Ex-UDM leader Neil Greatrex jailed for charity theft

 

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The Independent Online

A former leader of the Union of Democratic Mineworkers has been jailed for four years for stealing almost £150,000 from a charity which cared for elderly miners.

Neil Greatrex, 61, showed no obvious emotion as Judge John Wait described the thefts from the Nottinghamshire Miners Home charity as breaches of the highest degree of trust.

Passing sentence at Birmingham Crown Court, Judge Wait told Greatrex - the UDM's president between 1987 and 2009 - that he was guilty of "calculated and sophisticated" greed.

Greatrex, from Stanley, near Teversal, Nottinghamshire, was convicted of 14 counts of theft by a jury at Nottingham Crown Court earlier this month.

Jurors heard that the former £110,000-a-year head of the UDM had created false invoices before stealing £148,628 from charity funds to pay for improvement work on his own property and that of UDM general secretary Mick Stevens.

Judge Wait, who heard that Greatrex was earning a salary of £67,000 as long ago as 1987, told the disgraced union official: "As a trustee of the charity you were not entitled to profit from your role.

"You saw an opportunity to make personal profit at the expense of those less fortunate than yourself whose interest you had agreed as trustee to protect.

"Over the years you wanted works done at your own home and the home of your co-director - outside paving, a new kitchen, new windows and doors, many supplies of building materials.

"Works and materials that with the salary you were paid you could have afforded.

"This was calculated and dishonest greed."

It also emerged during the sentencing hearing that Greatrex received a contribution towards the cost of his mortgage from the Mansfield-based UDM, which he helped to found in 1985.

Although Judge Wait accepted that Greatrex did not directly benefit from all of the monies stolen, he ruled that there was no mitigation for the offences.

The judge told Greatrex, who appeared in the dock wearing a grey suit and a black shirt: "Over the period of this indictment, you stole very nearly £150,000 from those you held office to protect.

"This was theft in breach of the highest degree of trust. It was carried out over an extended period by the person in whom the highest trust had been placed."

Stevens, 60, was cleared of all 14 counts of theft at the earlier trial, which heard that the union officials were both trustees of the Nottinghamshire Miners Home charity.

Between 2000 and 2006, Greatrex billed the nursing home for £148,628 for improvement work which was actually being done on his and Stevens' properties, including an £11,750 kitchen and other building and landscaping work, the court heard.

Stevens told the court he paid for improvements made on his own home by cash or through a separate company he and Greatrex ran.

He said he would not have authorised any payment through the charity for such work.

Greatrex told the court that he had billed the care home for a new kitchen for his own house, but that the money was taken in lieu of a salary.

But Stevens told the jury he himself did not expect a salary and that he was unaware Greatrex had taken one.

During the trial, the jury heard that one of the charity's rules was that none of the trustees should take any benefit from it.

Greatrex spent more than 20 years in the National Union of Mineworkers before helping to form the UDM and became a controversial figure for speaking out against NUM president Arthur Scargill's tactics in the 1984-85 miners' strike.

PA