03/04/2012 17:17 BST | Updated 03/04/2012 17:18 BST

Ex-Union Leader Neil Greatrex Facing Jail For Stealing From Charity

A former mining union leader is facing jail after being convicted of stealing nearly £150,000 from a charity that ran a care home for sick and elderly miners.

Neil Greatrex, the former president of the Union of Democratic Mineworkers, had denied 14 charges of theft from Phoenix Nursing and Residential Home Ltd, a subsidiary company of the UDM charity Nottinghamshire Miners Home.

But a jury at Nottingham Crown Court unanimously found him guilty of stealing £148,628.83, some of which was used to carry out improvements on his home, including a £11,750 kitchen and other building and landscaping work.

UDM general secretary Mick Stevens, who was accused of the same charges, was cleared of any involvement by the jury, after telling the court he had no knowledge of Greatrex's activities.

The Judge, His Honour John Wait, told 61-year-old Greatrex: "You have been convicted of a series of serious frauds against union members who had placed their trust in you. I see only one possible sentence - to spell it out that is a prison sentence."

Greatrex was released on conditional bail to be sentenced at the end of May after reports have been prepared.

Greatrex, of Shepherds Lane, Stanley, Nottinghamshire, and Stevens, of Rufford Park, Newark, were trustees of the Nottinghamshire Miners Home Charity, which ran the Phoenix care home in Chapel St Leonards, Lincolnshire.

The pair were also directors of Phoenix Nursing and Residential Home Ltd. As such they were able to sign cheques on behalf of the charity, the court heard.

Between 2000 to 2006 Greatrex billed the charity for improvement work, which was in fact being done on his own property and the home of Mr Stevens.

The court heard details of invoices paid to four different building firms for work, such as installing a new kitchen and cutting down trees at Greatrex's home, which totalled £148,628.83.

Mr Stevens told the court he had paid for any improvements to his own home using cash or through another firm run by the pair.

He said he had given cash to Greatrex for any work done to his property and told the jury: "I trusted Neil and believed whatever he was doing as operational director (of the home) was right."

Mr Stevens told the jury he would not have authorised any payment through the charity for work to his or Greatrex's homes.

He also told the court he himself did not expect a salary and that he was unaware Greatrex had.

The court heard one of the charity rules was that none of the trustees should take any benefit from it.

As directors of the trading subsidiary, neither man was allowed to take money from that, the prosecution said.

Greatrex spent more than 20 years in the National Union of Mineworkers before forming the UDM in 1985.

He became a controversial figure for speaking out against NUM president Arthur Scargill's tactics in the 1985 strikes.

He formed the UDM claiming that nobody was speaking out for Nottinghamshire miners, prompting a great split between workers.

In an interview on the UDM website he said his own father did not talk to him for six years after the strike.

Speaking after the verdict, Judith Walker, chief crown prosecutor for CPS East Midlands, said: "Neil Greatrex was given stewardship of charitable funds for a cause close to the hearts of many in his community.

"Instead of honouring that trust, he abused his position and used funds meant for charity for improving his own home.

"Despite Neil Greatrex's claims that the invoices were genuine and that he was entitled to remuneration as a director, having heard all the evidence the jury has decided that he is responsible for this catalogue of dishonesty and found him guilty of these deceitful and shameful actions."