Nottingham

Ex-Union of Democratic Mineworkers leader Neil Greatrex guilty of theft

A former Nottinghamshire union leader has been found guilty of stealing £150,000 from a miners' charity.

Neil Greatrex, 61, ex-president of the Union of Democratic Mineworkers (UDM) was found guilty at Nottingham Crown Court of 14 counts of theft.

Mick Stevens, 60, UDM general secretary, also charged with theft, was cleared by a jury of all 14 counts.

Greatrex was found guilty of stealing £148,628.83 from a miners' nursing home in Lincolnshire between 2000 and 2006.

Sentencing was adjourned until May but Greatrex was warned by the judge to expect a jail term.

During the trial, the court heard both Greatrex and Mr Stevens had been trustees of the charity and its subsidiary company Phoenix Nursing and Residential Home Ltd, and were able to sign cheques on its behalf.

It was alleged Greatrex billed the nursing home for improvement work actually being done on his and Mr Stevens' properties, including an £11,750 kitchen.

'Salary' justification

During the trial, Mr Stevens, from Rufford Park, Newark, said he signed a cheque for £36,000 for building work and general refurbishments which he believed were for the nursing home.

Image caption The court heard Greatrex billed the Phoenix care home for work carried out on his own house

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

He added that he would not have authorised any payment through the charity for work to his or Greatrex's properties.

Greatrex, from Stanley near Teversal, Nottinghamshire, told the court that the care home had paid for a new kitchen for his house but the money was taken in lieu of a salary.

"I believed I was entitled to a reasonable salary and expenses from the home for the work that I was doing for it," he said.

Greatrex added that all other payments for improvements to his home had been paid for in cash.

Custodial sentence

Judge, His Honour John Wait, told 61-year-old Greatrex: "You have been convicted of a series of serious frauds against union members who had placed their trust in you.

"I see only one possible sentence - to spell it out that is a prison sentence."

Judith Walker, chief crown prosecutor for CPS East Midlands, said: "Neil Greatrex was given stewardship of charitable funds for a cause close to the hearts of many in his community.

"Instead of honouring that trust, he abused his position and used funds meant for charity for improving his own home.

"Despite Neil Greatrex's claims that the invoices were genuine and that he was entitled to re-numeration as a director, having heard all the evidence the jury has decided that he is responsible for this catalogue of dishonesty and found him guilty of these deceitful and shameful actions."

Greatrex spent more than 20 years in the National Union of Mineworkers before forming the UDM in 1985. He said it was because he believed no-one was speaking out for Nottinghamshire miners, prompting a split between workers.

He was released on conditional bail to be sentenced at the end of May after reports have been prepared.

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