Barnsley chief cleared over fraud claims

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Barnsley FC’s owner has been cleared of wrongdoing following a lengthy investigation into allegations he was involved in a plot to mislead others over the state of a company for personal gain.

The investigation against iSoft was launched by Britain’s financial watchdog, the Financial Conduct Authority.

Yesterday it dropped the case against Barnsley FC boss Patrick Cryne and three other former directors of iSoft after procedural problems caused the trial to grind to a halt.

Mr Cryne, aged 62, was cleared of wrongdoing along with Stephen Graham, Timothy Whiston and John Whelan following an investigation dating back to 2006.

The investigation by the Financial Services Authority - the FCA’s predecessor - resulted in a first prosecution at which it was alleged the four men conspired to present a misleading picture of the company’s health, for personal gain.

Mr Graham, aged 49, of Cheshire, Mr Whiston, 45, of Cheshire, and Mr Whelan, 46, of Stockport, denied a single charge of conspiring to make false statements in relation to the company between October 2003 and July 2006.

Mr Cryne has never stood trial, due to ill health.

Jurors failed to reach a verdict in the case last year and a retrial was ordered at Southwark Crown Court but it ground to a halt with procedural problems.

A spokesman for the FCA said legal argument arose when old file notes dating to 2009 were disclosed to the defence, resulting in procedural problems that could not be resolved.

The jury was discharged and the FCA decided that it would not be in the public interest to pursue a second retrial.

Not guilty verdicts were entered against all four men.