Two-star general jailed for fraud “threatening the morale and discipline of the troops”
The most senior officer in the army, who has been tried by a court martial for more than 200 years, has been jailed for fraud because a judge said he had endangered the discipline and morale of the troops. Maj. Gen. Nick Welch, 57, lied to military authorities that his wife lived with him 120 miles from their children’s schools so they could reclaim nearly £ 50,000 in fees. He was convicted this week on a single fraud charge after a four-week court martial in the Bulford Military Court. The two-star general is the highest ranking officer to be tried before a court-martial since 1815 when Lieutenant General Sir John Murray was convicted of giving up his siege weapons in the Napoleonic Wars for no reason. Welch applied for an education allowance as both he and his wife Charlotte would not live near their schools in Dorset when he took up the position at Defense Department Headquarters in 2015, however, Ms. Welch actually spent little time at her military accommodation in Putney, London, which she is said to visit “very rarely”. Instead, the 54-year-old lived mainly in the family’s cottage at Blandford Forum in Dorset, near the two schools. On Friday, Attorney General Alan Large detained Welch for 21 months, saying the senior group sentenced him “on the basis that the defendant was consistently dishonest”. He was retrospectively discharged from the army, which he left in 2018, meaning he cannot benefit from the rank of retired major general. Welch will be serving his sentence in a civil prison and has been ordered to repay all of the money he fraudulently requested. Judge Large said, “A disciplined organization like the army relies on those of rank and authority to set an example and be unprovoked.” The higher your rank, the more important it is that you uphold the values and standards of the army in which you serve, and when a major general officer like you offends the potential to undermine discipline and undermine morale is considerable. “We have no doubt that you understand that your rank as major general and your role as deputy chief of staff are factors that make the crime worse and that require recognition in the verdict.” In his process, he had learned how an application for education grants of £ 48,000 was made between December 2015 and February 2017. Soldiers receive funding to cover 90 percent of their children’s education if they are relocated under the Continuity of Education Allowance (CEA) for as long as their spouse is not away from home for more than 90 days per year. One of her children was sent to Clayesmore School for £ 37,000 a year while another went to Hanford School for £ 22,500, the court was told. An investigation opened in February 2017 after a neighbor notified authorities of the Welch family’s absence from the London home. It found that Ms. Welch, who occasionally freelanced in London, spent less than 10 percent of her Fridays in London during the 15-month period and on none of her Saturdays. Welch is said to have spent every weekend at the family home while his wife even texted a friend letting her see Hanford from her cottage window. Welch had denied being dishonest, saying he believed he met the requirements of escorted service because his wife lived with him most of the time. He first enlisted in the Army in 1984 and had served more than 33 years when he retired from his position as deputy chief of staff at the Department of Defense headquarters in London in 2018. Welch had received a number of medals, including for his service to Northern Ireland, Afghanistan, and for his long service of good behavior. Judge Large said, “In stark contrast to the events leading up to your conviction in this trial, you had an extremely successful military career, served your country with distinction in operations, and been a good ambassador for your service and your nation.” Welch received character references from senior military commanders, including former Joint Forces Command commander General Sir Richard Barrons, who said he believed the defendant had “unimpeachable integrity.” His attorney, Sarah Jones QC, told the court the 90 day rule was a “mess” and said of the conviction, “It will shake the foundations of the man and what he has accomplished and what he has in two things made him are important, has failed. ” over most, for his career is brought to a shameful end and his family life has been shattered when his children are disturbed and his wife gives things a brave face. “The judge said the sentence had been reduced from three years to 30 months because of his good character and to 21 months because of the four-year delay in the process.