I did nothing wrong, says former UDM boss

A FORMER Mansfield miners’ union boss accused of stealing almost £150,000 from a charity has denied paying for private work on his and his colleague’s home using charity funds.

Former general secretary of the Union of Democratic Mineworkers (UDM) Mick Stevens and the union’s ex-president, Neil Greatrex, both 60, are accused of 14 counts of theft between June 2000 and May 2006.

Stevens, of Marylodge Drive, Rufford Park, and Greatrex, of Shepherds Lane, Sutton, were trustees of the Nottinghamshire Miners’ Home Charity, which ran a care home in Chapel St Leonards, Lincolnshire, and were directors of Phoenix Nursing and Residential Home Ltd, a company set up as a trading subsidiary of the charity.

On Thursday Stevens told Nottingham Crown Court he was financial director of Vendside - an arm of the UDM set up to deal with miners’ compensaion claims.

Stevens said he was asked for money by Greatrex to convert it from a convalescence home for injured miners to a residential nursing home for disabled people.

The former miner told Mukul Chawla, defending, he could not remember seeing an invoice for £36,000 for alterations to the home which was run by the Nottinghamshire Miners’ Home charity.

When asked by Mr Chawla if he would have signed an invoice if he had seen one, he said ‘normally I would if someone had put it in front of me.’

Stevens said he had very little to do with the day to day running of the home but as a signatory and trustee he would sign off invoices for work if Greatrex had already initialled them as he trusted his colleague to assess the work which was needed.

Mr Chawla told the court invoices worth a total of £210,000 were signed off between May 2001 and February 2006 by Vendside, including an invoice for more than £16,000 to SPG Construction Ltd for extension work to bathrooms and a dining room at the home.

Stevens admitted having work completed on his patio and a retaining wall at his home by SPG Construction Ltd and agreed a price of £3,000 in cash which he paid to Greatrex.

Said Mr Chawla: “Did you think the work was being invoiced through Phoenix Nursing (Home)?”

“No, absolutely not,” said Stevens.

Chris Sallon, defending Greatrex, asked Stevens if the UDM’s ex-president had ever asked for home improvements he was not entitled to through Vendside.

“No,” replied Stevens.

The trial continues.