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Former branch treasurer at MS Society jailed for stealing nearly £27,000

Philip Wrench was sentenced to 16 months in prison at Chester Crown Court after pleading guilty to fraud by abuse of position by writing himself 71 cheques

Chester Crown Court
Chester Crown Court

- This story has been clarified; please see final paragraph

The former treasurer of the MS Society’s Macclesfield branch has been jailed for stealing nearly £27,000 from the charity.

Philip Wrench, 47, who was also vice chair of the branch, wrote himself 71 cheques worth a total of £26,974 between March 2010 and February this year.

He pleaded guilty to fraud by abuse of position and was sentenced to 16 months at Chester Crown Court last week.

Wrench had worked at the charity for six years. The charity, which supports people suffering from multiple sclerosis and funds research into the disease, has an annual income of about £100,000 and only one staff member, who works in the local MS Society shop.

He resigned in March after failing to complete the charity’s annual accounts. It was then that auditors uncovered the fraud and called the police.

Derek Farmer, chair of the branch, said: "Philip Wrench took on a position of responsibility with our branch and we were shocked and dismayed at his actions.

"It was our robust internal processes that brought to light irregularities in our branch accounts, and we passed these on to the police. We are satisfied that this matter has been brought to a conclusion by the courts and we can now begin our own internal audit review to ensure our processes are as strong as they can be.

"We cannot do the work we do without the trust and generosity of our members and supporters, and I would like to reassure them that this matter has been dealt with quickly and we can now get on with what we’re here for – to support people with multiple sclerosis."

Detective Constable Sarah Newton from Cheshire Constabulary, who investigated the case, said: "This was an appalling abuse of trust. The charity had placed him in a position that gave him access to large sums of money and he took advantage.

"I hope he takes his time behind bars to consider the impact his crime has had on the charity."

- Wrench was a volunteer and was not employed by the charity. The £100,000 income refers to the MS Society's Macclesfield branch.

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