Two associates of RHS fraudster guilty of theft

Royal Horticultural Society's head office in Wisley, Surrey
Royal Horticultural Society's head office in Wisley, Surrey

Two associates of a former head of operations at the Royal Horticultural Society have been found guilty of involvement in a £700,000 fraud at the charity.

Elaine Summers, 54, from Notting Hill, London, and Shaheen Kadri, 44, from Camden, also in London, were found guilty of theft at a Southwark Crown Court hearing on 15 July.

Both had pleaded not guilty to the charges at a hearing last year. Neither worked for the RHS.

Stuart Medhurst, 56, a former operations manager at the RHS who left the charity in 2013, pleaded guilty to one count of fraud by abuse of position and two of conspiracy to steal at a Southwark Crown Court hearing in April 2015.

According to the Daily Mail newspaper, Medhurst conspired to steal nearly £700,000 from the RHS over a 10-year period.

He will be sentenced alongside Summers and Kadri on 9 September.

Sue Biggs, director general of the RHS, said the charity had introduced measures to prevent similar cases in the future.

"The RHS uses donations and funds from its supporters to enrich lives and improve horticulture and the environment across the UK," she said. "For someone to commit fraud and take money from a charity is deplorable.

"This fraud was detected because over the last four years we have been conducting in-depth audits across all our work and implementing more robust measures and controls to protect the society. Today we’re in a strong position to ensure unacceptable activity could not take place. The losses to the revenue of the RHS have been largely covered by insurance.

"We routinely monitor our work and look at all our procedures and controls to safeguard the RHS, its employees and volunteers and the interests of people who support us. We conduct audits across all our work and have further enhanced our financial controls to give even greater protection to the society’s funds."

The RHS had an income of more than £73m and expenditure of almost £65m in the year to the end of January 2015, according to its most recent set of accounts on the Charity Commission website. 

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