A former chief executive of a specialist recruitment agency for the deaf has appeared in court accused of claiming expenses of over £200,000 for false sign language services.
The allegations against Stephen Dering, along with a group of six other people, concern a conspiracy to defraud the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP).
Magistrates in Croydon were told the offences relate to the Access to Work scheme, a scheme aimed at disabled people to help them stay in work, start their own business or find employment.
Mr Dering was the chief executive of Dering Employment Services until it dissolved in 2010.
The prosecution’s case is that Dering – who is profoundly deaf – and others claimed expenses from the DWP when an interpreter was not used or, if they were, over claimed on the actual expense of the interpreter.
The magistrate heard that £1 million of Access to Work grants were paid through Mr Dering’s companies. The prosecution alleges that in excess of £200,000 worth of claims were fraudulent.
Dering is charged with two counts of conspiracy to defraud by making false claims over a year from August 2009 to September 2010. None of the defendants entered a plea to any of the charges. They were given unconditional bail and told to attend Croydon Crown Court on September 24 for a preliminary hearing.
In 2008, a Government minister praised the recruitment agency for helping disabled people back into work.