A judge called for the "cancer" of local government corruption to be eradicated when he jailed a former deputy council leader who lavished thousands of pounds stolen from a national charity on hotel trips and prostitutes.
Judge Patrick Robertshaw sentenced the former deputy leader of Rotherham council, Garvin Reed, to three years in prison yesterday after hearing how he was the linchpin of a fraud scam worth £172,000.
Sheffield Crown Court was told Reed, 54, of Rawmarsh, South Yorkshire, abused his position as the national convener of the National Local Government Forum Against Poverty to stay at top hotels and entertain associates, friends, family and prostitutes.
He admitted conspiracy to steal, as did Bob Bone, the forum's national co-ordinator, who was described as holding the "purse strings" of the publicly funded charity.
Bone, 47, of Wakefield, West Yorkshire, was jailed for two years and Reed's driver and personal assistant, John Cook, 54, of Thrybergh, Rotherham, was ordered to do 220 hours' community service after admitting conspiracy to defraud.
Among trips funded by the forum was a £2,100 stay for seven men at the Basingstoke Hilton, Hampshire, during a race meeting at Newbury in 1996. Detectives estimate that during 18 months the three men used 546 cheques from the forum to spend on average 14 nights a month in hotels.
The judge said: "Corruption in local government and public affairs is a cancer. It has to be eradicated before it spreads. Radical surgery is required when it's uncovered and that inevitably will take the form of severe punishment."
Throughout a three-day hearing the court was told Reed, a widower, would pass himself off as a millionaire businessman during trips around the country, staying at top hotels, attending race meetings and Wolverhampton Wanderers football matches.
South Yorkshire Police discovered the scam when the neighbouring Humberside force investigated the murder of Samantha Class, a Hull prostitute, five years ago.
Detectives spoke to a number of prostitutes from the city and one, Jayne Frangopulo, told them about her "sugar daddy" who had "something to do with politics". She eventually told police that the man in question was Reed.
The judge adjourned the case until 10 March for a confiscation hearing.