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Journalism training boss charged with fraud

The boss of a journalism training college which shut down in April after losing its accreditation last year is facing four counts of unfair trading and one of fraud.

Stephen Ward, who was chief executive of NoSweat Journalism until its closure, appeared at Highbury Magistrates Court in North London this morning.

He is charged with four offences under the Unfair Trading Regulations Act 2008 and one under the Fraud Act 2006.

The case was adjourned until 13 September to enable Ward to obtain further legal advice. No pleas were entered and Ward was given unconditional bail.

The charges were brought by trading standards officers following a complaint by the National Council for the Training of Journalists, which decided not to renew the college’s accreditation last summer.

It claims that Ward, of Thirleby Road, London SW1, continued to display the NCTJ logo on the college’s website, thereby implying that its courses were still accredited.

The first and second of the charges state that Ward engaged in unfair practice by displaying the term “NCTJ” as the equivalent of a quality mark to imply courses had accreditation when they were not accredited, contrary to regulations 12 and 13 of the Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations 2008.

The third and fourth charges state that Ward had failed to inform two clients, one of whom was Mario Mackenzie, that its courses were no longer NCTJ accredited.

The charge of fraud states that by continuing to display the NCTJ logo on the site, Ward dishonestly made a false representation intending to make a gain for himself.

The offences are alleged to have taken place last year at 16/17 Clerkenwell Close, London EC1 which was the college’s headquarters before its closure.