Ex-mining union chief says he was ‘entitled’ to money for work on his home

WALKING INTO COURT -- Neil Greatrex (left) and Mick Stevens
WALKING INTO COURT -- Neil Greatrex (left) and Mick Stevens

A FORMER mining union chief, accused of jointly stealing almost £150,000 from a charity for sick and elderly pitmen, has told a court he was “entitled” to some of the money.

Former president of the Union of Democratic Mineworkers (UDM), Neil Greatrex (60), and the union’s ex-general secretary, Mick Stevens (60), deny 14 counts of theft between June 2000 and May 2006.

In their roles with the union, they previously represented colliery workers from the Dispatch district.

The allegations surround money from the Nottinghamshire Miners’ Home Charity, of which the pair were trustees, and a subsidiary, Phoenix Nursing and Residential Home Ltd, of which Greatrex and Stevens were directors.

Twelve of the charges faced by Greatrex and Stevens relate to money from Phoenix, while the rest are allegations relating to the Miners’ Home Charity, which ran a convalescent home at the Lincolnshire seaside resort, Chapel St Leonards.

Nottingham Crown Court has heard from the prosecution that Greatrex, of Shepherds Lane, Sutton, and Stevens, of Maylodge Drive, Rufford Park, Newark, used the money to pay for work on their own homes.

But this week Greatrex told the court he believed Phoenix to be an independent company and that he was entitled to a reasonable salary and expenses for the work he was doing.

Greatrex had a new £11,750 kitchen fitted at his house by Royal Cuisine and used the Phoenix account to pay for the job.

“I was entitled to a salary from Phoenix but instead of accepting a salary, I had my kitchen done,” said Greatrex.

Greatrex insisted that any profits made from the Phoenix operation were ploughed back into the union to help miners and were not for his personal profit.

“When the building at Chapel St Leonards was changed from a convalescence home for injured miners to a residential nursing home for disabled people, we changed from being trustees to directors and the rules meant that remunerations could be paid to directors,” he said.

The court also heard evidence from Stephen Ellis, a retired police officer and fraud investigator, who told the jury that on a visit to building firm John Minkley and Sons, he found thousands of pounds worth of invoices for work on the homes of both Greatrex and Stevens.

These included work on Stevens’ former house in Edwinstowe and about £50,000 worth of building work carried out on a new home he bought at Rufford Park, including roof repairs and skip hire.

Other invoices revealed £16,900 worth of building repairs to Greatrex’s home on Shepherds Lane, Teversal.

The Mansfield-based UDM was formed in 1985 as a breakaway union for rebel pitmen defying the bitter miners’ strike called by the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM), led by Arthur Scargill.