Case against Tom Henderson not pursued 'because of evidential issues'

Old Bailey: case dropped
Old Bailey: case dropped

The prosecutor in the £1.5m fraud case against the ShelterBox founder Tom Henderson has said the crown did not pursue a retrial because of "evidential issues" and the possible effects on the charity and on Henderson himself.

Henderson, 65, his son John, 36, and Darren Gervis, 43, were all cleared of charges of conspiracy to commit fraud at a hearing today after the Crown Prosecution Service dropped the case.

The three men had been waiting for the past two weeks to discover whether the CPS would seek a retrial because a jury was unable to reach a verdict after a two-month trial.

Tom Henderson had been accused of handing contracts with the charity to his son’s company and bringing in Gervis as a middle man to try to cover up the arrangement when ShelterBox trustees began to ask questions. The three had denied the charges against them.

At the Old Bailey today, prosecutor Walton Hornsby told the court that the crown had decided not to go ahead with a retrial.

"Having reviewed the evidence carefully as it emerged during the trial, the crown has decided not to seek a retrial in this case," he said.

"It was firstly the evidential issues that arose during the trial. We also have in mind the effect the retrial would have had on ShelterBox and on Tom Henderson and the other defendants."

Judge Gerald Gordon said he agreed with the decision and formally entered not guilty verdicts on the charges of conspiracy to commit fraud.

The Hendersons appeared at the Old Bailey on a video link from Truro Crown Court but did not speak during the hearing.

In a statement issued in response to the news, Rob John, chair of ShelterBox, said the case had been a "painful and protracted process".

But he said the charity stood by its decision to dismiss Henderson from the position of chief executive in 2012.

"Despite the indecision of the court process regarding alleged fraud, the facts that remain are that Tom Henderson was dismissed from ShelterBox in 2012 for lack of capability and gross misconduct in failing to follow, or recognise, the legitimate instructions of the ShelterBox board of trustees," he said.

"In short, he was dismissed for continuing to oversee related-party transactions that had been forbidden by the board. Whatever you call it, disregarding the board in this way is wholly and completely unacceptable in a UK-registered charity."

He said: "The decision to dismiss was then investigated by an independent barrister who conducted an in-depth enquiry, and concluded that Tom Henderson had no understanding of his responsibilities as the chief executive of a UK-registered charity and was lacking in competence to carry out his duties."

Third Sector asked Tom Henderson for comment, but he had not responded before this story was published.

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