Trustee admits fraud over missing £24k from Newington Community Association funds

Mike Harrison

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 Community Food Club

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.

43 Comments

    • Gambling, Alcohol, whatever, it’s people that ruin their own lives and ours too. Let’s start taking personal responsibility for our own failures

      • This man stood for and took elected office. He should be locked up and the key thrown away as a lesson to all would be fraudsters

    • Strange that you say that, almost every case I’ve read about recently involves Labour or ‘Green” councillors or supporters! Isn’t it time we recognised that all these representatives are susceptible to temptation not just Tories

      • We are all susceptible to temptation, the majority don’t succumb. Why does a relatively wealthy man need to steal food & feel entitled to steal it from from the mouths of the poor, instead of getting help for his pathetic desire to throw money on a gambling wheel or a horse?

        • Hear Hear Steve! Words almost fail me, I have been contributing financially to Food banks in Thanet, and it leaves a very nasty taste in my mouth that someone may have stolen some of it! I hope he gets a custodial sentence, as an example to others!

  1. What appears to be an oversight by all is that the majority of Labour MPs all have had a very expensive education very much in line with tory MPs ,so I wonder where on earth do they get working class values from as the leader of labour is a Knight not exactly a serf or pauper . Homes of each MP I’ve seen since Covid, appear to be plush and well appointed ,also all have a second home in London, not cheap .Now where did I put the key to my drawbridge ho hum

    • Labour leader is not a knight because of hereditary privilege, but because he was decorated in the honours list for his achievements. He is actually from an extremely ordinary, not a wealthy, background, went to a state school and got where he is because of hard work -he is not rich, and neither are the vast majority of Labour MPs. Unlike the current government who mostly went to Eton or other exclusive public schools and come from extremely wealthy families and do not understand the problems of people less advantaged than themselves.

  2. Sell his property, or make him give his pension to the association. Then jail him. If it causes hardship on him or his family, tough. He, and his familt, need to take responsibility for his actions

  3. If he’d spent it on dental treatment I might have a little more sympathy! Still, I’m sure a certain Ms. Tongue will be telling everyone how cruel and uncaring he is in her next article (not!).

    • Peter – despicable and mouthy individual over the years. Unfortunately, this individual will be defended by some and I doubt any custodial sentence will be given . Disgusting creature.

  4. HE CAN DRESS IT UP HOW HE LIKES , AND TRY THE FOR SYMPATHY VOTE – HES A THEIF AND CONMAN NO DIFFERENT TO ANY OTHER – JAIL THE THEIVING GIT.

  5. Such a sad end to an otherwise long and and life of service..
    Addiction is a scourge, so many victims, and yes they are victims, succumb to their weaknesses..When it descends into crime, and theft, there is little sympathy, as is evidenced by previous comments.
    I knew him years ago, before he entered the political arena, I always found him to be a decent man..
    A gambling addiction like any other addiction, is usually kept from family and friends..
    I’m not excusing his crime, but I do feel sorry for the man I had a lot of respect for..

    • Oh Liam and you defending another serial Gambler
      Freudmann has a series of business failures
      Save your pity for those he has made redundant

  6. Reading the article I see it described as fraud. I prefer the term theft. As a “Trustee” there are no excuses. How can you be a “Trustee” if you can’t be trusted? I always found him to be a thoroughly unpleasant individual when he was a District councillor. Typical of Liam Coyle to make excuses for one of his pro-airport buddies. Thanet has a long history of electing thoroughly inappropriate people to public office. Another one bites the dust.

    • I’m not making excuses for anything, Yes I’ve known him for 40 years, When he was in the Ambulance Service…
      I’m not condoning the fact that he has stolen a lot of money over the past 6 years..
      Why are you bringing Manston into the equation, this is nothing whatsoever to do with the Airport.
      This was theft to feed a gambling addiction.
      Nothing more nothing less.
      All addicts need help, be that drugs , alcohol , gambling or anything else ..
      I believe he has been committed to Crown Court for sentencing as the Magistrates have a maximum of six months, and the Court felt that their powers were insufficient…
      A price to pay , yes I do feel sorry for the man, not for what he has done, but for what he has become ..
      That is sad …
      He has thrown away the respect he had earned over a lifetime… That is what I’m sad about, and I’m certainly not defending his stupidity.
      At least he pleaded guilty, as he should.
      I’m sure there are many more on here who who have some form of addiction, should that only be to making comments on social media..

      • Just for once, I agree with Mr Coyle.
        The bloke has abused the trust placed in him; he got found out (which was inevitable); he pleaded “guilty”.
        Sending him to prison won’t help him. It won’t help his family. It won’t stop other people addicted to gambling.
        A very sad situation, with the bookmakers the only winner.

      • Pleading guilty means he will get a lighter sentence! I do not understand “addiction” if someone has an addictive personality, they must know they have it, so why didn’t he get help? He is a rogue, stealing food from the mouths of children, some form of restitution is required.

  7. Horrible crime but those above him in the organisation should also be to blame for not putting the appropriate checks and balances in place to stop people doing this sort of thing without counter signatures etc. Whenever something like this happens it is usually as a consequence of the system and set up being weak. Add to the mix debt or gambling problems and you have the perfect environment for internal fraud to take place.

  8. Having been a jury for many in the past at a high profile drug case when a decision is made its made on the evidence presented from both sides it is not difficult to formulate a decision so on the current evidence that has been posted by peoples opinions on this person ,he is guilty as sin for crimes against his fellow man and should suffer the consequences

  9. Replying to comment on Tony Blair wealth and education ,went to FETTES COLLEGE, St. JOHNS COLLEGE OXFORD, WEALTH ESTIMATED NET WORTH $60.000.000 I checked on Wikipedia .not apoorly educated man nor poor in wealth

  10. Cherie Blair . Business is booming according to Wikipedia current business shared wealth with husband £27,000,000 not exactly tly on the breadline .

  11. Liam Coyle, well said. I have little tolerance for many of Mike’s opinions, but gambling addiction is one of the major scourge of our time. I hope he gets the counselling he needs.

  12. Why is this sort of thing still going on it is not new for fraudulent actions of people stealing from club funds. Make it so that a minimum of three people have to sign cheques or ok payments . And have finances audited minimum of four times a year . Also if found out any fraudulent activity that they are made to pay money back and also a custodial sentence given by the courts.

  13. In years gone by he’d have gone to prison for the rest of his natural life, unless some benefactor paid back the money he’d stolen. Maybe Mr. Freudmann and the plane-spotters could have a whip round to drum up the £20,000 needed to put things right.

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