Ex-miners’ union chiefs accused of charity fraud

TWO former union leaders, who previously represented miners in the Dispatch district, stole almost £150,000 from a charity for sick and elderly pitmen, it has been alleged in court.

Neil Greatrex, former president of the Union of Democratic Mineworkers (UDM), and Mick Stevens, the union’s ex-Nottinghamshire general secretary, are accused of having work done on their own homes instead of at a residential and nursing home set up for retired pit-workers.

Both men denied 14 counts of theft between June 2000 and May 2006 when their trial got under way at Nottingham Crown Court on Monday.

The Mansfield-based UDM was set up in 1985 as a breakaway union for rebel pitmen who wished to defy the bitter miners’ strike, called by the National Union Of Mineworkers (NUM), led by Arthur Scargill.

Prosecutor Martin Hurst said that because of their positions within the union, Greatrex and Stevens were also two of three trustees of the Nottinghamshire Miners’ Home Charity.

The court was told the charity owned a care home in the seaside resort of Chapel St Leonards, Lincolnshire, which provided residential and nursing care for miners.

Greatrex (60), of Shepherds Lane, Sutton, and Stevens (60), of Maylodge Drive, Rufford Park, Newark, were also directors of Phoenix Nursing and Residential Home Ltd, a company set up as a trading subsidiary of the charity.

“They had absolute control of the whole of the charity, of everything it did and of all of its money,” said Mr Hurst.

It is alleged that Greatrex and Stevens used the bank accounts of both the miners’ home charity and Phoenix to pay for work done on their own homes.

“They engaged builders to do work at their own houses and when the traders came to submit the invoices, they would be told to send them to the charity and they would be paid using a cheque,” Mr Hurst told the jury.

“This was a sophisticated attempt by these two men to steal from a charity whose assets they should have been safeguarding and protecting.”

The court was told that various works were completed on the men’s homes, starting in 2000 when Greatrex was living at Chestnut Avenue, Teversal and Stevens at Cavendish Avenue, Edwinstowe.

Mr Hurst told the court that Greatrex asked Stephen Giles, of SPG Construction, to quote for some work at his home and the home of Stevens, including re-paving, which totalled £16,136.28.

“Greatrex told him to invoice the sum to the charity,” said Mr Hurst. “Greatrex explained he was entitled to have work done at his house and the charity would pay for it.

“He asked for a single invoice to cover both homes.”

However, the court heard that, instead of detailing the actual work done on the defendants’ homes, the invoice was for an extension to a bathroom and treatment room at the Chapel St Leonards home, on the instruction of Greatrex.

“Mr Giles has never been to the nursing home,” added Mr Hurst.

The court was told the pair later engaged John Minckley and Sons to do a variety of work for them, including building a koi carp pond-cover for Stevens and the removal of 25 trees from the garden of Greatrex’s home.