Royal Horticultural Society fraudster jailed for four years

Stuart Medhurst, 56, former head of operations at the charity, was aided by Elaine Summers and Shaheen Kadri, who will go to jail for 18 months and two-and-a-half years respectively

Stuart Medhurst
Stuart Medhurst

The former head of operations at the Royal Horticultural Society has been jailed for four years for his involvement in a near £700,000 fraud at the charity.

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

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

Neither Summers nor Kadri worked for the RHS. All three were sentenced on Friday at Southwark Crown Court, with Summers being jailed for 18 months and Kadri for two-and-a-half years.

A Metropolitan Police statement said the fraud involved Summers and Kadri sending Medhurst false invoices for cleaning work over a 10-year period between January 2004 and November 2013.

Approximately £678,000 was paid into Summers’ and Kadri’s bank accounts, with a substantial amount transferred to Medhurst afterwards, the police said.

The police statement said Medhurst spent £43,895 of the money on electrical items, including televisions, phones, computers and a luxury watch. 

Medhurst spent a total of more than £56,000 at a private members club and two restaurants in Soho, London, between October 2011 and November 2013, the police statement said.

Sue Biggs, director general of the RHS, said the fraud was detected after the introduction of in-depth internal audits and "robust measures and controls". The losses to the RHS had been covered by insurance, she said.

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

The RHS had an income of more than £73m and expenditure of almost £65m in the year to 31 January 2015, according to its most recent set of accounts on the Charity Commission website.

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