‘A step forward for our miners’

Former president of the Union of Democratic Mineworkers (UDM) Neil Greatrex has been ordered to pay back hundreds of thousands of pounds he stole from a charity established to provide care for sick and elderly miners.

Greatrex, from Stanley, Sutton-in-Ashfield, was found guilty of 14 counts of theft at Nottingham Crown Court on 3rd April this year and later sentenced to four years’ imprisonment.

At Birmingham Crown Court last Thursday (13th December), Greatrex was ordered to pay back £201,327.51 within 28 days or face a further three years in jail by way of a default sentence.

The amount represents the money Greatrex, who was a trustee of the Nottinghamshire Miners’ Home, stole - £148,628.83 – plus the increase in value of this as calculated on the Retail Price Index.

The money will be paid as compensation to the home. Prosecution costs of £9,098.86 were also awarded by the judge.

David Challinor, who worked at Harworth Colliery from 1979 to 2006 and was elected as branch delegate in 1993, said he was shocked by the news and launched a stark warning to Greatrex.

“To Mr Greatrex - I say you committed the crime. Do the time and don’t look for a get out of jail card,” he said.

“You have been convicted a thief. Please do not hold your head up high saying what you did for the Notts miners.”

“All you have done is bring shame on us in one way shape or form and you are an insult on our miners.”

Bassetlaw MP John Mann said he was delighted to hear that Greatex had been ordered to pay back the money.

“This is exactly how the Proceeds of Crime Act is meant to work and it’s why I was a strong supporter when it came in,” he said. “This is yet another step forward in the fight for justice for retired miners.”

Greatrex’s conviction followed years of investigation by South Yorkshire Police.

The charity had set up a trading subsidiary called Phoenix Nursing and Residential Care Home Limited to run the care home, Phoenix Care Centre, which was the former name of the home.

Greatrex wrote cheques to the sum of almost £150,000, drawn on the accounts of both the trading subsidiary and the charity and used this money to pay for improvements at his private home.

South Yorkshire Police’s economic crime unit manager Graham Wragg, who led the investigation, said: “We are aware of our responsibility to victims of fraud and will strive to make the best use of Proceeds of Crime Act legislation to ensure that they are compensated, wherever possible.”

“As head of the union and trustee of the home, Greatrex was given a position of trust to care for sick and elderly miners. He abused that trust by stealing from the very people for whom he was supposed to care.”

Michelle Russell, the Charity Commission’s head of investigations and enforcement, added: “The theft of charitable funds is absolutely unacceptable and damages public trust and confidence in charities.

“We welcome this outcome, which highlights that this kind of crime does not go unpunished, and secures the return of the money taken for charitable purposes.”

“The Charity Commission has worked closely with South Yorkshire Police on this case and opened our own statutory inquiry into the charity in August 2007.”

“When criminal proceedings concluded, we resumed our investigation and will publish a report once it is completed.”