Trustee who stole almost £25,000 from Newington Community Association ordered to pay cash back

Mike Harrison

A former Thanet councillor has been ordered to pay back cash he stole from Newington Community Association whilst acting as a Trustee.

At a hearing in March Mike Harrison admitted one charge of fraud by false representation relating to 77 fraudulent transactions between 1 August 2015 and 10 February 2020 amounting to just under £25,000.

Mr Harrison, who was formerly a Labour Party Cabinet member at the authority, stole the cash from the association to fund his gambling habit.

The former ambulance worker, who had been carer for his wife until she passed away last month, was sentenced at Canterbury Crown Court on June 9.

The 76-year-old, of Holbrook Drive, received 16 months imprisonment suspended for 18 months, 25 Rehabilitation Activity Requirement Days, costs of £340 to the CPS and was ordered to repay £24,957.62 to Newington Community Association. This will be paid to the court within 12 months and then passed to the association. Non payment will result in enforcement action.

Discovering the fraud

The Newington Community Association Board of Trustees became aware of the fraud in February 2020.

The charity immediately reported this to Action Fraud,  the Charity Commission and key stakeholders as well as launching 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 were put in place, including a finance manager and an external accountant.

Work of the association

The Newington Community Association manages the Newington Community Centre which has been used as a food storage and distribution hub during the pandemic. The centre is an important part of the community providing events, meeting space, children’s activities, holiday clubs and groups for families.

Its Food Club supports more than 1,600 households, providing low-cost and free food, and also provides pack lunches, hot meals for children and family meal kits during school holidays.

‘Under the cloud of theft’

Following the sentencing the Newington Community Association Board said: “For the last 16 months we have been under the cloud of theft of a considerable amount of the charities money by someone who we trusted.

“This has now been dealt with at court and Mr Harrison has to pay this money back via the courts within 12 months, we look forward hopefully to receiving these well needed funds returned.

“A lot of hardworking volunteers have kept Newington Community Centre running and with this sorry episode behind us we intend to move forward in a positive manner.”

12 Comments

  1. looks like hes walked away laughing at that one then , i wonder what the sentence would have been for an unknown teenager ?

    • How come? He’s got to pay back £25,000. I imagine the only way he’ll do that is by putting the family home up for an equity release thing.

  2. Why did he steal the money ?

    Cant be for uk dental implants, Need more than £25k to have them nashers fixed

  3. Oh dear, how sad, never mind. He is a common crook and should pay the money back with interest. He stole money from the community who trusted him.

  4. Mike Harrison was directly responsible for the destruction of The Centre in Newington Estate because he said it would solve the crime there. I grew up in that area when it was vibrant and thriving. The Centre was a great open space. Now it is dead. Drive through and there is no life. Not only is Harrison a thief but he is also a destructive vandal. He deserves a lengthy time in prison. So there is no real justice here. Newington deserves better councillors. It seems any old rat bag can stand as a prospective councillor so there is something deeply wrong with the system.

    • Do you not see the absurdity of you posting? “Newington deserves better councillors.”
      Well, it gets the councillors it votes in.

      • Andrew – they get to vote for candidates placed before them by local political parties. Says it all in my book. As for this characters behaviour, disgusting. How will he pay back this large sum of money ?

        • Anyone (within reason) can stand ad a councillor. Any one on the electoral role can vite for the candidate they want.
          How will he pay back the money? Phyllis Quott suggested equity release on his house, if he owns one.

      • I did not vote in the recent elections because none of the candidates inspired me to do so. My statement that “Newington deserves better councillors” is surely an indictment of a system whereby the mean, mundane and mediocre are the only choices on the ballot papers. As such, we get the likes of the corrupt Mike Harrison.

  5. i too was born on newington estate , and i totaly agree that the centre has been ruined , i did not know this old crook was behind it , i wonder what the back handers were ? and theres no doubt where it went .

    • Harrison boasted in the local press about his part in the destruction of The Centre. Your last question needs addressing by all those involved in this act of vandalism. It was totally unnecessary.

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