A former Thanet councillor has pleaded guilty to one charge of fraud by false representation relating to 77 fraudulent transactions between 1 August 2015 and 10 February 2020 in excess of £24,000.
Mike Harrison, who was formerly a Labour Party Cabinet member at the authority, appeared at Thanet Magistrates’ Court yesterday (March 16) where he admitted the charge.
The 76-year-old, of Holbrook Drive, had taken money from Newington Community Association, of which he was a long-standing Trustee, to fund a gambling habit. The former ambulance worker says he has since sought help for his gambling issues.
The case has been passed to the Crown Court for sentencing. The estimated date for the committal for sentencing hearing is April 16 at Canterbury Crown Court.
Newington Community Association chairman Richard Nicholson said: “In February 2020 the Newington Community Association Board of Trustees became aware of potential fraud, perpetrated by a Trustee. The charity immediately reported this to Action Fraud, the Charity Commission and key stakeholders.
“The charity also initiated an urgent investigation and review of all procedures. New financial procedures were put in place, bank signatories were changed and a robust new accounting system and personnel are in place, including a finance manager and an external accountant.
“A budget for the financial year was prepared. The Newington Community Association manages the Newington Community Centre, and although normal activities have been stopped as a result of the Covid-19 restrictions the Trustees have worked with partners to use the Centre as a food storage and distribution hub.”
Newington’s Food Club supports more than 1,600 households, providing low-cost and free food. Throughout the pandemic, food has been delivered to families who are vulnerable and/or shielding. Food is from supermarket surplus goods, collected from FareShare Ashford and from local supermarkets.
The Food Club also provides pack lunches, hot meals for children and family meal kits during school holidays. It has operated every days of the year, except Easter Day, Christmas Day and New Year’s Day.