THE former leader of a mining union has been jailed for four years for the “calculated greed” that tempted him to steal almost £150,000 from a charity for sick and injured pitmen.
Neil Greatrex (61), pictured, is the ex-president of the Union of Democratic Mineworkers (UDM), the rebel organisation formed in Nottinghamshire in opposition to Athur Scargill’s National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) during the bitter miners’ strike of 1984/85.
He was found guilty of 14 counts of theft from the Nottinghamshire Miners’ Home charity and a subsidiary, Phoenix Nursing and Residential Home Ltd.
The miners’ home charity ran a care home at the seaside resort of Chapel St Leonards, Lincolnshire.
During a trial at Nottingham Crown Court, the jury heard that Greatrex, of Shepherds Lane, Stanley, near Teversal, spent much of the cash on sprucing up his own home and that of former UDM general secretary Mick Stevens.
At the sentencing hearing at Birmingham Crown Court, Judge John Wait said: “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.
“It was done for greed. The thefts were covered by invoices procured from traders who were persuaded to supply the false invoice in order to secure payment.”
Judge Wait heard that Greatrex was initially earning a salary of £67,000 as the UDM boss. But at the time of the offences, between June 2000 and May 2006, he was earning up to £110,000 a year through his associated roles as national president of the UDM, trustee of a pension scheme and director of a claims company.
His mortgage was also partially paid by the union, which represented thousands of colliery workers in the Dispatch district.
In passing sentence, Judge Wait added: “The works and materials, with the salary you were paid, you could have afforded. This was calculated and dishonest greed.”
Birmingham Crown Court was told that Greatrex and Mr Stevens were trustees of the charity set up to run the miners’ home in Lincolnshire.
Mr Stevens (60), of Rufford Park, Newark, was cleared of 14 charges of theft levelled against him.
Greatrex showed no emotion during his sentencing and waved to members of his family in the public gallery as he was led away to start his prison-term.
Christopher Sallon QC (defending) said: “Since his conviction, Greatrex and members of his family have been the victims of sustained harassment, with unsolicited text-messages containing threats demanding money for those from whom it was said to have been stolen, namely miners.
“Political animosity is now being channelled into these kinds of communications.”
The court was told that a police investigation into the alleged threats had been launched.
A further hearing, to decide issues of confiscation, compensation and costs, will be held on Friday June 29.