Students scammed by former Lib Dem candidate
Published 19/10/2012 | 00:00
A former Liberal Democrat Westminster candidate from Northern Ireland has been found guilty of 25 counts of fraud in England.
Dr Vincent McKee (56) was convicted at Coventry Crown Court after a Sky News investigation into UK-wide tutorial agency the Institute of Independent Colleges and University Teachers (ICUT).
The Co Down academic — who wrote a book on the Irish language — used the agency to obtain students’ credit card details before raiding his clients’ accounts.
During his trial, McKee told the jury of his earlier life in Northern Ireland.
He claimed to have had survived a bomb blast in Northern Ireland in 1972 and said he spent time in psychiatric care after several breakdowns.
The court also heard he had converted from Presbyterian to Catholicism and that he had been taken into care after relations with his strict “schoolmistress” mother broke down.
McKee ran for parliament in 2010 in a bid to become the LibDem MP for Coventry North West.
But at the same time as he was campaigning against tuition fees, he was ripping off his own students.
In December 2010, Sky News journalist Jason Farrell posed as a client and arranged a £60 lesson with one of McKee's tutors in London.
“Three days later Dr McKee had withdrawn £328.50 from our account,” wrote Mr Farrell.
“The next day he attempted to take a further £225, but we had blocked the card.”
In September 2011 he was charged with 34 counts of fraud totalling nearly £30,000.
Two weeks into the trial, McKee pleaded guilty to the lesser offence of Breach of Professional Diligence, but denied dishonesty or perverting the course of justice.