UK & World News
Former Lib Dem Candidate Denies Fraud Charges
A Lib Dem candidate for Parliament accused of orchestrating a £30,000 tuition-fee fraud has admitted overcharging some students but denies doing so deliberately.
Dr Vincent McKee, who runs a Coventry firm offering tuition to university students, blamed the overcharging on his becoming "overwhelmed" by his business dealings.
The 53-year-old was giving evidence in the fourth week of his trial on 34 charges of dishonestly debiting payments for students over a two-year period up to September 2011.
Dr McKee was implicated after a Sky News investigation alleged extra payments for tuition had been taken from a credit card, over-and-above what had been initially agreed.
The university lecturer vigorously denies the charges; although just before entering the witness box he pleaded guilty to one charge of 'contravening requirements of professional diligence'.
The jury heard of McKee's claims he survived a bomb blast in Northern Ireland in 1972 and how he had spent time in psychiatric care following several personal breakdowns.
He explained how the pressures of standing for parliament, and his Filipino wife leaving him, left him overwhelmed, which led to his business dealings becoming "haphazard".
The court also heard he had converted from Ulster Presbyterian to Catholicism and that he had been taken into care after relations with his strict "schoolmistress" mother broke down.
Dr McKee is also charged with one count of perverting the course of justice after it was alleged he provided trading standards officers with an altered copy of his contract with students - a charge he also denies.
Dr McKee stood as a Liberal Democrat candidate for parliament in four general elections and was previously head of policy for the party in Coventry before being suspended after the allegations emerged.
The jury had earlier heard a recorded phone call in which McKee accused a student of being an "arrogant foreigner". Afolabi Oyedeji, a Nigerian engineering student, had called McKee to ask for a refund.
When Mr Oyedeji claimed he had been defrauded, McKee was heard to reply: "You may do that in Nigeria, we don't do that in Britain," before shouting: "A man's home is his castle in this country - and you are an intruder."
Ben Mills, prosecuting, then turned to Mr Oyedeji in the witness box and asked: "You were asking for a refund. Did you find that a satisfactory response?"
The trial continues.