Somerset

Somerset hospice building contractors cleared of fraud

Three building contractors who carried out work for a Somerset hospice have been cleared of fraud.

Bob Bardle, 69, Andrew Howard 51, and Kenneth Stevens, 50, were acquitted after a trial at Bristol Crown Court.

They were accused of defrauding the Department of Health by submitting false invoices relating to building projects at St Margaret's Hospice.

There was never any suggestion they had benefited personally, the court heard on Wednesday.

Mr Howard, of Monmouth Close, Chard, was former managing director of building firm RG Spiller. Mr Stevens, of Keinton Mandeville, also worked for Spiller; while Mr Bardle, of Haybridge, Wells, was an independent contractor. They did not work directly for the hospice.

Two former hospice staff, Paul Raymond and Caroline Longstreet, have admitted fraud charges.

A jury is still considering charges against the former chief executive of St Margaret's, Jon Andrewes, as well as former finance chief Alistair Gibson.

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