Belfast Telegraph

Friday 11 July 2014

Fraud charges ordeal horrible for my family, says ex-principal

Stanley Poots

A former principal who was awarded a MBE for his services to education has revealed how he was left “shattered” when he was charged with fraud.

Stanley Poots (67) has spoken out after it was confirmed that all charges against him have been withdrawn.

The past president of the Ulster Teachers’ Union was arrested by police in November last year, just months after retiring as head of Dromara Primary School.

“It has been a horrible nine months for me, my wife and family,” Mr Poots said on Monday. “We have been so shattered by the whole experience.”

In January the former head made his first appearance at Lisburn Magistrates Court, where 15 charges of fraud between April 2006 and November 2011 were put to him. The charges related to Dromara Primary School.

Mr Poots denied the allegations that included false representation, abuse of position and making/supplying articles in connection with fraud.

He said: “At no time during these nine months has any evidence ever been produced to substantiate any fraud allegations against me as no fraud was ever committed. Fraud was never part of the way I carried out my professional duties as a school principal and was never used in the pursuit of any aspect in my life.”

It was at Lisburn Magistrates Court last Thursday that the pensioner was informed by the PPS that the charges were being withdrawn.

“I welcome the ruling by the Public Prosecution Service as I have always vigorously denied the erroneous and ill-founded charges.”

Mr Poots said he dedicated 46 years of his life to education and 41 of those to “a school I cherished”.

He explained: “When I retired at the end of August 2011, Dromara Primary School was enjoying a highly successful era and anticipating a bright future.

“The school budget was financially strong as I always managed the accounts in a positive way for the benefit not only of the school and its pupils, but also for South Eastern Education and Library Board/Department of Education.”

However, the PPS has said that as there is an “ongoing investigation” it would be “inappropriate for us to comment further”.

Commenting on the PPS statement, Mr Poots said: “They have no evidence to take the matter forward at the moment. I have volunteered to assist with any further questions that the PSNI believes would be helpful.”

Profile

Stanley Poots worked for 46 years as a teacher. He began his career at Dromore Central Primary School before moving to Dromara Primary School, where he was principal for 41 years. Mr Poots, who is married with four grown-up sons, served as president of the Ulster Teachers’ Union from 2007 to 2008. He was awarded the MBE for services to education in 2011 in the New Year Honours. He retired in August 2011. He was chair of a Department of Education working group.