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Doctor Who accountant's PS80k fraud.

Byline: Martin Shipton martin.shipton@walesonline.co.uk

A BBC accountant who controlled programme budgets for Doctor Who and Casualty has been jailed for two years after pleading guilty to 17 charges of fraud amounting to PS80,000.

Oliver Ager, 35, was said at Cardiff Crown Court to have committed the offences "in abuse of his position" with BBC Wales.

Ager, of Rock Avenue, Nailsea, Somerset, was said to have been dismissed from his job and to have paid back PS30,000 of the money from his pension fund.

There was no order made in respect of the remaining sum. He will serve half the two-year term in prison before being released on licence.

A spokeswoman for BBC Wales said: "When the BBC became aware of the serious allegations it contacted the police and began an internal investigation which led to Oliver Ager's dismissal in October 2012. "Oliver Ager has since pleaded guilty to committing fraud and has now been sentenced.

"Since Oliver Ager committed these crimes the BBC has reviewed its cash processes and ensured that there is additional oversight to prevent a crime like this from happening again."

BBC Wales was not prepared to disclose any further details of Ager's crimes, on the advice of BBC lawyers in London.

Ager worked as a production accountant on Doctor Who for 20 episodes in 2007 and 2008, while David Tennant played The Doctor.

He then moved over to work in a similar capacity for Casualty on seven episodes between 2008 and 2012, during which period the programme moved its base from Bristol to Cardiff.

He was also a director of an independent production company called Different Productions Ltd from December 2011 until October 2012, the month he was dismissed by the BBC.

Most staff working at BBC Wales' Roath Lock studios in Cardiff Bay, where the Doctor Who and Casualty production teams are based, were not even aware that Ager had been dismissed.

A BBC Wales source told us: "He had a very heavy Bristolian accent and you always knew he was around when he was in earshot. But people involved in drama can move around a lot and there was an assumption he'd gone off to another studio. The fraudulent activity he was involved with certainly wasn't known about widely."

It is not the first time a BBC Wales executive has been investigated for serious financial irregularities. In 2007 the Crown Prosecution Service announced that criminal charges would not be brought against Toby Grosvenor, who had left his post as head of operations at BBC Wales in April 2005.

He was a member of the management board and responsible for 330 operational staff at the time of his departure.

In 2002, Mr Grosvenor was questioned by South Wales Police investigating allegations of theft from the corporation. BBC Wales said he had repaid PS315,000 since civil proceedings were originally issued against him.

The CPS said at the time: "Following a thorough and detailed investigation by South Wales Police, a substantial file of evidence was presented to the CPS in relation to allegations against Toby Grosvenor. After careful consideration the CPS considered there was insufficient evidence to warrant a reasonable prospect of conviction."

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Publication:South Wales Echo (Cardiff, Wales)
Geographic Code:4EUUK
Date:Jan 7, 2014
Words:542
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