Former treasurer of fine arts charity jailed for stealing almost £115,000

Anthony Collinson stole the money from the Friends of the Barber Institute to invest in a fashion business

Anthony Collinson
Anthony Collinson

A former treasurer of the Birmingham fine arts charity Friends of the Barber Institute has been jailed for two years and four months after stealing almost £115,000 to invest in a fashion business.

Anthony Collinson, 72, pleaded guilty to fraud by abuse of position and was sentenced at Birmingham Crown Court on 8 January.

Collinson took £114,350 from the Friends of the Barber Institute between October 2012 and November 2014 and created fake accounts figures to cover his tracks. Some money was put back into the charity, but Friends of the Barber Institute lost £87,000 overall.

The fraud was discovered by a police investigation into an associate of Collinson.

Collinson, who had been treasurer of the charity since the mid-1990s until his arrest in May 2015, claimed when questioned by police that there should have been more than £105,000 in the accounts. But he accepted there would be a shortfall of £83,000, which he said had been given to a third party, according to West Midlands Police.

Detective Constable Alistair Gadd, from the West Midlands Regional Fraud Team, said: "This was an abuse of his position of trust.

"He was a respected treasurer who had been doing the role for almost 20 years. He was trusted to have sole responsibility for the charity’s finances.

"The money was there to support the Barber Institute of Fine Arts and its associated programmes, but was used to fund a business venture.

"Such fraud is completely unacceptable and can have a devastating impact on those who are left with such a big financial hole."

A spokeswoman for the Barber Institute of Fine Arts, which is based at the University of Birmingham, said the allegations applied only to funds belonging to the Friends of the Barber Institute – which is an independent charitable organisation that raises money for the institute – and not the Barber Institute of Fine Arts or the Henry Barber Trust.

"The issue therefore never posed a risk to the programme, collections or ongoing running of the Barber Institute of Fine Arts, its collections or its patrons organisation," she said.

"Friends and patrons of the Barber Institute of Fine Arts were informed about the suspected improper use of funds belonging to the Friends of the Barber Institute in May 2015, and we are satisfied that the ruling will now bring this matter to a close."

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