Trustee ordered to repay £200,000 to miners' charity

The Charity Commission has published a report on its nine-year-long inquiry into the Nottinghamshire Miners Home

The Charity Commission has announced the results of a nine-year inquiry into a Nottinghamshire charity, with one trustee disqualified and ordered to repay £200,000.

The inquiry into Nottinghamshire Miners Home, which has since closed and been removed from the charities register, began in 2007 after concerns were raised by the Serious Fraud Office about a trading subsidiary called Phoenix Nursing and Residential Home. 

The SFO was concerned that two trustees at the charity, Neil Greatrex and Mick Stevens, were using the home for private benefit.

The commission’s investigation concluded in 2016. Asked why it had taken until now for the regulator to publish its final report on the case, a spokeswoman for the regulator said it had been prioritising cases involving active charities.

When opening the inquiry, the commission had been informed that the charity wanted to sell a care home in Lincolnshire to the trading subsidiary, citing the decline of the mining industry in the region.

The commission said it had been concerned that £1.5m in proceeds from the sale could be at risk and placed legal restrictions on the charity’s bank accounts, as well as those of its trading subsidiary and solicitor.

Greatrex and Stevens, referred to as "Trustees A and B" in the inquiry report, were suspended and an interim manager was appointed to the charity in 2008.

The commission said the case also brought up concerns about how the board was overseeing the charity and its management.

The regulator's report said examination of the trustees’ bank accounts indicated that the two trustees benefited from £150,000 through fraudulent invoicing.

The money was spent on building work carried out at private properties connected to the two trustees, the commission said.

In 2012, Greatrex was found guilty of 14 counts of theft, sentenced to four years in prison and told to repay £200,000 to the charity, including more than £50,000 in interest, which he did. He was automatically disqualified from trusteeship because of the fraud. 

But Stevens was found not guilty of theft and left the charity before the commission was able to disqualify him.

A third trustee, who was not involved in the hearing or in any misappropriation of charity funds, had also left before the case was concluded because their trusteeship had lapsed, the commission said.

Both Greatrex and Stevens were found by the commission to have committed serious misconduct and mismanagement in the administration of the charity.

In the wake of the inquiry, a new charity was set up called the Nottingham Miners Welfare Trust Scheme, which received more than £1.1m from the Nottinghamshire Miners Home.

Nottinghamshire Miners Home was then wound-up by the commission and removed from the register in January 2017.

A spokeswoman for the Charity Commission said it took so long to investigate and then publish the commission’s finding because the case was complex and the charity was no longer functioning.

"Further issues were outstanding after the recovery of funds, and it is right that these were carefully investigated and funds distributed appropriately before the inquiry concluded," the spokeswoman said.

"We would have liked to report on this inquiry earlier, but it is important that we prioritise our resources on investigating active risks of harm in charities."

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