sister Shabana Hussain, 40, a former teacher at the school, and the school’s former financial director, Daud Khan, 44.

Head teacher Sajid Raza at Kings Science Academy, Bradford.

Head teacher Sajid Raza at Kings Science Academy, Bradford.

Previously: Bradford trio who set up flagship free school ‘fleeced taxpayers of £150,000’

Giving evidence via video link from the British embassy in Abu Dhabi, former vice-principal Khausar Amin-Ali explained that prior to his paid employment at the free school in September 2011, he submitted expense claims for £2,052 for travel costs, an iPad and work completed during the school holidays.

Mr Amin-Ali said: “The expenses were submitted on a proforma spreadsheet and were then signed by Sajid Raza and given to Mr Raza or Daud Khan.”

However, it was revealed to the jury at Leeds Crown Court that three different invoices were submitted on behalf of Mr Amin-Ali for a total of £4,102, covering attendance at team meetings and curriculum development.

Head teacher Sajid Raza at Kings Science Academy, Bradford.

Head teacher Sajid Raza at Kings Science Academy, Bradford.

When asked if he had submitted these invoices and requested expenses for team meetings and curriculum development, Mr Amin-Ali said he had not.

He told the court: “There are two problems with these invoices - my address is spelt incorrectly and my surname is incomplete.

“The invoices writes my name as Mr Amin and I always write it as Mr Amin-Ali and the second “C” is missing from crescent in my address.

“I had not seen these documents before the police showed them to me and I played no part in the creation of the documents.

“I received no payment to that sum.”

The jury were also told that Raza had employed several members of his family into roles within the school.

This included his father as a minibus driver who, on one occasion, took the vehicle for a family airport run.

During cross examination by Nicholas Worsley, mitigating for Daud Khan, Mr Amin-Ali said as head of P.E., this had jeopardised the children’s P.E session.

He said: “The P.E session was jeopardised because the minibus was not available to take the children to an out-of-school activity.”

Raza also employed his wife’s mother as the catering assistant, his brother as a signatory for the school’s bank account with access to the credit card, a related or extended family auntie on the cleaning staff and a related or extended family nephew as a homework marker.

His sister was also employed as assistant principal in the humanities department.

When describing Raza’s attitude to making decisions about the school, Mr Worsley put it to Mr Amin-Ali that it was “Sajid’s way or the highway” - to which Mr Amin-Ali eventually agreed.

He said: “I think we were all in roles and had job descriptions but ultimately if there was something he didn’t agree with, he would just use his authority to get things his own way.

“It became frustrating because you would spend hours working on something that he could overrule - you started second guessing what he would want.

“There were some examples of this such as the risk assessment for an international school trip that he said had been approved despite their being no evidence that it had been approved.”

Mr Amin-Ali added: “I found it all a bit blase. Over time, confidence in what he was saying was falling in my own view.”

When asked about Khan’s involvement, Mr Amin-Ali said Khan often expressed concerns about protocols not being followed by Raza.

He said: “I felt Daud was being dis-empowered.

“Daud was kept out of meetings and all financial decisions and payments were made without the financial director.”

Raza, of Bradford, is charged with four counts of fraud, three counts of false accounting and two counts of obtaining money transfer by deception.

Hussain, of Bradford, is charged with one count of fraud and one count of obtaining property by deception.

Khan, of Bradford, is charged with two counts of fraud and three counts of false accounting.

The trial continues.