Former chair of Asda Foundation gets three years for fraud

Paul Kelly, 55, had pleaded guilty to stealing £180,000 from the foundation to fund his partner's dance company

Paul Kelly
Paul Kelly

The former chair of the Asda Foundation has been jailed for three years after admitting stealing £180,000 from the charity to pay for his partner’s dance company.

Paul Kelly, 55, of Southwark, south London, who was also Asda’s vice-president of corporate affairs, was sentenced at Leeds Crown Court yesterday for seven counts of fraud by false representation, to which he pleaded guilty at a hearing in January.

Kelly had diverted funds that the charity had planned to donate to the victims of the 2014 Somerset floods to Murley Dance, which was run by his partner, David Murley, 36.

Detective Inspector Paul Hobson of Leeds CID said police would be attempting to recover the stolen funds.

"We welcome the custodial sentence that Kelly has been given," he said. "He abused his position of trust to defraud a charity fund out of a large amount of money."

When the fraud was discovered in August 2014, Kelly, who had also served as a government adviser on food policy, alcohol and obesity and as an ambassador for Prince Charles’s Business in the Community charity, was suspended and eventually dismissed by Asda in September 2014 after an internal investigation.

An Asda spokeswoman said: "Asda expects the highest standards of integrity from its colleagues and we’re incredibly disappointed that this happened.

"We are pleased that our internal controls worked and respect the decision made by the court."

In 2015 we made an additional donation by way of a gift to the Asda Foundation so that none of the good causes it supports were financially disadvantaged as a result of this matter."

According to the Charity Commission website, the foundation had an income of £8.8m in 2014.

A spokesman for the commission said: "We welcome the conviction of Paul Kelly, which shows how seriously the courts treat the misuse of charitable funds."

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