Former chief of Age UK South Tyneside guilty of £700k fraud

John Briers, 57, of Gateshead, will be sentenced at Newcastle Crown Court on 24 May

Newcastle Crown Court
Newcastle Crown Court

The former chief executive of Age UK South Tyneside has been found guilty of fraud against the charity worth more than £700,000.

John Briers, 57, of Gateshead, was found guilty at Newcastle Crown Court yesterday of three counts of fraud by abuse of position. He will be sentenced on 24 May.

The fraud was carried out by Briers at Age UK South Tyneside between 2007 and 2015.

Briers was suspended in August 2015 and the charity contacted the police as soon as the allegations came to light, a spokeswoman for Age UK said last year.

The charity later closed and transferred its services to Age Concern Tyneside South on 31 August 2016 to safeguard the services for the people of South Tyneside, according to a statement on the Age UK website.

A spokeswoman for the national body Age UK said today: "We are pleased that the trial is over but deeply saddened by this serious breach of trust and highly conscious of how much more might have been done by the local charity to help older people in the South Tyneside area if it had not happened."

In a statement, the Charity Commission said that Briers was now disqualified from becoming a trustee because of his fraud conviction and the regulator would engage with the charity about whether any regulatory action was required.

It said the charity notified the commission about the fraud in 2015 in a serious incident report.

The statement said: "When fraud is carried out by someone within the charity, it is a serious breach of trust and can have an even more devastating impact on the charity, its reputation and morale among staff and volunteers.

"This conviction is an unfortunate reminder that charities need to stay alert to the risk of fraud, from inside and outside the charity, by keeping an eye out for any suspicious behaviour, strengthening internal financial controls and avoiding placing excessive trust in individuals."

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