%VIRTUAL-SkimlinksPromo%A former top headteacher has been banned for life from the classroom for spending thousands of pounds of public money on personal expenses such as a 50th birthday party, taxis and mobile phone bills.
Joanna Shuter, who was once hailed as one of the best heads in the country, was found guilty of "unacceptable professional conduct" while working at Quintin Kynaston School in north London.
In a judgment published today, a professional conduct panel recommended that Ms Shuter be handed a prohibition order banning her from teaching indefinitely. It also said she should not be allowed to apply for order to be lifted at a later date.
The recommendation was approved by a senior Department for Education official on behalf on the Education Secretary.
In its decision, the panel said that while Ms Shuter - who was named Headteacher of the Year in 2007 and awarded a CBE - had been a "force for good" in many respects, she had made numerous expenses claims over a significant period of time for personal gain and her conduct should be treated with the "utmost seriousness".
The judgment found that Ms Shuter used £6,292.90 of school funds to pay for her 50th birthday party in 2011, claimed £5,855.67 for taxis that were not related to school business and bought furniture worth around £1,500 which was delivered to her home address.
It also found that she charged the school £8,269 for a hotel stay for the senior leadership team and spent money on mobile phones including contracts for herself, her son and her daughter.
Ms Shuter admitted the allegations, the judgment says.
She also admitted taking on paid work for speaking at conferences and consultancy during term time and instructing her personal assistant to carry out non-school related tasks such as organising her consultancy and public speaking engagements, booking flights for her family and arranging the rental of her holiday
In its recommendation, the panel said: "In light of the panel's findings against Ms Shuter, which involved making numerous and extensive expenses claims in respect of public money, over a significant period of time for personal gain, there is a strong public interest consideration in maintaining public confidence in the profession.
"This is particularly so in Ms Shuter's case, in light of her high national profile as an influential figure in the education world and public recognition as Headteacher of the Year and her receipt of a CBE. This high profile increases the risk of public confidence in the profession being undermined.
"The Panel is also of the view that in the climate of recent years, the public interest in maintaining public confidence in the management of public finances, including ensuring that expenses claims against public funds are appropriate, is particularly strong.
"Accordingly, the Panel considers that public confidence in the profession could be seriously weakened if conduct such as that found against Ms Shuter were not treated with the utmost seriousness when regulating the conduct of the profession."
It added that while Ms Shuter had admitted her wrongdoing she had also showed "a lack of insight into the severity and impact of her behaviours".
The document says that in respect of the birthday party, Ms Shuter set up separate accounting for them but failed to reimburse the school until she repaid £5,906.98 in April 2012 - more than a year after receiving an invoice for it.
Ms Shuter resigned from Quintin Kynaston, an academy school, in May last year.
The biggest scams of 2013
Life ban for big-spending teacher
First Direct found that the most common type of fraud was the 'fake email', which makes up 53% of all scams. This is also known as phishing, and involves the fraudsters contacting you, requesting personal information like passwords and PINs.
They use all kinds of methods to persuade you to reveal your details: from pretending to be your bank, to pretending to be the taxman. Earlier this year HMRC warned people to watch out for scam emails promising tax credit refunds in return for account details - timed to coincide with a major advertising campaign to remind people to renew their tax credits.
This is an old and established scam, but is the second most prevalent in the UK this year. It involves someone getting in contact with a sob story, and asking for a sum of money in return for paying you a larger sum. If you pay up you may get requests for more cash but you will never receive a payout.
This year the horrible twist on the scam was that the gangs pretended to be a victim of the war in Syria, in desperate need of money and able to pay you from money he has hidden overseas, once you give him enough money to escape the country.
This is a new take on phishing, which Financial Fraud Action warned about in August. They said victims receive a cold call asking for personal or financial information. Some 39% of all people targeted by these calls said they found it difficult to tell if the person was genuinely from their bank or whether it was a scam. First Direct says this is the third most prevalent type of scam.
Duplicating your bank cards made up 14% of fraud this year. Old-fashioned card scams are actually on the rise this year. The experts say that the introduction of chip and PIN means 'crude scams' are back in vogue, where criminals distract people in shops and bars, or shoulder surf at cash machines and then steal customers' cards without them noticing.
These also make up 14% of all scams. You receive an email telling you that you have won a lottery. All you have to do is get in touch with the 'claims agent' who you'll need to pay a 'processing fee' or a 'transfer charge' to. These 'agents' are all criminals, who will just take your money and run.
We warned in November of a boom in phoney research calls. Boiler room operatives will call pretending to be university researchers looking into investor confidence. In fact, they are just trying to find out how best to exploit you: asking how much cash you have, your attitude to risk, and determining whether an appeal to greed would work.
Back in May we warned that you could receive a telephone call out of the blue from someone claiming to be from Microsoft. The scammers were using a variety of techniques to extract money from their victims. These included infecting computers with malware and charging to remove it, charging people a fortune for help they didn't want or need, or even just asking for their credit card details.
This is not a new type of scam. For years now different types of Trojan viruses have been embedded in various web pages and links. If you click on the page or link you're taken to malicious websites, which install a virus. The virus then quietly sits on your computer, stealing passwords and account details until it has enough details to empty your bank accounts.
This scam took two very popular forms this year. The first was a link sent in an email pretending to be from Facebook, and inviting you to click the link. When you did, it would install the virus and then send the link to your Facebook friends.
The other form was a page with a fake YouTube video in the background, which claimed to show Rita Ora's famous wardrobe malfunction. However, the site prompts you to enter your Facebook details, so you can see the video and 'personalise your experience'. The criminals then have access to your Facebook account.
As the jobs market continues to be tight, the job offer scam is still a real risk. Financial Fraud Action issued a warning about fake online job offers, that could turn innocent job hunters into unwitting money launderers.
The jobs offered are called things like "payment processing agents" or "administration assistants". They involve the payment of the proceeds of crimes into your bank account. You then pay the cash into an overseas account, effectively hiding the money and laundering it for criminals. In return you receive a share of the money. This is a criminal act.
These reached a peak this year after One Direction collected their Brit award (pictured) and announced a World Tour - and demand for the tickets exploded. The scammers set up fake sites offering tickets to sold-out gigs. Desperate fans trawling the net would stumble across them and take a risk. They handed over hundreds of pounds, the criminals took the money, shut the website, and ran.