Former charity finance manager jailed for £800k fraud

Graham Jackson
Graham Jackson

A finance officer at a university students union has been sentenced to five years in prison for defrauding it of more than £800,000, which the union says has had a "substantial" impact on its finances.

Graham Jackson, who was finance manager at Hull University Union between 2000 and 2015, pleaded guilty to five counts of theft, nine counts of fraud and three counts of false accounting and was sentenced at Kingston-upon-Hull Crown Court last week. 

The charity said in a statement that the fraud was discovered on Jackson’s departure from the union in August 2015, which was then reported to the police.

A police statement said that Jackson’s actions led to the loss of 11 jobs at the union – including his own – and caused others to lose bonuses. The statement said Jackson spent the money on an "extravagant lifestyle", including the weddings of his two daughters. 

A statement from Matthew Evans, president of Hull University Union, and Jackie Berry, the union’s chief executive, said: "The impact of this fraud is substantial, real and lasting for the organisation.

"The amount of money we have lost is considerable and would have made a significant difference to the life of students. Graham Jackson was trusted to look after our money and he seriously betrayed that trust.

"As well as the financial impact on our members, this fraud has also had a profoundly negative effect on our dedicated and hardworking team, who deliver exceptional support and representation to students."

The statement said the charity had conducted an internal investigation and, as a result, had strengthened its internal financial procedures and added additional control measures to prevent a similar fraud taking place in future.

According to the Charity Commission website, the union, which employs 78 staff, had an income of more than £4.6m and expenditure of almost £5.3m in the year to 31 July 2015. 

The union is also trying to recover as much of the money as possible, the statement said.

Lorraine Baines, senior financial investigator at Humberside Police, said: "Graham Jackson stole a huge amount of money from his employer, Hull University Union.

"From the outset of the investigation the force attached a financial investigator, Gary Rowlinson, to the criminal investigation. He will endeavour to recoup as much money as possible, even though a lot has been extravagantly spent and cannot be recovered, such as the two weddings he paid for for his two daughters. 

"The proceeds of the sale of his house have been restrained and we are looking for any other assets held by Jackson, including his pensions."

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